Increased yields can help drive emobility uptake!

The benefits of renewable energy sources such as water, wind and solar power are well known, and electric cars are not a new concept.  However, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which will be exhausted in just one century, efficient ways of mass producing the cells need to be established.

The electric motor can be up to four times more efficient than the combustion engine.  Given the finite nature of fossil fuels, the uptake of electric cars or emobility as it is now called is inevitable.  However, what does this mean for automation technology?  Steve Sands, Product Manager at Festo GB, reviews the current situation.

eleccarFossil fuels are expected to be depleted by 2112 and a report by WWF says that in Great Britain one in 17 cars by 2020, and one in six by 2030, must be electric if they are  to meet emission targets and bring an end to a dependence on oil.  This means that 1.7 million electric vehicles  will need to be put on the road by 2020 and then treble take-up of the technology in the following decade if it is to meet its climate change targets.

However, there were only 1,052 claims on the British government electric car subsidy in 2011 and one of the barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles is their cost.  Despite government grants the vehicles are still expensive, constrained in supply and there are too many good conventional alternatives.

For electric cars to compete against Britain’s fleet of 31m fossil fuel cars they need to be more affordable.  Consumers will only accept emobility suitable for daily use when the batteries allow a sufficient distance to be travelled and their cost does not increase the vehicle price compared with an equivalent petrol or diesel model.

Expensive batteries
Currently between 30 and 40 per cent of the cost of electric vehicles is down to the battery.  Battery production manufacturing costs are high and there is a lot of research into alternative materials and processes.  For now, one way to reduce cell costs is through increasing efficiency in automation.

The problem is that battery lithium-ion production is still predominately a manual process with a large number of individual steps.   During the battery manufacturing process, two battery cells are bonded by a foil.  Each cell is bonded to a copper plate and several double cells are combined to form a battery pack.  With conventional automation processes the cells can only be gripped in certain places using vacuum generators. This means that reliable holding of the cell is not guaranteed.

The handling of sensitive lithium-ion cells is a major challenge for battery manufacturers as the cells can be easily damaged or contaminated during the manufacturing process.  If we are to eventually have efficient mass production, we need to set up technologically flexible electrode and cell production for the manufacture of battery prototypes with a high degree of standardisation and automation.  Mechatronic solutions which integrate expertise from different areas of process and factory automation and transfer it to the latest technologies in battery production look promising.

Air bearings as a solution
ads-tec, a company which develops automated production systems for high performance lithium energy storage devices first developed a production method for automating the bonding, feeding and handling of cells on a laboratory scale.  The aim was to provide production facilities that would allow the fast, low cost production of cells and battery systems.

festoemobilityEngineers worked with Festo to develop a new front-end solution for handling lithium-ion cells, with an air bearing.  The ATBT air bearing was initially designed for use in the solar or electrical manufacturing industry.  It produces an evenly distributed layer of air on its fine surface, which allows delicate objects to glide smoothly, enabling the reliable contactless transport of sheets of glass and delicate film.

Festo’s experts have now applied the technology to battery production, by making use of a reverse effect.  Instead of ‘blowing’ air, the air bearing draws a vacuum which is distributed over the large surface.  Their ATBT suction pad has been used in a battery bonding prototype machine, where it is ideal for handling, clamping and holding the delicate cell packs during production

FT01354As the new air bearing grips the entire surface of the battery plate, the bonding process is no longer prone to stress fractures caused during production.  It is proving to be an effective solution for efficient automation processes and increasing productivity.

Despite their higher costs the level of acceptance for electric cars is growing worldwide.  This applies in particular to the emerging markets of China and India, where mobility is also rising.  92% of people in India and 88% in China are willing to consider an electric car if buying a new car within the next five years.  In Britain and France this figure is only 57%, but the number is rising and production innovation will help reduce costs and bring forward the emobility revolution!

LXI for Collider Signal Monitoring at CERN

David Owen, Business Development Manager at  Pickering Interfaces talks about an application in one of the most complex scientific sites on the planet.


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), has come to the forefront of public attention recently with the discovery of the Higgs boson – the so called God’s particle. CERN operates a high energy collider 100m under the Swiss and French border near Geneva to explore the boundaries of high energy physics. It is high energy physics on a huge scale, matched by no other facility in the world.

The collider operates a pair of counter- rotating particle rings which have crossovers at four experiment sites where particles crash from opposite directions into each other and create the signatures that indicate the presence of short lived particles, and that has recently included the Higgs.

Much of the attention is focussed on the experiments which have to run to capture all the data available in order to identify new particles. However monitoring of the ring itself is also a major undertaking and this is accomplished through the Open Analogue Signal Information System, referred to as OASIS. Signals from the collider monitors can be tapped at many places to make sure all is well in the system.

Even a large budget operation like CERN though has to make sure that its budget matches the finances available from sponsoring governments (and therefore tax payers in many countries), so this system has to be cost effective. The OASIS system uses a set of digitisers to acquire the signals and this is relayed out to users over an Ethernet system, but the digitisers are expensive and there cannot be one digitiser for every monitor signal. A switching system is used to allow OASIS to select which signals to show from the variety of signals available, and that switching system has historically been based on VXI and more recently cPCI solutions, but that is changing.

CERN Upgrade
CERN is undergoing a major 2 year upgrade to its systems so the collider energy can be raised (almost doubled) and more new physics explored. The collider has now been closed down (as of February 2013) for this scheduled upgrade, and more upgrades will occur in the future. Inevitably part of that upgrade process requires the OASIS system to be upgraded.

The monitor signals present some challenges to a switching system. CERN concluded they wanted to be able to select up to 16 out of a maximum of 104 signals available for digitizing at each location. The analogue signals have frequency content to many MHz and there is potential for considerable differences in level from the different monitors. That put major constraints on the allowable crosstalk between channels as well as the bandwidth. If a signal from a high level source was selected and a signal from a low level source at the same time on a different channel then the large signal could breakthrough into the smaller signal and confuse the operators.

