Friday, December 3, 2010

$IDLE_TIME is the Blue Devils Playground

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a hot topic these days, and again shows the interactions going on between levels 0, 1, 2 and level 3 of the S95 model.  Folks are exploiting the features and functions of DCS platforms to provide intelligence towards the calculation of OEE.  Bob Engel of Informetric Systems Inc, has got an excellent white paper on calculating portions of OEE by using their InfoBatch product to mine data from DCS batch historians, like the one in DeltaV.  Batch analysis and batch to batch comparisons are the key outputs.

There is a missing component from batch historians, and that’s information between batches.  One of the three components of an OEE calculation is Availability, and being able to account for a Unit’s time not making batches can be as important as recipe run time.

One of the new features in Version 10 of DeltaV was Dynamic Unit Allocation.  This had been a long awaited feature (I’ve wanted something like this since my PROVOX days working on resins projects for Monsanto).  In grossly over-simplified terms, Dynamic Unit Allocation is the programmatic selection of what units a recipe should run on.

As part of Dynamic Unit Allocation, Emerson developed the concept of the Unit Selection Policy.  You configure your Selection Policies to provide the logic to the batch engine for determining which unit or units to use while the recipe is running.  They provide a couple of default selection policies, one of which is the DEFAULT_LEAST_RECENTLY_USED:

So how does DeltaV know which unit is least recently used?  Ah ha, they’ve added a new, default unit parameter named $IDLE_TIME.  So if I have a choice of three dryer units to transfer to, and I want the one that hasn’t been used in the longest time, I can use the DEFAULT_LEAST_RECENTLY_USED policy, which in turn will somehow look at the $IDLE_TIME parameter of each dryer and pick the one with the largest value.

So this got me thinking, how could I exploit (I’m famous for this, right?) this $IDLE_TIME parameter for use in OEE calculations?  How can it help me know what I don’t know – the time between batches on a unit?

My first crash and burn was to try and create an external reference parameter in a module that pointed to $IDLE_TIME of a particular unit.  You can’t do, because you can’t see it when you browse, and you get an error when you try and just type the path in – SF_100/$IDLE_TIME.CV

A little voice in my head suggested I build up a dynamic reference string, but I’ve seen so many good configurations go bad with the over-utilization of dynamic referencing, I dismissed it.  But since I had the expression editor open anyway, I thought I’d just try typing in the path (remember, can’t browse) to the parameter – success!

At this point, there are endless possibilities on how to use it.  I decided I’d push a message to the Event Chronicle (which can then feed into the Batch Historian) the first time my unit wasn’t idle, and report how long it had been idle just prior to its use:

If your batch cycle times are measured in minutes or hours, perhaps you’d want to report a daily idle time per unit.  If your cycle times are measured in days, a weekly or monthly report would be more appropriate.

Now, go be more effective.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Wide World of Wireless

We had a full house last week here in Charlotte, as we played host to a large group from the Savannah River Site. The focus of the three days was Wireless HART (WiHART) networks, and we had extensive, hands-on sessions.

Security was a primary focus, both to make sure the WiHART networks didn’t interfere with other RF domains and to make sure the WiHART network was secure from outside interference, both accidental and intentional.

We set up 20 different wireless instruments throughout our campus, both indoors and out, on three separate wireless gateways connected to DeltaV. Larry Wolfe, Director of Technology Deployment, and Carl Price, Director of PlantWeb Services, developed a variety of deployment scenarios to test such things as long distances (in excess of 500 ft) and signal paths through solid and glass doors.

Jeff Potter, Rosemount’s wireless security expert provided a detailed overview of the many features incorporated into Emerson’s WiHART technology specifically designed to keep it safe. One thing I learned was the way the gateway and instrument change up their encryption. See, if you had an instrument that was reading the same value all the time or one that changes very slowly (think outside air temperature), the signal back to the gateway, while encrypted, would be the same. Not so with the smarts built into WiHART. By modulating the encryption, eavesdropping or snooping become problematic.

Another clever security feature is the ability to use a HART modem attached to AMS to automatically setup the join keys on the wireless devices. This way, knowledge of the join key is limited, and only instruments that get temporally connected before being deployed to the field can join the appropriate gateway.

Our guests came well prepared also, bringing a couple of guys in from Oak Ridge with all sorts of RF sniffing tools. They were specifically looking at our 4 wireless office networks and how the WiHART devices were showing up in the RF world.

