Control Engineering's System Integration Newsletter - February 2002
In this issue:
CE's April cover story will cover integrator registration program
For a thorough introduction to Control System Integrators Association's (CSIA, Exton, Pa.) Best Practices and Benchmarks process and its Registered Member designation, readers will soon be able to refer to the cover story, 'Integrator Registration Aims to Promote Excellence,' in the April 2002 issue of Control Engineering , scheduled to mail April 9.
The feature article, written by Vance VanDoren, Ph.D., CE's consulting editor for system integration and advanced control, explores both the history of the BP&B and Registered Member programs, which certify CSIA members' business practices, so their clients won't have to do it.
Dr. Van Doren writes, for example, that passing the CSIA's audit is not easy. Passing score for the overall audit is 85%, and for the two specific subsections it is a minimum of 80%. Once an integrator has successfully passed an audit, it earns the distinction of being a Registered Member of the CSIA. However, to continue using this distinction, it must successfully complete an audit every three years.
Dr. Van Doren's piece explains that the 12-step process for achieving Registered Member status includes:
2. CSIA or Exotek for a copy of the audit criteria;
10. To maintain confidentiality, CSIA is notified only if an audit results in a passing grade;
11. CSIA notifies integrator upon acceptance of a successful registration; and
12. Repeat from Step 4 at least once every three years.
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Soy oil extraction plant needs single, open control system
The National Vegetable Oil Co. (NVO, Borg El Arab, Egypt) recently finished building what it reports is the largest soy oil extraction plant in both Africa and Europe, and sought a single control system that could manage both the grain terminal and the oil seed processing plant. To process its anticipated 3,000 metric tons of soybeans per day, the plant needed both sequential and extensive analog controls to automate all operations.
However, NVO's engineers also wanted to reduce the project's time and expense, and so they eventually selected Control System International's (CSI, Lenexa, Kan.) User-Configurable Open System (UCOS). UCOS provides an open, Microsoft Windows NT-based platform that employs preconfigured sequential and analog control components that helped shorten the development cycle.
Interfaced to more than 2,600 I/O points, UCOS can monitor and control all plant functions and subsystems, including soybean movement, cleaning, drying, flaking, extracting, storage and loadout. UCOS' open platform allows to communicate with the plant's Allen-Bradley subsystems, Crown Iron Works processing equipment, and Kistler-Morse ultrasonic level sensors, the user says.
Rapistan uses EMS' RFID for material handling
Escort Memory Systems (EMS, Scotts Valley, Calif.), a supplier of RFID solutions, announced Feb. 15 that Rapistan Systems recently integrated EMS' products to build complete tracking systems at John Deere and Lear Corp.
Rapistan Systems, also known as Siemens Dematic , is reportedly the largest material handling system integrator in the world, with more than 10,000 installed systems and an international knowledge base that helps minimize risk, and ensures that enduser systems meet specified requirements, as well as operational and business objectives.
EMS attributes its success to its products, which it reports are easier for integrators to work with because of their flexibility and efficiency. 'We have a long track record of implementing RFID solutions in settings from harsh-environment automotive plants to fast-pace of postal applications,' says Mark Nicholson, EMS' ceo. 'Integrating EMS' products to provide complete RFID solutions for companies like Rapistan solidifies our market-leading position.'
EMS manufactures complete read-only and read/write RFID solutions, as well as Network Interface Modules that can communicate with more than 95% of the world's industrial networks. The company's product offerings, combined with more than 15 years of data capture expertise, have secured EMS a place in Fortune 500 companies worldwide. Now, with the introduction of its fourth-generation RFID products, EMS is expanding its presence from its strong manufacturing base into all sectors of the supply chain.
A seamless dc to ac drives retrofit
To help them continue producing value-added films and flexible packaging products, engineers at Pliant Corp. (Macedon N.Y.) recently asked Omron IDM Controls (Houston, Tex.) to retrofit the drives on one of the plant's older six-color flexographic printing presses. Pliant uses the older press to develop new printed substrates made from different poly film constructions of varying thicknesses.
Unfortunately, the existing dc drive system was unable to maintain tight control of web tension after each material change. This level of precision is needed to produce high-performance, cost-effective packaging. Quality had to be maintained at minimal cost, so Pliant chose to retrofit the existing machine with ac drives, rather than purchase a new press.
