Continuous compliance with PLM.

27/07/2016
Adam Bannaghan, technical director of Design Rule, discusses the growing role of PLM in managing quality and compliance.

The advantages of product lifecycle management (PLM) software are widely understood; improved product quality, lower development costs, valuable design data and a significant reduction in waste. However, one benefit that does not get as much attention is PLM’s support of regulatory compliance.

Compliance-PLMNobody would dispute the necessity of regulatory compliance, but in the product development realm it certainly isn’t the most interesting topic. Regardless of its lack of glamour, failure to comply with industry regulations can render the more exciting advantages of PLM redundant.

From a product designer’s perspective, compliance through PLM delivers notable strategic advantages. Achieving compliance in the initial design stage can save time and reduce engineering changes in the long run. What is more, this design-for-compliance approach sets the bar for quality product development, creating a unified standard to which the entire workforce can adhere. What is more, the support of a PLM platform significantly simplifies the compliance process, especially for businesses operating in sectors with fast-changing or complicated regulations.

For example, AS/EN 9100, is a series of quality management guidelines for the aerospace sector, which are globally recognised, but set to change later this year. December 2016 is the target date for companies to achieve these new standards – a fast transition for those managing compliance without the help of dedicated software.

Similarly, the defence industry has its own standards to follow. ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and EAR (Export Administration Regulations) are notoriously strict exporting standards, delivering both civil and criminal penalties to companies that fail to comply.

“Fines for ITAR violations in recent years have ranged from several hundred thousand to $100 million,” explained Kay Georgi, an import/export compliance attorney and partner at law firm Arent Fox LLP in Washington. “Wilful violations can be penalised by criminal fines, debarment, both of the export and government contracting varieties, and jail time for individuals.”

PLM across sectors
The strict nature of all these regulations is not limited to aerospace and defence however. Electrical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and consumer goods are also subject to different, but equally stern, compliance rules.

Despite varying requirements across industries, there are a number of PLM options that support compliance on an industry-specific basis. Dassault Systèmes ENOVIA platform, for example, allows businesses to input compliance definition directly into the program. This ensures that, depending on the industry, the product is able to meet the necessary standards. As an intelligent PLM platform, ENOVIA delivers full traceability of the product development process, from conception right through to manufacturing.

For those in charge of managing compliance, access to this data is incredibly valuable, for both auditing and providing evidence to regulatory panels. By acquiring industry-specific modules, businesses can rest assured that their compliance is being managed appropriately for their sector – avoiding nasty surprises or unsuccessful compliance.

For some industry sectors, failure to comply can cause momentous damage, beyond the obvious financial difficulties and time-to-market delays you might expect. For sensitive markets, like pharmaceutical or food and beverage, regulatory failure can wreak havoc on a brand’s reputation. What’s more, if the uncompliant product is subject to a recall, or the company is issued with a newsworthy penalty charge, the reputational damage can be irreparable.

PLM software is widely regarded as an effective tool to simplify product design. However, by providing a single source of truth for the entire development process, the potential of PLM surpasses this basic function. Using PLM for compliance equips manufacturers with complete data traceability, from the initial stages of design, right through to product launch. What’s more, industry-specific applications are dramatically simplifying the entire compliance process by guaranteeing businesses can meet particular regulations from the very outset.

Meeting regulatory standards is an undisputed obligation for product designers. However, as the strategic and product quality benefits of design-for-compliance become more apparent, it is likely that complying through PLM will become standard practice in the near future.

#PLM @designruleltd #PAuto #Pharma #Food @StoneJunctionPR

Two million mag meters plus…

02/05/2016

Endress+Hauser has produced over two million electromagnetic flowmeters since 1977. “That is more than any other manufacturer,” they claim. “This magic number stands for high-quality measuring technology and, above all, satisfied customers in all kinds of industries,” says Bernd-Josef Schäfer, Managing Director of Endress+Hauser Flowtec AG, the center of competence for flow measuring technology.

EH_MD_01The company’s success story as a manufacturer of electromagnetic flowmeters began in the middle of the 1970s. In order to enter the water and wastewater market which was emerging at that time, Endress+Hauser purchased the company Flowtec in Bern in 1977 and moved it to a new location in Reinach (Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland). This is where Endress+Hauser started to produce flowmeters with just three employees in former military barracks.

Work was done on an on-demand basis. “Whereas today,” says Bernd-Josef Schäfer, “our production spans six sites around the globe – in Switzerland, France, the USA, China, India, and Brazil – and boasts state-of-the-art logistics. This infrastructure is what has enabled us to produce two million electromagnetic flowmeters to date in accordance with required quality standards.”

To put this into context: These two million electromagnetic flowmeters could measure a volume corresponding to four times the flow rate of the Amazon. Each production site also features precise calibration facilities which are regularly checked by national accreditation bodies and which guarantee consistently high measuring quality for each individual device.

