Stars of 1998

Nineteen ninety-eight was a stellar year for the control industry; a year when many new and exciting products were proudly rolled out and implemented in plants worldwide.Control Engineering'seditors have chosen the best products of 1998 and honor the top 40 in the industry with the12th annual Editors' Choice Awards.

By Michael Drakulich and Control Engineering Staff March 1, 1999

Nineteen ninety-eight was a stellar year for the control industry; a year when many new and exciting products were proudly rolled out and implemented in plants worldwide. Control Engineering ‘seditors have chosen the best products of 1998 and honor the top 40 in the industry with the12th annual Editors’ Choice Awards.The criteria used to determine the winners are technological advancement, impact on the market, and service to the industry. The awards were distributed among seven industry segments: process control and instrumentation, human-machine interface, control components, machine control, software for control, motors and motioncontrol, and the newest category, networks and communication.Following are brief summaries of the award-winning products. Control Engineering ‘seditors will present the awards to the winning companies on the eve of this year’s National Industrial Automation Show at National Manufacturing Week in Chicago, March 15-18.

One size fits all

Spring House, Pa.— The APACS Process Automation System has been transformed into APACS+ Process Automation System by using client-server architecture and removing capacity limits on operator interface clients, controllers, I/O points, historical archiving ability, and how redundancy is implemented. The new scalable system features nonintrusive control simulation, configuration version control, expanded use of OPC standards, third-party application access through a published API, F OUNDATION fieldbus integration, flexible reporting, “ready-to-use” libraries, and more. Moore Process Automation Solutions

Compact control system

Wickliffe, O.— Symphony Solo provides a migration path from compact control applications to large, full-featured enterprise management systems. The compact control system does this by combining the small to medium-size Freelance 2000 automation control system with the Maestro/Conductor Microsoft Windows NT Human System Interface (HSI) of the Symphony Enterprise Management and Control System. The Symphony HSI provides a common interface to any combination of Freelance 2000 or Symphony Controllers to incrementally increase control and communications capabilities based on application requirements. Features include object-oriented graphic displays, full-featured process historian, open data exchange with Intranet and Internet communications, and OPC connectivity.

Elsag Bailey Process Automation, a unit of ABB

Large-scale DCS

Newnan, Ga.— Centum CS 3000 is a large-scale distributed control system intended for use in process control applications. Suited for process control and information integration in a wide variety of industries, including petroleum refining, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, food, and specialty chemical application, Centum CS 3000 includes a human interface station (HIS) that runs with Microsoft Windows NT, and a field control station connected to field sensors and control elements. A UNIX-based HIS is also available. Users can simultaneously operate control windows and other applications such as Microsoft Excel as well as paste commercially available Active-X control, graphics, etc. onto standard operating and monitoring windows. Yokogawa Corp. of America

2-wire electromagnetic flowmeter

Warminster, Mass.— COPA-XT electromagnetic flowmeter is designed to meter liquids, slurries, and sludges when the conductivity of the media to be measured exceeds 50is –25 to 60 °C. Meter display is 2×16 character liquid-crystal dot-matrix type. Bailey-Fischer & Porter, a unit of ABB

Connecting to fieldbus

Austin, Tex.— Fieldpoint (FP) 3000 can connect up to nine analog or discrete Fieldpoint I/O modules to a F OUNDATION fieldbus (FF) H1 network. According to its developer, FP-3000 makes the Fieldpoint system the first general-purpose I/O and control system available for FF. The new interface module not only manages communication between the Fieldpoint I/O modules and FF but also can serve as a link active scheduler. The standard FF function blocks implemented include Analog Input, Analog Output, Discrete Input, Discrete Output, Complex Discrete Output, and PID. National Instruments

Getting ready for Y2K

Foxboro, Mass.— Year 2000 Tune-Up Kit replaces legacy system core elements from Bailey, Fisher, or Honeywell DCSs in order to establish Year 2000 compliance. Rather than replacing existing field wiring, I/O terminations, enclosures, and power supplies, the Tune-Up Kit retains these extremely costly elements and simply replaces the legacy system’s core computational elements with advanced, Y2K-compliant, I/A Series automation, saving as much as 30-60% of the cost of a complete system replacement. The Foxboro Co.