Another significant issue for CERN is the sheer size of the collider, you cannot walk from one location to another in any reasonable time – the tunnel is even equipped with bicycles to speed up transportation between locations. Management at a distance is an essential requirement for any solution.

Designing a New OASIS Switch
CERN approached Pickering Interfaces for ideas on a new switching system to be deployed during the scheduled upgrade. The basic requirement was for a matrix with 10’s of MHz of BW and a size of up to 104×16. Discussions made it apparent that crosstalk would be a major concern in any implementation, and the sheer size of the matrix required made it hard to use traditional approaches to solve the problem, meet the performance objectives and meet the budget requirements.

Clearly the cost of the matrix had to be significantly lower than placing a digitiser on each analogue signal. The preferred platform was PCI in an industrial computer but it became very apparent that the fixed modular structure of PCI did not lend itself to this sort of switching system, and the same problems applied to cPCI and PXI.

Figure 1. The CERN requirement requires a matrix to connect up to 104 analogue sources to up to 16 digitisers

Figure 1. The CERN requirement requires a matrix to connect up to 104 analogue sources to up to 16 digitisers

To implement a high performance matrix of this type required the switching system to determine the form factor of the final solution – and that ruled out using anything which could be described as fixed modular format. A modular approach was needed to make the matrix system size scalable as different locations required different sizes of matrix – one location might require a 64×16, another might require a 104×16. Systems could also have their requirements changed with time as the number of sensors changed and more (or less) channels added. That strongly indicated that a proprietary scalable modular approach was going to be required, the modules sized to fit the design requirement of the matrix. That encouraged Pickering Interfaces to investigate an LXI route where there is a freedom of size.

LXI Route
LXI had some major advantages for CERN, much of their system was already running Ethernet data connections so using it to manage a matrix was not an issue. LXI control also means that they could access the matrix state over their network without intervening controllers by accessing the LXI products web server.

During discussions another issue arose, the experiments being conducted on the collider are large and expensive operations and the last thing that CERN wanted was to find that a switch in the matrix had developed a fault and was preventing monitoring operations. Knowing that Pickering Interfaces had implemented self-test in both LXI and PXI (called BIRST) CERN requested some sort of self-test in the switching system, and ideally because the switch needed coaxial connectors the test had to be capable of running with the inputs and outputs connected to a non-powered source/load. Being able to initiate and run a self-test remotely would also be a powerful tool for OASIS.

65-110-Photo 65-110-Chassis-Open

Figure 2. 65-110 wideband modular chassis 48×16 matrix, with the drawer system out the plugins can be added or removed

The solution arrived at for CERN was the 65-110 Wideband Modular Matrix. The switching matrix is based on a chassis which has a dedicated analogue bus system. Into the chassis a set of plugins can be installed, the left hand pair providing the 16 Y access connections required for the digitisers. A set of X plugins then provide the analogue signal inputs, 8 signals to a plugin module. The number of X plugins can be scaled from just one (8off X connections) up to 13 (104 off X connections), allowing the user to create a matrix of any required size within the chassis constraints. Not installing the second Y plugin allowed Y=8 systems to be created – though CERN had no specific requirements for that configuration other users might find it an advantage if they had smaller system requirements. The design is fully user configurable, plugin modules can be physically installed and uninstalled and the firmware in the LXI controller will recognise the configuration and amend the available matrix size to match the plugin modules installed. The web based soft front panel, a feature strongly encouraged by the LXI standard, allows driverless control of the matrix.

Figure 3. The soft front panel of the 65-110 can be accessed through the LXI configuration pages to either control or monitor the matrix settings. The LXI controller presents the matrix as a single entity, greatly simplifying the user understanding of the setting

Figure 3. The soft front panel of the 65-110 can be accessed through the LXI configuration pages to either control or monitor the matrix settings. The LXI controller presents the matrix as a single entity, greatly simplifying the user understanding of the setting

The matrix is a modular solution, but the module size is scaled to fit the application rather than to abide by a particular standard. The 65-110 plugin and analogue bus system had to be very carefully designed to maintain the RF performance, and in particular the crosstalk, to ensure it was fit for the application. The RF BW in a typical configuration is above 300MHz, driven largely by the need for low crosstalk, and has excellent VSWR.

Like many modern instruments the modules communicate internally to the LXI controller via a PCIe interface and the LXI controller “virtualises” this as a single matrix, so the LXI controller makes the user task of programming the matrix much easier. The LXI controller hides the complexity of the switch system from the user, the matrix appears as just one entity to the user and not a set of separate sub-assemblies (modules). It behaves like a bench instrument rather than a modular instrument.

The design uses an analogue bus underneath the plugin modules rather than being at the back of the plugin which is normally the case with modular systems – in a matrix it makes much more sense to have the X and Y signals lines at right angles to each other to improve crosstalk and isolation. This is a feature of LXI – there are no particular restraints on the size of the modules or the placement of an analogue bus so Pickering Interfaces were able to design a modular structure to suit the switching requirements.

Figure 4 The web interface on 65-110 allows easy access to the self test facility through the standard LXI cofiguration pages.

Figure 4 The web interface on 65-110 allows easy access to the self test facility through the standard LXI cofiguration pages.

The 65-110 includes a self-test facility checks all the signals paths for failed relays (closed, open or high resistance). The design uses low level signals so that the user connections do not need to be disconnected in order to run the test (a time consuming process with over 100 coaxial leads connected, and not very practical given the distances involved) and the self-test can be initiated over the LXI compliant web interface without the use of an external controller program while a user is many kilometres from the matrix. The user simply initiates the test, the embedded LXI controller runs the test and the results can be viewed over the web interface or reported to the user as a file.

Animation shows LHC Data Processing
Engineering at CERN
The Accelerator Complex
Project OASIS

A monitor facility is also included in Pickering Interfaces LXI products that allows a user to graphically display the matrix setting without having any program access to the matrix – LXI systems allow the easy creation of systems where multiple controllers are present. One controller can be setting the switch, a different controller can be monitoring what is the settings are without disrupting the programming.