Constant innovation guarantees customer satisfaction
The company’s success, which spans almost 40 years, is due to many factors. In particular, its inventive talent has enabled Endress+Hauser to keep offering its customers new, groundbreaking devices capable of measuring all kinds of fluids, such as water, milk, acids, alkalis, or ore slurry, with the greatest accuracy.

With clever innovations such as the precision measurement of difficult fluids (Autozero, 1981), microprocessor control (Variomag, 1984), two-wire technology (Eximag, 1987), or the operating matrix (Tecmag, 1990), Endress+Hauser has always managed to stay one step ahead of the competition.


In 1993, all of these device variants were brought together to form a single product family under the name of “Proline”. Alongside this family, however, Endress+Hauser also produces flowmeters for very particular applications – for example, filling bottles at one-second intervals.

Looking to the future with Proline 
Since 1993, the Proline device family has undergone constant development toEH_MID_03 ensure that it meets the prevailing requirements in a wide range of industries. Following the second generation launched in 2000, the third and most recent Proline generation (2012) offers a multitude of unique functions and device properties.

This means that system operators will not only be able to retrieve measurement and diagnostic data via display, WLAN, web server, or fieldbus, but will also be able to monitor the process comprehensively and, if necessary, check the functioning of a flowmeter during operation.

Bernd-Josef Schäfer sees the future of Endress+Hauser optimistically: “Innovations such as these enable us to align our product portfolio consistently with the needs of every industry. We are looking ahead to our three-millionth electromagnetic flowmeter with great confidence.”

@Endress_Hauser #PAuto

Engineering is no longer a man’s world!

24/08/2015

Amy Wells, business development manager of specialist industrial connectors Electroustic compares unusual roles women have played in the past with the current struggle to get more women into science and engineering.

Amy Wells

Amy Wells

Women’s roles throughout history have varied dramatically from one civilisation to the next. For Britain, the sharply defined domestic role of women lay relatively untouched from the Middle Ages right through to the end of the Victorian era and beyond. But when we look further into history, gender roles were not so sharply defined.

Take the Viking era as an example. Historical attestations show that whilst it was rare for women to take part in warfare, the few that did take up arms were given legendary status as a shieldmaiden, a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior amongst Viking men. Over 1250 years ago, these rare women were considered to be exceptional and highly respected figures. Through positive portrayal in modern film and literature, they continue to capture attention and admiration today. 

In recent years, there has been a plethora of media coverage and awareness campaigns to encourage and praise the small number of women working in the engineering industry. As a result, female engineers are finally starting to be held in high regard.

A number of recently launched initiatives such as the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and the Women in Science and Engineering campaign (WISE) suggest that the engineering industry is successfully bridging the gender gap. Yet still, only six per cent of Britain’s engineering workforce is female.

There are a myriad of barriers preventing women from entering the engineering sector and inevitably, the gender stereotype remains a large factor. >From a young age, gender conditioning teaches us that hands-on, practical activities like LEGO and Meccano are not for girls. So it comes as no surprise that just 20 per cent of all A-level physics students are girls and that nearly half of UK state schools do not send a single girl on to study higher education physics at college or sixth form.

Perhaps more worryingly, even women who are currently working as engineers have acknowledged the gender gap associated with the industry. Results from the British Engineering and Manufacturing Census state that 75 per cent of the 300 female engineers surveyed still consider engineering to be a ‘male career’.

Although small in numbers, there is an army of proud and exceptional female engineers in Britain. In fact, 98 per cent of female engineers consider their job to be rewarding. These engineering women have built a strong network of support to praise and encourage women in industry. Launched in 2014, The National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) celebrates the achievements of female engineers across the country. Similarly, the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) presents the annual Young Woman Engineer Award to acknowledge the work of exceptional female engineers under 35.

Much like the legendary shieldmaidens of the Viking era, successful female engineers are held in high regard beside their male counterparts. Industry awards and increased media coverage have elevated the importance of the ‘female engineer’ to nationally recognised status, encouraging ambitious young women to conquer the engineering stereotype – perhaps with less pillaging and more programming.


Powering cathodic protection.

11/08/2015

Steve Hughes of REO UK explains how cathodic protection can adapt to become more controlled and efficient than ever before, in line with industry 4.0.

Often dubbed the inconspicuous killer, rust costs the global economy $2.2 trillion dollars every year. It accounts for anywhere between 3.5 to 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and is responsible for the structural failure of steel frames around the world. From bridges and cars, transcontinental and marine pipelines, to industrial machinery, tools and parts, rust contributes significantly to plant downtime the world over.