Design plans called for installation of an ac drive system at each of nine machine sections in which Pliant engineering installed high-performance Omron IDM G5 Series ac vector drives. Each drive is connected via a Profibus network to an existing Allen-Bradley SLC-5/04 PLC. An additional I/O chassis was included to accommodate the drive system.
Because the engineering team was working with existing automation hardware, software, and infrastructure, several integration challenges arose. Since the ac drives came with a Profibus interface, a Profibus-DP Master Card from SST (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) had to be integrated with the Allen-Bradley PLC for communicating to the drives. While this is not a difficult task from a programming standpoint, coordinating the Allen-Bradley PLC, Profibus DP Master Card and Profibus parameters within the drives to work together in a seamless, efficient manner was labor intensive.
In the new configuration, Pliant's engineers integrated the drive control logic into the existing PLC program, redirected the old I/O points into the new logic, and connected the new drives over the network, greatly simplifying the wiring scheme and increasing network efficiency. In addition, tight clearances required that new hardware and wiring be incorporated into existing cabinet space.
The technology applied in this system is most evident on the rewind end of the machine. As the printed film rewinds onto the spindle, the roll must turn more slowly as it increases in diameter to maintain the same surface speed as the line. The new winder control software calculates the diameter and regulates tension during this process. This function is critical to the quality of the final product. The ac drive's CASE (Custom Application Software Environment) capability was used to perform this function internal to the drive, thus saving implementation time and costs that Omron IDM Controls was able to pass along to Pliant.
Additional time, money and space savings were achieved using a common dc bus system to power the drives. This configuration uses a single dc power supply and a braking unit for all the drives, reducing the parts count and system wiring, and allowing the drives to share power. Benefits of the retrofit include a dramatic reduction in press downtime and a decrease in scrap due to precise web tensioning.
For more information, visit Omron IDM Controls .
-Richard Lewis, design engineer for Omron IDM Controls Inc. (Houston, Tex.), and Dick Johnson, senior editor, Control Engineering
Control.com partners with CSIA to deliver open control systems
To provide an open forum for automation integrators and open control systems for manufacturers, CSIA and Control.com (Westborough, Mass.) announced Feb. 11 that they've formed a partnership. CSIA and Control.com plan to jointly launch a series of services that enhance interaction in the integrator community, and then build on that interaction to deliver a suite of fully supported open control systems.
Control.com is also working with CSIA to develop a new web-based community for its members and other system integrators seeking to enhance their technical knowledge and interact with peers and experts in the automation field. This community, 'Control System Integrator Connection,' will feature technical discussions in which integrators can ask or answer questions, as well as share their expertise on topics, such as PLCs, HMI software and motion control. Control.com will also provide CSIA member companies with opportunities to promote their services directly to manufacturers via a suite of e-marketing programs delivered through Control.com.
In addition, Control.com plans to work with CSIA's members to deliver fully supported open control systems to the manufacturing community. Developed in conjunction with Control.com's Open Control Laboratory, these new systems will provide manufacturers with modular components that can be mixed and matched to serve a variety of data acquisition, process control and motion control applications. Control.com will provide the open systems technology, including hardware, software and compatibility testing. CSIA integrators that complete CSIA's 'Best Practices and Benchmarks' registration process will provide on-site installation, applications-level development and support.
'System integrators must aggressively pursue new technologies and resources to deliver the maximum value to the automation community,' says Norm O'Leary, CSIA's executive director. 'Our partnership with Control.com provides integrators with a new suite of essential tools; instant access to in-depth technical discussions; and a family of open control products that will deliver increased performance, communications, and programming flexibility.'
CSIA is North America's largest organization for independent control system integrators. Member companies provide integrated control system solutions for companies in the automotive, chemical, food, healthcare, medical, metal, petrochemical, petroleum, pharmaceutical, plastics, power, printing, and rubber industries.
Control.com is home to the Open Control Laboratory, Automation List and the PLCArchive, peer-to-peer forums that provide numerous opportunities for interchange in the control community. The company is also seeking to advance the open control paradigm, in which interoperability among different vendors' products allows designers to create control systems with products that work best with their applications. Control.com says it plays a key role in establishing open control as the industry's norm via integration, supply, service, and support of open systems and components.