The CERN requirement shows why LXI provides an excellent platform for the creation of difficult switching systems where the performance objectives are high, the switch is complicated and easy remote access is required. CERN will be making full use of the LXI aspects of 65-110 as part of the OASIS system during its next rounds of experiments running at ever higher collider energies.

#OpsManage ’11 – EURA is (virtually) first!

By Nick Denbow, Industrial Automation Insider (IAI) November 2011
Our Report on OpsManage EURA includes links to releases for new products!
Paris event from a distance!

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Control are producing a daily newsletter from OpsManage Nashville event (8-10th November 2011) and we link to them from our home page!

The OpsManage11 customer and partner 2011 worldwide series of events organized by Invensys Operations Management (IOM) and their global sponsor, Microsoft, kicked off with a well attended Europe, Africa and Russia (EURA) region meeting held at the modern CNIT conference centre, in the La Défense area of Paris, early in November.

Cloud-powered Exhibition
Most of the exhibition stand displays of the software and systems were shown on thin-client based screens and keyboards linked to programmes hosted in cloud computers. This led to a discussion about virtualization, and IOM stressed that all their software systems have been thoroughly tested for operation in a virtual environment, whether using VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V, and this work was initiated over five years ago: being able to offer the IOM enterprise control system for use in a virtual computing environment was essential for them to be able to meet the requirements of their customers.

High availabilty virtualization
At OpsManage11, one of the product launches was of ArchestrA System Platform 2012 and Workflow 2012 software. In the full description, the ArchestrA System Platform 2012 is said to provide “A single, scalable and open platform for the entire spectrum of automation and information applications, addressing the business and functional needs of industrial automation, operations and information personnel. Its plant-model based, integrated configuration environment provides a logical representation of the physical processes being controlled and supervised, enabling rapid configuration and deployment of component object-based industrial applications. When deployed, the software improves performance; strengthens security; simplifies installation; increases operator and engineering productivity and efficiency; and supports new high-availability disaster recovery implementations using Windows Server Hyper-V virtualization from Microsoft. In addition, ArchestrA System Platform 2012 software supports all the latest remote desktop services that are part of Windows Server 2008 R2.”

Within this the interesting aspect is that even ArchestrA high availability systems can now be hosted on Hyper-V virtual servers, providing a change-over between servers that takes less than 45 seconds: and the systems can offer up to at least four separate servers to create a multiple fall-over back-up, for example for the extremes of reliability that might be needed on a nuclear power plant. “Many Windows Server Hyper-V
customers in manufacturing and processing need to integrate legacy automation, monitoring and reporting systems across different locations,” said Manlio Vecchiet, director of product management, Windows server and virtualization, at Microsoft. “We are pleased that to address this, Invensys Operations Management has created ArchestrA System Platform 2012. By supporting the full spectrum of Windows Server Hyper-V capabilities, Invensys is enabling the flexibility and technology their customers need to achieve real-time business optimization.”

Invensys half year results The Invensys Group half year results were published on November 4th, the first day of the main conference, so Sudipta Bhattacharya, president and ceo of IOM, commented on these in his keynote speech and in separate discussions later. IOM is undoubtedly the star in the Invensys crown at the moment.

IOM sales revenues were up 21% for the half year at GBP618m, driven by a doubling of the income from large projects, now 17% of the business. Orders were up 4% at GBP599m: however, during FY2011, last year, there had been a significant order from China Nuclear in this first half, boosting the overall order intake level – by excluding this contract value, the 20% growth in base business orders shows the IOM position is “surprisingly strong” with the “order base distributed across a broader range of customers”.

While the growth and spread of their base business was noted as a solid indication of the success of their systems, in the uncertain business climate, Bhattacharya highlighted two major award recognitions received by Invensys Operations Management this year.

First, Microsoft chose IOM as their Number 1 partner for the year, out of a possible 3000 current partners – Microsoft is the co-sponsor of the OpsManage events, which continue in seven further locations over the next two months, with a visit to Nashville in the USA following in the week after the European event. Other locations are in Australia, Tokyo, AbuDhabi, South Korea, Taiwan and India.

Also significant, Bhattacharya mentioned that a recent ARC report had placed IOM as the Number 1 world supplier of HMI software, with 22% of this market, beating Siemens, the nearest competitor, by a clear 4.5 percentage point margin.

New appointment
So Bhattacharya’s strategy for IOM is seen to be working. Alongside that, and important for the European region, he has appointed Rob Rennie as president of the EURA region, as well as being in charge of the equipment business – measurement and instrumentation. Rennie is an internal appointment, a long term Eurotherm manager, and Bhattacharya is impressed with the results of tapping the talent pool available within the company.

Studying his approach more closely, the whole Invensys (ie IOM) concept with their InFusion enterprise control system is to empower their customer organization, ie their operators, to give them the input to make the right business decisions. Bhattacharya is using the same approach internally, with his engineers – his ideas people, in other words – so that they have assessed and negotiated development priorities and plans before he ever gets to hear about the ideas. When he does hear the final proposal, his decisions are also easier! He calls it a talent management programme, but it would seem also to encourage delegation, making the business run more efficiently, based on open communications.

Rob Rennie showed the same pragmatism in his approach when I tried to pin him down about the Invensys development of instruments with embedded wireless capabilities: his R+D budget is not limitless, so quite reasonably they have shelved that topic for the moment. There was some interesting contract news in the half year: IOM signed two contracts with TNK-BP, the third largest oil company in Russia, to provide comprehensive automation solutions and services to help drive control, environment and safety excellence at their Saratov 7 mtpa oil refinery in western Russia.

They also signed a multi-million dollar contract to implement an integrated refinery information system (IRIS) for Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Total France. In a strategic alliance with Wipro Arabia, IOM will provide an integrated InFusion enterprise control system solution for the 400,000 bpd refinery being constructed in Jubail.