Control ‘outstanding’ in its field

Phoenix, Ariz.— OpenField is a comprehensive integration of FOUNDATION fieldbus into Honeywell’s TotalPlant control system. OpenField consists of open control platforms, field devices, advanced control solutions, @asset. MAX solution, and other services. Components of OpenField include Honeywell TPS and PlantScape system; OpenField transmitters; Valtek Logix 1400 valve positioners from Flowserve (a Honeywell alliance partner), and Honeywell Hi-Spec Solutions. According to the company, OpenField is intended to provide an open control environment for realizing maximum fieldbus benefits with minimum effort. Honeywell IAC

Putting FF to work

Austin, Tex.— Plantwide process control can be either implemented or ugraded to take advantage of FOUNDATION fieldbus (FF) technology using PlantWeb Builder. This control system’s field-based architecture allows the user to take advantage of a full suite of fieldbus products. The result is an integrated solution that delivers control capability and information access across the entire enterprise. According to its developer, PlantWeb Builder can leverage the capabilities of more than 700 FOUNDATION fieldbus devices already in real-world application to improve costs, factory throughput, and performance. Fisher-Rosemount

Client/server software adds and extends functionality

West Allis, Wis.— The RSView32 Active Display system is client/server software that adds on to, and extends, the functionality and reach of RSView32 HMI software. The Active Display System is an RSView32 add-on software option for distributed clients that can both monitor and control (through appropriate security) the server application. The product provides a powerful way to access an RSView32 project on a server from remote client sites. Active Display System is comprised of the Active Display Server and two client options—Active Display Station for dedicated users and Active Display Browser for remote users. Rockwell Software

MonitorMice for NT

Fremont, Calif.— Elo TouchSystems Inc. introduced MonitorMice for Windows NT, a touchscreen software technology that takes advantage of the multiprocessing capabilities of Microsoft Windows NT so a network of up to 32 touchmonitors can be run from one PC. Previously, each touchscreen needed its own PC to operate while only one monitor could be used to view output from a Microsoft Windows NT application. In multiuser mode, simultaneous touches on multiple monitors are recognized and processed without delay, giving the user the feeling of using a dedicated PC. A single PC, MonitorMice, and several Elo touchmonitors are available. Elo TouchSystems Inc.

Win CE, 6-in. color touchscreen

Melrose Park, Ill.— Total Control Products released the FactoryClient 2000, a compact diskless computing device with Microsoft Windows CE O/S, 6-in. color touchscreen display, an Ethernet port, and industrial I/O interfaces. A file manager simplifies developing and loading client applications such as CNC, HMI, soft control, and ERP/MES clients. The unit “collapses the traditional factory pyramid,” removing barriers to the information flow, the company says. Total Control Products

The first industrial PC using Microsoft Windows CE

Delta, British Columbia, Canada— Dynapro introduced what is believed to be the first Microsoft Windows CE-based industrial PC. The Dynapro ET 4500 computer with Windows CE is a diskless system offering features that previously required a full computer to support. This product is a TFT flat-panel computer that features an Intel 486 DX5 processor, two ISA slots, and one PCI expansion slot. ET 4500 comes standard with resistive touchscreen technology, but also offers its developers Near Field Imaging touch technology as an upgrade option. This PC is ideal for harsh industrial environments. Dynapro

Rugged proximity switch

Freeport, Ill.— The 990 Series proximity sensor is designed to be assembled easily and comes with state-of-the-art plastic encapsulation techniques that ensure an IP67 rating, while adding to the switch’s rugged performance. The 990 Series family includes a 3-wire dc version in 8, 12, 18, and 30 mm standard sizes. A range of enhanced mechanical and electronic characterisitcs include synchronous switching at high or low voltages, 2 kHz frequency, ring-type LEDs for increased visibility, and an operating temperature range of–25 to 80 °C. Typical applications for the 990 Series are the automotive, machine tool, and specialty equipment industries. Honeywell Micro Switch

