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Dispatches from Achema, World’s Largest Chemical Industry Show

I was in Frankfurt, Germany this month at the huge chemical industry trade show Achema.

It takes time to get used to large trade shows again with so few in the United States anymore. Here, there are many automation vendors in attendance, and many are showing new products that are, or will be, available in the U.S. These are the highlights.

ABB (www.abb.com). 
Most of us in the U.S. know about the ABB 800xA system, but the company spokesman showed me the Freelance controller—smaller and scalable.

Central to the Pepperl + Fuchs (www.pepperl-fuchs.com) display were the benefits of its take on intrinsic safety—DART. This technology allows for greater power into intrinsic safety applications. They were touting a diagnostic module for the physical layer that can save technicians much time and grief by checking the status of the physical network.

At the Invensys Operations Management (iom.invensys.com) booth, we not only talked about my potential Scottish heritage (it appears Mintchell is a Scottish name) but also about managing refining by tracing carbon throughout the system. It includes ways of monitoring, simulating and optimizing processes for such things as balancing crude inputs to the system.

Werum (www.werum.com) is an MES supplier to the pharmaceutical industry. We talked about its Manufacturing IT platform that was among the first to expand applicability of MES into the operations management and manufacturing intelligence area.

My half-hour tour of the Siemens (www.usa.siemens.com/industry) booth—organized in a circle exemplifying the plant life cycle theme—turned into two hours because it had much going on. Most interesting to me is the two-way data interaction capability between its Comos engineering application and distributed control system (DCS) and maintenance applications. This is a step toward solving the owner/operator problem of finding details about devices from the engineering documentation. Siemens also showed a new Coriolis meter (touted as the smallest in the industry) and an accurate ultrasonic level sensor.

A chance meeting of someone I know at Endress + Hauser (www.endress.com) led to 45 minutes in that booth. We looked at what they are doing with safety—both explosive areas and functional safety—where sensors contain intelligence for push-to-test failure analysis plus enhanced internal diagnostics. I also saw a sensor connection system with no hot wires using magnetic coupling and induction for electricity and data. Finally, E+H has a Web-enabled Asset Management application that includes device information down to the individual serial number level that can integrate into CMMS packages.

Thanks to an energetic marketing consultant, I was shown a French company new to me. Sofraser (www.sofraser.com)
 has invented a vibration technology viscometer that can be used not only offline in a lab setting, but also for online testing in petroleum production. The company has established an office in Houston, and is planning more visibility in the United States.

Phoenix Contact (www.phoenixcontact.com)
. My stop at the Phoenix Contact stand emphasized both WirelessHART devices and the new Radio Line product range released at Hannover that is FHSS radio for serial and I/O communication.

B&R Automation (www.br-automation.com). 
The B&R Automation stand emphasized hydraulic-to-electric control and integrated control through its Automation Studio.

People I talked with at the Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomation.com) stand told me that business was still good in the process industries. The company released two new linking devices that provide PlantPAx process automation system users with connectivity to Foundation Fieldbus devices. These provide a direct link from EtherNet/IP or ControlNet networks to the Foundation Fieldbus H1 device-level network, making the integration of Foundation Fieldbus devices “intuitive and seamless.” Another new release concerned added new tools to the Pavilion8 model predictive control software, giving users the ability to create simple to complex process models on their own.

I also made other visits to booths for the FDT Group, Hart Communication Foundation, Fieldbus Foundation and others. Visit bit.ly/awachema for these reports.

>> Take a Virtual Tour via Online Videos! Automation World Co-founder and Editor in Chief Gary Mintchell visited booths, asked questions of vendors, and got many to talk on film about what they were showing at the Achema 2012 international trade show in Germany. Go online to see what’s new from Sofraser, ProComSol, Hart Communications Foundation, Wago, Siemens and Invensys, to name a few: www.automationworld.com/videos.

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