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Review - Jan 2001
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Convergence of Industrial & Commercial Controls

Ken Sinclair, Editor


The Industrial Controls Industry has had the reality of extremely large projects/budgets, critical control applications and a myriad of control components interfaces from separate manufacturers. These realities allowed the industry to develop powerful software applications built with soft interfaces like DDE, OPC, SCADA, etc. The cost and sophistication of industrial control was not practical for use in the extremely competitive Building Automation Industry. 

Building Automation in general, especially the temperature control portion requires a large number of low cost DDC loops. The vendors who were the original hardware providers of commercial pneumatic controls provided the first Direct Digital Control DDC systems for large buildings. Several new companies now provide DDC products since these devices are easier to manufacture than the original pneumatic control devices. DDC control components for building automation are now cost effective. The recent networking standards and internet convergence of the commercial DDC industry is causing a rapid evolution in software development which is reaching similar solutions as the existing functional industrial control software. The adoption of industry soft interfaces like OPC opens up access to industry software which has mega man-hours of development and is almost bullet proof. Crossing these industrial control bridges greatly increases existing commercial control capabilities. This convergence will allow low cost commercial type DDC devices to be intermixed with industrial control systems. This convergence will have a great effect on both the commercial and industrial control industries.

ExperTune's PID Analyzer/Tuner is an example of the type of sophisticated software that is available.

ExperTune designs pre-packaged industrial software which maximizes productivity and efficiency and reduces waste in the process industries: chemical, pulp and paper, utilities, refining, and food processing.

CatNet SystemsPID Loop Tuning is as easy as:

  1. Select the controller.
  2. Specify PID address.
  3. Select Autotune.

During AutoTune, answer the questions, and your loop is tuned. Tunes and analyzes loops from data collected in either manual or automatic. During AutoTune, you have total control of the tuning process. 

Get data for analysis and tuning from a setpoint change.

Other industrial control companies which provide sophisticated web interfaces have the potential of greatly enhancing commercial DDC.  eMation who works directly with companies that provide equipment and services to such industries as medical devices, high-end copiers and printers, building and industrial automation, transportation, and office and home automation is a good example.

Mansfield, MA --December 6, 2000 eMationTM, the leading provider of Internet infrastructure products connecting embedded devices, machines, buildings, and factories to e-Business systems and the people that use them, announces its Web@aGlanceTM, enterprise information portal, has been awarded Best New Product at CIM 2000, the United Kingdom's premier manufacturing conference and exposition. The Best New Product award recognizes the most effective demonstration of real business advantages that a product can offer end users in manufacturing.

According to Dale Calder, eMation President, "Every process plant is under pressure to improve its performance. As employees are asked to do more with less, the key to success is instant availability of information across the enterprise. Our Web@aGlance enterprise information portal provides the tools needed to make process information available anywhere in the corporation and allows for quality business decisions in real-time."

eMationTM article in our last issue The CERN and the Birth of the Internet tells us about seamlessly managing nearly 400,000 critical pieces of information. In this months issue they talk about Building Automation Capabilities  in which local monitoring does not suffice: the communications must go both ways, so every parameter that is monitored can also be controlled, instantly from anywhere.

The convergence of commercial and industry control in the next few year will change both industries. Sophisticated software will be merged with low cost DDC products to provide low cost with high functionality. 


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