Despite the first half of 2012 seeing an Asian market slowdown, with only a 3.7% growth in overall revenue from industrial automation equipment, the second half of the year showed definite improvement. The positive trend has continued in 2013, with the industrial automation sector set to grow by 6.2%. In such a dynamic market, getting new business can be both a business and technical challenge.
One of the key areas of opportunity is the power industry, where the booming consumer and industrial power markets in developing economies such as China and India have created rocketing demand. In China the per capita energy use is still a long way behind most of Western Europe, meaning the potential for growth is still huge. Without question, Asia represents a perfect storm of opportunities for European automation suppliers.
In order to help businesses better understand how to take advantage of the current climate and increase their industrial automation sales in Asia, particularly China, the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) is hosting a seminar entitled ‘Gateway to China’. The event will take place on 24th September at the Mitsubishi Electric Europe Tokyo Conference Suite in Hatfield.
Snap shot of typical respondents
The job function of the typical survey respondent was an automation/control engineer, accounting for 28.2% of total responses. The most prominent average age range was 45–54, indicated by 34.1% of respondents. Nearly half (45.6%) of the respondents were college graduates with a bachelor’s degree, with the largest percentage of those (36.5%) possessing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Of the respondents, 16.3% have an advanced degree, of which the largest percentage (28.4%) acquired a business administration degree.
The largest percentage of respondents (25.6%) has 31 or more years of professional work experience. It is interesting to note that the largest percentage of respondents (nearly one quarter or 24.8%) has worked for their current employer two years or fewer.
Of the respondents, 78.3% (up 4% over last year) reported a salary increase this year, with the largest percentage (50.6%) seeing a 1%–3% increase. At least a portion of the compensation of 64.7% of our respondents came in the form of commissions or bonuses, with 38.5% of respondents reporting that 1%–10% of their salary is commissions or bonuses. The largest percentage of respondents (35.3%) clocked between 41 and 45 hours per week, and the average vacation time was three weeks per year. Now, the article will dive a little deeper into the solutions.
Controlling Data At Remote Sites
For the most part, remote sites with critical equipment are located in places that are difficult to access due to long distances or harsh conditions. Accessing critical information, such as equipment health and operational data at these sites can be time-consuming and costly. Also, given today’s aging industrial infrastructures, monitoring and controlling the data within these sites is more critical than ever. In fact, we are beginning to witness the consequences of not updating and maintaining outdated networks, as demonstrated by recent explosions at gas pipelines and blackouts in major cities when parts of the electrical grids have gone down.
Keeping a closer eye on these infrastructures is necessary not only to prevent loss of revenue, but more importantly, loss of life. Unfortunately, however, communicating with remote sites to proactively prevent equipment degradation is far from an easy task and may even require a four-hour helicopter ride. In order to proactively monitor and control remotely located assets, users must be able to access local sensor data. The most cost-effective and intelligent way to do this is through cellular automation.
Using Cellular Automation
Cellular automation is the concept of providing remote terminal units (RTU) with cellular connectivity to access data in hard-to-reach locations. Cellular connectivity provides fast and easy access to monitor and control business-critical applications at remote sites. This flexibility, however, also requires a level of responsibility that requires enhanced security requirements as well. In some cases, this is new ground for many users, as data security is something that many customers did not focus on in the past since they were using direct circuit connections via modem banks.
These types of connections did not require the same stringent security standards that a cellular connection over an IP network does. Therefore, as customers migrate toward IP networking and data security is mandated, sourcing and implementing new technologies to support the increasing security demands becomes necessary.
In addition to addressing more stringent security requirements, industrial users face the complexity of having multiple devices to manage and implement for an effective remote monitoring and control solution over IP. The challenge facing many customers is that, on top of their existing RTUs, they must also figure out which of many products they will require. It may be necessary to have a device for cellular connectivity, a Modbus gateway and a security (VPN) device, which is costly to deploy and complicated to administer and maintain.
Is Three Company?
“JAI has solid offerings on both sides of color, meaning single-chip Bayer filter color cameras and color cameras with three CCD sensors or more, including a four-line multispectral color camera that offers separate sensors for red, green, blue, and near infrared,” explains Steve Kinney, Director of Technical Pre-Sales and Support at JAI Inc., USA (San Jose, California).
When customers come to JAI to discuss a color application, Kinney starts by asking what sort of spatial accuracy the system needs versus color accuracy. “It also depends on data rate,” he adds. “If you need absolute color accuracy of less than 1%, then we usually look at a three-CCD prism camera solution. If spatial accuracy over a wide inspection area is more important, then a very-high-resolution single-chip Bayer camera may be better. If you need high speed, CMOS offers higher frame rates and multi-line sensors with NIR capability and is very effective for high-speed printing applications where colorimetry measurements are very important because NIR can help you judge between true black ink and black made by combining cyan-magenta-yellow inks. And for some printing applications, knowing the difference is important for quality purposes.”
Improvements in energy consumption
The Situation: A global industrial gas distribution companysought to manage production loads by taking advantage of variations in power prices between peak and non-peak times. It also wanted the capacity to respond quickly and according to customer product demands to reduce venting and top-up usage, as well as the ability to operate consistently at maximum and minimum load constraints. This company implemented two powerful Honeywell products powered by Matrikon, Operational Insight and Control Performance Monitor – the information infrastructure of which was tied together with OPC networking.
Operational Benefits: The technology provided a web-based solution for process data acquisition, control system performance analysis, and process monitoring and offered automated step testing and modeling functionality. The company realized several benefits including:
Improved throughput and control quality
Reduced energy consumption
Improved plant stability
Increased operational consistency
But What Really Matters: In the upstream oil and gas industry, changing market conditions require more flexibility and efficiency in the production of natural gas and oil. Increased operational costs, combined with instability in the price of crude oil in the international market, make it essential to lower operating expenses while improving production levels. Reducing energy consumption can play a huge role in achieving that goal.
The Situation: A leading global producer of crude oil and natural gaslooked for a way to stay ahead of dynamic market demands and overcome challenges associated with offshore oil and gas Automation. As part of an innovative technology project and with the help of Honeywell, this company built a Solutions to help coordinate control of multiple offshore platforms in the North Sea, and improve operations and efficiency.