REO142Whether it’s steel pipelines or corrugated sheets in highly saline marine environments or reinforced concrete structures, impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) is used widely to protect iron and steel structures against corrosion. Embedded anodes are connected to a control panel where the system produces an electrical current to suppress the naturally occurring electrochemical activity. In effect, the metal surface being protected becomes the cathode.

Often used over large geographic areas, cathodic protection systems have traditionally incurred high costs as engineers are required to perform extensive field surveys to ensure the system is working.

With the advent of concepts such as industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) business leaders are increasingly pushing for increased transparency of business intelligence. Features such as remote monitoring, accurate control and measurement are now necessary to increase business process efficiencies in multinational organisations.

To overcome these challenges, REO has developed the REOTRON SMP-CP, a robust transformer rectifier power supply range specifically designed for cathodic protection applications. Built with the latest primary switch-mode technology, the REOTRON SMP-CP can be controlled from zero to maximum voltage or current.

This controllability is essential for cathodic protection applications. In newer installations that don’t require a high degree of electrical power availability, if a power supply isn’t driven to low voltages, over protection can lead to gas formation. This can contribute to surface bubbling and corrosion.

Voltage and current levels can be controlled through the range using an integrated keypad, external potentiometers, by using analogue control signals (0-10 VDC, 0-20 mA), RS232 serial communication and, most excitingly, by industrial fieldbus interfaces such as Profibus, CAN, DeviceNet or EtherCat. The enhanced fieldbus network control allows easy integration with existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, opening up the use of remote monitoring, a vital feature especially for geographically dispersed operations.

Using the latest primary switch mode technology, the REOTRON SMP-CP units offer a high level of efficiency, easy maintenance and very low output voltage ripple packed into a lightweight and compact housing. Providing a 4-20 mA feedback, the unit achieves a proportional output for current and voltage. This makes metering easier and eliminates the need for current shunts.

They say rust is the longest battle but with accurate, highly controllable and remote monitoring of ICCP applications, engineers may one day win the war.


Monitoring nuclear waste legacy ponds!

22/04/2014

Following a rigorous assessment period, EXO water quality monitoring sondes from Xylem Analytics are being deployed in what is arguably one of the most hostile environments imaginable – nuclear waste legacy storage ponds at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbriain the North West of England.

Background
One of the major challenges facing Sellafield Ltd is the safe decommissioning of the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP), a nuclear fuel storage facility that was originally built in the 1950s and 1960s as part of Britain’s expanding nuclear programme to receive and store, cool irradiated Magnox fuel prior to reprocessing.

In the 1970s a lengthy shutdown at the Magnox Reprocessing Plant, combined with increased throughput of fuel due to electricity shortages, spent fuel to be stored in the pond for longer than the designed period which led to increased fuel corrosion and radiation levels.

Over the years the pond has accumulated significant quantities of waste materials, sludges from corrosion of fuel cladding, skips of fuel, and fuel fragments and other debris which has blown into the pond. Standing above ground, this 5m deep open pond holding some 14,000 cubic metres of contaminated water (approximately the size of two Olympic swimming pools) is considered a decommissioning priority. To assist with future retrievals, a detailed knowledge of the facility’s inventory through visual inspection of the pond is needed.

Despite high levels of radioactivity, this open pond appears to intermittently bloom with a range of microorganisms that cloud the water, reducing visibility and hampering inspection and retrieval operations.

Sellafield Ltd is the company responsible for safely delivering decommissioning, reprocessing and nuclear waste management activities on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and a project team led by Xavier Poteau has specific responsibility for transferring monitoring technologies to the FGMSP pond.

FGMSP Pond (Image supplied courtesy of Sellafield Ltd)

Water passing through the pond reaches the Sellafield Ion Exchange Effluent Plant (SIXEP) which removes radioactivity from liquid feeds from a number of plants across the Sellafield site. The plant settles out and filters solids using a carbonation process to neutralise the alkaline pond water and then employs ion exchange to remove radionuclides.

Why monitor?
Water samples are routinely collected from the pond for laboratory analysis, and analytical data is reported to the Environment Agency and the NDA. In addition to this regulatory requirement, water quality data is also required to inform efficient operation of SIXEP and to ensure that legacy fuel is stored in optimal conditions. For example, the water is caustic dosed to maintain a pH of around 11.5 which reduces the speed of nuclear fuel degradation.

Water monitoring challenges

Preparing to test the water!

Preparing to test the water! (Image supplied courtesy of Sellafield Ltd)

As a result of physical restrictions, it has only been possible to take water samples from specific locations around the edge of the pond and, being radioactive, routine samples have to be limited to about 100ml to be within laboratories guidelines. Sampling is also an arduous, time-consuming process; two people have to be involved and each sampler has to wear a pvc suit and facemask, two pairs of pvc waterproof gloves and a pair of Kevlar gloves to ensure that the gloves are not accidentally punctured. The samplers are also only allowed to be close to the pond for a limited time.

