Author Archive | Jane Alexander


1:58 pm
December 7, 2016
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Schneider Electric Introduces RefineryWise Solution for Oil & Gas

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-05-01-pmSchneider Electric, has announced the availability of RefineryWise for the Oil & Gas industry.The manufacturer notes that this solution helps refiners transform their businesses to achieve greater operational excellence through improved visibility into contextualized, actionable data, from the process automation layer through the enterprise business system layer, and from crude feed planning to final product blending.

According to the company, RefineryWise addresses both internal and external pressures refineries face in maintaining a responsive, decisive and collaborative workforce amid industry challenges of dynamic demand, tightened regulations, and technology evolution. It does so by leveraging a portfolio of world-class applications from Schneider Electric Software and an Application Integration Framework that can be used with other legacy third-party content. Pulled together with a user-configurable unified data model, it then adds KPI Management and Decision Management with Workflows to enable the digital workforce.

Features and capabilities of RefineryWise include:

  • Improved collaboration and operational visibility of the entire value chain.
  • Improved collaboration and operational visibility of the entire value chain.
  • Optimization of the entire value chain from actionable business insights with industry-leading applications in process optimization, unified planning and scheduling, asset performance management, offsite optimization and mobile workforce management.
  • Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) through a user-configurable, unified data model,
  • Increased operational excellence through performance and asset benchmarking (including operating boundary thresholds) across the enterprise, i.e., a highly configurable user interface can generate any KPI or arithmetic expression(s).
  • Capture of critical plant knowledge and provide a linkage between performance events, their root cause, and a list of potential actions depending on financial and scheduling parameters within a single system to avoid time consuming data gathering and analysis.

Included in the offering is Schneider Electric’s Customer FIRST Software Maintenance and Support Program that enables access to the latest software upgrades, expert technical assistance, and self-help tools to improve operational effectiveness.

To learn more about RefineryWise, CLICK HERE.



6:00 pm
December 2, 2016
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Emerson Network Power Becomes ‘Vertiv,’ Gets New CEO

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-47-30-amThe business formerly known as Emerson Network Power has officially launched a campaign to rebrand the standalone company as Vertiv and announced the appointment of industry veteran Rob Johnson as CEO. Platinum Equity recently acquired the business from Emerson in a transaction valued in excess of $4 billion. (Emerson is also retaining a minority interest in the rebranded company.)

About Vertiv (
screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-44-40-amVertiv is a global provider of mission-critical infrastructure technologies for vital applications in data centers, communication networks, and commercial and industrial environments. Headquartered in Columbus, OH, the company has more than 20,000 employees and more than 25 manufacturing and assembly facilities worldwide.

Under the Vertiv banner, the business will build on the broad portfolio of product and service offerings for power, thermal, and IT management capabilities it previously offered as Emerson Network Power, including its flagship brands ASCO, Chloride, Liebert, NetSure, and Trellis

Rob Johnson, Vertiv’s newly announced CEO, comes to the position from that of an operating partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture-capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA. Johnson previously spent 10 years at American Power Conversion (APC), a leader in data-center infrastructure, where, in 2007,  he was serving as president and CEO when the company was sold to Schneider Electric. While at APC, he also served as general manager of the company’s Availability Enhancement Group.

Prior to his time at APC, Johnson worked in executive positions at Consolidated Container Corp. In 1989, he founded Systems Enhancement Corp. (SEC), a company that created innovative software and hardware solutions for the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) industry. He sold SEC to APC in 1997.

For more information about Vertiv, CLICK HERE.


8:06 pm
November 30, 2016
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Siemens Announces Upcoming Changes in U.S. Leadership

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-1-53-30-pmSiemens Corp. (Washington, DC) has announced that Eric Spiegel, CEO of Siemens in the U.S., will be leaving the company at the end of the year. Lisa Davis has been appointed chair and CEO of the corporation, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Judith Marks has been appointed Siemens CEO U.S., effective the same date.

