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July 19, 2007

Headlines from Today's Activities
- PPG Blazing New Trails in Wireless
- Foxboro Controller Updates Ease Migration Tasks
- New Turbine Trip Scheme Boosts Asset Output
- Batch Breaking Boundaries at Bayer and in Biotech

PPG Blazing New Trails in Wireless
Rob Brooks, process control supervisor at PPG’s Lake Charles, La., operations revealed what is quite likely the most advanced wireless prototype project in the chemical industry at the 2007 Foxboro User Group meeting this week in Boston.

Phase One of the project was a WiMAX system that interconnected the main plant with outlying stations and control rooms. This enabled PPG to get rid of most leased lines, with an average cost savings of $35,000 to $40,000 per year. Brooks said that the current project is a WiFi pilot in complex’s Plant A Caustic plant. “We picked caustic so that we could prove we can industrialize the installation in corrosive environments,” Brooks said.

Although they paid a consultant to do a radio survey, Brooks noted, they found that they actually did better by carrying a laptop around the facility and looking for dead spots themselves. The consultant suggested five WiFi zones with access points, but their own survey indicated they’d be better off with nine. In fact, they needed nine plus a repeater for the sewer outfall station.

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“How do you push those little bitty keys when you’re wearing gloves in a hazardous environment?” PPG’s Rob Brooks discussed the company’s ongoing push into wireless applications, including a future vision of Blackberry-toting plant operators.

Terry Deo on the Foxboro User Group
Terry Deo, chair of the Foxboro User Group Steering Committee sits down with Walt Boyes to talk about the User Group and why he's spent 15 years with it. Deo talks about the benefits to himself and his company from belonging to and attending User Group.

» Download Now (mp3, approximately 17 minutes length)

Foxboro Controller Updates Ease Migration Tasks
It’s always nice to see young control systems helping their elderly counterparts. At the 2007 Foxboro User Group meeting this week in Boston, the company introduced several enhancements to its I/A Series automation system controller family.

Updates to the I/A Series Version 8.3’s hardware and software:
• Provide a straightforward, cost-effective path for users of older I/A Series systems to upgrade to the latest I/A Series Version 8.X technology, including the Foxboro’s Mesh Control Network, without having to replace or rewire existing I/O modules;
• Enable older I/A Series systems to take advantage of the latest control capabilities of the high-capacity, rack- room-mounted I/A Series ZCP270 controller to further improve plant performance; and,
• Remove previous limitations on the number of I/O modules that can be supported by the field-mounted, I/A Series FCP270 controller, which provides an even more cost-effective control and I/O solution, and makes this state-of-the-art field control capability practical for even the largest process plants.

“These controller enhancements are just the latest demonstration of how Foxboro’s ‘continuously current’ strategy helps our I/A Series customers to continuously upgrade their systems to the latest performance-enhancing I/A Series DCS technology, and to do so at minimum cost—often on maintenance budgets—and with minimum process interruptions,” said Matt DeAthos, Foxboro’s I/A Series product marketing manager.

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Animated discussion of the latest I/A Series and InFusion platform capabilities highlighted the exhibit area of Foxboro’s 2007 User Group gathering this week in Boston.

Discussion of plant control systems security and ISA Security Compliance Institute
Ernie Rakaczky, Principal Security Architect, and Doug Clifton, Global Program Leader for Security Services, for IPS Invensys, sit down with Walt Boyes and discuss the state of the art in plant control system security and the new ISA Security Compliance Institute.

» Download Now (mp3, Approximately 12 minutes length)

New Turbine Trip Scheme Boosts Asset Output
Turbines are among the power industry’s most expensive capital assets, and protecting them from overspeeding is both a critical production and safety concern. Indeed, routine testing of overspeed trip (OST) logic is standard industry practice to ensure that both the turbine and plant personnel remain protected.

Until recently at the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Fayette power plant, validating the plant’s mechanical/hydraulic turbine protection circuits consisted of a laborious and time-consuming annual test involving several hours of down-time. Not only did the testing cut into power production, but it also represented an unnecessary risk, according to LCRA’s Scott Matus, who, together with Invensys’ Jim Jacoby, described his company’s recent move to electronic overspeed protection at the 2007 Foxboro User Group meeting this week in Boston. “The highest incident of overspeed conditions is actually during overspeed trip testing,” Jacoby said.

A further goal of replacing the original mechanical/hydraulic protection controls was to eliminate older, original proprietary control components and replace them with standard instrumentation. And because the turbine controls themselves were performed on the Foxboro I/A Series platform, a Tricon controller (from Triconex) was chosen for implementing the new speed detection, tripping functions and hydraulic testing logic. “Diversity of control and safety platforms was something they wanted to maintain,” Jacoby said.

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Invensys’ Jim Jacoby explained how at the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Fayette plant, new electronic turbine controls have simultaneously increased power production and improved safety.


Batch Breaking Boundaries at Bayer and in Biotech
Batch isn’t just for breakfast anymore. Traditional process industry applications are evolving rapidly, yielding to new and improved ways of gathering more and better data to help optimize high-technology processes.

In two industry-breakout sessions this week at the 2007 Foxboro User Group Conference, a “dynamic duo” from Bayer Antwerp showed how to extract useful data from process settings, while a scientist from the University of Massachusetts’ Bio Manufacturing Center (BMC) described how his facility is optimizing its new pilot batch reactor. Both applications employ Invensys’ InFusion enterprise control system to accomplish their goals.

Bert Baeck and Noël Jans work in Bayer’s Central Automation Group, which is responsible for 22 Foxboro I/A Series systems at nine Bayer plants. To begin improving their applications, the two engineers say organizers formed an advisory group to find and demonstrate superior technologies to Bayer’s production managers, and then show how these improvements could fit into existing applications.

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“InFusion was the only solution able to immediately bring intelligent information to the plant floor, and then incorporate that raw goldmine of data into a plant historian.” Bayer’s Noël Jans on the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s push to aggregate and convert its reams of under-utilized data into actionable intelligence.


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