Instrumentation might appear to be the obvious solution, but again, there are several challenges, not least of which is that gamma spectrum analysis has to be conducted on a sample in a lab. In addition, electrical instruments often fail in a radioactive environment, so the general assumption is that they will do so, unless proven otherwise. Continuous monitoring probes, similar to those employed by the water industry, are not feasible because of the wiring that would be required. However, portable instruments offer the potential to reduce the volume and frequency of water sampling.

Trials with EXO sondes
The EXO2 sondes are multiparameter 6-port water quality monitors that have been developed for remote, long-term monitoring applications. Employed globally by regulatory authorities, researchers, industrial companies and those responsible for the protection of water resources, the EXO sondes are the result of many years’ of development and feedback from thousands of users from all over the world. As a result, these instruments are lightweight and rugged, with internal batteries and datalogging capability for long-term monitoring applications. The EXO sondes operate on extremely low power and incorporate a range of features that minimise maintenance requirements and avoid biofouling. For example: wet-mateable connectors resist corrosion; components are isolated to prevent short-circuits; welded housings and double o-rings prevent leaks, and high-impact plastic and titanium resists impact damage.

The ‘smart’ EXO sensors are easily interchangeable and users are able to select the sensors that best meet their needs. The FGMSP project team, for example, uses sensors for pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, fDOM (Fluorescent Dissolved Organic Matter – a surrogate for Coloured DOM), Blue-green Algae and Chlorophyll.

Initially, the FGMSP project team trialled an extended deployment version of the YSI 6600 multiparameter water quality monitoring sonde – a predecessor of the EXO. “This enabled us to assess the quality of the YSI sensors and demonstrate that they were able to operate well in a radioactive environment,” comments Technical Specialist Marcus Coupe, adding: “The launch of the EXO was of great interest to us because, with Bluetooth communications and smart sensors that retain their calibration data, the EXO offered an opportunity to dramatically reduce time spent at the pond.

“The snap-on probes are calibrated in the laboratory and can then be quickly and simply swapped with those that have been deployed on an EXO sonde. This means that the main part of the sonde can be left onsite while the sensors are quickly swapped, and the Bluetooth comms enable us to collect 18,600 sets of data in less than 20 minutes.”

Commenting further on the success of the EXO trials, Xavier Poteau says: “It has been common experience in the nuclear industry to have to apply significant adaptations to electrical equipment, so that it is able to function correctly in a radioactive environment, and this can incur a heavy cost and time penalty. However, the EXO sondes have performed very well ‘off the shelf’ which is a sign of good design.”

ROV with EXO probe

ROV with EXO probe (Image supplied courtesy of Sellafield Ltd)

As part of their work with the EXO sondes, the FGMSP project team has deployed an EXO sonde with a submersible remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This enabled the team to monitor water quality at previously unachievable locations. “Any loss of visibility in the pond can potentially cause a significant risk to operations within the legacy ponds, as well as potentially slowing down future retrievals, so the ability to deploy an EXO with a ROV offers a valuable insight into understanding the challenge, and moves us from single point sampling to a more 3D-like data stream,” adds Marcus Coupe.

Looking forward
Neill Cornwell from Xylem Analytics has been involved with the trials at Sellafield from the start. He says: “A lot of hard work has gone into the process of demonstrating EXO’s suitability for deployment in the nuclear sector; not only has the equipment had to perform well in challenging conditions, but we have also had to demonstrate a high level of technical and service support.

“Naturally, we are very pleased that the sondes have performed so well, and further instruments are now being deployed in other applications at the Sellafield site. For example, a slimmer version of the EXO, the EXO1, is being used to monitor the effluent distribution tanks because the only access is via narrow pipes and the EXO1 is ideal because its outer diameter is just 1.85 inches.”

The data from the FGMSP sondes compare favourably with the results of laboratory analysis, so Xavier Poteau believes “a high level of confidence is being established in the EXO data and this means that we will be able to reduce the amount of sampling that we undertake, which will save a great deal of time, hassle and money.

“I strongly believe that our experience could be beneficial to the wider audience as well as the nuclear industry.”

EXO2_titanium_bulkhead

EXO2 Titanium Bulkhead


“Breaking new ground with a world first for level detection technology” #PAuto

07/02/2014

VEGA has re-engineered this technology, bringing it up to date and developing a sensor for extreme situations: the vibrating level switch VEGASWING 66. Why these new sensors ‘feel comfortable’ in temperatures up to 450 °C and pressures up to 160 bar is explained to us in an interview with Holger Sack, Head of Product Management at VEGA.

