Home > Yokogawa sets sights on top spot

Yokogawa sets sights on top spot

Supplier News

YOKOGAWA Electric Corporation has set itself the ambitious target of becoming the global leader in industrial automation by the year 2010.

Isao Uchida, Yokogawa president and CEO, unveiled this agenda at the company’s 90th anniversary celebration, held from 27-28 October in Tokyo.

The two-day event, comprising Yokogawa’s Technology Innovation Fair and Global Symposium, was attended by 35 foreign media representatives. Australia was represented by Process & Control Engineering (PACE). Also taking part were 28 users with representation from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Singapore, Philippines, Korea, Germany, China, the United States, Hungary, Greece, the United Kingdom, Bahrain and Russia.

Yokogawa recognises that it needs to command at least a 20 percent share of the global market in order to claim pole position.

Chasing this agenda, the company has set itself an annual growth target of 10 percent. From FY01 to FY04, the revenue stream from its industrial automation division grew by about 20 percent per annum. Market growth was about three percent annually.

While Yokogawa is particularly strong in the DCS and transmitter market, the company expects its other related businesses - like test and measurement, medical imaging and photonic networks - to also help it become the world leader.

“Yokogawa’s basic strength lies in its highly reliable systems and stable, long-life sensors,” said Uchida, noting the need to “bullet-proof” systems. “Our DCS - the Centum CS/CS 3000 - shows the availability of seven nines, or 0.999 999 953 - in other words, only one minute of system failure over an operating period of 40 years,” he said.

Referring to Yokogawa’s “customer-centric mindset”, where quality and innovation play key defining support roles, Uchida said that the company was committed to creating partnerships beyond a customer-supplier relationship.

Here, the company’s new automation strategy, called Vigilance, would play a key role, emphasising quality, innovation and foresight.

Adding to Yokogawa’s arsenal is its increasing investment in advancing new technologies. Annually, the US$4 billion company spends nearly eight percent of total revenue on R&D.

In a candour that is refreshingly unusual for an organisation of this standing, Yokogawa lifted the lid on the fruits of these R&D endeavours. At the Technology Innovation Fair, the company put on public display technologies that won’t be commercially available for a good few years yet.

Innovation as a trailblazer

IN an extraordinary move for a company so heavily involved in R&D, Yokogawa used the platform of its Technology Innovation Fair to exhibit technologies that won’t be commercially available for quite some time.

The company showcased achievements relating not only to its primary areas of industrial automation and control, and test and measurement, but also to medical information systems and applications.

Tools used in the testing of memory chips, logic ICs, LCD drivers, mobile communications and digital broadcasting technologies, as well as highly reliable displays for airliner cockpits, were on show.

Also, Yokogawa demonstrated its contribution to advances in medical technology, having developed devices such as magnetoencephalographs and confocal microscopes, which can display the movements of living cells online.

With regards to the future, the focal themes on display were microtechnology, photonics technology and ubiquitous field computing.

Yokogawa’s microtechnology has been applied in gene readers as well as in micro-manufacturing technology for high value-added production.

The company’s photonics technology - used in devices that enable high-speed, large-capacity optical networks - is being employed in the development and production of its own compound semiconductors.

Here, the company demonstrated the ultra-high-speed packet transmission that is possible with optical-to-optical switching.

In addition, the company believes that its ubiquitous field computing technology, which integrates IPv6 and simulation technology, will reshape traditional plant operation concepts.

In the R&D pipeline are:

Field IPv6 and IPv6 chips: Here, Yokogawa is focussing on ubiquitous field networks, playing a leading role in applying IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) technology to critical production field and in social infrastructure. Compared with the current IPv4, IPv6 offers more advanced encryption, is more secure from network intrusion and supports easy-to-configure connectivity to a wider variety of devices.

? Next generation facility management: Yokogawa is making a full-scale entry into the facility management business field. Astrea, a brand-new integrated facility management system that is under development, adopts the latest wireless, open standard and XML technologies and will be the successor to Yokogawa’s Vectas facility control system and GIAMS access control system.

? Field Overlay Architecture: Yokogawa is proposing a framework called Field Overlay Architecture (FOA). This is achieved by combining a common computing platform for devices and a mechanism to overlay issue-solving systems on existing systems. Possible FOA applications include protection systems, control systems and remote monitoring and measurement systems.

? Measuring instruments for next generation photonic networks: Research and development into photonic networks is being conducted towards the highly networked information society. To accommodate the increasing traffic, there is a greater demand to develop technology for increasing transmission speed (for example, to 40 Gbps or even 160 Gbps), traffic engineering or photonic labelling. Yokogawa is making major advances in the development of ultra-wideband sampling technology and high-speed wavelength sweeping technology.

