Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kit Bashing a DCS

So why is it that some third party integrators think they can build a better mousetrap? It’s one thing to go to Home Depot, buy a bunch of nails, screws, 2x4’s and build you a storage shed. And if you want to “kit bash” a prebuilt shed by adding a bay window, that’s cool, but be real careful turning around and trying to resell your new and improved shed if you haven’t taken into account the structural implications of that window.

And while the conversion van business has been around for a long time and has done well, I can’t say the same for the DCS “kit bashing” I’ve seen. Four times now I’ve had customers get caught in one of these “better” mousetraps, kit bashed from various control systems. The integrators don’t have a dog in the fight so it’s really easy for them to blame, after the fact of course, the hardware platform or system level software.

So the options to the end user are usually to do a major rewrite or hope and pray that hardware platform enhancements (faster processors, more memory) will somehow come to the rescue.

Be wary of someone pitching a DCS agnostic package that will have the same look and feel whether you use, for example, DeltaV or a SLC 5/05. Chances are if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Friday, May 15, 2009

UGOC 2009 Day 2

What a turn out yesterday! We had over 100 customers pack our campus. The most popular presentations were our wireless talks and Syncade – it was standing room only when Scott Thompson and I presented our Syncade in Depth talk.

One of the big hits during the product showcase was Dick Beverly from Emerson ASCO Numatics showing off their line of smart valve manifolds/remote IO. And I do mean smart. Not only do they handle analog and discrete signals in addition to the manifold outputs, talk all the major busses including Foundation Fieldbus and Ethernet, but their DeviceNet version supports a DeviceLogix module, allowing high speed (5 ms) function block or ladder logic.

I’m excited about now being able to offer a one stop shopping controls and automation solution. For example, handling high speed valve sequencing around the bowl of a centrifuge in addition to all the other required skid batch automation is now possible as part of a total Emerson solution.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

UGOC 2009 Day 1

So yesterday was Day 1 of the 2009 version of the User Group of the Carolinas get together. Attendance was on par with previous years for the first half day session.

One of this year’s cool attractions is the Emerson Wall – it’s a 20 foot long PlantWeb dreamscape with enough eye candy to keep folks coming back. Al Lee and Gordon Lawther from Emerson are here to put it through its paces.

Today should be a big day with most of our 120 plus attendees showing up. I’ll have more pictures and comments tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cold Enough For Ya?

So in preparing for the 2009 version of our UGOC (User Group of the Carolinas), I came across an interesting new nugget in DeltaV version 10.3. Interesting because it’s not documented in the Release Notes.

So now there’s a new drop down menu on the Controller tab of a controller node for additional selections of Cold Restart. "Always Disabled" is really no different than setting the timer to 0. "Enabled Within A Time Limit" allows you to set the time (no difference than now). The new choice is the "Always Enabled (maximum time)" selection, just in case being without power for more than 30 days just isn’t long enough.