DE-Sack-HolgerHolger Sack is head of product management at VEGA Grieshaber KG in Schiltach. After completing his engineering studies, he moved from Berlin to the Black Forest in 1991 to collaborate in the development of sensors for non-contact level measurement at VEGA. In 2000 he became product manager for radar, since 2009 he has been head of product management. His areas of responsibility, shared by his team of 11 product managers, are supporting product development and overseeing the worldwide marketing of our instrumentation.
The term ‘limit switch’ appears rather infrequently in technical texts. Even my Google search was not very successful for that term. Why?

Holger Sack: Today, the old, ‘tried and tested’ analogue limit switches with potentiometer adjustment etc. are gradually being replaced by digital technology. I think that’s why these devices are now more commonly called ‘point level sensors.’ Even in the English language, you’ll more often hear people talking about ‘point level measurement’, i.e. detection of a substance at a specific point. I suppose ‘point level’ has prevailed over ‘limit level’ for that reason. We’ve found that point level measurement is indeed very closely related to level measurement.

That is very likely the reason why ‘level’ is used in some descriptions as a synonym for ‘point level.’ To what extent are the two technologies different, and what are their similarities?
Holger Sack: Level measurement is used to describe continuous measurement of a changing level, whereas point level is used to indicate a discrete condition, i.e. the existence of the level at a certain point. To clarify, ‘Level’ means the continuous measurement of contents from empty to full, with the values being output in percent, volume or other units of contents. ‘Point level’, on the other hand, means a discrete on/off signal given when a product has reached a significant level in a vessel.

Continuous or discrete – can the two areas of applications be clearly separated from one another?

Holger Sack: No, they can’t. You can find both level and point level sensors everywhere. Even combined in one application, depending on the customer requirement. Usually, when both sensor types are installed, it is to increase safety – for example in the chemical industry.

Does the simpler technology behind point level switches mean that they are cheaper than continuous level sensors?

Holger Sack: Roughly speaking, yes. Because, continuous level sensors are more complex in structure and sometimes also in terms of technology. But this need not always be the case. You see, with regard to the process, point level sensors have to meet the same requirements as continuous level sensors. Level switches just carry out a ‘simpler evaluation’ of level data. That’s why the price of a level switch, or point level sensor, is usually less than that of a continuous level sensor by a certain factor.

In point level detection, a switching command starts or stops the filling equipment. How do you monitor the process, i.e. ensure that the sensing element and the electronics are working properly?

Holger Sack: On the one hand, the individual sensor has to be considered, and on the other, the entire measurement chain. In the modern sensors, microprocessor technology enables numerous functions that monitor the electronics as well as the sensing element during operation. A high percentage of faults in the electronics as well as in the sensing element, such as build-up or corrosion, can be detected and reported. Looking at the entire measurement chain, we see that information on tank contents is forwarded to the control system or special actuators through cables or bus systems. These systems are responsible for ensuring that valves, pumps, etc. operate at the right time. Until now, all devices in a system were analysed individually from safety-engineering standpoint. But this has changed. Today, engineers look at the entire measurement chain, that is, from the sensor to the transmission of measured values to the actuating components (valves, pumps, etc.). This ultimately ensures that the switch-off mechanism in its entirety works, preventing overfilling or dry running of pumps.

When it comes to safety, a lot has been done in recent years. Has level switch technology also been made better, safer?

Holger Sack: As I said earlier, the basic technology is very old. People built level switches long before they started building continuous level measuring instruments. For that reason there are still a lot of old but proven technologies in service, such as floats or paddle switches. The capacitive measuring principle is also a very old, tried-and-true measuring method, albeit with a few limitations when compared to the vibration principle. Next to microwave/radar, vibration is currently the most universal measuring principle that we offer. We at VEGA have been focusing on electronic measuring systems for years, because they have significant advantages in terms of maintenance and means Life Cycle Costs. That’s why, although they are also a little more expensive to produce and to buy, we believe that this extra outlay pays off over a service life of 15 years or more.

Does this mean that your new vibrating level switch VEGASWING 66 is just old, well-known technology in a new guise?

Holger Sack: No, not in this regard. Here we are breaking new ground with our new, patented technology. The backstory is that this instrument can be used in temperature and pressure ranges where previously only a few technologies could be deployed, and certainly not the tuning fork measuring principle. The basis of this technology is a tuning fork that is electrically excited and made to vibrate over a few micrometres range. Until now, it was not possible to use vibration technology in temperatures above 250 °C. With our VEGASWING 66, applications up to 450 °C are now possible; not only that, it is also capable of temperatures as low as -195 °C. We are the only company that can offer this technology for use in such temperatures and in pressures from -1 to 160 bar.

Vegaswing 66

Vegaswing 66

How did you make it possible to use the switch in the extreme temperatures and pressures commonly found in the process industry?