Sharing the honours with Honeywell?
The news item that triggered some questions for me was that IOM particularly quoted performance improvements at the Codelco copper producer in Chile (1.8mtpa) as a result of the use of InFusion advanced control solutions. But Codelco was quoted the week before in the Honeywell video, mentioned on page 1 (of Industrial Automation Insider) this month, as an example of Honeywell systems improving plant performance. It appears Honeywell systems are primarily Invensys in the smelters, but Invensys advise that their InFusion advanced control, being DCS agnostic, operates on top of Honeywell and other control systems on several Codelco sites. Plus one aging Honeywell DCS was recently migrated to an Invensys system, in the InFusion ECS.

This article appeared in the November issue of Industrial Automation Insider

#Opsmanage Paris event from a distance!


“Journey to Excellence” starts from French capital and continues in Nashville!

Paris is a beautiful city! Everybody agrees and perhaps that is why this years OpsManage Eura returned to Paris this year. Last year it was held in the Paris Disneyland as we reported, (Innovation is everwhere! 22/11/2010), however this year it was held in the ultra modern sector of the city known as La Défense. This is the part of the city where there is a large Arch which is in a direct line from the Arc de Triomphe.

Product Releases
Eurotherm nanodac Recorder/Controller

ArchestrA System Platform 2012 and Workflow 2012

More Open and Powerful SimSci-Esscor ROMeo Optimisation Software

New Evolution of the Foxboro I/A Series System

Wonderware InTouch 2012 released!

Invensys OPEN Winners announced!

Official Photos from Paris!

Reports in other publications listed at bottom of page!

We were looking forward to attending again this year but due to circumstances beyond our control we didn’t make the trip this year. We had to be content with trying to follow events on twitter. This was not that satisfactory as it would appear the Invensys users and marketers are not quite a prolific as those who attended the Emerson Nashville event in October. Nevertheless we did glean some information from the tweets (and contributed a few ourselves!). We were also assisted by communications from BCM Public Relations their press people. They acted as host for over 20 European editors.

OpsManage is a global event held in various locations as far apart as Nashville,  Tennessee (US) and Mumbai (India), with stops in between at Queensland (AUS), Tokyo (J), Abu Dhabi (UAR), Seuol (K) and Kaohsiung (TW). in the next month and a half!

This year’s theme is “Journey to Excellence,” focusing on the practical steps plant executives and managers, as well as operations, IT and engineering professionals, can take to become a fully integrated, fully optimised real-time enterprise. A top feature was their a study of their InFusion Enterprise Control System technologies. Throughout the event, Invensys experts, partners and clients demonstrated new advances to make it increasingly easy for businesses to connect previously isolated operations, empower their workforce and comply with environmental and safety regulations. Participants had the opportunity to sit in on these sessions, as well as attend seminars related to their particular interests and meeting one on one with Invensys executives, subject experts and clients. A list of OpsManage’11 conference session titles and descriptions are listed on the web with a  search section section to find individual conference sessions.

Wi-Fi connection at the CNIT Conference centre – where the event was held – was free for all attendees however this correspondent was disappointed in that so few people availed of it to tweet their reactions to the various sessions!

Rob Rennie warms up the event!

On Thursday Rob Rennie, Invensys President for Europe, Russia and Asia welcomed delegates in an opening general session with a conference overview. Sudipta Bhattacharya, Invensys Operations Management CEO, and Steve Garbrecht, VP of Software & Advanced Applications Marketing, followed that giving the Invensys “company and technology strategy for enabling customer’s operational excellence.” (Listen also to Battacharya talking to Control’s Walt Boyes from the Paris Event!)
Then, Peter Martin, Head of Business Value Sales, a gifted speaker, told delegates  how to Drive Value through an Enterprise Control System.  Peter is the newly appointed Programme Chair for next years ISA Automation Week scheduled for Orlando (FL US) next September. (tweet: “Peter Martin speaking on Driving Value, awesome!”) Finally, Giuseppe Caltabiano, Vice President of Marketing and Communication for Europe, Russia and Africa at Invensys and Didier Collas, Software Portfolio Management EURA, wrapped up the opening session with a summary of the winners of the 2011 Invensys Operations Management Open – proudly representing this year’s best operational and business successes.

Thommy Djupenstorm of Arla Food explains Factory Floor Integration at Wonderworld business track

Tweets tantalised us with occasional glimpses of what was happening. “W.Mattar and D.Stepanek introduce flow product line, business update and new product releses during Foxboro Eckardt M&I ,” said one. Another, this time with a picture (above) “Thommy Djupenstorm of Arla Food explains Factory Floor Integration at Wonderworld business track.” “Klaus Schuebel: increasing safety, decrease costs and strengthen competitivness at Process Engineering Forum.” And “Jerone Heydendaal of Tam Tam introduces us to use social media in B2B relations at Foxboro Eckardt M&I.”

Wonderware mobile reportin and SmartGlance App explained by Manoj Ganguli

And attendees were learning too “attending to Mobile devs-based monitoring presentation. Is it a good idea to use iPad for monitoring #mfg? Let’s see…” shortly followed by ” 75% of business users have a smartphone or a tablet. And 1 fifth of tablets are altready used for business….” and ” lol kicking hard a “ruggedized” iPad to show it can resist. Hilarious!” and “now’s the turn of an iPhone dropped inside a cup of water… I begin loving it!,” “SmartGlance is quite impressive. Look like a child’s play to build and examine reports on smartphones!”

Another tweet stated “Natural human interface based on Microsoft Kinect at WonderClub in action: present and Future” This referred to a WonderWorld General Session which discussed “An Ecosystem vision!” Since the way we interact with computerised systems is going through fundamental changes, this session investigated contemporary user interfaces and how technology such as multi-touch smart-phones, Microsoft Kinect and Windows 8 Metro-style applications can be applied in order to provide increased value to manufacturing operations.

As befits a European event tweets were not limited to English or American. “En dan heb ik het nog niet eens gehad over het eten dat we krijgen. Heerlijk!! We komen tonnetjerond terug.” expressed appreciation of the fare provided for the sustenence of the inner man! Corroborted by another “Everyone is enjoying lunch time here at #Opsmanage EURA great buffet :-)”

The first day elicited this tweet: “My first day @ #OpsManage EURA has passed. Well done @InvensysOpsMgmt for organization and hospitality. Great idea using Spotme!” (See box below on Spotme!)

