Tons of Technologies Hit Houston

They may or may not beat the Texas heat, but visitors and exhibitors at ISA Expo/98 will certainly find what they need to clobber competitors at this year's event.Billed by organizers as the biggest control and instrumentation show ever, ISA Expo/98 is the second alternate-year-format event for ISA, the international society for instrumentation and control (Research Triangle Park, N.

By Jim Montague, CONTROL ENGINEERING September 1, 1998


Trade shows

Process control systems

Productivity,management, and control

Flow sensing/measurement

Batch control

Actuator-sensor networks

Sidebars: New systems, interfaces ease process control Control systems depend on I/O devices, connectors Software combines rule-based expert, fuzzy-logic with IEC 61131-3 languages Soft logic moves into distributed computing

They may or may not beat the Texas heat, but visitors and exhibitors at ISA Expo/98 will certainly find what they need to clobber competitors at this year’s event.

Billed by organizers as the biggest control and instrumentation show ever, ISA Expo/98 is the second alternate-year-format event for ISA, the international society for instrumentation and control (Research Triangle Park, N.C.). As such, it will concentrate on products and exhibitors in a immense “bazaar” setting. Last fall’s ISA Tech/97 had a conference or “university” orientation. Besides the traditional keynotes, plenary session, society events, committee meetings, and other gatherings, ISA Expo/98 will also feature a Texas rodeo and barbeque on Oct. 19 at Astrodome USA.

Similar to last year, technical sessions will be held 8-11 a.m. and the exhibition halls will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on ISA Expo/98’s first three days and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on its last day. This schedule was adopted last year to give visitors a chance to attend sessions without sacrificing time at the exhibits.

In previous years, some exhibitors and attendees complained the annual overall event was too large, so it was split into separate bazaar and university formats. These were spread across two years; critics said it was too difficult to attend two events in one year. Despite this grousing, everyone appears to be showing up anyway. However, some observers now ask whether the alternating focuses have already blurred to the point that the original big show and conference remains and only the names alternate.

In conjunction with exhibits, ISA Expo/98 will highlight products in its Innovators Center and its New Products Showcase. Innovators will include juried displays of advanced technologies from: Acromag, Adaptive Resources, Applied Automation, Assured Automation, Bailey-Fischer & Porter Co., Bartec US Corp., Fieldbus Foundation, Galvanic Applied Sciences, HART Communication Foundation, Heath Consultants, Honeywell, Krohne, Lascar Electronics, Lightning Eliminators and Consultants, MDT Software, Moore Process Automation Solutions, NDC Infrared Engineering, Ohio Semitronics, Pavilion Technologies, PCB Piezotronics, PetroMetrix, Rawson & Co., Rosemount Analytical, Schlumberger Measurement Division, Sierra Monitor Corp., Smar, Sun Microsystems, Techmation, Universal Dynamics Technologies, and Veriflo Corp.

Sessions, posters, training

Besides the product focus, ISA Expo/98 will also make room for an extensive technical conference. It will include about 70 morning sessions organized into six themed areas. For the first time, the overall exposition’s nominal registration fee will also allow visitors to attend the technical conference. Themes include:

Automation and Control Issues and Solutions;

Future Technology for Measurement and Control;

Networking, Industrial Communication and Buses;

Productivity Enhancement;

Management Issues and Marketing; and

Safety Systems, Plant Protection, and Environmental Concerns.

In addition to technical sessions, ISA/Expo 98 will also include poster presentations for the first time. Organized according to the six conference themes, about 10 posters per theme will be presented during each day of ISA Expo/98. The posters give visitors access to unpublished data and a chance to talk with experts on those topics.

Further education will be available in more than 40, day-long ISA Training Institute courses offered during ISA Expo/98. These courses will include hands-on training in both introductory and advanced subjects.

More education will be available on Oct. 19 during the ISA Bowl and the ISA Practical. The bowl is a contest in which four-person teams from ISA’s districts and regions compete by answering questions on basic and advanced instrumentation, control theory, and practice; ISA Practical offers hands-on instrumentation and control exercises developed by industry professionals.

Before and during ISA Expo/98, Houston will also be the location for the 1998 International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) General Meeting, Oct. 12-22, hosted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. National Committee of the IEC at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

IEC standards

This is the largest gathering of electrical and electronic technology standards developers in the last two decades, and is the first IEC General Meeting in the U.S. in 25 years. All IEC ’98 attendees will be invited to ISA Expo/98.

Yet another meeting, ElectroTech/98, will be held on Oct. 18-21 in Houston. This technology exposition highlights advances and standards in electrical and electronic technologies. It’s expected to interest professionals working with electronic components, safety and installation, nuclear instrumentation, semiconductors, and wiring. ISA Expo/98 attendees get into ElectroTech/98 free.