Holger Sack: For one thing, we replaced the previously used piezoelectric drive with a special solenoid that we developed ourselves. This solenoid now drives the tuning fork and is able to withstand the high temperatures. Another point is, we now use ceramic materials and have designed the electrical connections made so secure that they operate reliably even at 450° C. And last but not least, we achieved the high pressure resistance through the mechanical stability of robust materials that withstand pressures up to 160 bar.

For point level detection, the user can choose between different measuring principles. How can the customer be sure he gets the right one, the one he really needs for his application?

Holger Sack: It is always important that the customer tells us in advance what his requirements and application conditions are. Because, with this information we can recommend the right measuring principle. However, we are confronted again and again with new challenges that challenge the limits of our technology – because our customers are not standing still, they’re continuously developing their processes. In most cases it’s about new combinations of pressure, temperature and chemicals. That’s why we’re constantly developing and improving our products and measuring principles, optimising them to meet the latest process requirements.

Current problems are, for example, difficult product properties or foaming. To what extent do these factors influence the quality of the measuring results?

Holger Sack: On VEGASWING 66, for example, we can detect build-up, and we can also detect whether the tuning fork is corroded or broken. This is possible both due to the measuring principle itself, as well as monitoring of the natural resonant frequency. Build up changes the amplitude of the oscillation, which allows us to use the available processor technology to electronically evaluate this change and notify the customer that a problem exists. Such ‘anticipatory’ diagnostic capabilities are being demanded by customers more and more.

In addition to diagnostic capabilities and safety, users nowadays are calling for the simplest possible instrument handling. Do your level switches also follow the motto of the plics platform, ‘simpler is better’?

Holger Sack: Absolutely. The whole idea of the plics® concept is to make level and pressure measurement as simple as possible for each and every customer. The customer doesn’t have to be an instrument engineer to be able to use our instruments. His job is to control the process and keep it running smoothly – by asking questions about his process and its requirements, we are able to recommend the instrument that is best suited for the application. VEGASWING 66 is also designed according to the modular instrument platform plics. This means that the customer can combine different components as required. But plics is more than that: it’s a system designed to make handling easier for the customer throughout the entire life cycle of the instrument.

Another important point is delivery time. We deliver 80 percent of our products are despatched within two to four working days – previously it took 6 to 10 weeks. The installation and setup are also greatly simplified by the modular system because, if the customer already knows how to operate one VEGA instrument, he can operate all the others just as well. Installation, adjustment and connection are completely standardized, this applies to 80 percent of our instruments. If servicing is required, our employees look after customers personally and make sure the job gets done quickly and without any fuss – because, every servicing event also provides us with valuable feedback on the product and a chance to improve it and ourselves.


New European HQ for Emerson & a move to promote support services and work ever closer to customers

12/07/2013

This is Nick Denbow’s report on the Emerson Press Event held in Switzerland in mid-June 2013. It appeared in the July 2013 issue of his publication Industrial Automation and Process Control Insider.

Nick Denbow

Nick Denbow

See our own report Emerson raises the bar at Baar.

Headquarters staff at Emerson Process Management in Europe moved into a new purpose-built office block in Baar, Switzerland, last month – and the very next week hosted around 24 European editors for a press conference and review of their latest business activity. This also enabled them to show off the new conference suite and training / demonstration facilities: a notable achievement when they were only just settling in.

The Press Kit was entitled as another in the Emerson “Conquering Complexity” series, starting in Brussels in November 2011 with their Smart Energy Initiative (INSIDER December 2011, page 1). This 2013 event, subtitled  “Smart Connections”, was introduced by Roel van Doren, president for Emerson Process in Europe, who explained that the Emerson strategy is to bridge the gaps that create the major challenges to the process industry currently, where there is a lack of in-house expertise and resource to link the performance demands – and geographic business expansion plans – with the operational complexity of a modern plant. Emerson say they can offer their people and expertise to supply resources and knowledge, to link the plant operations with these requirements, satisfying demand, uptime and performance criteria.

Terminal automation – with business logistics
A further theme of the Emerson 2013 European press event showed the result of a recent collaborative development between Emerson and Vopak, the world’s largest independent tank storage provider. Vopak operates 84 terminals with a combined storage capacity of nearly 30 million cubic meters in 31 countries, and specializes in the storage and handling of liquid chemicals, gases and oil products. Ton van Dijk from Vopak, their global IT Manager – who said he felt rather out of place amongst all the process engineers assembled as the main presenters – explained that Vopak have a continuous search for leading technology and new solutions, to realize their ambitions and innovate or improve their services. The Vopak objective is aimed at providing their customers with better supply chain data. The logic was that all equipment attached to a PC generates data, and this data could be harnessed not only to improve efficiency, but also to provide better quality records and product history.

