Control Engineering's Process Control Newsletter for May 2001


In this issue:


Comprehensive safety systems report released

During 2000, Control Engineering added a process safety system channel to its web site, and we posted a considerable amount of 'how-to' information related to programmable electronic safety systems.

Contributors to our safety system information include Dr. Angela Summers, president of SIS-Tech (Houston, Tex.), Paul Gruhn with Siemens Moore, and Dr. William Goble, president of (Sellersville, Pa.). All are recognized experts in the area of defining and applying safety systems in process industries.

Recently, the folks at completed a 'Safety System and Critical Control Market' study. The report provides economic data on overall market sales and trends and describes current vendors' products and product differentiators.

Notable trends revealed in this study are:

  • Increased adoption of published safety standards by operating companies;

  • Increased use of a risk based approach to assess the need for safety;

  • More suppliers offering more services as part of a 'total solution;'

  • Greater emphasis on the importance of on-line diagnostics is increasing use of programmable safety systems and reducing the use of relays;and

  • Better integration of control and safety engineering tools.

Click here to visit Control Engineering's process safety system channel at .

Click here to visit .


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Online S88 batch process tutorial

Despite it's being around for several years, a lot of people, especially in small- to medium-sized companies, remain unaware of the ISA S88 standard for modeling and defining batch processes. Perhaps it's because they're unable to attend presentations explaining the concepts and benefits of S88, but thanks to Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, anyone can learn more about S88 through a series of free on-line tutorials. Simply click on the link below, choose your favorite language, and click on the courses button.

For more information, visit .


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World Wide Web Consortium releases XML schema language

Recently, the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium officially released its XML schema language. According to just about everyone with even a casual interest in using the Internet and web for collaboration and dynamic information sharing, XML schemas are the answer.

Copies of the W3 XML schema recommendations can be found at the W3 website, but consider yourself warned, this is not light reading.

For more information, visit .

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ExperTune enhances connectivity

The folks at ExperTune recently announced they have enhanced their connectivity Wizards. ExperTune previously included a list of preconfigured connections to many different controller manufacturers and models. However, if your particular controller wasn't on the list, you were either out of luck, or had to convince ExperTune to provide a connection driver.

What ExperTune has added is a DDE, or OPC connection wizard, that walks you through the steps to connect with almost any controller. Once you've successfully completed the connection, you can use it to connect ExperTune to other like controllers.

For more information, visit .

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Pipe-Flo software receives enhancements

If your job requires you to accurately design and size pumps and valves, you might want to take a look at version 7 of Engineered Software's (Lacey, Wa.) Pipe-Flo Professional software.

Pipe-Flo is a software suite designed to improve design productivity and accuracy in the areas of fluid flow analysis, piping design, and pump and valve sizing and selection.

Sizing and selection wizards use specified design point calculations to help users throughout the sizing and selection process. Pipe-Flo Professional also introduces Flo-Links, enabling external links to be created from the Pipe- Flo flowsheet to any website or Windows application.

For more information, visit .


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CimWorks enhances VisualSPC to help address FDA compliance

GE Fanuc (Kirkland, Wa.) recently announced enhancements to its VisualSPC software to help compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 21 CFR Part 11 regulation that defines how electronic records are to be maintained.

Key VisualSPC enhancements include:

  • Audit trail;

  • Lockouts and electronic signatures;

  • OPC connectivity tools;

  • E-mail alarm notification; and

  • Tighter MINITAB Six Sigma analysis integration.

For more information, visit .

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Request for controller comparison criteria

Has anyone recently conducted a supplier-by-supplier controller(just the controller) evaluation? You know what I'm talking about: you rate each supplier against 20 or 30 key features; write up a detailed technical recommendation; submit it to management and procurement; and end up with the controller that has the best price to free-golf-and-dinner ratio. (Just kidding about that last part.)

I'm not really interested in how anyone ranked individual suppliers (well I am, but I can't really use the information), but I am interested in the 20 or 30 key controller comparison features. Anyone out there willing to share his or her comparison criteria list? (Users and suppliers welcomed.)

E-mail to


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LinuxPLC project and open control

I recently read an interview with Curt Wuollet-founder of the LinuxPLC project and a past Unix system administrator with a background in hospital and manufacturing systems-and wondered does Mr. Wuollet's vision to create a control solution from free software that users download from the Internet have any credence?

Before you answer that question, consider who assumes the risk and liability of assembling and using such a system. Who tests all those parts and pieces to ensure they reliably work together during abnormal situations? If you say 'end-users,' I'll say I seriously doubt it. If you say 'integrators,' then won't the total tested and installed system cost about the same, or maybe even more, than current systems? If you say it will be part of the total equipment solution (i.e., semiconductor chip production machine with on-board sensors and controller), then won't that really be a proprietary solution because the equipment provider isn't likely to allow users to tweak the solution?

I'm not saying the LinuxPLC project is a bad thing; I'm just wondering whether control and automation systems can or should ever become completely open. It seems to me that we're really talking about shifting where proprietary actually exists.

Now you can answer the earlier question I ask. Does Mr. Wuollet's vision to create a control solution from free software users download from the Internet have any credence? Send your thoughts and opinions to

For more information on the LinuxPLC project, visit

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Conferences, seminars, and exhibitions

May 22-25 Simatic and APACS+ Users Meeting (Chicago, Ill.) Visit for details.

June 10-14 Intergraph Process & Building Solutions is sponsoring 'International Process and Power 2001' in Orlando, Fla. Visit for details.

June 10-14 FOUNDATION fieldbus end-user council in Perth, Australia. Visit for more information.

August 7-9 Profibus Trade Organization's General Assembly Meeting will be held in Scottsdale, Ariz. Contact Mike Bryant at (480) 483-2456 or for details.

September 10-13 ISA Expo 2001 will be held in Houston, Tex. Visit for details.

September 25-28 Fisher-Rosemount Users Group Meeting (New Orleans, La.). Visit for details.


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May in Control Engineering

Cover story: Systems integration

The Rating Game
Choosing the right system integrator for an automation project has always been a challenge. The Control Systems Integrator Association (CSIA) has developed tools to guide the selection process. CSIA also certifies system integrators to help differentiate among various firms. Keywords: automation system integration, integrators

Manufacturing execution systems
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) application software has struggled to define a place despite more powerful ERP and HMI/SCADA systems. This article will evaluate benefits MES can offer in a manufacturing environment and how control engineers can exploit them. Keywords: software and information integration

Energy efficient motors
Making electric motors more efficient has never had greater incentive than today. This article will look at the rationale behind efficient motors, what types of motors are involved, what goes into making these 'workhorses' of industry more energy efficient, and the influence of legislation in the U.S. and elsewhere. Energy efficient ac industrial motor examples will be covered, either in the main article or in an Online Extra article. Keywords: motors, drives and motion control

Industrial Ethernet
What's left to say about industrial Ethernet? Plenty. Here's a look at the current state of related technologies and where they're going. Keywords: networks and communications

Sensors, Robotics, Finishing
Show preview: Here's a look at relevant technologies at the Sensors, Robotics, Finishing show in Rosemont, Ill., June 5-7. Keywords: Shows, conferences, news, trends

Product Focus: I/O devices
Original Control Engineering research examines trends and user issues concerning I/O devices. Recent product descriptions from leading suppliers will be included, along with results from a reader survey. Keywords: networks and communications, control components

Back to Basics: Device-level buses
Here are the key things to know about device-level networks. Keywords: networks and communications

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