After the 3 days, the visit was considered a success.  Emerson’s WiHART passed the test and with apologies to UPS, Rosemount and RE Mason can ask “what can Blue do for you”?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Genentech ECP-1 Award Winner

We’ve all heard the expression – “Good things come to those who wait” and I guess executing some project work during the winter of 2007/2008 and seeing the positive results almost 3 years later would aptly qualify. Genentech’s ECP-1 facility in Tuas, Singapore recently received the Facility of the Year Award in Project Execution, sponsored by ISPE, INTERPHEX, and Pharmaceutical Processing Magazine.

RE Mason had an important role during the modular unit construction phase of this award-winning project at Jacobs’ facility near Charleston, SC.  DeltaV and multiple bus technologies were extensively deployed throughout the modules. Larry Wolfe and Carl Price headed up a team from REM who spent many weeks back in 2008 checking out and documenting the Foundation Fieldbus and DeviceNet segments.

These modules were huge – 60 ft long, 25 ft wide, and over 18 ft tall with a shipping weight of over 170,000 lbs. There were anywhere from 3 to 6 bus segments in each of over 20 of these “double-wides on steroids”.

The pre-commissioning and validation activities executed in Charleston greatly reduced the time required when these enormous modular units were finally put together in Singapore. Read the full story of this award winning facility here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Update: Prime Time Batch Analytics

I thought it was worth mentioning that at the Awards Luncheon last Thursday at Emerson Exchange, Steve Sonnenberg, President Emerson Process Management, awarded the PlantWeb Excellence Award to The Lubrizol Corporation and Robert Wojewodka’s paper entitled “Batch Process Analytics (PA) – An In Depth Update”.

It was kind of neat to hear Mr. Sonnenberg give an explanation of the technology and reiterate that Batch Process Analytics will be part of the standard DeltaV product offering in version 12. I believe this will be the next big game changer in Batch Process Control.

Perhaps I'll have a paper to present at next year's Exchange in Nashville on Batch Process Analytics...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prime Time Batch Analytics

I mentioned last week that I was helping out at the Emerson Exchange during the technology exhibits for DeltaV Batch. And while we had good traffic from customers (despite my tag as a booth babe), the two areas on either side of us were packed. To the left was the Syncade area where folks were 2 and 3 deep waiting to get a chance to see both the current offerings and soon to be released version 5.3.

To the right was the Advanced Control area, and specifically, the Batch Analytics tool. Emerson announced during Exchange that Batch Analytics will be part of the version 12 release of DeltaV. Coupled with its PAT implications, Batch Analytics promises to be a game changer in the batch process control world.

I’ve been following the development of the Batch Analytics tool for almost 4 years now. And while the discussions about its PCA, PLS, and Dynamic Time Warping components are better left to Terry Blevins, David Rehbein, and Chris Worek, I feel I’m qualified to talk about the Batch Analytics interface app for the iPad.

It is so cool! Paul Muston from Emerson in England did the development work and I nagged enough folks to get the first version installed on my iPod Touch, and then the enhanced iPad compatible app this past May (to be fair, I bought the iPad as a mother’s day present to my wife – she proceeded to get me diamond studded earrings for father’s day).

Below you’ll find some iPad screenshots of the fault detection, endpoint quality, and contribution screens. I’ve also posted a video on my YouTube channel showing the iPhone version running on my iPad.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Say You Want a (Revo)Solution

Greeting from San Antonio and the 2010 Emerson Exchange. After two very busy days, I thought I’d share one of the best ideas I’ve seen from Emerson. Spread around the technology exhibits are “Solution” areas. These areas showcase the coming together of Emerson technologies to solve real world problems.

Why is this important? People like stories. People like things put into context. People want to see how it all comes together. The Life Sciences Solutions area demonstrates connectivity between Syncade and SynTQ from Optimal. It integrates electronic workflow with orchestrations for material identification.

I also shot a quick video of the filling line solution area and have posted it up on my YouTube site.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hot Topic for Emerson Exchange?

I’ve been following a very interesting discussion thread out on LinkedIn. It’s in the Process Analytical Technology group and it’s entitled “Dangling a Carrot: Should PAT Be Mandated, or Incentivized?” The discussion was started by Paul Thomas, Senior Editor at Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, based on comments made back in May at the PAT and QbD Conference in Bethesda.

While I am infinitely under-qualified to comment, I’ve found the opinions on both sides to be quite passionate. And maybe that’ll be the catalyst to finally get some traction going within the Life Sciences community.

