The Only Thing Old is FUD

I’ve gotten some feedback from some Emerson sales people in the different world areas that some fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being spread about the DeltaV system. The FUD goes that it’s an “old” system.

This was once a very powerful argument before the days that all automation suppliers adopted commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies in their systems. This is because the automation supplier had to design, test and support a greater proportion of the hardware, firmware and software required. This made “playing catch-up” more difficult.

I went and blew the dust off the initial sales binder (back in the days when sales binders were used) to see what the specs were on the Dell PCs used the engineering and operator workstations for the first DeltaV release.

I’m pleased to report the Moore’s Law about functionality doubling every few years is alive and well. Check out these “powerful” specs from 1996:

  • Microprocessor – Pentium, 166Mhz
  • RAM – 32 Mb
  • Cache – 256 Kb
  • Drives -4X CDROM, 3.5-inch floppy, 1 Gb Hard Drive
  • Operating System – Microsoft Windows NT 3.51
  • Ports – 1 Parallel, 2 Serial, 1 or 2 10BaseT Ethernet
  • PC Options – 28.8 FAX modem
  • Display Resolution – 1024 x 768

Wow, my Mobil PC phone has more processing power and storage.

Today’s DeltaV workstations are continuously updated based on the latest configurations from Dell. Right now, they are at 2.33 GHz Core Duo Intel microprocessors, 2 Gb RAM, 80 Gb hard disks, etc.

If your plant has DeltaV v1 software on the original hardware, it is indeed old. If you’re running the current version, v9.3, you’ll see something completely different. The first is the growth in capacity. It grew from 500 I/O in its initial release to a size that is currently operating:

Across the 10 plants and utilities there are over 48 000 control loops, with about 166 000 I/O tags and around 25 000 points hardwired to the automation system. There are 40 000 instruments and some 13 000 intelligent devices networked in the world’s largest Foundation Fieldbus installation.

A few other things that have been added along the way, taking advantage of Moore’s Law and COTS are embedded advanced control and simulation, integrated batch, Foundation fieldbus and other digital communications busses, safety instrumented systems, and enterprise integration and security.

Version 10 release of the DeltaV software is coming later this year that will add innovations in engineering productivity, hardware performance, wireless connectivity, SIS, operating systems, batch and more.

I share all this because the only thing old is the FUD you may hear.

Update: Welcome readers of the Industrial Automation Insider newsletter. I invite your comments on Andrew Bond’s recap of this post in the newletter’s September 2008 edition. Also, if you’re going to be at Emerson Exchange later this month, make sure to see Andre Dicaire’s presentation on the historical timeline of DeltaV controller improvements. I’ll try to catch this one and blog it for those who can’t join us.

Posted Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 under Technologies.

4 comments

  1. Dave Harrold says:

    Is it just me or does it seem like the instrumentation and control industry as a whole is becoming increasingly cynical and more prone to starting and spreading rumors, half-truths, and out right lies than every before?

    I’ve been in the instrumentation and control industry for more than 40 years and for the first 25 I recall that my peers and colleagues treated one another as professionals, they allowed a products specification to do the talking, they openly shared the details of success, and they worked together to solve tough application problems. Now it seems to me that this same industry is increasingly following the example set by politicians (a most undesirable example) who knowingly twist the facts, unnecessarily inject un-verified fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) into the communications channel, and create and spread rumors that do nothing but chip away at our industries image.

    I’m appealing to those persons (and you each know who you are) within the control and instrumentation industry, the ones who made a good living from this industry, the ones who have been repeatedly acknowledged as industry leaders to stop the FUD and begin traveling a higher road, a road that gives back through honest, accurate reporting of verified facts. In the long run you will be doing our industry, the one you chose to be a part of, a far more beneficial service.

  2. Dave, Thank you very much for your comments and call to action.
    Jim

  3. Chris Jennings says:

    Don’t you realise that being labelled an “old” system is a compliment. Instead of being untried and new, and old system is much more likely to get acceptance by conservative organisations who don’t want to get stuck with a lemon.
    I would be happy to be working on an “old” DCS.

  4. Chris, I agree that proven is a great thing and keeping the innovations flowing is also really good–like having a native WirelessHART connection into DeltaV (in v10). Once a WirelessHART device is commissioned, it’s available in the DeltaV Explorer for display, alarming, history, etc. (without any MODBUS or OPC mapping.)

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