Tours of the expo & demo areas

The collaboration exhibition area comprised some twenty partner companies and over thirty Invensys demonstration and new product areas. Demo Area Tours ran throughout the entire event.
This was an unique opportunity to understand how all Invensys’ solutions and products work together in a real-case scenarios. There were also tweets from this area ” iPad 2give away at SmartGlance booth and 90 days Free Trial.”

There were some product launches and we have linked to these in the box at the top of the page!

Other Reports
Opsmange USA takes place 8-10 November 2011 and these reports include some on that as well as on the Paris Event:

Plant Modernization Takes Center Stage at Invensys OpsManage’11 (Control 7/11/2011)

Walt Boye’s interview with Sudipta Bhattacharya in Paris! (Control 8/11/2011)

Investments Paying Off For Invensys Operations Management (Gary Mintchell Feed Forward 8/11/2011)

Wireless sensors for hydrocarbon gas detection (Nick Denbow’s blog 9/11/2011)

Invensys: Safety, Security ‘Good Business’ (ISS Source 9/11/2011)

OpsManage ’11 – EURA is (virtually) first! (Nick Denbow Industrial Automation Insider 9/11/2011)

Invensys half year results (Nick Denbow’s Blog 12.11.2011)

Daily E-newsletters from Nashville (US)8-10 Nov 2011
8 Nov ][ 9 Nov ][ 10 Nov

What is Spotme?
Spotme was a wireless handheld electronic device supplied to each delegate enabling them to send instant messages to fellow attendees, Exchange business cards electronically, Locate a colleague or attendee with the radar “spotting” function, Arrange one-on-one meetings on the fly, View all session descriptions and speaker bios, Organize your personal agenda for the day and take notes, Access hotel maps, room locations, and general conference info ….and much more! At the end of the conference, the organisers took-back the Spotme device, collected all of the information the delegate gathered—such as business cards, or notes etc — and emailed the files directly, along with a link to the conference proceedings.
How convenient was that?

Testing of electric motors for automotive applications

For its test benches used in both laboratory and in production, Unus International chose the turnkey MEROBEL solution.
UNUS International manufactures DC motors 12 – 24 – 48 V mainly used as servomechanism equipments for the automotive and the industrial automation industries.
Founded in the 70s in Padova (I), UNUS  moved in 1995 to Rival di Pianiga (Venice), employs currently about 60 people, with a production of more than 2,000,000 pieces per year.
Including the main following automotive appliance motors and gear motors
– Windows, sunroofs, sunshades, mechanisms
– Seats movement and adjustment
– Steering column;
– Implemented automatic gearbox
The global product range includes also additional motor based equipment for other industries, such as, control of sliding doors, overhead, gates and automation in general.

Technical skills and flexibility are the company main values, allowing lower time to be spent in designing, prototyping and manufacturing the initial samplings of new products. This organisation ensures a fast response to a wide range of market needs, with full management of the time-to-market issues.

“Our mission is to offer a product tailored to the needs of the customer, for which the technical level and quality are a crucial issue” said engineer Massimo Melato, Unus International’s General Manager. “At the starting point are our policies on quality and continuously renewed R & D, but also design, production and business organization in general, with the constant target of improving customer satisfaction.”

“Our excellent results, achieved in the domestic and foreign markets with high-tech content products, confirm that we are working in the good direction, while we are continuously improving both our competitiveness and our quality. By the way, UNUS’ motors and gear motors are used as first equipment by major German car manufacturers as well as by the most important automation systems manufacturers”

The strategic importance of testing
Among the reasons for its success, and in addition to the company technological skills, are the high reliability and quality of its production.

The company is among the 100 successful Italian companies mentioned in the 3rd Eurispes report. To ensure such level of excellence, products testing (during production, but also in the laboratory during the design period), gets an absolute strategic importance.

Specialized test benches have been especially set-up for testing 100% of the motors dedicated to automotive industry. “This is primarily for motorized windows, seat moving, canopy opening, adjustable steering column and tendon movement,” says Eng. Melato. “We are currently developing a motor designed to operate the compressor for the pneumatic suspension of the car. The related test benches were not designed for a particular customer’s application. UNUS has collected all directives from many car manufacturers and has developed versatile test benches able to meet all those specifications.
“Usual solutions found on the market are generally intended to satisfy the widest possible range of applications,” says Eng. Melato, “but in the other hand they are not fully matching the specific needs and tasks we need them to play. Having built the test benches in our own company and having developed its control software by ourselves means they are targeted to our requirements or,  rather, the real needs of our customers. “

In the manufacturing process, each motor is tested, both regarding the main working parameters and the noise level. “To proceed with these tests, we have currently 4 testing cabins equipped with MEROBEL brakes,” he says. “The test cycle is 5 and 10 seconds duration, depending on the type of motor, with a daily production of about 8,000 pieces. “

The other test benches are located in the laboratory –where 5 systems are equipped with MEROBEL brakes- in order to check the reliability of the motors and gear motors, through lifetime and fatigue tests.
For such processes, the testing cycle duration is much longer. Some endurance tests, with long cycles and aging simulation through heat cycles in climatic chamber, may take up to 60 days.

These are therefore two very different applications from each other.
“In the laboratory, the tests are mainly dedicated to simulate the working cycle of the motors with different load cycles (ie, with different torque levels) and different environmental conditions (including thermal shocks, temperature range from -40 ° C to 90 ° C and different values of relative humidity) for a certain number of cycles or until the motor’s end of life,” according to Melato. “Then, we use a well-defined duty cycle, according to the specifications of customers”. During the motors test duration, each single parameter is constantly monitored and recorded (Current consumption, speed, torque and temperature).
When the motor does not meet the qualifications or does meet a default (eg an overheating, a premature wear of the brushes or the collapse of some component), it is removed for an analysis of the trouble reasons and for applying the needed improvements. After modification, the test is fully repeated for a second time, which leads to get the requested motor quality.