“Eric has grown Siemens’ business and furthered our reputation in the U.S. as a critical contributor to the country’s economic, manufacturing, and innovation engines, and we thank him for his leadership,” said Davis, who heads the company’s global energy operations from its oil and gas headquarters in Houston. “Judy has a deep knowledge of Siemens’ entire portfolio that will serve us well during this time of transition and into the future.”

Marks began her career at Siemens in 2011 as president and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies Inc., where she led the company’s approach to the federal market. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies. Marks will be taking on her new responsibilities as CEO U.S. in addition to her duties as the executive vice president of Siemens’ Dresser-Rand business.

Siemens has had a presence in the United States for more than 160 years, and has invested $35 billion in America just in the last 15 years alone. Today, the company has 50,000 employees and approximately 75 manufacturing sites in the U.S.

For more information, CLICK HERE.


6:35 pm
November 16, 2016
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ITT PRO Services Launches ‘Next-Gen’ PumpSmart PS220 Control And Protection Solution

ITT’s PRO Services brand (Seneca Falls, NY), characterizes its recently launched PumpSmart PS220 as a “next-generation” intelligent pump control and protection solution. Providing variable-speed control for single and multiple pumps, the PS220 is said to offer a number of important capabilities and benefits. Among them:

  • Patented pump-protection technology that protects against upset conditions such as dry run, minimum flow, and cavitation, resulting in improved reliability and safety of the pump systems.
  • Advanced sensorless algorithms that determine critical performance parameters and provide valuable process insight and diagnostic data. Premier process control functionality comes with robust redundancy to maximize process uptime.


Adarsh Iyengar, global director for the brand’s Monitoring & Controls business, points to a number of specific features of the PS220, including six-pump Multipump Control, a Flow Totalizer, Intelligent Sleep, Flow Economy, and minimum-flow bypass valve control. “These features,” he said, “deliver exceptional value to our customers as they better optimize pump control strategies and lower system design and operating costs compared to other variable-speed drives that have pump functionality.”

For more information, CLICK HERE.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By protecting against pump failure due to process upsets, PumpSmart technology keeps operations running longer and reduces unplanned repair activities and expense. By right-sizing pumps to the systems they are running, the technology helps reduce energy consumption and wear and tear on the process systems.

CLICK HERE to see how PumpSmart Technology works.



4:35 pm
November 16, 2016
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Zebra Technologies Introduces Rugged, Enterprise-Class TC5 Series Touch Mobile Computers

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-9-44-32-amAccording to Zebra Technologies Corp. (Lincolnshire, IL), its recently introduced TC5 Series of devices represents the “next evolution” in enterprise mobile computing. Developed for retail and field mobility applications, the lineup of rugged, enterprise-class TC51 and TC56 touch mobile computers has been designed to satisfy the durability, power, and security needs of business users, while offering intuitive consumer design that meets the expectations of today’s end users.

Features and Capabilities

  • Said to be “as easy to use as consumer smartphones,” devices in the TC5 Series are designed to withstand accidental drops into water or onto concrete and used in dusty areas.
  • Running the Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) operating system, the series is supported by Zebra’s Mobility DNA suite of application security, development tools, and mobile end-user apps.
  • A 1.8 GHz hexa-core 64-bit processor helps enterprise apps run up to five times faster while consuming 15% less power than other devices running on quad core platforms.
  • Innovative productivity-design features include an easily removable and replaceable battery pack, a large 5-in. display, and customizable Active Edge Touch Zones for one-touch access to the most frequently used device features and apps.
  • The TC5 Series also provides the operational ease of support for a better total cost of ownership (TCO,  as well as fastest, dependable wireless connections inside and outside with 802.11ac/r/k Wi-Fi connectivity for superior roaming capability, and 4G LTE WWAN.

For more information, CLICK HERE.


