ISA Expo 2008 Process Automation Solutions at ISA Expo 2008
This year’s ISA Expo, the top event for the North American automation industry, took place in Houston 14–16 October. The technical conference, the education and training program and the exhibition area all drew strong interest. Exhibition booths featured the usual wide range of topics, including industrial networks, safety and security, quality control and system integration.
Applications from the oil and gas industry dominated, especially in the relatively new area of liquid gas transportation. Spectra Sensors, for instance, presented gas analyzers that can detect traces of water in natural gas using laser spectroscopy. ABB offered a wide range of analytical equipment, including gas chromatographs, photometers and FTNIR spectrometers. One highlight was the GCM 500 micro-GC module from SLS Micro Technology. Weighing little more than 100 g, it is the size of a cigarette packet yet contains all the core components of a gas chromatograph: injector, thin-film or packed separation column, thermal conductivity detector (TCD) and microprocessor.
At the ISA104 standards committee’s booth, several automation vendors demonstrated interoperable devices and systems using the EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language) standard. Thanks to EDDL, systems from ABB, Emerson, Invensys, and Siemens, are operating with devices from Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Foxboro Eckardt, Metso, MTL, Samson, and Siemens. The focus this year was on complex devices such as variable-speed drives, valve positioners, and bus diagnostics. In an improvement on previous EDDL demonstrations, devices from different vendors provided consistent information to their host systems. New this year was a demonstration of EDDL technology coupled with the WirelessHART communications protocol in an easy-to-use format. Also on wireless issues, the ISA100 committee narrowly rejected the second draft of the proposed ISA100.11a standard on wireless systems for industrial automation.
The day before ISA Expo 2008 opened, the ISA’s ruling council agreed to change the organization’s name from the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society to the International Society of Automation.