National Instruments adopts CSIA's audit process
To help elevate the role and recognition of system integrators worldwide, CSIA announced Feb. 23 that National Instruments (NI, Austin, Tex.) will adopt its Audit Process as part of NI's Select Integration Partner assessment program.
Conducted by an independent company, CSIA's Audit Process measures the performance of system integration firms against a rigorous series of Best Practices and Benchmarks (BP&B) in general management, human resources, project management, quality management, financial management and business development.
'NI will adopt the CSIA Audit Process as part of our Select Integration Partner assessment, and will request that our Select Partners, as well as those interested in becoming Select Partners, join CSIA, implement BP&B practices, and pass the CSIA audit,' says Jack Barber, NI's Partner development manager. 'We hope our Select Partners will become active participants in the association's programs to enhance the professionalism, stature and business management skills of system integrators.'
There are currently 17 system integrators designated as Select Partners among the more than 600 companies in NI's worldwide Alliance Program. These 17 achieved Select Partner status by delivering quality products and services in conjunction with conducting a high level of business with NI.
'NI's adoption of the audit process reinforces CSIA's credo that being a good systems integrator goes hand-in-hand with operating a good business,' says James Cummings, CSIA's chairman.
To date, 23 CSIA members have passed the audit, and earned the CSIA Registered Member designation. While the main purpose of this process is to give control system integrators a way to evaluate and continuously improve their businesses, it has also become a valuable tool for users in evaluating, selecting and managing control system integration firms.
'Registered Member designation provides some much-needed definition in an industry typically characterized by a range of general or vague descriptions,' adds Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Barber adds that, 'NI's adoption of the CSIA audit process benefits the association, our partners, and our company. By requesting that our Select Partners join the CSIA organization, we will bring numerous top-notch system integrators into the organization. In turn, we believe our Select Partners will benefit from and contribute to the Best Practices & Benchmarks established by CSIA. Further, by encouraging our Select Partners to undergo the audit, we will foster participation in and credibility of the audit process. Finally, NI will benefit from the certification of our Select Partners through a process that is developed and maintained by integrators for integrators.'
Launched in late 2000, CSIA's Audit Process was developed in concurrence with Fortune 500 companies and others that use control system integrators' services; control manufacturers that often team with these firms; and CSIA's members. Among those participating in developing the program, in addition to National Instruments, were ConAgra, DuPont and General Electric Automation Services.
Six integrators achieve Registered Member status
Six more control system integrators recently earned CSIA's Registered Member designation after completing the association's Best Practices and Benchmarks (BP&B) registration process. Designed to assist users in evaluating and selecting integration firms and help control system integrators evaluate and improve their businesses, the BP&B process and Register Member program were launched in 2000. CSIA presently has 23 Registered Members. This latest group of CSIA Register Members includes:
Control Manufacturing Co. (Napa, Calif.)
GES Technology (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Optimation Technology Inc. (Rush, N.Y.)
Quantum Control Inc. (Plymouth, Mich.)
Tegron (Longview, Tex.)
TVC Systems (Portsmouth, N.H.)
'CSIA developed its BP&B process and Registered Member designation to simplify what has become a daunting task of identifying, interviewing, qualifying, evaluating, selecting and managing control system integration firms,' adds Mr. Cummings. 'For companies planning to engage an independent control system integrator, it's often quite difficult to determine which integrators are the most viable and best fit for a given project. CSIA's registration program provides an industry-specific means of identifying the areas of importance and minimizing the uncertainties.'
CSIA's 2002 Executive Conference scheduled for April 11-14
CSIA will hold its 2002 Annual Meeting and Executive Conference on April 11-14 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The three-day conference will bring together control system integrators (CSIs) from three continents, and will feature presentations on issues affecting their growth and profitability.
One special feature of this year's event will be recognition of CSIA's charter group of Registered Member designees. These include system integrator firms that passed CSIA's intensive audit process, which measures performance against criteria in six critical business areas.
For more information about CSIA's 2002 conference, contact Norman O'Leary, CSIA's executive director, at 640 Rice Blvd., Exton, Pa., 19341; telephone: 800/661-4914; fax: 888/581-3666; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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