Color differentiating sensor

Schaumburg, Ill.— E3MC RGB (red, green, blue) color sensor includes a threshold sensitivity adjustment that allows high-precision color differentiation. Available in three- or four-channel versions, the E3MC allows up to four separate outputs. Incorporating light wave sensing and free angle optics technologies, as well as temperature compensation circuitry, the sensor discriminates differences in color without being influenced by changes in ambient temperature, brightness, or positioning of objects being sensed. Omron Electronics

Adjustable-field photoelectric sensor

Minneapolis, Minn.— Banner Engineering’s QMT42 Series of adjustable-field photoelectric sensors allows users to precisely detect objects within a defined sensing field while ignoring reflective objects beyond the cutoff point. The new sensors offer a electronic adjustment unlike mechanical adjustments found in other sensors. The sensors are 10 to 30 V dc powered, and available in two models with adjustable field cutoff points of either 50 to 150 mm, or 125 to 400 mm. Sensing field cutoff is adjusted using the unit’s 12-turn slotted brass potentiometer, which is clutched at both ends to prevent breakage. The sensors are made of die-cast zinc alloy, with the electronics encapsulated in epoxy, enabling the sensors to withstand harsh conditions and severe impact. Banner Engineering

Infrared camera monitors continuously

Protland, Ore. —ThermoVision infrared camera is designed to enhance effectiveness of visible-light machine vision systems by capturing additional information for more sophisticated machine decision making. It’s a high-resolution, uncooled infrared camera in a sealed, fixed-mount housing. A wide range of lenses and filters makes it possible to use the sensor in a variety of inspection and monitoring roles. It operates independently of light levels, with a thermal sensitivity of &0.1° C, and measures -20 to 2,000 C with Flir Systems International

PLC with CE

Cumming, Ga.— PLC Direct ‘s WinPLC is a run-time platform for control that integrates features of a PLC and a PC, including direct backplane access to I/O, nonvolatile program and data memories, and built-in Ethernet and serial ports. It is also one of the first PLCs to be fitted with Microsoft Windows CE. WinPLC fits into the CPU slot of the company’s DL205 series bases, and uses backplane communication to DL205 I/O modules. A 40 MHz processor has access to 4MB of flash ROM and 2MB of RAM. The embedded Ethernet port provides a 10 Mbps connection to any other platform using standard Windows communication tools. PLCDirect

Flexible, modular control platform

North Andover, Mass.— Momentum Open Control System is a set of open architecture control products designed to fulfill many roles in a variety of automation strategies, such as PC-based control systems, distributed control systems, and traditional stand-alone PLC control systems. Momentum’s modular design comprises products that interchangeably snap together. As an I/O platform, Momentum offers a full complement of distributed I/O modules for DCS and PC-based control systems. The control platform supports Modbus, Modbus Plus, and Interbus. The Momentum Communication Adapter allows independence of I/O points and is said to ensure stable machine and process designs from the I/O module down. Schneider Automation

Windows-equipped hybrid

Alpharetta, Ga.— The Simatic MP270 Multi Panel is said to combine the robust, deterministic behavior of a PLC with the openess of a PC, all in a standard operator panel format. The MP270 will be part of a product line Siemens describes as lying somewhere between an industrial PC and PLC, equipped with Microsoft Windows CE. The unit features an Intel Pentium processor, a high-clarity display, and membrane keyboard. It also has standard Profibus communication capability, as well as Ethernet connectivity via a PCMCIA interface. Siemens Energy & Automation

PLC family for flexible architectures

Charlottesville, Va.— VersaMax I/O and Control System can control up to 256 I/O points and can be used in stand-alone or distributed applications, or as a slave in a Genius or Profibus-DP network. A master module allows the VersaMax PLC to control and monitor devices over a DeviceNet network. The family offers plug-and-play simplicity and autoconfiguration for automatic recognition of system changes. The system also permits users to add and remove I/O modules from their bases while a process is running without affecting field wiring. The 70 mm depth and small footprint of the VersaMax affords easy, convenient mounting. Units can be mounted horizontally and vertically, or mounted as auxiliary terminal blocks. GE Fanuc

