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Introducing the DeltaV™ PK Flex Controller Podcast

by , | Jan 29, 2024 | Control & Safety Systems

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

Introducing the DeltaV PK Flex Controller PodcastWe have all become very comfortable with subscription services for entertainment services and we see it advance into other areas of our lives—even in our world of automation.

I spoke with Emerson’s Juan Carlos Bravo about how the DeltaV PK controller has evolved with the recent DeltaV PK Flex controller introduction. It enables greater flexibility and scalability to subscribe only to the size and functions you require for your project.

Additions and/or subtractions are managed through a subscription to quickly address scope changes in projects and simplify ongoing operations.

Give the podcast a listen, and check out the DeltaV PK Flex Controller section on Emerson.com for more information on how this approach can help drive more successful projects.

Transcript

Jim: Hi everyone. This is Jim Cahill with another Emerson Automation Experts podcast. When it comes to control for process and hybrid manufacturing, sometimes scalability is an important thing to be able to start small, grow to fit the needs of your process. And that’s something we’re going to talk about today.

I’m joined by Juan Carlos Bravo, and he oversees the DeltaV PK controller and integration for the DeltaV platform. And, we’re going to specifically talk a little bit about the DeltaV PK Flex controller. Welcome Juan Carlos.

Juan Carlos: Thank you, Jim.

Jim: Well, it’s great to have you with us today. So let’s just dive in and get started here. So what’s happening across the globe and in the industry that’s driving manufacturers to execute their projects differently today than maybe how they did in the past?

Juan Carlos: Well, Jim, what I’m seeing in the manufacturing industry is that, well, just like everyone else, they need to deliver more with less resources, right?

What I mean more is they have to execute faster. Most of their projects to meet the customer demands. They have different ways of building plants now, things like modular construction. Also, we’re seeing investments coming back to North America. A lot of new technologies coming into place that requires venture capital. So they have a new product, like new vaccines, hydrogen, energy, recycling, plastics, carbon capture. So all these new industries with new projects that, we don’t know how to execute, and we need to go back to market really fast. And that basically creates a lot of uncertainty because you need to start with an R&D project, then move it into proof of concept.

And then basically move it into production in matter of months sometimes, right? Like what happened in the pandemic with the vaccines, we have to go and validate a vaccine, like literally nine months. So that’s truly what is happening in the industry. And as a result of that is people have to digitalize a lot of their plans, right? They need to put more intelligent devices, more intelligent valves, motor starters to actually feed into your control system. And then your controller or your DCS should be able to process that information so you can actually use it to improve your process. So it’s a lot going on.

Jim: Yeah, that sounds like it’s not just all the new industries and things that we’re seeing now is even in existing. Everyone’s wrestling with the lot of retirements going on, fewer people to do more, challenge changes in the different industries. So, yeah, you really nailed a lot of those challenges there. So what are, as speaking of challenges, what are some of the challenges customers are seeing as they try to drive this digitalization?

Juan Carlos: Well, one of the biggest challenges that I look at it is the capacity, as you say, when we look at a project that starts as a R&D project, while you’re just using a couple signals. And then as you move along into proof of concept and production, you need to keep adding a lot of capacity into your process and your controllers.

And as I say, it’s very uncertain because you don’t know you are experimenting, you are trying out new things. You’re changing in your engineering. You want to go to production really fast. So having a flexible platform, that’s probably one of the biggest challenges customers face. And then maybe the other big challenge is how do you pay for this? A lot of these new projects requires capital investment, pretty large capital investment. So how do we provide a way of paying for these projects as they execute?

Jim: Yeah. That’s always, whether personally or as businesses, the paying for it thing is one of those challenges. So Juan Carlos, how is Emerson helping to address these particular challenges?

Juan Carlos: Well, we are introducing DeltaV PK Flex controller that is this has the same powerful functionality as our PK controller, but with the added advantage that it has flexible capacity and also a subscription base. So by flexible capacity, I mean, the PKs have a fixed model number that is the capacity. For example, PK 100 is 100 DSTs (device signal tags), PK 300 is 300 DSTs, and so on and so on.

PK Flex has no starting capacity. It can go from 50 to 1500, and the only thing you need to do is to subscribe to whatever capacity you want.

Jim: I can see why you put flex in the name there. That does sound very flexible. We know a lot about the advantages and benefits of the DeltaV PK controller, but for those who perhaps are new to what we offer, can you tell me a little bit more?

Juan Carlos: Yes, for sure. So definitely PK controller is our most powerful controller. And PK Flex is based on the same powerful functionality. If you remember, PK Flex controller is really easy to do redundancy. You just have one base plate and you add a new controller right next to it, just like other controllers in DeltaV.

But it can talk to any of our IO in the system. It can talk to traditional IO, to CHARMS, to wireless IO. But also I think so, what it makes it more powerful it has native Ethernet protocols like OPC server, MODBUS server, Ethernet IP or MODBUS TCP scanner, and recently released PROFINET again. And it’s one of our most powerful controllers because has the biggest CPU and memory, right? So PK Flex and PK controller has the exact same functionality. The big difference is PK Flex, as I mentioned, is just going to be flexible capacity and is licensable in subscription.