The unique goal is for the motor to meet all customer’s specifications and once it has entered into production to get zero waste.

The same procedure is also used once a year for products tests, in order to check that nothing has changed over the time.

Robust and reliable EMP Brakes – User’s friendly closed loop controllers
To simulate on the test benches the variable load that the motor is supposed to meet during his life, Unus chose a complete solution based on MEROBEL components, with the help of the company’s local subsidiary ANDANTEX SpA.

The chosen components were EMP brakes (type FAT120), torque sensor (type TRS50), and a closed loop controller (type DGT300).

“ANDANTEX advised us about the MEROBEL brakes to be used in this application as well as about the control unit and the various parameters to be set according to our specifications, A true partnership was established with ANDANTEX about the supply of the brakes all along the application development. In particular, sharing expertise with our customized software designers, was crucial to get the final test systems fully matching our needs. “

The wide range of solutions offered by MEROBEL includes high-tech actuators such as EMP brakes and clutches, digital controllers, sensors and transducers. The specific know-how acquired by the company allows to offer optimal solutions for almost any kind of variable torque application system, according to its specific requirements.

MEROBEL EMP (ElectroMagnetic Particles) Brakes and Clutches range are made of two concentric rotors, the outside and the inside ones, separated by a gap where are located the magnetic particles.

Variation of the magnetic field in the gap (created by a variable DC current coil fed) leads to a variable “fluidity” of the magnetic particle, and leads to a smooth and variable mechanical coupling between the two rotors (variable torque).
This specific technology guarantees a stable torque, reproducible and independent of the speed of rotation, as well as easily adjustable with a low DC current level.
Among the main features of MEROBEL EMP brakes and clutches, are the proportionality between to the applied current and the provided torque, the independence between torque and speed, the bidirectional operation, very low wear and noiseless operation.
In addition, MEROBEL EMP brakes and clutches are offering low maintenance, fast response time (10 to 50 ms), low electric power consumption, linear response, very easy remote control features, and easy integration in any type of test systems.

“We have been very pleased with the MEROBEL products and the support from ANDANTEX” concluded Eng. Melato. “We had first the MEROBEL Brakes installed at the production test benches.  And even if the requests were quite higher, we have now extended the use of these brakes to the laboratory test benches with great success”.

#EMReu Conquest of complexity advances!


Our journey to Berlin was somewhat disrupted by the vicissitudes of the Irish weather.

Coming out in obvious sympathy to the woes of what will hopefully bring an end to Ireland’s banking debacle, the weather decided to inflict the coldest cold spell for November on record with the resultant delays in flights.

But enough of our travel travails!

Why were we going to Berlin? And what happened when we eventually arrived?

Emerson Process Management organise a press event most years to discuss with members of the Europen press from the steppes of Russia to the rocky west coast of Ireland and the deep fjords of Norway to the level plains of Spain. Last year from the Netherlands we were introduced to their concept and activities under the heading Conquering Complexity.  This time with the German capital Berlin as venue, this theme was utilised again, Conquering Complexity 2010. In effect what it presented was an insight into the way Emerson Process Management is engaging this complexity challenge and how the conquest is progressing.

Press Releases & Background Papers


Times are tough. Automation shouldn’t be. (Introduction)

Projects Part 1 (Fluor)

Projects Part 2 (Solvay)

Operations & Maintenance

Plant Management

Human Centred Design

Emerson’s Asset management Time Line

Wireless network helps Northstar Bluescope Steel

Enhanced AMS Suite tackles the complexities of plant management

Automation system upgrade at Swedish pentaerythritol plant

Dust and Emerson  partner to deliver FIPS-197

Independent benchmark provides assurance of robust network communication


During this event we tweeted comments and pictures from the #EMReu in Berlin for the benefit of those unable to attend. The reason we were able to tweet so effectively was because the facilities in the venue were easy to use and available free of charge.  We just had to turn on our MAC and away we went…pictures, comments etc. as the event progressed. Kudos to organisers, HHC Lewis and to progressive hotel – the unique Radisson Blu, Berlin.

Thanks also to those who retweeted and acknowledged what we were doing?

Other Publications

Emerson brings a small roadshow to the EU press (IAI December’10)

Report on Emerson User Group (Sept’10 USA)

Welcome and Introduction
Update Emerson Europe
The Complexity Challenge

We were welcomed by Bob Sharp, last year’s “new boy” as Emerson’s President in Europe and now well into position. He presented us with a run down of the company and how it is endevouring to be local while harnessing the benefits of global experience. The Emerson presence in Europe was emphasised and indeed was further strengthened by the international character of the presenters and presentations.

He discussed the problems confronting industry the imminent retirement of those with much process experience and the growth in complexity of systems being managed by less experienced and indeed fewer operatives. Last year we saw some of the products being developed with a more human face. The philosophy could be stated:“To drive a car you don’t necessarily need to know what goes on under the bonnet!” Having pioneered the concept in automation they have been investing in this philosophical approach over the last six or seven years and today “human centred design is embedded in our culture.”

One point he emphasised (or maybe we thought he emphasised it!) was that there is only one international industrial wireless standard – the IEC standard which is WirelessHART. We were to hear it again!

#EMReu Background Conquering Complexity 2010

The Project Challenge 1
Proving the economics
First presentations examined the project challenge with practical examples proving the economics and technology of using their Delta V I/O on demand. Here Vince Grindley, of Fluor Supply Chain Solutions,  who made a study of the impact of electronic marshalling on the project execution process. The point was that “like the golf swing, projects are all about complexity.” Indeed one could say that complexity as a subject was invented for projects! This particular evaluation was undertaken to capture documentation and present the benefits offered by Delta V electronic marshalling and the impact on the project execution by comparison with a traditional DeltaV v10 engineering approach.