? Optical packet network systems: Yokogawa has developed a photonic network technology that overcomes the physical limitations of electrical processing. The company claims this is the first such product worldwide that is read to operate on a practical level.

? Subsystems for optical network R&D: Yokogawa is providing ultra-fast logic circuits for optical communication modules such as modulator drivers and CDRs. The company claims to be the first in the world to successfully demonstrate in an experiment HDTV transmission using an optical packet network system, a technology that was not expected to be introduced for at least another 10 years. Yokogawa is proposing subsystems containing these cutting-edged technologies that are optimised for R&D of next-generation photonic networks.

Going places

IN its push to grow by 10 percent per annum towards 2010, Yokogawa expects Oceania to grow by 10-15 percent per year. Highest expected growth is in China (30-40 percent growth per year). The growth target in Japan is 5-10 percent.

Commanding 53 percent of revenue, the industrial automation and control business continues to sustain Yokogawa’s overall growth, compared with its information systems and test and measurement verticals.

According to Shu Kaihori, vice president, industrial automation, systems engineering is expected to grow by 8-10 percent, services by 12-14 percent, field instrumentation by 14-16 percent, and environmental products by 10-15 percent.

Kaihori predicts the next technological challenges will come from global data access and flexible asset optimisation (which includes IPv6 and wireless temporal sensors), predictable plant operation (trend predictions and predictive navigation), critical condition management (plant-wide alarm handling and decision support), and operation and maintenance lifecycle services.

Toshiaki Shirai, division manager, IA Systems Business Division, meanwhile outlined Yokogawa’s roadmap for industrial automation systems as follows:

? The four cornerstones to Visualised Operation, expected to come on line in 2006, comprise integrated HMI, equipment-level performance monitoring, versatile controllers and instrument diagnosis.

? Target Based Operation, due to be operational by around 2009, is structured on data/text mining, process unit modelling, event management and unit diagnosis.

? Foreseeable Adaptive Operation, due to be operational by 2010, includes advances in agent technology, plant-wide modelling and process diagnosis.

Speaking of which

TWO key speakers at Yokogawa’s Global Symposium were Simon Lam, CEO of China National Off-shore Oil Company and Shell Petrochemicals Company (CSPC), and Norbert Kuschnerus, senior vice president of Bayer and chairman of NAMUR.

CSPC is building the US$4.3 billion Nanhai petrochemicals complex in Daya Bay, Guangdong Province. Major construction work began in 2003. Despite the short lead-in time, plant start-up is scheduled by the end of this month.

Nanhai will produce 2.3 million tonnes per annum of petrochemical products, primarily ethylene and propylene derivatives with a variety of domestic and industrial applications.

Yokogawa is the main automation contractor (MAC) for the complex, coordinating operations between six international engineering contractors, Chinese design institutes and related subcontractors.

According to Lam, key considerations in awarding the contract were reputation, technical reliability and “people” reliability. “I don’t want ideas but a system that works,” he said.

“The MAC must be flexible and responsive to my needs. It needed to be progressive as DCS is an ever-changing technology. The MAC also has to have a ‘continuous improvement’ mindset, as well as the ability to stick with us for the long term.”

The Nanhai complex will host the largest Foundation fieldbus installation in the world with 16,000 devices, three control rooms, 15 field auxiliary rooms, approximately 60,000 hard-wired inputs/outputs, about 200,000 software tags and some 1000 equipment cabinets.

The automation system comprises Yokogawa’s Centum CS3000 DCS systems, PRM asset management system, Exaquantum operational data system, MAS logistics automation system and field instrumentation.

Safeguard systems, fire and gas systems and operator training simulators also form part of the plant.

The control system integrates with the site’s SAP system.

“Despite late configuration changes, Yokogawa delivered on schedule and within budget,” said Lam.

The company also holds the DCS maintenance contract.

Meanwhile, Norbert Kuschnerus predicted that sensors would play an increasingly crucial role in improving process control.

“Economic pressures on all manufacturers in developed regions are forcing major changes in process technology,” said Kuschnerus, who at one stage worked for Bayer in Japan, forming a long-term relationship with Yokogawa.

Kuschnerus noted that, as industrial processes become increasingly complex, sensors will play a greater role in extracting information from them.

“We can’t reduce such complexity,” he said. “But we can master it.”

According to Kuschnerus, sensors will not only be required to measure process parameters but to obtain information about the properties of products and intermediates as well as of trends. This includes “3D” process information.

Kuschnerus sees increasing use of sensors where chemical processes are being replaced by biological processes, and in micro-processes as well.

Newsletter sign-up

The latest products and news delivered to your inbox