Who knows? The Brexit dilemma!

“So what the hell happens now?”(Daily Mirror 25 Jun 2016)

President Junker & Premier May

Here in Ireland we have been watching with growing incredulous and grim fascination the debates in the British House of Commons. We have also watched the more sedate proceedings in the European Parliament but again with a certain incredulity that the members representing the 27 other countries could by and large have a different conception of what Brexit means and the not ungenerous agreement made with the exiting member. Indeed watching the debate in Brussels the other day (29th January 2019) it was difficult to see if the representatives from the 27 (and there were no contributions from the Irish members) and those from the Britain were actually talking about the same thing.

A few days ago an article was published by Nick Denbow, Editor-Emeritus of the Industrial Automation Insider which pointed out the unpreparedness of British for what will happen on 29th March 2019 – whatever it is. He states that “the past year been disastrous for UK industrial investment in instrumentation and control.” He points out press releases from British companies announcing new products have dwindled. This is something we in Read-out have also noticed. It would appear that industry in Britain has by and large been in a state of stagnation – “torpor” is the word he uses – waiting hoping for a favourable and non-disruptive result to the interminable negotiations. This would appear to be confirmed today by Dharshini David of the BBC when he says, “Business investment is stagnant…” (See bottom of page for link). In our experience no native instrumentation and control body or publication, with few notable exceptions, such as Processing Talk and GAMBICA, seems to realise exactly what is going down the line still less really understands what the implications of BREXIT are! The majority seem to think that everything will be alright on the night!

But in reality nobody knows.

Who am I dealing with?

In contrast, Irish industry has been inundated with information on State sponsored events, courses, seminars seeking to prepare us for BREXIT whatever form it takes. From this side of the Irish Sea there appears to be no such thing as a soft BREXIT. It is the very nature of the BREXIT beast to be hard.

In the twenty seven countries still committed to the European Union and the rest of the world there is little of this paralysis either. I&C companies are developing new products and marketing them much as before. There are preparations in each country of course to protect themselves and the Union’s standards to a greater or lesser extend depending on their closeness and inter-activity with Britain. Customs and Excise personal are being recruited and passport controls are being augmented in those countries with direct contacts with British Ports, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain as well as Ireland. As I look from across the sea the preparations in Britain appear to be haphazard. What will happen in Holyhead for instance? David Davis, a onetime Minister for Brexit, recognised in 2017, that there “might” be some complexities there.  Have those been identified and confronted?

Nobody knows?

The Northern Ireland Border (inset:before EU)

Let us take paperwork. Every consignment coming from a third country to Ireland, or any EU country, will have to have paperwork, sometimes quite complex paperwork. These consignments are held until that paperwork is scrutinised and passed at the point of entry. In Dublin, and other Irish Ports, these holding places are being expanded as we speak and this has speeded up as the prospect of a no-deal BREXIT hoves into view. Today I can drive over in my car to Britain and pick up equipment and drive back home with nothing more than an invoice. I remember what it was like before waiting interminable hours in what was known as the “Long Room” to clear good. Driving outside of the Ireland I had to have a “Green Card” for car insurance. This applied also to Northern Ireland. Is this coming back? Will driving licences be recognised?

Coming to an airport near you?

Nobody knows?

Then there is the tax problem. I was speaking to a small business owner the other day who had attended one of these BREXIT meetings in Clifden far out in the west of Ireland and they believe that their cash flow will experience problems and they will have to increase cash availability by about 40% – yes forty percent. A lot of that will have to be available to pay VAT and other duties at point of entry in the event of no agreement. I know of at least one company that went to the wall in the eighties prior to the common trade arrangements because of this requirement. Indeed even if an agreement is arrived at then this could very well be the situation at the end of the additional two year period allowed in Mrs May’s December agreement.

Nobody knows?

The other day we published an article by Dominique Stucki of ABB’s Control Technology unit on maintaining standards in the food industry. These are fostered by the EU funded (€30million) IOF2020 Group  aimed at building a lasting innovation ecosystem that fosters the uptake of IoT technologies. Will Britain as a third party country benefit from this work? What about the many other standards implemented throughout the union?

Nobody knows?

That Britain will survive BREXIT there is little doubt but if it reaps any benefit from it depends on how they manage it. The British Press will blame Europe and the Irish for whatever failure happens, that much is clear. But Europe and Ireland did not ask for BREXIT. That Europe strives to defend its institutions and hard fought for advantages is hardly surprising. Britain as an active member for over forty years contributed much to these institutions and policies. That it should choose to put all that productive work at naught is indeed a great mystery. But Britain – or perhaps it is more accurate to say England – is nothing if not resiliant. It is in for a rough time, we all are, but at the end of the day the various nations that make up the United Kingdom, together or apart, will make a go of whatever happens.

When the result of the Referendum was announced and the Westminster administration fell apart we quoted the comment of the President of the European Commission, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Junker, “I thought they had a plan!” As we approach the 29th March 2019 the question of what that plan is remains a mystery.

Nobody knows!

• See also Brexit woes, Nick Denbow, (30 Jun 2016)
Brexit, What this means for you and your business. (24 June 2016)
How has business been affected by Brexit so far? Dharshini David, Economics correspondent with the BBC (31 Jan 2019)

Wireless moves! More on ISA100 from Nick Denbow


“Honeywell ‘moves on’ with ISA100 specified!” says Nick Denbow in this item from the April issue of  Industrial Automation and Process Control Insider

(The INSIDER is delivered by email as a typically 12 page, 8000 word monthly newsletter in a pdf format and now in mobile tablet or cellphone format. Subscriptions may arranged. The newsletter is read by automation professionals world-wide, in around 80 different organizations. Subscribe here!)