#EMReu Background Projects Part 1 Fluor

The Project Challange 2
Proving the Technology
Frank Jouault is manager of the System Department at the Tavaux (F) plant of Solvay. His presentation was in French, with Emerson’s Wireless Sales Director, Ann Robin, as an able translator who refreshingly knew about the subject and so gave an intelligent and meaningful transmission to the presentation for those whose French was not up to standard. He talked about the company’s experience with CHARMS (CHARacterization ModuleS). His conclusions: They confirmed that the CHARMS to be compatible with all the field devices typically used by Solvay in Tavaux which included many devices from non-Emerson suppliers. He reckoned the “should make some profits” and more convincingly he anticipates they will use CHARM I/O on future projects, And, more tantalisingly maybe use wireless and CHARM I/O in the junction box in the field.

#EMReu Backgrounder Projects Part 2 Solvay

The Operations Challenge
Taking control with wireless
The operations and maintenance side of a plant was the next area under scrutiny. Bob Karischnia, VP of Wireless at Rosemount, discussed the introduction of smart wireless for control applications. We have been familiar with the use of wireless for gathering information but control examples had been somewhat lacking. Wireless has now become the mainstream for monitoring applications in a plethora of installations. Here again the point was emphasised that there is only one internationally recognised standard and that is IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) . They believe that the progression in wireless control will broadly follow the same growth curve as its use in the gathering information. These applications started with the more difficult such as rotating applications and remote sites before advancing into more conventional applications where wireless replaces wired systems. We were told that there were over 1400 sites using this standard technology to gain new insights into processes and assets, with over 200 million hours of operation. He cited the North Star BlueScope Steel as a control application and there are others coming on-line. Emerson offers 14 Smart Wireless products today, with seven more available in 2011

#EMReu Backgrounder Operations & Maintenance

Coffee Break

During the coffee break there was the opportunity to see the advances being made in the business of human centred design, especially in the area of plant management ably presented by David Holmes (@texasdave if you use twitter) and Kim Polk (Marketing Comms Manager) both from the great US State of Texas. Through this we were able to assess just how far they have embedded this in the Emerson culture. “We work to understand our customers jobs and their interactions with others in the facility!”

Operative Hesketh prior to his promotion

The Plant Management Challenge
Introducing AMS Suite Asset Performance Management
The next session consolidated this with a presentation from Stuart Harris, Emerson’s Vice President and General Manager Asset Optimisation. He was ably abetted by the irrepressible Travis Hesketh, VP Wireless & PlantWeb Europe, who started the session as a plant operative and finished as plant manager, possibly one of the fastest promotions in automation history.

This included a video presentation where a manager and his team have a morning meeting, looking at the plant but unable to really assess things as a co-ordinated whole. This presentation was to expose the conventional reactive decision making process (they called it Darkness)and how that is transformed using their AMS suite to what the call the Predictive which replaces Darkness with Insight. Then, with the help of their partnership with Meridium, on to the Proactive (Clarity Focus).Meridium on to the Proactive (Clarity Focus). Thus from the virtual unknowingness of the “Darkness” the process plant now manager gains first insight which increases reliability and allows the building of a maintenance programme and then through to the proactive which enable sensible and realistic business strategies to be developed. This new enhancement, which they call Asset Performance Management, thus enables management to integrate predictive intelligence with asset reliability information; view real-time analyses and reports of asset health and availability; and create management strategies for reaching new levels of performance.

#EMReu backgrounder Plant Management

Finally there was a question and answer session where the assembled journalists were able to put questions to the speakers and receive answers.

The event concluded with a question and answer session

All in all it was a useful meeting and showed the importance of companies not only in explaining what they are doing, their plans for the future but also in showing their philosophy in deciding these plans and concrete examples of where this philosopht or approach is helping the end user.

The event ended with the various press people dispersing to their various home bases with decidedly mixed success depending on the effect of the unusual weather especially in the western islands of Britain and Ireland. Some even had the pleasure of extra overnight stays at the expense of the air line because of airport closures.

Innovation is everwhere! OpsManage EURA meeting in Paris


A 10 minute run-down for the attendees on day one!

It is a long time since Read-out actually physically attended a user group meeting. I think it was the Pantek/Wonderware event (Wonderworld) held in Northampton in England in 2006.

These events have caught on like wildfire in the last few years and Read-out has been an enthusiastic follower on the internet since and as the advancement of technology allowed. In fact in some ways I think that following these events from afar can be fairly exhausting as one tries to keep up with all the other things that fill a busy day.

We were particularly delighted to receive an inviatation to the Invensys OpsManage EURA, not only because it was being held in Paris (F) but because we were anxious to see for ourselves the transformation in this company over the past few years and how it had made liars of the naysayers and purveyors of doom. Or had it?

Way back in the sixties the king pin in process automation was Foxboro. It was regarded as the Rolls Royce of instrumentation. Then it sort of disappeared almost without trace replaced by some newbies and some others who were subsumed into vast conglomerates. Foxboro itself was bought out by Siebe a realatively unknown but adventurous British company which went on to buy Eurotherm and Wonderware. Overstreched financially they then merged with BTR and named the new company Invensys. The new company was a hodgepodge of companies which seemed not to interact with each other and this “biggest company you never heard of,” of the launching advertisements, started a spiral downwards starting the predictions of its eminent demise among the chattering classes.

From this somewhat unpromising base durning the past five or six years the company has managed to reinstate itself in its rightful place among the top five automation companies in the world. It has not been an easy task and we hoped to be able to see what the ‘culture” of the company now was.

There was remarkably little tweeting from this event as a whole which means that unless somebody was there one would not have much idea what was happening!

We arrived late on the first morning, during a coffee break and in the sizeable lobby area we were first struck by the large crowd chatting excitedly about the first two keynotes, including words for the charismatic President and CEO, Sudipta Bhattacharya. This left at least one Invensys employee with whom we spoke, ready to burst out of the auditorium and conquer the world! I was sorry to have missed that.

