Control Engineering Process Control Newsletter for June 2002

06/18/2002


In this issue:


Are companies still developing 'good engineering practices?'

During a recent conference, I was talking to people from several chemical companies, and the conversation got around to the subject of standards and the use of 'good engineering practices.'

You know the non-proprietary things we do to design, implement, operate, and maintain safe, reliable control, automation, and instrumentation systems.

I sent a few e-mails asking end-users what's happening in this arena. Some say organizational downsizing relegated this activity to individual sites. Others say they are using intranet technologies to involve more people and make their good engineering practices even better.

You tell me:

1) What's your company doing in the way of developing, maintaining, sharing, training in the use of, and enforcing 'good engineering practices' for control, automation, and instrumentation systems?

2) Would you, or someone in your company, be willing to share 'good engineering practices' with others outside your company?

For now, I'm on a 'fishing expedition' and don't know where this will lead, but I promise, what you share with me won't be used without your written permission.

Share your thoughts via e-mail: dharrold@reedbusiness.com

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Learn what FDA investigators and compliance officers already know

During the World Batch Forum conference I had a chance to talk with Martin Browning, president of EduQuest (Hyattstown, Md.).

For 20+ years Mr. Browning worked as a compliance officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While at the FDA, Mr. Browning specialized in computer system validation and co-authored the regulation on electronic records and electronic signatures, more commonly known as 21 CFR Part 11.

Mr. Browning left the FDA in 1999 to form EduQuest, and almost immediately was contracted to train FDA investigators and compliance officers on 'Auditing of Computerized Systems and 21 CFR Part 11.'

Recently EduQuest began offering 'FDA Auditing of Computerized Systems and 21 CFR Part 11' training to industries required to comply with FDA regulations.

If you are interested in attending either the:

  • July 15-18 training in Arlington, Va.

  • September 9-12 training in Los Angeles, Calif.

phone (301) 874-6031.

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Do you know the answers?

'Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor and attended to with diligence.' -Abigail Adams

A few months ago I began introducing a few basic instrumentation and control questions in this newsletter. From the feedback, several find them useful, so here are a few more.

1. What would be the flow characteristics of a control valve when the percentage of flow equals the percentage of plug movement?

a. Linear
b. Equal percentage
c. Quick opening

The answer to #1 is: a. Linear

2. An orifice plate used to eliminate material damming is called:

a. Concentric
b. Eccentric
c. Quadrant-edged
d. Segmental

The answer to #2 is: d. Segmental

3. Which meter type is the Coriolis effect associated with?

a. Head
b. Mass
c. Positive displacement
d. Turbine

The answer to #3 is: b. Mass

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Time is running out to save money with Microsoft's volume licensing

After July 31, 2002, Microsoft software customers will no longer be able to sign Select version 5 agreements, purchase Upgrade Advantage on non-current version licenses, or enroll their current version licenses in Software Assurance.

All Microsoft software volume buyers are urged to evaluate their Microsoft licensing requirements and renegotiate immediately where appropriate.

The Select version 6 agreement is scheduled to replace Select version 5 agreements after July 31.

A report by Gartner Research (Stamford, Conn.) titled, 'Microsoft UA and Select v.5: Won't Be Available for Long,' outlines the terms and conditions that led to Gartner's preference for the version 5 agreement. Gartner is advising its clients to avoid Select version 6 agreements in favor of entering into a new Select version 5 agreement before July 31, 2002.

'The deadline has been extended by Microsoft twice and most likely will not be extended again,' said Gartner analyst Alvin Park. 'Clients who miss the July 31 deadline could pay up to 45 percent more for licenses at the next upgrade cycle. Act now to ensure your company can hang onto Select version 5 agreements one last time, upon which to purchase Upgrade Advantage or Software Assurance on existing licenses before July 31, 2002.'

For more information, visit www3.gartner.com and search for Microsoft Select. For more information about Microsoft Select software licensing, visit www.microsoft.com/licensing/programs/sa/saprepare.asp

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Honeywell offers environmental system validation services

Honeywell Automation & Control Solutions (ACS) Service (Phoenix, Ariz.) recently announced the addition of environmental control system validation services to its portfolio of compliance solutions for regulated manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and biomedical products fields.