7:54 pm
November 15, 2016
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Kepware’s Release of KEPServerEX v.6 Software Delivers Single-Source, IoT-Friendly, Enterprise-Data Solution

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-1-18-36-pmKepware Technologies (Portland, ME), a PTC business, has announced the availability of KEPServerEX Version 6 software. A major release of the organization’s flagship industrial-connectivity platform, IoT-ready Version 6 strengthens Kepware’s core product offering for end-user sites requiring increased operational scalability, security, and support.

Leveraging OPC and IT-centric communication protocols, KEPServerEX provides a single source of industrial-automation data to enterprise applications. The platform offers a library of more than 150 device drivers, client drivers, and advanced plug-ins that enable connectivity to thousands of devices and other data sources.

According to the company, Version 6 features significant enhancements to the core server functionality and user experience that deliver an IoT-friendly industrial-connectivity platform, including:

  • Programmatic Changes via the Configuration API. The new REST-based API enables off-site users to remotely apply programmatic changes to the configuration via third-party client applications. Now customers can easily configure multiple KEPServerEX instances from their enterprise software, enabling improved security and collaboration between Operations and IT.
  • Localization for Japanese and German Markets. Core features and top-tier drivers have been localized to improve the accessibility, productivity, and safety of KEPServerEX for local customers in Japan and Germany as well as global multinationals.
  • Native Development of OPC UA Technology. Native development of core OPC UA technology provides improved performance, enhanced diagnostics, and a solid foundation for continued OPC UA functionality enhancements.
  • Streamlined Licensing. Updates to KEPServerEX, the License Utility, and My Kepware improve the user experience and simplify license management—providing customers with more streamlined tools to deploy, manage, and update their servers.
  • Improved User Interface (UI): An enhanced user interface streamlines project setup and deployment, enabling more effective and efficient interactions with KEPServerEX. The updates also promote a safe user experience, enable increased productivity, and improve accessibility.
  • Robust Security. Now included as a complimentary core server component, the Security Policies advanced plug-in complements an industrial defense-in-depth strategy by enabling customers to assign security access permissions on individual objects based on user role.

To learn more and/or download a free demo, CLICK HERE.



7:04 pm
November 15, 2016
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Rockwell Automation Commits $12M to FIRST Program

From left to right, following the announcement of his company's $12M, commitment to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), Rockwell Automation president and CEO Blake Moret is shown with several FIRST teams, Don Bossi, president and CEO, FIRST, and  and Jay Flores, Rockwell Automation global STEM ambassador, on the 2016 Automation Fair show floor.

From left to right, following the announcement of his company’s $12M, commitment to FIRST, Rockwell Automation president and CEO Blake Moret is shown with several FIRST teams, Don Bossi, president and CEO, FIRST, and and Jay Flores, Rockwell Automation global STEM ambassador, on the product-exhibition show floor at 2016 Automation Fair.

Rockwell Automation has never shied away from putting its muscle and money where its mouth is when it comes to developing the workforce of the future. The latest example is the company’s announcement of a $12M, four-year commitment to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Highlighted at the recent Automation Fair event in Atlanta, this new $12M investment amounts to one of the largest gifts ever for FIRST, which focuses on boosting young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

According to Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST, the generous, multiyear commitment will help scale the organization’s programs and expose participants to a broader range of industry-leading products and applications.

A Long History of Support
Rockwell Automation has provided more than $15M of broad-based support over the past 10 years to address the critical need to fill science, technology, education and math (STEM) jobs that drive innovation. Many of these jobs go unfilled because of both the lack of awareness of the kinds of high-tech jobs available, and the lack of skills to qualify for today’s needs.

“Through our technology and people, we are helping to inspire the next generation of innovators to fill the talent pipeline for our customers and for our company,” said Blake Moret, President and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “Our strategic partnership with FIRST helps us increase our reach and visibility to STEM students around the world.”

