2008 New Product Compendium: Process and Advanced Control Systems

The following products were introduced in 2008, and participated in the Control Engineering Engineers’ Choice Awards competition.

By Control Engineering Staff February 9, 2009

Descriptions were provided by vendor companies. For more information, visit the Website listed. To learn which products won the competition, and which received honorable mentions, visit www.controleng.com/awards .

SmartSignal Plant Availability and Performance Solution (PlantAPS)

SmartSignal Corp.

SmartSignal PlantAPS is a full-service solution for power gen that provides the intelligence to detect, diagnose, and prioritize developing equipment and process problems well before they happen.

This product is a combination of technology, people, and process. It uses the award-winning, unique, and patented EPI*Center technology. Unlike competitive technologies, EPI*Center has a unique modeling technique that builds models for and detects problems for each unique piece of equipment ( not generic models), thus providing much earlier and more accurate detection of problems than is available elsewhere; it is based on 100’s of millions of hours of experience; it detects the broadest range of equipment problems across the widest variety of assets and failure modes across industries; it provides precise, accurate, unambiguous and operationally relevant notifications of impending problems, and it provides Diagnostics and Prioritizations of the problems. Engineers from SmartSignal’s brand new Availability and Performance Center (in-house monitoring and diagnostics center) work with the EPI*Center software to provide complete modeling and maintenance and analysis for its customers=SmartSignal PlantAPS. All the customers have to do is receive SmartSignal notifications of impending problems and act on them to fix impending problems before they become serious. So, SmartSignal PlantAPS combines the software, the people, and the process to provide full-service solutions to its customers. The customers do not have to learn the software and do not have to learn how to analyze it. We do it all for them via the new SmartSignal PlantAPS in our Plant Availability and Performance Center. SmartSignal is the #1 provider of predictive analytic solutions across industries, including oil and gas, power, mining, aviation, and pulp and paper.

A representative list of customers can be found at www.smartsignal.com (under Customers). Our customers report major benefits from using SmartSignal. They typically payback in less than 6 months. Salt River Project talked about the value they obtain from the new SmartSignal PlantAPS in a recent webinar, available on the home page of our website. Robert Peltier, Editor in Chief of Power magazine, also participated in this webinar and talked about the major benefit ($30+ million in one day) that Entergy achieved via use of SmartSignal and avoiding a catastrophic failure. Also available on the homepage of the website: The Value of Predictive Analytics for Fossil Fuel Power Plants (showing ave value of $670 K/yr by using SmartSignal) and Mirant, KCP&L, and TranAlta case studies showing, respectively, a $1 million value in first month of using SmartSignal; avoiding failures across the fleet using SmartSignal; and increasing availability to its highest level in history.


Centum VP


Centum VP is an integrated production control system (DCS) designed for the control and monitoring and data integration for the process industries.

New in the Centum VP release is a refreshed look & feel of the operation and monitoring designed to be more attractive, more intuitive, and more unified in providing a higher level of data integration. It adopts universal colors and Internet Explorer-like tabs running under Microsoft Windows Vista Aero as well as Windows XP. Going beyond the traditional function of controlling and monitoring the plant, Centum VP integrates plant information management, asset management, and operation support functions to achieve a more unified operating environment. This is achieved by a concept of containers and frames to partition displays into a customizable window hierarchy adoptable to an operator’s favorite display philosophy to visualize the right information to his environment at the right time. Also included is a consolidated alarm management system based upon industry guidelines that reduces the alarm overload and intelligently displays the right process information at the right time. The new operator interface is essential for insuring that users get prioritized actionable information instead of a flooding of data with which to make their decisions.


AC 700F


ABB’s AC 700F is a compact, robust controller that offers exceptional process performance for small applications, for roughly the same price as PLCs that have less power and functionality.

The AC 700F is a powerful, compact controller that bridges the gap between PLCs and larger process automation systems, making it an ideal solution for small process applications. Technological advancement – The AC 700F closes the gap between PLCs and complex process control systems. While traditional PLC automation systems are compact in size and lower in cost with fast processing speeds, they offer few engineering options and often lack convenient visualization capabilities. Unlike conventional PLC systems, the AC 700F offers all of the benefits of the tools integrated in ABB’s Freelance compact DCS system, including engineering tools and pre-engineered visualization components, extended troubleshooting capabilities, ready made system communication, and other tools and features. These components can be used straight out of the box, eliminating the manual configuration that is required when using traditional PLCs. Market Impact: The AC 700F provides customers with a powerful, scalable control option for smaller applications, where a full size DCS solution would be much more than what is needed to do the job, and a PLC would not provide enough capability. It is the right sized solution for these applications, as it provides superior functionality and ease of use, with the option to expand into a larger system, for roughly the same cost as a traditional PLC. Service to the Industry: The AC 700F offers exceptional functionality and power at an affordable price, making it a cost-effective solution to improve the performance of smaller processes. It makes powerful control and productivity improvement affordable for a wider range of manufacturers.


Loop-Pro with NSS Modeling Innovation

Control Station Inc.

Patent-pending process modeling and controller tuning technology that eliminates the requirement for steady-state operation before dynamic bump tests can be performed.

Control Station’s Non-Steady State (NSS) Modeling Innovation, first introduced in Loop-Pro v5, represents a breakthrough in process control optimization technology. Achieving and maintaining steady-state operation is challenging in production environments. Process plants are inherently dynamic due to multivariable interactions and innumerable disturbances. Ensuring that all elements of a process are “quiet” and stable prior to bump testing is often impractical and sometimes impossible. The challenge heightens when tuning controllers on integrating processes where the difficulties with achieving steady-state operation are well known. The NSS Modeling Innovation applies a unique method for modeling dynamic process data and eliminates the need for steady-state operation. The innovation does not use a specific data point or average data point as a “known” and is therefore not constrained by it. Rather, the innovation centers the model across the entire range of data under consideration. As a result, Loop-Pro is free to consider all possible model adjustments and enables an optimal model fit for controller tuning. As a requisite of traditional state-of-the-art tools, achieving steady-state operation prior to testing can significantly and negatively impact a production facility’s profitability. Eliminating the need for a process to become steady before tuning indeed provides significant economic value.


Control Engineering magazine subscriptions are available.