According to company spokespersons, Honeywell's customer offering helps document that automation systems perform as expected, in compliance with Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP), including Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 11.

Services Honeywell provides under the validation platform include helping customers:

  • Develop a validation plan;

  • Design and implement qualification protocols;

  • Document standard operating procedures; and

  • Perform required calibration and maintenance to ensure equipment remains validated.

Honeywell claims experience in building control and conformance services along with CGMP-trained engineers and technicians make them uniquely qualified to provide environmental validation expertise in environmental and manufacturing process control areas.

For more information, visit Honeywell at www.honeywell.com/acs

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Pipe-Flo Professional 7.1 Flo-Links

Engineered Software (Lacey, Wash.) is releasing Pipe-Flo Professional 7.1 this month.

Pipe-Flo is part of Engineered Software's Flo-Series of fluid flow simulation and analysis software designed to optimize and troubleshoot new or existing fluid piping systems.

One of the unique features included in Pipe-Flo 7.1 is Flo-Links, a hypertext link to documents and other programs. With Flo-Links users can link a pump, for example, on a Flo-Sheet and have that link access operation and maintenance manuals on the pump manufacturer's website.

A Flo-Link can also be used to start other application software. For example, to calculate the volume of a tank at a given level, a Flo-Link can be created that starts Microsoft Excel and loads a tank volume spreadsheet. Flo-Links support command line parameters providing you with even more control.

Flo-Links can serve as a front end to enterprise applications, such as document management or maintenance management programs. More plants are starting to organize design documents in document management software such as Open Text. Using Flo-Links, a link can be created that displays a document management index with links to other documents.

For more information, visit www.eng-software.com

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Conferences, seminars, and exhibitions

Control Engineering's website includes registration for nine topical e-mailed newsletters, access to exclusive coverage from Control Engineering Europe, site search, Online Control Engineering Buyer's Guide, and Automation Integrator Guide Online, with advanced search functions. Recently added features include enhanced site search, bookstore, and improved navigation. Go to /

Control Engineering's website at / includes links to upcoming conferences, trade shows, and exhibitions:

  • Jun 25-27, Integrated Manufacturing Solutions Conference, Cleveland, O.

  • Sep 3-6, Fisher-Rosemount Users Group, San Diego, Calif.

  • Sep 8-12, Invensys Showcase & Users Group, Orlando, Fla.

  • Sep 24-26, Sensors Fall Expo, Boston, Mass.

  • Oct 8-11, Center for Chemical Process Safety Conference, Jacksonville, Fla.

  • Oct 21-24, ISA Expo, Chicago, Ill.

  • Nov 3-8, AIChE Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, Ind.

  • Nov 4-5, ISPE Annual Meeting, Orlando, Fla.

  • Nov 18-24, Embedded Systems, Boston, Mass.

  • Nov 19-23, BIAS, Milan, Italy

  • Nov 20-21, AB Automation Fair, Anaheim, Calif.

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June in Control Engineering at www.controleng.com

Cover story: Update on Electric Servos
Closed-loop electric servo control remains the most sophisticated motion control method available. Motion systems requiring high dynamic performance rely on servo control. The article will discuss what's actually new in electric servo technology, updating recent developments, methods, and issues. Expert opinions and product examples will illustrate the concepts.

Control System redundancy
Control and automation system reliability and availability are important to daily production, but so are costs. This article will examine control system redundancy options and identify ways to quantify redundancy requirements.

SQL databases
Databases are used increasingly to record, analyze, and relay plant-floor information. What are issues and trends related to software using or incorporating SQL databases?

System integrator application
Here are down-to-earth details of an end-user application. Also covered will be how the system integrator worked with the end-user to achieve agreed-upon goals.

Product Focus: I/O Devices
Original Control Engineering/Cahners Research examines trends and user issues related to I/O devices. Recent product descriptions from leading suppliers will be included, along with research results.

Back to Basics: Gain scheduling
Some processes behave differently when operating near different setpoints. Gain scheduling allows the process controller to adapt its control strategy commensurately whenever the setpoint is changed. Here's a quick look at how gain scheduling can be accomplished.

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