Not just micro, a supermicro PLC

Vernon Hills, Ill.— Members of the FX2N Supermicro PLC family all have dual serial ports and support Profibus-DP and CC Link. These features enable applications such as CPU-to-CPU networking; modem support for remote diagnostics/monitoring/programming; SCADA to a PC or host PLC; and simultaneous use of programming, HMI, and networking functions. Other features available are 60 kHz counting and 20 kHz pulse outputs to enhance machine and motion control throughput; an 8K memory that expands to 16K for large applications; and an 8K data bank that supports significant storage requirements. The instruction set includes floating point math and trigonometry, extensive data manipulation, communications, and motion control demands. Mitsubishi Electric Automation

Drive in a module

San Jose, Calif.— DriveBlok and CapBlok make up Semipower Systems’ “building block” approach to create motor drives targeted at OEM machine builders and system integrators. DriveBlok is a complete ac sensorless, flux vector drive with the functionality and I/O subsystem of high-performance packaged drives. CapBlok is a package containing the necessary capacitors, and plugs into DriveBlok. The combination creates a complete integrated drive in a module—said to be the smallest configuration for 1.5-20 kW sizes—and only needs a heatsink. This modular drive solution contains a sensorless flux vector, software-based control system providing 4-quadrant speed and torque control. It can be configured to run either ac induction or brushless permanent magnet motors. Performance features include 250% starting torque; 0.2% speed regulation; 1.5 msec torque response, and 100:1 constant torque-speed range. Semipower Systems

Low-voltage switching devices take modular form

Batavia, Ill. —The Sirius 3R line provides modular form in a system that includes motor starter protectors (MSPs), contactors, overload relays, control circuit relays, timers, and accessory parts, with matching fit and function. Sirius 3R promotes ease of assembly and servicing virtually without tools. Narrow widths save space for dense cabinet packing. Four frame sizes simplify panel layout. Contactors have ac or dc coils and can switch motors up to 55 kW at 600 V. Units rated 3.7 kW or higher allow top, bottom, or diagonal connection of the coil. MSPs function as thermomagnetic circuit breakers, offering current rating up to 100 A and short-circuit protection to 50 kV at 480 V. Siemens Energy & Automation-Siemens Furnas Controls

Motor and Inverter in One Package

Fairfield, N.J.— The Motec 8200 offers a frequency inverter that mounts directly to the top of an ac induction motor to provide a compact and functional drive unit. The inverter matches all three-phase ac motors when mounted in place of a terminal box, and requires a 400 to 500 V power source for operation. Benefits include high overload capacity, space savings, and direct communication with a host when attached to fieldbus modules. Pictured is a gearmotor version of the product. Lenze

Modular control system is compact, easy to assemble

Milwaukee, Wis. —The Allen-Bradley Modular Control System offers short-circuit protection and coordination (Type 1 and 2) and stresses simple, quick installation with configurable components. Major elements are manual MSPs, contactors, solid-state and bimetallic overload relays, and soft starters—sized in three widths (45, 54, 72 mm). Contactors come with reversible coil terminals for best access of connections. Ratings are up to 85 A for ac and dc coils. Control relays have low-power contact ratings and a variety of pole arrangements. Contactors and overload relays link, creating a compact Motor Starter/Protector device meeting circuit-breaker requirements of IEC 947-2. For North American applications, it meets manual motor control requirements and is rated for “group motor” installation. Rockwell Automation

Intelligent motor starters communicate via DeviceNet

Milwaukee, Wis. —DeviceNet MCC is said to be the industry’s first DeviceNet-compatible motor control center. DeviceNet compatibility allows a single trunk cable and one drop cable for each vertical section of the MCC, helping to reduce cabinet size. An industrial PC or PLC in the motor control center serves as the logic engine. One connection reduces wiring, installation cost, and troubleshooting and simplifies adding more devices. Cutler-Hammer

