Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Exchange 2008 Part II

One area we’ve struggled with over the last year is how to deal with remote operator stations. The two methods we’ve used have been remote terminal sessions using thin clients and KVM extenders. We did exhaustive testing in our shop trying to find the right combination of pieces and parts to allow KVM extenders to work with USB and PS/2 mice and keyboards. While we have something that works, it’s cobbled together.

At the Emerson Exchange, Dell unveiled a rack mounted operator station with a custom Ethernet KVM compression extender board and a remote decompression brick. And the solution is fully supported by Emerson!

The comment from the Dell representative commented they did a coast to coast test (PC on one coast, the extender brick on the other) and only had 80 ms of latency.

Look for availability later this month.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Exchange 2008 Part I

I just got back from the 2008 Emerson Exchange in Washington DC (well, I got back last Friday, but needed some R&R before diving back into my computer). It was an intimate gathering of over 2500 of my closest friends. The only time it felt crowded was when we were trying to board busses to the National Air and Space Museum on Thursday night.

While I’ll have several more posts on different topics related to Exchange over the next week, I wanted to start by mentioning the whole wireless world. It’s becoming more and more obvious this is going to take off big time, as more customers are beginning to see the potential benefits.

One hugely simple application is temperature monitoring for all those portable tanks, especially in the pharma/biotech world. The days of filling out roundsheets for these tanks can go away.

One bit of irony, the NovaTech User Group meeting was held the same week as Emerson Exchange (coincidence?), nearby in Baltimore – I’m sure all 60 people in attendance had a great time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Getting Ready for Exchange

Well, Emerson Exchange is just around the corner (September 29th to October 3rd in Washington, DC) and for the first time in several years, I’ll just be a participant – no talks to be nervous about giving.

My past papers have focused on statistical analysis within DeltaV to determine chromatography column viability – HETP, Asymmetry, and TA (Transitional Analysis). Interest has really picked up related on this topic (all things are relative – I get excited if a dozen folks visit this blog in a day).

Another extension of the data manipulation techniques I’m looking at is Mean Kinetic Temperature – it looks like there might be some interest in it, so we’ll see.

If you're at Exchange, hunt me down. If not, I'll fill you in on what I was impressed with (and not impressed with) when I return.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Data Aggregation Market Grows

I’m a huge fan of the growing data aggregation/business intelligence sector associated with levels 2 and 3 of the S95 model. Those who know me have heard me preach about the benefits of a federated data model – let the data reside where it was collected, but aggregate many sources for visualization.

There are several players in this market, and just when you thought you had if figured out, Rockwell buys Incuity - what is this going to mean?

And what’s the deal with the whole concept of data ownership as it relates to where the data is stored? I think this is one of the biggest rifts between industrial and business IT departments. They're hard drives, not safes. These organizations need to be the caretakers of the data, not the information police.

And data replication into other stores has always been a hot topic with me – how do you avoid the “two versions of the truth” syndrome?

So I’m cautiously excited about a new product from OSI called AF. I’ve only seen the product data sheet this week, and further investigation is needed, but it appears to be a tool for aggregation and analysis without data replication. OSI uses a very interesting term in their write up – data agnostic. Now a Google search of data agnostic produces a variety of hits from different disciplines, but my take on it is OSI’s attempt at a federated data model.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day Cruise

I'll appologize right from the start that this post is way off topic. But I had an incredible adventure this past Friday.

So check this out - my family and I arrived at the Norfolk Naval Base at oh dark 30 Friday morning. After the security checks (it made the TSA look like grade school hall monitors), we boarded buses for a quick ride over to the Little Creek Amphibious Base where we boarded a LCU (Landing Craft, Utility) for a ride out to the USS Iwo Jima, where we drove right up to its launch bay.

My brother-in-law is assigned to the Iwo Jima and we got to participate in a family day cruise. Ship tours, demonstations, topped off by an air show was all part of the ativities we had the priledge to take part in as we sailed back to port.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

9.3 Batch Enhancements

One of the coolest new features in DeltaV 9.3 is the ability to not only force transitions in the PFC view of recipes, but to also enable and disable them.

We've used these tricks all the time for phase logic, but it's always been a challenge to test out complicated recipes.

I've also been been playing with the new ActiveX components for BOI replacement - being able to filter the batch list down to a particular unit really allows us to keep our "unit-centric" display concept and provide more recipe detail and access.

Give it a try.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Look, Ma, No Wires!

Well, the big hit for the 2008 User Group of the Carolinas was Emerson's wireless offerings. Using the PlantWeb Cruiser, folks got an up close and personal look at the different wireless products from Emerson.

Our best attendance ever saw over 100 folks pack our Charlotte campus. Featured presentation topics included Emerson and DeltaV updates, Batch forward direction, AO and AMS sessions.

And as always, the BBQ was great! We missed Craig Johnson's personal touch at the pig cooker, but our pit master did a great job.

Finally, it wouldn't be a User Group with Larry Wolfe and his hat - great job, Larry!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

UGOC 2008 "Collaboration - The Formula for Sucsess

It's that time again for the RE Mason annual User Group of the Carolinas. We've got over 160 folks registered this year and we kicked off the festivities yesterday. I'll post updates over the next couple of days of all the events (and more pictures!).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Active Directory and DeltaV

Well, a belated Happy New Year (and Valentine’s Day). But let me be the first to wish everyone a happy President’s Day.

So here’s one to watch out for – I don’t know how often this happens to DeltaV systems in the real world, but it has happened twice to us in our shop within the last year, so I thought I’d mention it. Apparently, among the many “oh, by the way” issues with Windows, there’s a flaw in Active Directory that causes a user account to be corrupted. I’m told on really large Active Directories (10,000 plus users), this can happen daily.

Well, imagine your not so large DeltaV system, setup as a domain. The laws of average would imply it could happen here too. But when it happens to the DeltaVAdmin account, look out! Things just sort of stop working, and on a reboot of the ProPlus, you’ve got problems. All those services and DCOM’s that use the DeltaVAdmin account to launch under don’t launch. The permanent fix is to uninstall DeltaV, delete the DeltaVAdmin account, and reinstall DeltaV. Kind of painful, especially in a development environment.

A really clever short term fix is to go into each one of those services and DCOM’s and change their launching account to Administrator. You’ll end up changing 20 or 30 settings (and get really tired of typing your Administrator password), but you’ll keep from having to reinstall DeltaV until you’re ready to do it – which needs to be very soon!