New systems, interfaces ease process control

Many new control systems and interface products launched at ISA Expo/98 will make it easier for process control managers to perform their jobs more efficiently. Innovations include:

Designed for large-scale process control applications, Centum CS 3000 integrated production control system from Yokogawa Industrial Automation (Newnan, Ga.) 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. Connected by a Vnet system bus, Centum CS 3000 includes Yokogawa monitoring software that is optimized for distributed control systems. ISA booth 1074.

SST (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) recently released its ControlNet interface card in ISA format (5136-CN-ISA). The card supports PCCC messaging on ControlNet, and a later release will also include the card’s simultaneous function as a scanner, adapter, and peer-to-peer messenger. For operator interface (OI) and human-machine interface (HMI) applications on ControlNet, users will be able to use the software vendor’s existing SST 5136-SD (Data Highway Plus) software driver for ControNet OI/HMI applications using the SST 5136-CN- ISA interface card. ISA booth 758.

Simatic PCS 7 compact process control system from Siemens Automation and Drives (Nürnberg, Germany) can economically add control technology to small process engineering systems because it includes control system functions. Its operator station is based on Simatic WinCC visualization system, and its automation system is based on an integrated SlotPLC that ensures real-time processing. ISA booth 4200.

Control systems depend on I/O devices, connectors

Connectors, sensors, function blocks, and I/O devices are the nervous system of any control application, and so ISA Expo/98 will feature many new products in this field. Notable examples include the following.

Phoenix Contact (Harrisburg, Pa.) is venturing into the process control field with its pluggable Transformer Isolated Intrinsically Safe Barriers. The new design integrates marshalling, signal conversion/isolation, and intrinsic safety in one module, which saves time and space. The process-interface terminal block is only 12.4-mm wide, can be DIN-rail mounted, and is standard for different types of electronic plugs. The base terminal block can also be prewired.ISA booth 572.

Including two product series, Remote Interface Communication System (RICOS) fieldbus I/O devices from Wieland Electric (Burgaw, N.C.) allows automation engineers to implement remote devices with a variety of fieldbus protocols. Available in modular and compact versions, RICOS connects devices to DeviceNet, Profibus DP, Interbus-S protocols, and a growing list of new protocols. A four-digit, seven-segment display shows the bus address assigned to each RICOS installation, which gives a reference for each drive connected to the unit. ISA booth 4315

A network interface module, FieldPoint (FP) 3000 from National Instruments (Austin, Tex.) can connect up to nine analog or discrete FieldPoint I/0 modules to a Foundation fieldbus H1 network. FP 3000 makes the Fieldpoint system the first general-purpose I/O and control system available for Foundation fieldbus. ISA booth 4412

Software combines rule-based expert, fuzzy-logic with IEC 61131-3 languages

Standard control languages can’t get enough done, says Arnon Azaria, president and ceo of Vision Controls (Herzliya, Israel). The three-year-old software firm makes RulesControl that Mr. Azaria says is “the first rule-based PC/embedded real-time development and execution environment for building integrated industrial control applications.” The software includes three IEC 61131-3 languages (Sequential Function Chart, Ladder Diagram, and Structured Text) as well as the rule-based expert system.

Vision Control’s control software is rounded out by FuzzyOS, which functions as a subsystem to the rule-based expert system. It takes input from the rule-based system, processing the data with fuzzy rules, and returning the results to the expert system. Combining fuzzy variables with an expert systems’ rules creates an intelligent adaptive control system. ISA booth number 658.

For more information on Vision Controls software visit

Soft logic moves into distributed computing

Christian Jargot knew he had a good idea for OEMs and system integrators when he created his ISaGRAF soft-logic package in the late 1980s and started his company, CJ International, in 1990. ISaGRAF provides a full-function programmable controller on a board-level computer—a fast, cheap PLC that OEMs can embed in machines. And, if they need to change to another CPU or real-time operating system, there’s no worry because the code runs on virtually any computer.

The basic architecture of ISaGRAF is divided into the Workbench, which is a now a Microsoft Windows-based language editor and compiler, and the kernel, which runs on the target system, either by itself or on top of any one of a dozen commercially available real-time operating systems. Using Workbench, engineers create control programs and compile them to application binary code, which then runs on the kernel in the target system.

To take advantage of Microsoft Windows 95 and NT, the company recently implemented its new ISaGRAF version, ISaGRAF Pro, which provides a distributed computing architecture and needed network connectivity. Project management is an integrated feature of Pro’s Workbench with embedded windows for configuration, I/O devices, and the declaration of data types. Pro’s simulator is a standard ISaGRAF Pro target that runs on NT or 95. There is one kernel for each resource; that is, for each CPU where a kernel is running in the system. Even network exchanges can be simulated. During simulation an I/O panel shows the status of all I/O devices in the system. ISA booth number 5119.

For more information about ISaGRAF visit