Automation knowledge is power

“Software is embedded knowledge” – this was one of the great quotes from automation guru Jim Pinto (see sidebox) at Citect’s recent User Conference in Port Douglas, Queensland. With Citect’s SCADA products all software based, this quote was a great affirmation for them. The statement was part of Pinto’s commentary that in the new World Order there are three key business threads: • Natural resources – businesses will tend to relocate in order to be based near their resources. • Labour – the need for labour is being reduced by automation. • Knowledge – the key source of business and national advantage. Pinto also commented that as “knowledge is power, that the first world was rapidly losing this advantage”. Growing economies such as China, India and Brazil are turning out huge numbers of graduates in science, IT and engineering (India is turning out 500,000 graduate engineers a year and China 700,000). Citect is an Australian-based international company that has been in business for 35 years. Its Citect SCADA system was first introduced 21 years ago. Two years ago Citect became part of the Schneider Group which has enabled it to considerably lift investment in research and development, with an additional $20 million invested over the past two years. Citect is now seen as a key part of Schneider’s worldwide automation strategy with automation producing 29 percent of Schneider’s revenues. In the Pacific region Schneider is number one in power systems, number one in SCADA and number two in automation. At the conference Scott Woolbridge, the vice president Oceania of Citect, gave an overview of the company. He commented that Citect is now ranked number one for SCADA in the Asia/Pacific region (including Japan and China) and is aiming for top three ranking worldwide (currently in the top five). Since being acquired by Schneider the company has launched a complementary product, Vijeo Citect, which is optimised to integrate with Schneider’s PLCs and automation systems. Citect also now offers a suite of three products to fill the space between the automation sensors and hardware and the company’s ERP system. Citect SCADA provides the interface for the control of systems and real time monitoring. Citect SCADA Reports is a historian programme that allows the data to be stored, analysed and reported on to monitor plant utilisation and efficiency, whilst Citect AMPLA is in the MES (Manufacturing Operations layer) that provides the link between reporting and the ERP level. In addition, there is Citect Facilities, which is the SCADA system configured especially for management of large building systems (power, climate, lighting etc). The Roadmap forward for the Citect SCADA family over the next few years sees support for Vista and Windows Server 2008 in the upcoming 7.1 release. Going forward a lot of the focus is to make the system easier to implement and maintain with, in particular, provision for online changes without taking the system down, more efficient equipment configuration environments and more use of open files and systems such as SQL for reports. Cathy Parker is publisher of DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing magazine. The Kiwi Connection At the conference opening dinner Citect presented their Integrator of the Year awards for their top integration partners from each Australian state plus New Zealand – and the overall award winner. For New Zealand the winner was Horizon Technology of Albany. During the conference I also spoke to three New Zealand users of Citect SCADA about their experience with the system: Noel Roberts and Chris Laidlaw – Greater Wellington Council The Council utilised Citect SCADA for its drinking water supply system. Initially a DOS version was installed in one plant but they now use the Windows version across all plants to monitor throughput and quality. As the plants are manned by operators for only eight hours a day and five days a week the monitoring can be done locally at each plant, remotely at Roberts’ office or by operators remotely via laptop, with alerts sent out via cell phone or pager. Apart from the remote monitoring the system provides uniformity and standardisation of reporting which is essential given the risks to health of any deviation and the need for ongoing compliance monitoring and reporting. With 10 years of data they are looking at using Citect SCADA Reports to provide historic and comparative data. 95 percent of the data comes in via the online monitoring, whilst the balance is entered from offline laboratory analysis. Mark Holmberg – Trust Power Trust Power operates 33 generation stations over 21 locations throughout New Zealand. These are mostly smaller stations previously owned by local power companies but include some smaller ECNZ stations such as Coleridge. Most are hydro stations but there is also the Tararua Wind Farm with two more wind projects on the drawing board. Of the stations, 16 are currently monitored and controlled from the company’s Tauranga base using Citect SCADA. The company particularly likes the flexibility and versatility of the Citect system as the stations use a wide variety of hardware, having been developed by different companies at different times. Trust Power is currently evaluating Citect SCADA reports to link the SCADA to the existing MES system – which is used to interface with the electricity spot market for making and setting prices. Allan Dobbie – NZ Sugar NZ Sugar has used Citect SCADA since 1989, upgrading to the Windows version in 1995 and is currently running Version Six. It is used in the sugar refining aspect of the business but does not include the packaging operation. The software has been gradually phased-in through the plant as an ongoing infrastructure upgrade and as systems were updated. NZ Sugar has recently installed the Historian product, Citect SCADA Reports, and is working on the business case for the MES system – AMPLA. With the current focus on energy efficiency Dobbie says the SCADA system has been fundamental in what they are doing. NZ Sugar has the view that the best ‘bang for buck’ comes from smarter utilisation of the existing plant rather than any major capex upgrades. The data from the SCADA makes this monitoring and tuning much easier.

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