Vopak supplier review
In terms of the ISA95 defined operational levels in their business, Emerson was an established supplier of Level 1 field instrumentation, and with DeltaV supplied process control systems at Level 2: as required by the Vopak dual strategy approach at this level, Yokogawa is also a supplier of Level 2 systems. The next step up, defined as Production Execution, on Level 3, involves despatching and route planning for chemicals on site, scheduling and reliability assurance – at this level Vopak considered offers from suppliers such as SAP and Oracle, had the option to build the software themselves, and also considered sourcing from other industrial parties such as Emerson. The discussions with Emerson back in 2011 showed that there was immediate interest for co-creation, ie a joint development with Vopak investing time and effort and with Emerson investing in the software development. Vopak was attracted by the obvious industry knowledge, the safety and QA standards evident, and the Emerson willingness and ability to invest. The project was started, and in fact won a joint prize for the innovative approach in Holland. To date two tank farms have been implemented, with the first successful execution in the Netherlands at Amsterdam Westpoort, m a i n l y achieved by the shared mind-set in the team driving to s u c c e e d , even though the software was on the critical path in the t e r m i n a l construction!

The new Vopak tank terminal at Amsterdam Westpoort

The new Vopak tank terminal at Amsterdam Westpoort

The application developed, within Syncade Logistics, comprises advanced planning and integrated stock management tools, order handling and auto-routing. The software is aligned with the liquids handling application within the Emerson DeltaV digital automation system. Through links with the DeltaV, and to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Syncade Logistics was able to provide savings at the administrative level, according to the release issued a year ago about the Westpoort terminal. Comments this year were that the Syncade capabilities, normally applied to pharmaceutical batch processing and quality records, provided a valuable transfer into the terminal record data, allowing far more supply chain traceability, even with recorded knowledge of the history of the pipes and tanks used.

Emerson commercialization
While the system will be applied at other Vopak terminals, Emerson is free to offer the solution to any terminal operator. As commented by Guido Wink, general manager – sales and marketing for Emerson in the Netherlands: “We developed this new software application to meet the 4 requirements of Vopak and have now made it available to other terminal companies. Vopak provided the terminal technology and logistics know-how, and we have converted this into a specific application for managing bulk liquid terminals.”

Newly defined business area
Emerson have introduced the idea of this new business area as a “Solve and Support” function, on top of their three base business pillars. The main pillar is ‘measure and analyze’ (Rosemount, Micro Motion, Daniel, Analytical etc), 50% of the European business in 2012; ‘final control and regulate’ (Fisher), 22% of the business; ‘operate and manage’ (DeltaV and software 28% of the business. So literally in the middle of this pie (since the above three already adds up to 100%) there is another 15% of the business which has evolved over the years, and is now to be labelled as ‘Solve and Support’.

The total European business of Emerson Process had sales of $1.6Bn in 2012, which includes between $300- 400m of exports out of the area, interestingly quoted as from Italy, France and the UK (with no mention of Germany). So this newly defined solve and support business in Europe is worth $240m.

“Solve and Support” Business Definition
What is it? The short answer for “Solve” is that the business provides people who are knowledgeable and able to apply the capabilities of the product and system innovations that Emerson have created. They are the best people to get the most out of these specialist innovations, a fact recognized by the customers and the EPCs. While it might look like Emerson is taking the rôle of an EPC, which would be competing with its own customers, van Doren explained that they partner with EPCs, and have strong relationships with them, but do not wish to take on the full rôle. This is explained further, below.

The next half of the business definition covers “Support”, and is the provision of people to provide lifecycle services throughout the many years of operation of the plants, in terms of providing asset monitoring, predictive maintenance, improved plant uptime, and faster turnarounds or upgrades. Erik Lapré, vp for lifecycle service in Europe – a rôle he has held since 2007, charged with driving the service growth programme – explained that globally Emerson has added 4000 service personnel since 2005, doubling the size of this sector. Many of their service centres – and there are 97 spread across Europe – are either close to customer concentrations, or within customer’s plants, with staff dedicated to servicing the one site. Others are based around the Emerson factory locations that are defined as centres of excellence: in Europe these are for flow at Ede in The Netherlands, valves at Cernay in France (as well as the Quick-ship centre in Hungary for valve and actuator parts), Ovation at Chelyabinsk and St Petersburg in Russia, and Warsaw in Poland. Support for the Syncade Suite operations management software users in Europe is from the training centre in Herlev, Denmark.

A change of emphasis
The real message is not that Emerson are starting to do these things, it has been happening for over 10 years: the message is that they are more actively promoting these activities and pouring resources into these areas. The press releases give an interesting mixture of policy and data: relevant to “Solve” we have – “Emerson has expanded plans to expand its project engineering staff to meet the demands of major project activity”. “Emerson has added over 2500 engineers to project execution staff since 2005. In 2012 staffing levels….topped 4600”. “The number of mega-projects (over $5m) has tripled in less than two years”. “Emerson managed one multi-project programme [ie multiple projects for one customer] that started in 2001 [probably with the Danish Novo Nordisk modular pharma plant] – and is currently managing thirteen”.

