ISA Expo 2008 - Wireless & Networking Dominate, Product Highlights

By Bill Lydon - Contributing Editor

October 14-16, 2008 at the Reliant Center in Houston, Texas
The event attracted 11,000 attendees and showcased 500 exhibitors. A major attraction is the technical and education sessions that have been the backbone of ISA for years. The 70 conference program sessions, 17 training courses, dozens of special events, and more than 100 presentations on the exhibit floor were focused around six technology exchanges.  Dozens of industry experts were on hand to lead discussions, present papers, and answer questions about the topics in each area. ISA EXPO technology exchanges covered security, process automation, safety, environmental and quality control, enterprise integration, and wireless and networking.
The emphasis on networked communications whether wired or wireless was visible at the event. There was a large number of companies selling wireless in one form of another.
  • 47 Exhibitors Claiming Wireless Products
  • 46 Companies Participating in the Wireless & Networking Technology Exchange
  • 33 Companies with Valve Products to provide a contrast.
Technology Exchanges
The exchanges allow attendees with common interests to participate in presentations of automation solutions, ideas, and information in the areas that relate most to their unique needs.   These tracks have multiple session and a networking reception for attendees.
  • Enterprise Integration Exchange
  • Environmental & Quality Control
  • Process Automation
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Wireless & Networking



Wireless Standard SP 100
The ISA Wireless Industrial Automation Standard (SP100) Committee meeting in Houston drew a standing-room-only crowd. The first official release of a draft standard is called SP100.11a.   The committee decided to combine two standards, SP100.11, which covers industrial process measurement & control, and ISA SP100.14, which focuses on optimized solutions for industrial monitoring. The logic behind the move was that the same wireless network that supports the monitoring function could accommodate both requirements.

Energy Harvesting was discussed after a brief presentation by Roy Freeland of Perpetuum who indicated this could accelerate the use of industrial wireless. Harvesting possibilities include vibration, solar, and infrastructure (such as circuitry). Freeland is proposing that an interest group on energy harvesting be established.

There was also discussion about a request that the Zigbee interest group be elevated to working group status.  The committee is considering this.

ISA100 Demonstration
The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI) conducted a demonstration of the ISA100.11a wireless industrial automation network at ISA EXPO. The demonstration employed technology based on the latest draft of the ISA100.11a industrial wireless communications standard. The demonstration highlighted the mesh and interoperability capabilities of the proposed ISA100.11a standard by showing ISA100.11a Field Routers from many different vendors formed into a self-healing and dynamically adaptive mesh network.
Devices from 14 different instrumentation vendors formed the wireless network of interoperable devices all seamlessly working together using the ISA100.11a draft technology. These devices included various wireless platforms from fully integrated devices to devices with attached wireless adaptors. Wired HART devices were included in the demonstration and used the wireless adaptors to communicate HART information like stranded diagnostics over the ISA100.11a network to a host system.
The wireless demonstration system was comprised of three separate yet integrated ISA100.11a networks with devices sending process control data to a simulated, centralized plant-wide host monitoring system where the data was collected and displayed. The console operator at the host system could configure devices to periodically send data or could issue on-demand reads of the data from devices in the wireless network. More advanced capabilities exhibited by the ISA100.11a demo system included live process control loops, remote configurability, as well as simple “over the air” upgrades of the entire ISA100.11a system including the wireless field devices. The wireless sensor networks also communicated to a DCS via a gateway developed according to the ISA100.11a draft.
The demonstration included protocol stacks from two different developers to prove that the ISA100.11a draft standard document included sufficient detail to allow multiple developers from various nationalities across the globe to develop a fully functioning ISA100.11a system.
The first stack supplier was Atlanta-based Nivis, LLC, which coordinated the overall WCI demonstration. Nivis has also developed an Evaluation Kit for use by vendors who need development support for devices that will use protocol stacks in their products based on the ISA100.11a wireless standard. The Evaluation Kit is a user-friendly assessment tool that allows developers to swiftly build an ISA100.11a network and evaluate its performance.
The second stack was developed in China by the Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications (CQUPT). It was developed as a research project by over 40 college students and 8 different teachers all working from the same ISA100.11a draft document. The CQUPT stack was exhibited in the WCI booth as a standalone network with wireless devices from multiple vendors communicating with each other and also using the draft ISA100.11a standard technology.
The WCI booth fielded many questions, as interest in the ISA100.11a wireless standard was extremely high. The most frequently asked question was, “How and why are vendors developing products now when the ISA100.11a standard has not been fully approved?” The answer is two-fold; 1) The ISA100.11a standard development process is being conducted in a parallel fashion so technical specifications, test specifications, and stack developments are all currently underway. This approach accelerates technical discoveries and corrections at a much more rapid pace to ensure a high quality standard is produced in a timely fashion; and 2) The developers and vendors involved are very experienced wireless suppliers who have participated in the standards development process and have confidence that the approved ISA100.l1a standard will not deviate far from the current draft ISA100.11a standard.
“Today, and in the upcoming years, as products are developed and field tested based upon the ISA100 standards, the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute will provide feedback to the ISA100 Standards Committee to complement the development of technical standards. The ISA100.11a demonstration at ISA EXPO is an example of this coordinated effort,” said WCI Chair Herman Storey with Shell Global Systems.
Companies participating in the technology demonstration booth at ISA Expo 2008 included Barton Cameron, CQUPT, Dresser Masonielan, Flowserve, Fuji Electric, GE MDS, Hach, Honeywell, ITT, Krohne, Metso, Nivis, Omron, Sensicast, Teledyne, Yamatake, Yokogawa, Williamson, and WIKA.