"Applying old remedies will not work!" Thierry Bonte

In fact the first keynote I attended was by Thierry Bonte, President Factory Systemes/Wonderware France. It was a talk on Strategic Innovation and its direction was refreshingly optimistic and open. Was this a clue as to how this company is progressing? Productivity innovation is needed now more than ever he declared. If we look around us innovation is everywhere. 90% of products in supermarkets were not there five years ago. (Another fact is that 90% of pharmaceutical products will come out of patent by 2013, which will have an impact on production too). Things are changing and will continue to change.

Press Releases
OpsManage 10 EURA

  • #OpsManage Virtual reality training
  • #OpsManage Partnership NC DIT and TimeZYX
  • #OpsManage Algerian expansion
  • #OpsManage Three added to partner ecosystem
  • #OpsManage Contract with Bluewater
  • #OpsManage Data recorder/controller
  • #OpsManage New standard for HF analysis
  • #OpsManage affordable Environment & safety excellence
  • #OpsManage Integrated hybrid control and data acquisition at PLC prices
  • #OpsManage Smart Glance Mobile Reports
  • #OpsManage New offerings can easily communicate and integrate as part of a unified ECS
  • Product Facts
  • 928 Official Photos (Flickr)


    OpsManage People

    Other Reports

    Invensys sets the scene for operational excellence through enterprise control (Control Engineering EME 6/12/2010)

    For global companies the world is village and everything we do has an impact everywhere. We must respect the environment we find ourselves.

    He realised a fact that many people in automation and elsewhere do not understand, “Applying old remedies will not work!” But the point he made that most resonated with this correspondant because it was most obvious, was “Be aware! Make a decision on it!”

    After this talk we were entertained with a ten minute express-train type run-down of the format of the rest of the event(See picture at top-of-page). There were nearly nine hundred people attending this event and they then divided up into sessions over the two days. There were industry solutions sessions highlighting power, chemical, life sciences and oil/gas. The product sessions were designed for users and potential users who wanted to expand their product and technology strategy, direction and application knowledge – empowering users to deliver real-time results.

    There were also training sessions of various intensities, from half-day technical training workshops, ninety minute seminars or 45 minute hands-on experiences.

    A track called Enterprise Technology & Services concerned topics relevant to IT asset management, networking, cyber security, virtualization, consulting, delivery, support and learning services. Cyber security was a subject which attracted much interests considering the Stuxnet malware discovered earlier this year.

    Finally all through the event, the Collaboration EXPO was open for more casual involvement. This was an area with about 30 stands of companies both Invensys and ecosystem partner companies which offered further possibilities of plant improvement not only by use of Invensys products but also by using the additional expertese and specialist knowledge of many innovative and “niche” smaller companies. This EXPO area had four theater areas dedicated to Control Excellence, Asset Excellence, Productivity Excellence and Environment & Safety Excellence where listen and learn how to improve their performance in these areas.

    During each day a stream of announcements were made some of which were concerning the European Region, Russia and Africa, and others which had already featured in the larger OpsManage’10 North America held some weeks previously in the United States.  We have listed these in a box on the right.

    We took particular interest in the announcement, Three added to partner ecosystem, of the endorsement of three new Europen companies into the unique partnership of Invensys System Integrators (SI) – what they call their ecosystem. These companies from France, Ireland and Norway. This is not an easily achieved qualification. All SIs must undergo a detailed business process assessment and have been certified for several years on their expertise in implementing Invensys technology at customer facilities. They have been identified as providing comprehensive software solutions with a track record of increasing customer efficiency, reducing costs and maximizing customer profits. And of course we were delighted for the Irish company, ONG Automation, which is the only company in either Ireland or Britain to achieve this status.

    VP Portfolio & Strategy

    Rashesh Mody

    During the second day Rashesh Mody, Invensys Senior VP, Portfolio and Strategy, gave two keynotes, one at the start of the day giving an illustration of the company’s shorterm roadmap, “Enabling the customers’ operational excellence journey!” These were through the excellences highlighted in the theaters at the Expo part of the event: – Control Excellence, Asset Excellence, Productivity Excellence and Environment & Safety Excellence. He also delivered the final keynote on the longterm roadmap of Invensys. They have a clear understanding of the way ahead, sometimes difficult, sometimes unexpected but we got the impression that here was a company, or rather a group of companies with a common goal and working together to achieve it.
    One of the most fascinating items was spoken about by Gaetano De Santis, of the Italian ENI company.

    Gaetano De Santis

    It had the fascinating title Refinery Safety by Gaming.  This was about using the technology used in computer games for training personnel in refinerys (and in other sensitive areas). This type of training is used in the training of pilots as well. There was also an opportunity to “play” with this equipment in the Expo area. An announcement on Virtual Reality Training, which is the co-operation between Invensys and ENI, was also made during the day.

    During the meeting, Invensys Operations Management signed a strategic alliance with Russia’s National Center for Development of Innovative Technologies (NC DIT) and TimeZYX Group ( an organisation within the NIC DIT). This partnership is to deliver reservoir and surface facilities simulation to the oil & gas industry.

    In one way all these user conferences cannot be said to be entirely objective. They are not meant to be are they? Here we heard of the advances being made by one company in Africa, Russia and other territories. But are these stories that much different from those among the others of the big five? The important thing in the new paradigm is that the old way of doing business is changed utterly and what I saw in Paris told me that Invensys realises this but the transformation that is happening is an on-going development. The message is permeating through the company itself but some, perhaps many, customers remain to be convinced.

    We said earlier that we had felt that Invensys Operation Management has advanced much in the last few years in the cooperation between its various component companies while maintaining their valuable identities: AvantisEurotherm, Foxboro, InFusion, IMServ, SimSci-Esscor, Skelta, Triconex and Wonderware are without doubt Invensys companies but they are also identifiable trade names and or technologies interacting and influencing each other. Their literature though obviously a corporate design also lists these product names so the identities and traditions of each component company is alluded to. This loose-tight relationship if it continues as it has in the past should enable “the customers’ operational excellence journey!” So long as they continue to realise that “Applying old remedies will not work!” and that they continue to “be aware and make decisions on it,” Invensys Operations Management  will without doubt proudly continue to be in the top five automation companies.