Control platforms: An industry standard perseveres, in many forms

The Bailey Infi 90 has a long history that is still being written.

09/03/2008


The cover story for the September 2008 issue of Control Engineering is about upgrading older DCS platforms. While researching the story, one name that came up again and again was the Bailey Infi 90 . They seem to be everywhere, and if you are still running one, there are many people who would like to talk to you.

First a bit of history: Bailey Controls Co. (nee Bailey Meter Co.) dates back to 1916, and was formed by Ervin G. Bailey to build instrumentation and control apparatus (Bailey Boiler Meter) for boilers and industrial technology of that era. Over the decades its equipment evolved and made the move from mechanical to electromechanical and eventually computer based. In 1989, Bailey Controls merged with Italy’s Elsag Group to form Elsag Bailey Process Automation. The group merged with ABB in 1998.

In 1980, Bailey introduced its Network 90 System. In 1988, after making a number of changes, the company rechristened it the Infi 90 System. This name stuck but went through more iterations, including Infi 90 Open System in 1992 and the final “musical” phase with Harmony/Infi 90 System in 1996. By 2004, it was offered along with ABB’s new System 800xA. Infi 90 is the generic name that has survived.

The capabilities and reliability of the platform made it hugely popular and many are still in operation today. Many companies out there would like to get to know you if your plant still has one running a process unit.

First, ABB still offers replacement hardware and software as the OEM. There are also aftermarket Classic Automation , Rosinante , Process Control Services , and Integrated Control System Services . With a little searching, you will find others as well. Of course eBay has a selection of items in its business and industrial sections as well.

Second, there are companies that still build ancillary equipment to interface with the system, such as OPC servers , simulator platforms , loop tuning utilities , historians , and so forth.

Third, ABB and other DCS suppliers offer strategies to migrate to a newer system, either incrementally or a large scale change-over. For example:

  • ABB is still the OEM for the system and offers original parts. It also offers

  • Emerson offers a phased changeover to DeltaV and PlantWeb.

  • Foxboro (Invensys Process Systems) has hardware to support a changeover to its I/A platform.

  • Honeywell can use Experion to raise performance while retaining original controllers.

  • Siemens offers solutions to replace original consoles to the Simatic PCS 7 platform while maintaining your controllers, I/O, and field wiring.

And there are more. Given that, there are many ways you can either extend the useful life of your old system, or make more extensive upgrades that will add new functionality in a more integrated package. Even if you have managed to keep your classic running, there is much new functionality that you can take advantage of if you make the change to a newer platform.

—Peter Welander, process industries editor, PWelander@cfemedia.com ,
Process & Advanced Control Monthly
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