Nick Denbow

Last month the INSIDER discussed the abandonment of the ISA100.12 committee deliberations, without any final result or report. This has produced no comment or reaction from the ISA directly: while they do not subscribe to the INSIDER, they were provided with an advance copy of that issue.

What is more interesting is that a correspondent with close links to Honeywell has confirmed that all “new” OneWireless instruments from Honeywell are now shipped with the ISA100.11a protocol.

Development history
The Honeywell involvement with wireless transmitters, and indeed their ‘OneWireless’ systems pre-dated the ISA100 standard. Indeed Honeywell put in a lot of expertise and specification suggestions gained from their OneWireless systems into the ISA100 standard development process. OneWireless did have a different protocol to the standard that eventually emerged as ISA100.11a. However, Honeywell made the commitment that “all OneWireless pre-ISA100 instruments supplied will be upgradable, or able to migrate to, ISA100 wireless”.

• See also Gary Mintchell’s “Puzzlement In Industrial Wireless Network Land,” written on his return from the Hannover Fair!

Latest release from Honeywell
Honeywell issued a press release early in April, announcing a new version of OneWireless, which is named as “Release 210 (R210)”. This stated to include “over-the-air field device provisioning and a Gateway General Client Interface made possible by the ISA100 standard”. Ray Rogowski, global marketing director for wireless in HPS is also quoted to say: “With OneWireless Release 210, users can benefit from the flexibility and scalability offered by the ISA100 standard….”.

This does seem to be a statement from Honeywell fairly definitely saying that OneWireless Release 210 will be using ISA100, which is a welcome change of emphasis compared to previous news releases. To interpret some of the phrases used I spoke to Soroush Amidi in their Networks and HPS Wireless Solutions Team.

The official HPS view
1wirelesshwellAmidi explained the OneWireless history, in relation to the release versions quoted. Full exproduction ISA100 compatibility came not after the addition of the Cisco Aironet 1552 access point in November 2011, as previously assumed by the INSIDER, but with Release R200, which was announced in June 2010: so actual deliveries started approx from 1-1-2011. In fact, the Cisco Aironet access point was introduced for clients who preferred to have Cisco systems in their IT structure, and needed the wifi interface also provided. Diederik Mols, introducing the Aironet at the HUG European meeting (INSIDER November 2011 page 5) specifically mentioned Shell in this context. The HPS Multinode and separate Field Device access points are both still available and offered with R210.

Prior to R200, the OneWireless R120 had offered all the functionality of ISA100, but did have a different protocol to the standard that emerged as ISA100.11a. However, Amidi stated that “all OneWireless R120 systems and instruments can be upgraded to ISA100 wireless using an over-the-air download”, if the customers have a need to move up/upgrade to this R200 level. In a similar way R200 systems can be migrated to R210 using another over-the-air software upgrade.

New OneWireless features
With R210 Amidi explained the language used in the recent press release, which originates somewhat from the detailed, somewhat esoteric wording of the ISA specification work. Field device ‘provisioning’ relates to the initial acceptance of a new device onto the network, by passing over the network access code: the ISA standard has the option for clients to do this either wirelessly, or via a local infra-red communications device, which is seen to add more security in some situations.

More interesting perhaps is the Gateway General Client Interface (GCI). HPS says  “The GCI feature, enabled by the ISA100 standard, allows operations to continue using legacy protocols and proprietary applications while making it easier to wirelessly expand those applications throughout the plant. The GCI also allows third party client applications to communicate natively using proprietary or common field protocols with wireless field instruments over the ISA100 network.”

GCI examples
Soroush Amidi explained this in terms of working with Enraf radar level gauge systems, which use a proprietary protocol to send custody transfer data to the Enraf Entis Pro software application, or GE Bently Nevada vibration monitoring systems which use a proprietary protocol to send the vibration signatures to their System 1 software application. This data can be wrapped in an ISA100 compatible packet, which is allowed within ISA100, and transmitted over the network, for unwrapping at the other end, and delivery to the appropriate analysis system: the whole process is described as ‘tunneling’ the data. Vendors such as Enraf and Bently Nevada are pleased to take advantage of this system, says Amidi, as it retains their intellectual property and proprietary information processing, takes advantage of a plant wide wireless network, but does not require the significant development work and investment by them in producing a fully ISA100 compliant sensor.

Further information on ISA100
Amidi pointed out that much of the information about ISA100 installations is passed by personal contacts, and by such routes as the ISA100 interest group on ‘Linked in’ – where Amidi seems to have been the main recent commentator. A recent addition there is a video from the ISA WCI technical seminar in Kyoto back in 2011, where Berry Mulder from Shell Global Solutions, who is also a director of WCI, explains why wireless is so important to Shell.

Wireless gas alarms
The Shell presentation laid emphasis on the need for wireless gas detection (and personnel location) which brought to mind the Honeywell wireless gas detector, a product development mentioned as essential in relation to the Shah Gas project some two and a half years ago (INSIDER November 2010 page 3, and November 2011 page 7). Still no listing for such a product on the WCI ISA100 product lists, so presumably the devices that were quoted as delivered to Shah Gas in 2012 used plain OneWireless compatibility.

GasSecure on WCI list
However, the GasSecure infra-red hydrocarbon gas detector from Norway mentioned at the Invensys OpsManage11 conference (INSIDER November 2011 page 7) does have a WCI listing, even if no approval is quoted.