Control Engineering's Process Control Newsletter for November 2001


In this issue:


Control strategy development course

I've written before how I regularly receive inquiry's asking to explain PID (proportional, integral, derivative) control, recommend tuning parameters for a particular application, or recommend a control strategy. My answer is always about the same; visit / and read the many articles we have published; buy books from sources such as ; and attend training courses.

ControlSoft (Cleveland, O.) has arranged to host a series of one-day process control strategy classes over the next few weeks.

  • 11/29/01 - Toronto, Ontario

  • 12/04/01 - Indianapolis, Indiana

  • 12/07/01 - Cleveland, Ohio, and

  • 12/11/01 - Boston, Massachusetts.

Each class is designed to teach engineers and technicians the most common process control strategies. Each strategy will be simulated to demonstrate why, when, and how to use the strategy. The fee is $1,000 per student and each student will receive a copy of the ControlSoft software tools used during the class to develop, test, and simulate the strategies.

For more information, visit or call (216) 397-3900.

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OPC meeting more and more needs

When I finish this newsletter I'll put the finishing touches on my January 2002 feature article about controller capabilities. In preparation for the January article we conducted an online questionnaire that suppliers completed and in the area of controller connectivity, it's apparent OPC (originally OLE for process control but now more appropriately OLE for production control) has become a connectivity standard with most controller suppliers.

One reason for OPC's success comes from the Foundation's creative ways of advancing and broadening the technology across platforms and industries. Examples of The Foundations ongoing efforts include:

  • Development and release of the 'OPC Batch Custom Interface Specification. This specification is built upon the widely accepted OPC Data Access Specification and the ANSI/ISA S88 batch standards published by The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society (ISA). The OPC Batch Interface Specification provides a universal means of exchanging current run-time batch data and equipment information based on S88's hierarchy;

  • Ongoing development of the 'OPC Data Exchange (DX)' standard for Ethernet, ControlNet, FOUNDATION fieldbus, DeviceNet, and Profibus. OPC-DX is an extension of the existing OPC Data Access specification and will provide interoperable data exchange and server-to-server communications across Ethernet networks using different protocols. When completed, OPC-DX will extend data sharing exchange during run-time, independent of the real-time application protocol being used; and

  • An OPC Interoperability Workshop to be held January 21-25 in Deerfield Beach, Fla. for the purpose of providing an event where OPC members can verify interoperability among multiple vendor products in the areas of: Data Access Specification v2.0+, Alarm & Event Specification v1.0+, and Historical Data Access v1.0.

The OPC Foundation's is a non-profit organization formed to develop an open, standard interface specification based on Microsoft OLE/COM technology. Since it's inception, The Foundation has broadened it's charter to include the development of a worldwide industry-standard specification for multi-vendor interoperability in the manufacturing and process industries by leveraging open computing technologies.

For more information, visit .


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Rapid alarm response system

A frustrating and recurring problem in many control rooms is trying to sort through tags and cryptic information to determine the root cause of emergency alarms. The most recognizable of such events was the Three Mile Island Nuclear reactor melt down.

Total Automation Concepts (Kemblesville, Pa.) recently introduced FSNetworx Flame Safeguard Monitoring system, a rapid alarm response system engineered to quickly, comprehensibly, and affordably decipher emergency alarms from flame safeguard controls.

FSNetworx incorporates a master server to gather and distribute status and alarm information and accurately pinpointing critical, need-to-know information for operators. Integrated into the master server is a web server that provides users the opportunity to view individual flame safeguard system status, alarms, and lockout history. Up to the moment alarm conditions can be sent via e-mail to wireless alphanumeric devices or in the form of text messages to cellular phones.

For more information, visit

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Easy transfers of ODBC data to off-line SPC\SQC software

Stochos (Schenectady, N.Y.) recently introduced CQC Datalink said to provide easy selection of data from an ODBC database into Stochos' Custom/QC off-line SPC\SQC analysis software.

Use of CQC Datalink eliminates column setup procedures, allowing users to conduct off-line analysis with very few keystrokes and eliminating export-import burdens. Users can preview data, sort fields, and save templates that automatically launch data into Custom/QC's mathematical spreadsheet format.

For more information, visit .

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Visual process signatures for data analysis

Several months ago I came across Discoverant, visual analysis software from Aegis Analytical (Lafayette, Colo.). Unlike many data analysis software developers, Aegis approached the barriers to analyzing data by working with pharmaceutical company's like Genentech (South San Francisco, Calif.) and Merck (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) to define the best way to display large amounts of process data from a variety of data sources in a single, readily understandable graphical view that makes important information stand out. The result is Discoverant.

In April 2001, Aegis received notice of allowance on its U.S. Patent claims covering its Visual Process Signatures (Discoverant) technology.

Discoverant software combines direct, interactive data-access with statistical analysis, and visualization technologies specifically designed to simultaneously analyze data from multiple manufacturing data sources. Discoverant gives users the ability optimize entire manufacturing processes by identifying, and analyzing critical process parameters from raw materials through finished product. Discoverants' ability to combine data from control and automation, laboratory information, supervisory control and data acquisition, manufacturing execution, enterprise resource planning, and other manufacturing-related data sources permits faster pinpointing of daily operational problems as well as assisting in the preparation of annual product reviews. And, Discoverant displays multiple variables of complex data from different sources without user programming.

An online Discoverant video is available at .

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Intelligent hydrogen sulfide detector

Process engineers needing hydrogen sulfide gas detectors to protect people and equipment may find the S4000T intelligent gas detector from General Monitors (Lake Forest, Calif.) to be just what they are looking for.

The S4000T features remote mounting up to 3,700 ft. (1,128 meter), redundant Modbus communications, eight amp relays, three-digit display, 4-20mA output, remaining sensor life indication, and one-person calibration.

The S4000T is designed to detect hydrogen sulfide in ranges of 0-20, 0-50, and 0-100 parts per million.

For more information, visit .

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Conferences, seminars, and exhibitions

Visit /calendar.asp for the latest in upcoming conferences, seminars, and exhibitions.

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November in Control Engineering

Cover: Closed-loop motor and controller units
Integrated servo packages (and some step-motor based systems) are expanding the sophistication of motors and controllers as a combined product. These integrated motor/drive packages offer a complete motion system solution for some distributed applications. Where and how users can benefit from this technology will be explored, along with applicable products.

Open system integration application
This article explains how RasGas (Qatar, Middle East) completed an information-integrated LNG and offshore facility using the methods, architectures, techniques, and applications explained in Control Engineering throughout 2001.

Intelligent connected I/O
I/O devices continue to improve with technology providers offering networking choices, intelligent modules in small packages, and embedded control. This article will show trends and future impact and benefits for a distributed I/O architecture and implications for machine design.

Product Focus: Operator interface terminals
Original Control Engineering/Cahners Research examines trends and user issues with operator interface terminals. Recent product descriptions from leading suppliers will be included, along with research results.

Back to Basics: RFID (Radio frequency identification)
Radio frequency identification, or RFID, helps track where products, parts, or machinery are located. Find out what's inside this technology.

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