Gain control of your process

Sept. 17, 2012
Sheila Kennedy says control systems can increase speed, security and reliability.

Process speed, security, and reliability hinge on the effectiveness of various industrial control systems. Recent developments are improving system usability, increasing speed, reducing risk, and providing more communication and integration choices.

Programmable automation controllers (PAC) combine programmable logic controller (PLC) functionality with PC-based control system flexibility in a modular architecture. The Productivity3000 PAC line from AutomationDirect ( now includes high-speed counter input and pulse output modules, increasing its flexibility and ease of use.

“The latest enhancements include the 1 MHz high-speed simple motion modules. Our standard instructions were designed to make everyday motion applications simpler,” says Jeff Payne, AutomationDirect’s automation controls product manager. “The Find Home, Set Position, Simple Move, and Velocity Move instructions were created to get you up and running sooner. Registration, Jerk Control and Channel Scaling were included to give you flexibility to accomplish those jobs.”

In high-speed applications, milliseconds can make a difference to the bottom line. Allen-Bradley ControlLogix 24 Vdc I/O modules from Rockwell Automation (, used with the ControlLogix 5570 family of PACs, are designed to improve total system response time. “Today’s OEMs are looking for ways to increase machine speed for better throughput without sacrificing quality,” says Pete Delic, ControlLogix I/O product manager at Rockwell Automation.

“Our new I/O modules have peer-to-peer capabilities that allow the modules to circumvent the controller and communicate directly with each other, dramatically reducing system response time and ultimately helping to improve repeatability in program execution and throughput,” explains Delic.

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Using Ethernet for remote I/O communications eliminates proprietary networks and the additional time and resources required to maintain them, says Stephen Arnold, product manager for industrial programmable automation controls at Schneider Electric ( The Modicon Quantum Ethernet Remote I/O from Schneider Electric offers significantly increased throughput, allowing more data to move between the CPU and I/O racks.

"Customers are asking for improved flexibility, better performance, and more reliability in their controllers," says Arnold. "The addition of Ethernet as a reliable, remote I/O network helps address these needs and is the first of many significant enhancements that Schneider Electric has planned for the Quantum platform."

Security requirements are key considerations in industrial control systems. "High-profile malware and mitigating industry standards like IEC/ISA-62443 (ISA-99) are raising the visibility of security for end users, integrators, engineering firms, and vendors. Industrial control systems are manufactured, engineered, and maintained differently than they were a few years ago due to this increased awareness," says Ken Keiser, process automation migration manager at Siemens Industry (

Siemens employs a defense-in-depth security concept for its process control system, Simatic PCS 7, which advocates a multi-level hierarchy of security protection measures. Siemens Industry Automation Division recently announced several new features in Simatic PCS 7 V8.0, including improved data exchange, simplified engineering workflow, improved communication for fault-tolerant and redundant applications, extended software tool functionality, enlarged Advanced Process Library, and a new automation controller.

Experion PKS Orion, introduced this year, is the latest release of Honeywell’s Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS), an enterprise-wide distributed control system (DCS). The Experion platform is the first DCS to achieve ISA99 cybersecurity certification. ISA99 endeavors to keep industrial networks secure from hackers, disgruntled employees, cyberterrorists, and other threats.

“Experion PKS Orion introduces two major innovations: Universal Channel Technology, which allows remote configuration of process and safety I/O, and a complete virtualization solution. These new technologies can significantly improve lifecycle costs and make managing changes to your system much easier,” says Steve McGeorge, control systems product manager at Honeywell Process Solutions (

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True control system integration with enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software gives operators immediate access to the information they need from the maintenance system, with the right context, and without replicating the information, according to ABB (

“One of the key aspects of ABB’s flagship control system, System 800xA, is the ability to provide true integration with key enterprise business systems,” says Marc Leroux, global marketing for collaborative production management at ABB. “ABB has long had this degree of integration between System 800xA and maintenance systems such as SAP’s Plant Maintenance, IBM’s Maximo, and IFS Maintenance. At Automation and Power World in Houston, Texas earlier this year, ABB showcased this same interaction with the Ventyx Enterprise Asset Management solutions.” Ventyx was acquired by ABB in 2010.