(CLICK HERE to view “Engineering Our Future,” a short video about the company’s philosophy and approach, narrated by Rockwell Automation STEM Ambassador Jay Flores.)

In addition to being a global sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League program and sole sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award, nearly 200 Rockwell Automation employees around the world donate their time for the FIRST programs, and more than 300 employees volunteer for the organization in other capacities. The company also donates products integral to FIRST program games and scoring. These product donations are specifically used for the FIRST Robotics Competition playing fields and scoring systems and are included within the parts kits that teams use to build their robots.

Rockwell Automation is recognized as a FIRST Strategic Partner, which signifies the highest levels of sponsorship available at FIRST. It is also a FIRST Robotics Competition Crown Supplier.

More About FIRST
Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to promote an appreciation of science and technology in young people.

Based in Manchester, NH, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $30 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST LEGO League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST LEGO League Jr. for Grades K-4. FIRST’s Gracious Professionalism efforts focus on a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.

To learn more, go to, or CLICK HERE.



4:59 pm
November 15, 2016
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Correctly Outfit Ball Valves, Actuators

1611rmcautomation01Ball valves are a common choice for water, chemical, and gas applications because of their relatively low cost and high temperature and pressure tolerance. To operate properly in a given application, valves and the actuators that drive them must be appropriately specified and correctly outfitted. Craig Correia of Festo ( points to several major considerations:

Pipe size
Ball valves are commonly used for applications ranging from 1/2 to 2 in. For fluid-handling applications that use plumbing larger than 2 in., butterfly valves may be more cost effective.

Media type
Chemical compatibility between the valve material and the media flowing through it is crucial. Stainless steel is often a good choice because of its high corrosion resistance. The downside to stainless steel is the added cost for the material. Brass valves, which cost less, should be considered if chemical compatibility isn’t an issue. Other common media-properties that should always be considered include state, viscosity, adhesiveness, and temperature. When you are ordering ball valves, evaluate the specifications to determine compatibility with each of these properties.

randmValve design
There are many types of ball valves, reflecting various construction materials, such as plastic and metal, and the type of disassembly. Some are available in one-, two-, or three-piece configurations. A three-piece design is commonly used if the valve needs to be disassembled easily and thoroughly checked (as in process applications where cleanliness is a high priority). One- or two-piece ball valves are typically more economical than a three-piece design.

Method of operation
Once the type of ball valve is selected, the method of opening and closing it must be chosen. Manual handles or pneumatic actuators are most common. When specifying an actuator, consider factors such as whether the media is hazardous or sticky. Most valve manufacturers offer assistance.

Single-acting, or spring-return devices use air (pneumatic) or a liquid to drive the actuator on one side of a piston. A spring on the opposite side acts to reverse the air/liquid action. Double-acting actuators use air/liquid on both sides of a piston. By changing the pressure from one side of the piston to the other, the actuator opens or closes the valve.

Pneumatic-actuator sizing depends on a facility’s available air pressure, especially if it must overcome spring compression in a single-acting actuator. A single-acting unit will have a different torque value at the beginning and end of actuation than if it were actuated only by air. It’s important to ensure that the spring is strong enough to overcome the ball-valve torque at all operation points. If the valve requires a lower torque than what the air and spring provide, the actuator is a suitable match for the valve. MT

­—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Ball-Valve 101

Ball valves work by rotating a metal sphere (the ball) with an empty cylinder (the bore) drilled through the center. During rotation of the ball, the bore is typically either in line with the pipe and allowing the media to flow through it, or it’s perpendicular to the pipe and blocking the flow. The valve may also sit in an intermediate position, which offers some flow control.

Sometimes referred to as a “cavity,” the bore is where chemicals, water, or gases accumulate until the valve is rotated. If the trapped fluids tend to harden or change while in the cavity, a different valve type may be necessary.

Craig Correia is head of Process Automation at Festo, Hauppauge, NY. For more information on the company’s wide range of products and services, visit Photo courtesy Festo.