I think this could make a great discussion topic in the Life Sciences Industry Forum at the upcoming Emerson Global User Exchange in San Antonio. Gawayne Mahboubian-Jones (the man from Optimal) has been chiming in on the LinkedIn thread and is one of this year’s presenters at Exchange, so this could be a lively discussion.

And if you haven't gone out and looked at the Workshops and Short Courses being offered at this year's Exchange, you should.  I've already highlighted 30 sessions I want to attend, and with presenting one myself (how's that for another shameless plug?), I'm going to have to make some tough choices on how to spend my time.  And you'll also find me in the exhibit hall from 4 to 8 pm in the DeltaV Batch area - I'm a Booth Babe!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Lot Less Blood, Sweat, and Tears for the Spinning Wheel

OK, I really stretched on the title of today’s post, but I feel like I’ve got some added pressure because of Jim Cahill’s blog yesterday on Emerson Process Experts. Yesterday I told you about the new capabilities built right into the DO CHARM in version 11.3 of DeltaV and its electronic marshalling. Today I’ll share some of the features associated with the DI CHARM.

So first, the DI CHARM can be configured as a pulse count input channel. Now the top frequency is only 10 kHz compared to the 50 kHz of the existing Multifunction IO card, whoever bought a Multifunction IO card? No, really – in the last 10 years, I can count the number of Multifunction cards we’ve used on projects on one hand (and have fingers left over). And the 10 kHz of the CHARM is WAY higher than configuring a channel of a standard DI as a pulse input, which has a frequency limit of a paltry 75 Hz.

Like the Multifunction card, not only do you get access to a counter (going up to 65535), but you get a FREQUENCY value, very handy for determining speed – you don’t need to worry about some 3rd party pulse to 4-20ma converter to figure out how fast you’re spinning.

For testing, we wired a DO CHARM configured as a Pulse Output (see yesterdays post) into a pulse count DI CHARM. The PULSE_PERIOD on the DO CHARM was set to 0.02 or 20 ms. The picture below is from the module I have running at 1 second:

The FREQUENCY value coming from the DI CHARM is 50 Hz (I love it when a plan comes together). FYI – the setpoint of the AO can be used to adjust the pulse width coming out of the DO CHARM. With a setpoint of 30%, the actual pulse width would be 4 ms.

I touched on some of the new signal characterization features for DI CHARMS back in March, before I actually had CHARM hardware to play with. One of the first things I tried out when I got my CIOC and CHARMs was the Extend Output Filter. How many times have you had to develop logic that monitors for an operator to press a button in the field? You stress about “what if he doesn’t hold the button long enough?” or “how fast am I going to have to run my module to pick it up?” With the Extend Output Filter, you can configure how long it would hold the “1” from the momentary button press at the CHARM. The dropdown lets you pick a filter time anywhere from 50 to 30000 ms. Selecting a time of 1100 ms would allow me to run my module at 1 second execution and feel comfortable in knowing I’ll not miss the quick tap of a button.

Output filter types of Latching PDE and Latching NDE are still in the dropdown list, but I’m not sure it’s really implemented in version 11.3 – stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Roadrunner Fast

Awhile back, I wrote about some of the new configuration features I found in version 11.3 DeltaV associated with Emerson’s electronic marshalling and discrete CHARMs. Once we got a hold of our hardware, I started testing out some of these features to see how I could exploit them. And I’ve had to stop the presses 3 times in writing this post, because the more I dig, the cool stuff I come across.

So I started off by putting together a sample configuration using Continuous Pulse Output functionality associated with DO CHARMS. I’ve even been developing a short video, but that’s going to have to wait. For those of you who are not familiar with Continuous Pulse Outputs, another phrase you might recognize from the old PROVOX days is TPO, or Time Proportional Output.

Way back when, Fisher Controls created a TPO card for the parallel IO subsystem (I think we can thank GE). Basically, you’d set up a duty cycle for the card, and assign the output of a Loop point to a channel on the card. PROVOX would look at the output (from 0 to 100%) and compute a fraction of the duty cycle. You would then wire up a discrete output to the card, and the output would turn on and off, with the on and off times varying based on the output of the loop.

So for instance, if the duty cycle was set to 5 seconds and the output of the loop was 80%, the DO would turn on for 4 seconds, then go off for 1 second. So this was great for applications that used electric heat – you could create a PID loop for temperature control with a final control element of a pulsed heater.

