What Does the TDC ExxonMobil Migration Mean for The Open Process Automation Forum? | Automation.com

What Does the TDC ExxonMobil Migration Mean for The Open Process Automation Forum?

August 142018
What Does the TDC ExxonMobil Migration Mean for The Open Process Automation Forum?

By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com

A major keynote presentation at the 2018 Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas described the the company’s TDC ExxonMobil Migration approach.   I have been approached multiple times since that presentation by people asking me if the Honeywell TDC3000 migration approach will eliminate the reason for The Open Process Automation Forum (OPA) initiative?  To get a definitive answer, I asked ExxonMobil’s Don Bartusiak - Chief Engineer, Process Control and a proponent of the OPA initiative - how the migration approach fits into the bigger picture:

“ExxonMobil’s commitment to Open Process Automation is unequivocal.  OPA directly addresses the root causes of the business problem that we and other operating companies are trying to solve.  Nevertheless, we are pleased that Honeywell has responded to our requests for TDC 3000 life extension to give us another option for responsibly managing the lifecycles of our manufacturing assets.”

“Suppliers and industry, in general, should not interpret ExxonMobil’s long-standing work with Honeywell as a reduction in our commitment to the goals of OPA.  We and our operating company collaboration partners are currently executing a plan to implement on-process prototypes using the OPA approach.  Ultimately, ExxonMobil expects to issue procurement specifications that require certified conformance to the Open Process Automation Technical Standard that is being written now by the OPA Forum of The Open Group.”

I personally see the Honeywell TDC3000 migration approach as a creative and practical tactical solution for the large ExxonMobil installed base of TDC3000s. 

Some suppliers have interpreted the OPA initiative simply as a way for suppliers to lower prices, but this misses the entire point of the need.  The industrial automation industry has dramatically lagged in the adoption of technology, and a major reason for this has been closed ecosystems. Many vendors have partner programs that are promoted as “open” but, in reality, these too are highly-gated, bureaucratically controlled and essentially closed ecosystems. 

 

The Open Process Automation Forum (OPA) Goals

The Open Process Automation Forum (OPA) initiative recognizes that global competition is intensifying due to technological advancements. New players, either start-ups or existing cross-industry jumpers are leveraging the latest innovative technology and may take away business from established industrial automation companies.  This growing wave of new. open technologies, especially through computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) suppliers , are performing effective real-time sensing and control in demanding applications.  Many of these are based on open standards using  open source technology which creates accessible, highly productive ecosystems.  These ecosystems foster collective creativity, innovation, and capital investment far greater than any single supplier is capable of accomplishing.

Manufacturing and production companies to remain viable need to think about what they need to be competitive in their industries on the global stage.

 

About the Honeywell TDC3000 Migration

The TDC Migration plan was presented at HUG 2018 by Exxon-Mobil’s Dave Patin describing this as a solution, worked out with Honeywell, to migrate their large installed base of TDC3000 systems while preserving the application programming, display configuration, and 3rd party interfaces which minimize migration labor.  Patin described how this started with a joint Honeywell/ExxonMobil technical task team to study the problem.  They found that, with the large installed base, replacing these DCS systems had turned out to be very expensive, risky and disruptive to operations.  To alleviate this, Honeywell developed  the Experion LCN R501.1, which emulates the TDC system as software.  “It’s 100% binary compatible and interoperable with the old system,” Patin explained, “Current TDC code runs unmodified in this virtual environment, greatly reducing the technical risks. Intellectual property such as application code, databases and displays are preserved.”

In the end, the Experion Station, Server, ACE and APP nodes can take the shape of Windows based “physical” applications or virtual machines. The Application Modules, Network Gateway and Network Interface Module functionalities are redeployed on Universal Embedded Appliances or as virtual appliances. Only the Enhanced PLC Gateway cannot be readily virtualized as the emulation of serial network connectivity is not well behaved. As Patin described, “This means you can build an almost 100% virtualized or 100% physical system—or somewhere in between.” With this new solution, LCN and UCN messages are now encapsulated in standard Internet Protocol. “All the old networks now exist as logical constructs on Fault Tolerant Ethernet,” Patin said. “We’re no longer locked into proprietary networks”

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