Automation Suppliers Go for Headlines at ARC Forum

In a near day-long marathon of press conferences, vendors strutted their stuff and introduced new products at the annual Orlando event hosted by ARC Advisory Group.

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The annual ARC Forum sponsored by the ARC Advisory Group Inc. (www.arcweb.com), Dedham, Mass., has developed into an occasion that automation vendors use to roll out new products and preen to the entourage of trade press editors typically in attendance. This year’s version, “ARC's Thirteenth Annual Orlando Forum: Winning Strategies and Best Practices for Sustainable Manufacturing,” held Feb. 2-5 in Orlando, Fla., was no exception.

Monday, Feb. 2, was set aside for a six-hour-long press conference marathon with presentations by a variety of vendors. Following is an overview of announcements made, presented in the order of the press conference schedule.

First up was ILS Technology (www.ilstechnology.com), Boca Raton, Fla. This device-connectivity company specializes in secure networking of devices and has introduced a “Software as a Service (SaaS)” application and is seeking to expand its market reach into industries beyond semiconductor manufacturing.
Kicking off what was a major meme at the conference, France-based Schneider Electric (www.schneider-electric.com) used the opportunity to highlight the various ways it practices sustainability in its operations—from energy to safety to socially beneficial projects such as participating in Habitat for Humanity.

Industry focus

Wonderware (http://global.wonderware.com), Lake Forest, Calif., has established a platform called ArchestrA that is built on software services. It can now exploit this platform by adding industry focused application solutions. During its press conference, the company introduced two of these—one for packaging for the food and beverage industry and one for facility automation.

The FDT Group (www.fdt-jig.org) a Belgium-based non-profit organization that promotes Field Device Tool technology, touted an increase in membership and its work on achieving standard status for its technology. It is also looking into an expansion into factory automation working with EtherCat, CANopen, SERCOS, CIP networks and other organizations/technologies.

Honeywell announced a new product—Honeywell LS. As the latest offering from Phoenix-based Honeywell Process Solutions (www.honeywell.com/ps), it is a small batch processor—a small distributed control system (DCS) in a programmable logic controller (PLC)-looking package. It is specifically designed from hardware through software for smaller batch processes.

Japan-based Yokogawa (www.yokogawa.com/us) laid out its roadmap of new and future (probably released throughout this year) products in its Centum suite—Real-time Production Organizer. Based on the modeling using the ISA95 standard from the International Society of Automation, this software manufacturing operations management package captures workflow best practices and can help capture business and process knowledge that would otherwise walk out the door with retired employees. Yokogawa also announced two other new products, an expansion of its Tunable Diode Laser Analyzer for boosting furnace efficiency and an "ultra low power" wireless remote terminal unit (RTU).

Industrial cell

AT&T (www.att.com) Dallas, the mobile network operator, showed off the Motorola Tundra rugged mobile (cell) phone for mobile workers in industries such as manufacturing.

Mitsubishi Electric Automation (www.meau.com), Vernon Hills, Ill., discussed its sustainable actions within the company. It also touted its new relationship with machine vision vendor Cognex (www.cognex.com) for integrated vision applications. Jerry Yen, former General Motors Corp. engineering manager and OMAC leader, was introduced as director of engineering for Mitsubishi's new Center for Solutions.

Kepware (www.kepware.com) Yarmouth, Maine, discussed the company's ability to foster communications. Its KepServer technology allows for adding device communications protocols on one side and software connectivity on the other. It is also a leading supplier of solutions based on the OPC open connectivity standard, and marketing director Roy Kok stated that OPC UA (for Unified Architecture) products are beginning to ship.

Emerson Process Management (www.emersonprocess.com), Austin, Texas, introduced Syncade—a manufacturing execution system (MES) or manufacturing operations management solution. Its modules include Resource Management, Operations Optimization, Integrated Information and Quality and Compliance. It uses terminology and definitions based on the International Society of Automation’s ISA95 standard, and is built on modern software engineering with services and Microsoft .Net.

Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomation.com) highlighted its sustainability initiative that includes products and solutions around environment, energy, emissions, waste and recycling. Endress + Hauser (http://us.endress.com) Greenwood, Ind., was present to discuss its close relationship with Rockwell with its instrumentation offering a value add for Rockwell's process control.

Harry Sim chief executive officer at Cypress Envirosystems (www.cypressenvirosystems.com), San Jose, Calif., announced that his company is pushing beyond its original wireless gage reader product that uses vision technology to read old-fashioned gauges and transmit digital information wirelessly back to a maintenance or asset management application. The company has five additional products—all geared toward providing digital and wireless information from legacy analog, non-electrical instrumentation. They include a pneumatic thermostat reader/actuator, steam trap monitor, wireless transducer reader, freezer monitor and a battery monitor (for batteries in an uninterruptable power supply or UPS). For the operators of plants and buildings who don't have the time and money to totally re-instrument, these products are designed to enable an easy way to begin moving into the digital age.

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