When the Series 20 IO came out for PROVOX, the TPO functionality didn’t follow, and with well meaning reasoning. Now that you had FST’s that could run as fast as 100 ms, you could create TPO functionality without special hardware. The rub was of course, resolution. If my temperature control loop runs at 5 seconds, and my FST is running at 100 ms, then the granularity of my final control element is 1 part in 50 or 2%.

Now fast forward to version 11.3 and CHARMS, and true TPO functionality has returned. And we’re talking fast. Wylie Coyote doesn’t stand a chance. Granularity issues? Not an issue. The Pulse Period (duty cycle) for a DO CHARM can be set anywhere between 2 ms and 130 seconds. That wasn’t a mistype – 2 milliseconds.

If my duty cycle can be as fast as 2 ms, how fast can an output from DO CHARM be turned on, then off? Turns out it’s 1 ms. To test this, Carl Price at our office hooked up a Fluke he uses for Foundation Fieldbus segment checkout to the DO CHARM. I configured a pulse period of 2 ms, tied the channel to an AO block, and gave to SP a value of 50. This would translate into an “on time” of 1 ms. Here’s the scope screenshot:

Back to my temperature control loop. With a 5 second Pulse Period and 1 ms resolution, my final control element granularity is now 1 part in 5000 or 0.02%. All this speed is built into the CHARM, so I’m not going to load up my controller with a bunch of fast executing modules.

What other applications might be out there for being able to turn on a DO for exactly, say, 57 ms? Configure a module to run at 1 second, tie an AO function block off to a Pulse DO CHARM, set the Pulse Period to 1 second, then using a PDET and ACT block, trigger a write of 5.7 to the SP of the AO for a single scan of the module, setting the SP back to 0 the next scan.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss counting those pulses with a DI CHARM.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Remote Terminal, V11, the ProPlus, and Server 2008

Back from vacation (they are never long enough) and I was checking out a new video from Emerson on Human Centered Design in version 11 of DetlaV starring Juan Carlos Bravo.  I wanted to look at one of the features he mentioned (friendly names for modules), so I fired up a remote terminal session to our V11 ProPlus and noticed we didn't have any terminal server sessions defined.

No big deal, I just went back to my .rdp icon on my PC, right clicked, then selected edit.  At the end of the IP address, I dropped in a /admin qualifier so I could take over the box.  Ran the modified .rdp and guess what?  The /admin doesn't work with Server 2008!

So this in an important to note - I know we have customers in our territory who use the /admin to gain remote access to their ProPlus instead of having a extra Pro license and TCAL's.  When migrating to V11, you're going to have to plan for an alternative.  Make sure that's part of your upgrade stratagy.

Here's a link to another blog going into detail about the change in Server 2008.  Thanks, Scott.

And I just had to share a snapshot from my vacation:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Securing IE for Alarm Response Procedures

I got a very thoughtful call the other day from David Stokes at Eli Lilly. Dave had found my Alarm Response Procedure video out on my YouTube channel. Eli Lilly is a big user of the DCA (Document Control and Archiving) module of Syncade and they had talked about going down the same sort of path, utilizing the kiosk mode of DCA for direct call up of effective documents right from DeltaV.

The potential roadblock they hit was a security risk. If you look at the IE window that the PDF appears in, you’ll notice the menu bar is present.

The risk is if someone were to click on the File menu, then click on Save As… - they could start dropping html files all over the DeltaV system. Just as critical is having the toolbar buttons or the address bar along the top.

Turns out there is a lot of chatter on the Internet on how to secure IE. I found registry hacks and even tweak programs. The easiest (and safest, IMHO) way to get rid of the menu bar is by making a Group Policy change.

Click on Start, then Run… and type gpedit.msc – drill in to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Internet Explorer. Then look for a Setting named “Turn on menu bar by default”. Double click on it and change it to Disabled. That gets rid of the menu bar.

You can get rid of toolbars by drilling down into the Toolbars and enabling some policies:

The address bar is trickier, it’s a registry change. Go figure. You need to go into:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbars\Restrictions\

You’ll have to add a DWORD – NoNavBar with a value of 0x00000001.

This technique would be used to secure your operator stations and all assumes you’re logged into Windows as the administrator. There could be other scenarios depending on your exact setup. When all is said and done, your final IE window will look something like this:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WBF 2010 Conference

I’ve spent the last few days in Austin attending the WBF 2010 Conference. This is my 4th WBF Conference, and my first impressions were is was a shame there were not more folks in attendance and the imbalance between suppliers (vendors and integrators) and end users. The economy is still taking its toll, and that’s too bad, considering the standard and guideline development used throughout the continuous, batch, and discrete manufacturing industries happens because of the WBF and ISA. I hope the WBF will make the presentations available to everyone on their web site.