‘Function-block’ modules are in low-density ‘slice’ format

Harrisburg, Pa. —Interbus Inline I/O system is a family of more than 60 digital, analog, and special function modules in a low-density “slice” format. It has input and output terminal blocks for almost any kind of signal from one to 16 channels; control terminal blocks for distributed intelligence; motor starters; and branch, pneumatic, and function terminal blocks. Modular nature allows creation of “function blocks,” saving up to 80% in terminal connections and 50% in space. Phoenix Contact

Connects actuators, sensors to varied industrial networks

Charlotte, N.C. —Lutze Diocom bus coupling modules have a modular design to connect multiple actuators and sensors to different industrial networks, such as CANopen, DeviceNet, ControlNet, Interbus, Profibus, or SERCOS. Up to 12 modules with eight I/O channels each can be connected, on a 35-mm rail. The modules are standard 60-mm wide, but can be integrated into a single module tailored specifically for the application, saving material and installation costs. Lutze

Diagnostics, panel mounting in fieldbus I/O system

Burgaw, N.C. —An advanced, open-architecture fieldbus I/O system—called Remote Interface COmmunications System (RICOS)—is said to be the only remote device of its size with diagnostic capabilities. Error control and diagnostics are enhanced—the product allows testing of the control before turning on the process. The panel-mounting option allows RICOS I/O System to fit in confined spaces in which other I/O systems cannot, such as in remote terminal units, remote I/O junction boxes, and handheld control enclosures for process industries. The Compact Series is for 16 or fewer I/O points. The Modular Series serves up to 256 I/O points. Each is available for DeviceNet, Profibus-DP, and Interbus protocols. Wieland Electric

Multiport junction boxes, cables serve FF

Plymouth, Minn. —InterlinkBT offers busstop heavy-duty cabling and passive junction boxes for Fieldbus Foundation H1 segments. The Type A cables follow Fieldbus Foundation specifications; indoor cables are rated–40 to 80 °C; outdoor, –50 to 105 °C. Bricks and passive junction boxes are available in die-cast aluminum and fiberglass, with optional chrome-plated brass or 316 LC stainless steel. Ratings include NEMA 1, 2, 3, 3R, 4, 4X, 5, 12 and IP65 and 66. Connector nuts are available in stainless steel or nickel-plated brass. InterlinkBT

Chip has hardware, software for Ethernet/Internet communication

Waltham, Mass. —A single chip called NET+ARM (Advanced RISC Machines Ltd.) from NetSilicon, formerly Osicom, embeds Ethernet and Internet communication software (hypertext transfer protocol), the pSOS real-time operating system, and drivers. NET+ARM is said to be less expensive than previous alternatives for connecting factory floors and business information systems via browsers, Internet mail, and file transfer protocols (FTPs). Built into the chip are serial and parallel ports, a shared memory ENI (embedded networking interface), and a bus for connecting product specific control hardware. Supporters say technology such as NET+ARM leads the revolution in the control and automation field’s migration from proprietary networks to Ethernet- and Internet-based systems. NETsilicon

I/O modules save space, ease set-up

Richmond, Va. —Winblock Open I/O Modules provide distributed I/O connections designed for remote factory areas with process devices and actuators. The DIN-rail mounted system is space-saving and “unitized,” and connects to Profibus-DP, Interbus, CANopen, and DeviceNet. Components include a network communications bridge, field wiring base elements, and electronic I/O modules. For lower-density I/O requirements, a more integrated unit is available. To use a station, connect wires to the base, set the station address via two rotary switches on the module, and plug the module into the base. Modules can be removed and replaced without disconnecting field wiring. Indicators provide diagnostics. Weidmuller

Ethernet hub goes industrial

Riverdale, N.J. —Industrial Ethernet Hub is a DIN-rail mounted, rugged design for implementing Ethernet in manufacturing and process applications. With “plug-and-play” assembly in one movement on rail, fail-safe operation, and die-cast aluminum chassis, the hub includes two fiber-optic ports, and three twisted-pair ports with DB9 sockets, allowing a twisted-pair run of 100 m. At 18-32 V dc, the power supply can be installed redundantly. It has Class-B interference immunity for operation in sensitive environments. Hirschmann

Ethernet I/O system is a ‘Snap’