Jim: So I can see with that flexibility that might be helpful in your projects that you’re executing. So how does the PK Flex controller deliver Project Certainty and solve those challenges around limited resources?

Juan Carlos: Well, Project Certainty, as its name says, we want to remove any uncertainty when you’re executing that project. And when you’re doing a large project and you don’t know the capacity, because maybe, you need 100 or 300 DSTs, and I’m sorry I didn’t mention, but DSTs is device signal tags. And it’s the way we count IO in DeltaV. And basically those, you don’t know how many IO you’re going to be bringing in a project. By providing a controller that can go from 50 to 1500, it removes that uncertainty and gives total flexibility to the people doing the engineering. So when they’re doing a project, they know they just order a controller knowing you will have the capacity they need, regardless of how they come up with a design, right?

The DSTs is another factor of uncertainty because in the past, we used to require to say, hey, you need analog input DSTs, analog output DSTs, discrete input DSTs, or discrete output DSTs. But when you were doing that design, well, you know what? I’m going to change a DO for an AO. And also you need to change an order, order a new license. With PK Flex, we introduce new Flex DSTs. And what does it means is that now we don’t care all the types. You just give us a number of inputs or outputs you need. And that’s going to be the capacity of your controller. And those are the Flex DSTs you subscribe. Again, removing complications around engineering. Just don’t figure out the types. Just tell me how you need and that’s going to help.

Jim: Yeah, those changes are the killers of project schedule and budget and all the other things around there. So that sounds pretty powerful. Now, you’ve mentioned subscription-based licensing a few times. Can you tell me a little bit more about how that works?

Juan Carlos: Yes. Well, with subscription-based licenses, the first advantage is you only subscribe to what you need.

That’s number one. Like I mentioned, you know you have a PK Flex and you just subscribe to how many DSTs you want, which Ethernet protocols you need, or even you need redundancy. Right, right there, it helps you optimize the cost. Because in the past, when you’re buying a PK controller, everything was attached to the hardware, and the hardware had all the functionality open. You use it or not. With subscription, the benefit is you only pick what you need, and that’s the subscription you’ve got. You get and then the other benefit, as I mentioned, is by the detaching the hardware from the software. Now the pricing of the hardware is a lot less because it has no functionality, but it has the added benefit that now, if you want to, you can refresh that hardware more often.

For example, there’s customers who wants to have the latest and greatest hardware controller that we come up with, right? Every five years, every seven years, they want to change their controller. When all the price was in the hardware, that was probably cost prohibitive to change all the controllers in your plant. But now, since the cost is in your subscription, now you can move your subscription from hardware platform to hardware platform as we come up with them. So, for example, in the future, if we come up with software defined controller, as we announced at Emerson Exchange this last October, you’re going to be able to go from a PK Flex to a software defined controller with the same subscription, and you just change your hardware platform, right?

So it gives you mobility and helps you to refresh your hardware. And be able to optimize your process. And obviously, as I mentioned, the subscription allows you to lower your capital investment. As I mentioned in the past, if you needed to modernize a whole plant, sometimes you have to argue for a million of dollars. But now, with subscription, you can start with 50 DSTs if you want to just buy one PK Flex in your DeltaV system. And you can start modernizing pieces of your plant as you go. And you just pay as you go in your subscription. So I think that’s what is the game changer on subscription.

Jim: Well, that’s another dimension of flexibility in there to be able to do that. Now, I can almost read the minds of some of our listeners that are hearing this now with this fear saying, “Oh, I didn’t pay my subscription. Are you going to shut down the plant, when that subscription expires?” Is that a real concern or not?

Juan Carlos: Yeah, I have been asked that question many times, and that’s probably what is number one concern, especially operators, because the people in operations tell me, you know what? I’m not in charge of paying the subscription that normally my accounting or my finance group and they’re always late, right? The way we design PK Flex and the subscription is no, is that PK Flex has a expiration in the license.

You’re going to be warning the system and obviously we’re going to send you a lot of emails, but if it expires, it will not shut down the process. It will continue operating. You will continue to run your PID loops or whatever you’re doing. The only functionality we’re taking away is the total download and partial download, right? So you’re not gonna be able to add new functionality. Into your process, but you’re going to be able to continue to operate.

Jim: And you’ll warn our listeners far enough in advance so they can light a fire under their folks in finance?

Juan Carlos: That’s for sure. Yeah, they’re going to be bombarded by emails and also is going to be reported in Guardian. So Guardian will be able to tell you when your subscription expires. And I believe so, it’s not right now, but in the future it’s going to be able to automatically renew through Guardian if you want to.

Jim: Okay, well that should set aside that fear. So Juan Carlos, I want to thank you so much for joining us. And I know if our listeners want to learn more about this, you can go to Emerson.com/DeltaVPKFlex. And I’ll have a hyperlink in the transcript for that. So thank you so much for joining us.

Juan Carlos: Thank you, Jim.

– End of Transcript –

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