The content was excellent, and covered the spectrum from S88 implementation suggestions to full blown S95 factory floor to ERP solutions. There was a lot of conversation about the ISA 106 standard, which covers procedures for automating continuous processes. After you re-read that last sentence and think I’ve eaten too much brisket (BTW, you can never eat too much brisket), what 106 is addressing are all those procedures that continuous processes rely on for making grade changes, distillation train start ups, etc. Right now it’s all in the heads of senior operators (and probably no two do it the same way), and oh yeah, those operators are retiring in droves. We’ve almost come full circle with 106 from the early days of S88.

Both days keynote speakers (Dr. Tom Edger of the University of Texas and Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, founder of OSIsoft), talked about our upcoming energy challenges from a controls point of view. And since both are Kansas grads, they know what they’re talking about.

Of course I had a special interest in the presentation on Batch Analytics given by Bob Wojewodka of Lubrizol and Dawn Marruchella of Emerson. They described the results of the real time batch analytics field trial at a Lubrizol facility in France. Even the moderator of the session was impressed – he told us that when he goes home tonight and his son asks him what he heard today, he’ll be able to tell him about Dynamic Time Warping. His son will think he’s cool.

And after a couple of grueling days, it was nice to take in a ball game at the Dell Diamond with Todd Maras of Emerson. It was a great night in central Texas.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 UGOC Wrap Up

Well, it’s been a busy couple of days at the 2010 User Group of the Carolinas. We had a pretty packed house and several of the presentations were standing room only. Mark Moore, our Site Services manager, gave a great talk on the comparisons between the XP/Server2003 platform and Windows 7/Server 2008, as DeltaV version 11 moves to the new OS.

The Emerson trio of Mike Lewis, Al Lee, and Gordon Lawther presented on Emerson and DeltaV’s forward direction and an in-depth look at the cost benefits of electronic marshalling – very CHARMing.

And what would a UGOC be without door prizes and food? I’ve struggled to accept the Carolina version of BBQ (everyone knows true BBQ is beef brisket), but I have to admit the pulled pork we had last night was some of the best I’ve ever eaten.

Copies of all the presentations should be up next week at In the mean time, enjoy some more snapshots:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

UGOC, 2010 Version

Final touches were being made this evening for the 2010 version of RE Mason’s User Group of the Carolinas (UGOC), which starts tomorrow afternoon and runs through Friday, May 14th. Over 100 participants from throughout the Carolinas have registered for this year’s event, which will include dozens of exhibitors, 6 separate tracks, and 30 presentations.

My buddy Al Lee was busy setting up “The Wall” (Pink Floyd fans, remain calm), showcasing the latest and greatest goodies from Emerson, including version 11 DeltaV. Not to be outdone, our Hatteras demo room is all spit polished and ready to show off our REM Services initiatives, including SAP integration, S95 level 3 integration with Syncade, and a variety of wireless and smart instrumentation.

Check back here over the next few days as for updates and more photos.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

S Series Up and Running

Got my CHARMS and CIOCs, Mark powered it all up and now I've got blinking lights.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Alarm Response Procedures - Alarm Help on Steroids

I’ve written lately about the new Alarm Help feature in DeltaV V11. But what if you need more? What if you need to control, from a regulatory point of view, that only the current, effective version of an SOP is used to respond to an alarm condition? What if you need to include drawings or pictures as part of your alarm help information?

Follow the link at the bottom of this post to check out my Alarm Response Procedure integration video. It shows how an alarm generated within DeltaV causes an ARP button to appear on a module faceplate. Clicking on the button launches an IE window to the DCA application of Syncade where the specific SOP is called up in Kiosk mode.

The video can be found on my YouTube site at

Monday, April 12, 2010

One More Follow Up for Alarm Help

So one more neat feature about the new Alarm Help in DeltaV V11 - you can change the header for the 3 text field boxes on the popup.

So looking at the Alarm Help popup:

If you don't like the headings Recommended action, Probable cause, and Design information, you can change them by modifying a new supplied Named Set - dv_alm_help_text:

These are global changes, but they do give you some flexibility when setting up your system.  And each text field has its own security setting for even more flexibility.