Temecula, Calif. —The Opto 22 Snap I/O line has expanded to include Ethernet, allowing communications to any Ethernet host. The Snap Ethernet brain board connects to the Opto 22 industrial I/O system with TCP/IP Ethernet transport over a 10/100 megabit Fast Ethernet link. The Snap-B3000-ENET board has a built-in I/O web server, so it’s Internet-ready. The board includes auxiliary serial port for progamming, diagnostics, and serial communications. Analog and digital I/O points can reside on the same rack. Opto 22

Control multiple variables easily

Rancho Cordova, Calif. —”Model-Free Adaptive” control technology from CyboSoft allows CyboCon to control single and multivariable control processes without quantitative process knowledge, process identification, controller design, nor complicated manual tuning. This Microsoft NT-based software interfaces to major programmable logic controllers, distributed control systems, and human-machine interface system software. CyboSoft says it’s easy to start and maintain and can control most problematic loops, such as nonlinear loops and ones with long deadtime and frequent dynamic changes. The software enables flexible production systems, just-in-time manufacturing, and resolution of quality related problems. CyboSoft

Adaptive controller software adds multi-model capability, integrating process

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada —BrainWave adaptive model-based controller for process industries supports multi-model capability to precisely control loops challenged by varying dynamics and production modes. A new advanced process controller handles integrating-type applications with long deadtimes and long time constraints. The software’s adaptive multi-model controller uses up to 10 process models for controlling the same loop, automatically selecting a precise model for each production rate, mode of operation or product type, and providing tight control of loops with varying dynamics. Universal Dynamics Technologies

Microsoft extends Windows to embedded, portable applications

Redmond, Wa. —Windows CE is a 32-bit, multitasking, multithreaded operating system with widely used Microsoft architecture design. Able to run on multiple processors, and usually under 1 MB in size, Windows CE is the thinnest among Microsoft operating systems. Uses include handheld, palmtop, and mobile computing, human-machine interfaces, and embedded or distributed computers. On the plant floor, Windows CE runs in devices that appear like PLCs and operator interfaces. Version 2.11 can be updated in EEPROM and via the web; Windows CE 3.0, with realtime capabilities, is targeted for release in summer 1999. Microsoft

Object-based control system requires ‘Zero’ progamming

Santa Ana, Calif. —OAenterprise 98 was touted as “the world’s first Object-based Control system, serving discrete, process, batch, semiconductor, motion control, numerical control, and building automation applications,” says ObjectAutomation (OA). Rather than complexities associated with being object-oriented, this Microsoft Windows NT-based software requires “ZeroProgramming” by dragging and dropping icons and hooking them together. OAenterprise 98 applications include OA2control, OA2view, OA2history, and OA2alarms. OA intends to expand its object platform beyond the PC as intelligence migrates to actuators and sensors. ObjectAutomation

Optimize the process with Profit Suite

Phoenix, Ariz. —The Profit Suite unified family of advanced control and optimization process applications allows users to select and combine applications to help plants to improve profitability and compete more effectively. Applications include multivariable control algorithms, multi-unit steady-state, and dynamic optimization, and first-principles modeling of nonlinear processes. The Honeywell Hi-Spec Solution software operates on Microsoft Windows NT, UNIX, or DEC Alpha platforms. Profit Controller employs Robust Multivariable Control Technology, Profit Optimizer uses cooperative optimization technology, and ProfitMax uses first-principles modeling and nonlinear optimization. Honeywell IAC

Integrated suite uses latest Microsoft tools

Irvine, Calif. —The FactorySuite 2000 integrated suite of industrial automation software “provides unprecedented levels of functionality and performance for development of plant-floor automation applications,” according to Wonderware Corp. The application development kit and five modules sell for $9,950. Features of the Microsoft Windows NT suite include extensive use of Microsoft ActiveX (allowing use of third-party objects), one install procedure, and a single “high-performance, real-time relational database” IndustrialSQL Server for all modules. Modules are InTouch human-machine interface software (with support for 60,000 tag names), InControl, InTrack work-in process, InBatch, and Integrated browser. Wonderware