Rolf Hemminga, sales director of process systems and solutions in Europe, presented several examples of their recent projects, such as Clair Ridge and Visund in the North Sea, and was supported by customers from INA, MOL and Vopak, who were present to explain their projects further.

Jim Nyquist, president of the PlantWeb solutions group was quoted as saying “We’re not just adding staff, we’re making them more efficient and effective. We’ve invested for years in standard practices and tools for project engineering, and taking advantage of global telecommunications technology”. Hemminga illustrated this quoting a current pharma project, led from Switzerland but designed by teams in the US and Europe, to be configured and skid built in the USA, UK, France and Germany to comply with FDA requirements, and to be erected in Singapore – the site only chosen two years after the project start.

Similarly customers choose Emerson for North Sea platform upgrades, where shutdown time is critical, and they look for the experience and knowledge brought by Emerson, because their own engineering staff and knowledge has been run down, or it is a new owner. Significant project work on DeltaV SIS safety and control systems also has been undertaken by this Solve business, and Hemminga suggested that as a result of this involvement Emerson now had more certified safety engineers on staff than any of the other five top DCS vendors in the World.

So what about Support?
To quote the press kit: Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management, said “The number of large automation projects for which we’ve been chosen – increasingly as Main Automation Contractor – has dramatically increased in the past two years”… “Once these projects are up and running they need prompt, dependable support services to stay at peak efficiency”… “Emerson can help them bridge the gap [in technology awareness] by providing contract personnel to do initial set-up of new technology approaches and assist with on-going support programmes”…. “It’s our goal to address the gaps in our customer’s in-house capabilities with our quality services. The aggressive investment programme we’ve put in place will help us meet those needs”.

Lapré used the example of the recent upgrade of the INA refinery in Croatia to illustrate the Support service function within the continuing operations. New process units had been added to meet EU fuel specifications: operators were trained on these new process units using DeltaV dynamic simulators, illustrating the plant control system. On-going support is provided by an Emerson resident site engineer, who also handles spare parts management and calls up service engineers as needed, based on analysis of predictive diagnostics within the AMS system. In this the on-site engineer is helped by remote services interrogating the plant systems to identify areas that need attention – such services are also used to remotely monitor installations on offshore platforms, and to identify the expertise needed, or assist the local operations personnel in sorting the problem. These remote services can also be extended into process optimization and loop tuning.

While this type of on-site engineer service has been available from Emerson for many years – one of the first examples was in the Ineos Chlor plant in the UK over 10 years ago – the retirement of engineering expertise, the continuing lack of new entrants to this industry (partly caused by the reduction of on plant staffing levels) and the complexity of modern systems is fuelling a significant growth in demand for such services, primarily in Europe and the USA.

Developments in the rôle of the MAC
Roel van Doren led the recent press presentation, and helpfully provides this clarification about the current relationship between Emerson, when operating as a Main Automation Contractor (MAC) and an Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor. Roel writes: “The rôle of the MAC is very much to coordinate the automation aspects of the project, whilst the role of the EPC contractor is to oversee the construction, mechanical and process parts of the project. This includes overseeing the automation element, but this is typically less than 5% of their scope.

Roel van Doren, president of Emerson Process in Europe

“Emerson is not looking to fulfil the EPC rôle in projects. We are very much focused on providing automation solutions to our customers. Indeed, we have vast experience of being the MAC on very large and complex projects globally, including many multiple and mega-size projects. Because of our expanded services capability we will be able to provide even greater support as a MAC to both existing and new customers.

“This is important because process automation touches every part of the process, making it a critical component of a successful project. So much so that major end users now tend to choose the automation supplier as early as possible. By doing so, customers are moving away from the traditional EPC model and moving towards a “PEpC” approach, where:

P= Procure critical packages and frontend loading services

E= Engineer

p= Procure the balance (non-critical items)

C= Construct

“Emerson supports the PEpC approach, in which procurement of critical packages and front end loading services (FEL) occurs much earlier in the project lifecycle, prior to project sanction. PEpC also utilises a MAC. This greatly influences key project design philosophies, which affect plant operation and maintenance. It also ensures that the MAC is brought into a `circle of influence’ with the plant owner and the EPC. PEpC is supported by the Construction Industry Institute and studies have shown that it creates an average opportunity for a 10% saving in cost and time.

“For very large projects or train of plants that may have multiple EPCs, such as the one quoted at our press conference, at the INA Refinery, consistency is provided by the MAC, especially when they have the ability to provide more than 90% of the scope from within their own portfolio, as we can at Emerson.

“Emerson is working directly with many end users to provide them with automation technology and services. If required we do sometimes also take responsibility for other scope to support the projects.”