ISA100.12 Subcommittee WirelessHART Convergence
This subcommittee is tasked with evaluating the WirelessHART specification and the ISA100.11a specification and provide a technical differential analysis with associated end user benefits. In addition, the subcommmittee is to identify, document, and recommend possible vendor/profile options that allow installed WirelessHART and ISA100.11a networks to be converged in the future when a converged standard is available.   This is to be accomplished while preserving the user benefits of both WirelessHART and ISA100.11a.
There are some passionate views about adoption for Wireless HART in the industry:




ISA Expo 2008 Product Highlights

PLC/Programming Learning Package - Divelbiss Corporation
Divelbiss Corporation demonstrated is new PLC/Programming Learning Package based on the company’s patented PLC on a Chip®.   Terry L. Divelbiss founder of the Divelbiss Corporation, a long time industry professional, recognized the need for more effective training tools in the industry and this product is designed to satisfy the need.

The Divelbiss PLC/Programming Learning Package along with a PC (Personal Computer) running Windows® software provides everything a student will need to learn PLC programming. Divelbiss is able to keep the cost for each student under $300.
EtherNet/IP Controller features Steeplechase Visual Logic Controller (VLC) - Phoenix Contact
The Phoenix Contact ILC 150 VLC controller is a compact, low-cost embedded control platform featuring a built-in Ethernet port for networking using the EtherNet/IP protocol for either scanning I/O or for serving up application status information to a supervisory system.

Single Board Industrial Controller - Green Hills Software
Green Hills software demonstrated a single board computer running 3S-Smart Software Solutions IEC 61131-3 control engine software, and ICONICS GENESIS 32 software running in virtual machines under their INTEGRITY® real time operating system. Green Hills INTEGRITY Padded Cell™ secure virtualization technology hosted Windows and Linux guest operating systems running on an Intel® Core™2 Duo processor. The use of secure virtualization technology enables the separation of critical resources and networks from personal resources (email, web browsing, and the Internet), reducing the risk of security breaches into critical infrastructure systems.

Green Hills Software, Inc., announced a partnership agreement with 3S-Smart Software Solutions, makers of CoDeSys, IEC 61131-3 programming system for creating controller applications. 3S ( ) will integrate CoDeSys SP, the run-time environment for CoDeSys applications, with the Green Hills Platform for Industrial Safety.
Remote Eyeballs for Wireless Reading Gauges - Cypress Envirosystems
The most clever product at ISA this year was the Cypress Envirosystems Wireless Gauge Reader that uses a camera chip to read gauges. The Wireless Gauge Reader clips-on to the front face of an existing gauge to capture and transmit the reading. It installs in minutes and does not require removal of the old gauges, breaking pressure seals, performing leak checks, running wires or interrupting the underlying process.
Quad Process Safety System - HIMA 
Quad Processor, HIMA demonstrated the H41q/H51q Quadruple Modular Redundant (QMR) safety solution. The system is an impressive quad process safety system that can support up to 13,000 I/O. The system software can be updated online while the system is running to be a non-stop safety system. In addition, HIMA has the HIMatrix series safety-related controllers and remote I/O modules for applications with just a few I/O points and especially for networked and time-critical applications.

HIMatrix, the HIMatrix safety-related controllers and remote I/O modules from the HIMatrix series was also shown that are designed especially for time-critical applications.   HIMatrix controllers are designed for distributed safety applications using a thin infrastructure architecture. HIMatrix  is designed for safety applications with just a few I/O points such as replacement of relay-based emergency shutdown logic (ESD), Fire and gas detection systems (F&G), Burner management systems (BMS), and High-integrity pressure protection (HIPPS).

Universal Gas Transmitter - Honeywell
Honeywell displayed XNX, a universal gas transmitter using Honeywell Analytics’ full range of toxic and flammable gas sensing technologies—including catalytic bead, electrochemical and infrared. The XNX also works with Industrial communication protocols, including HART (standard) and Modbus (optional).
The XNX has a built-in user interface that provides Alarm, Fault and configuration support via a large dot matrix display and LED indicators.  The unit supports seven languages. The HART protocol is supplied standard on the 4-20mA output and an optional local Hart Adapter is included for configuration and diagnostics using existing Hart handheld devices. The XNX can also be equipped with options such as Alarm and Fault Relays with remote reset, or a Modbus digital interface. A Foundation Fieldbus interface is also under development.  Device descriptor files registered with the HART communication foundation ensure fully compliant operation.
HMI Enhancements - ICONICS
Silverlight - ICONICS  announced Version 10.5 of the GENESIS64™ HMI/SCADA suite incorporating the new Microsoft Silverlight™ cloud services technology. This offering provides a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device capability. Silverlight is able to combine multimedia, graphics, animation and interactivity into a single runtime environment. It has the ability to work along with XAML code in presenting vector graphics and animation and can be used to create Windows Sidebar gadgets for Windows Vista.

Kepware Relationship - ICONICS and Kepware Technologies ( have signed a partnership agreement to expand the list of compatible OPC-UA Servers available through ICONICS. Historian, ICONICS Hyper Historian is a 64-bit, robust, reliable, high-speed plant historian. Designed for mission-critical applications demanding the highest level of availability while consuming only a small amount of resources. Hyper Historian is also the first plant historian to be certified for both Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista™. In addition, BizViz™ Manufacturing Intelligence customers can leverage the Hyper Historian’s SQL Query Interface to generate insightful reports and intelligent workflows based on their historical data.
A new Statistical Process Control (SPC) capability, enhanced redundancy and tight integration with SQL Server 2008 make this a historian for demanding applications. With data logging rates up to 100,000 data events per second, Hyper Historian V10.5 uses a robust, 64-bit, swinging door algorithm for high data compression, to go along with its extreme high-speed data collection for real-time, enterprise-wide information.