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Freelance DCS guys... friend or foe to DCS companies?
Can freelance control specialists today survive in the industry today?

I am a DCS specialist who is well versed in Bailey DCS application in the power industry. I worked for Bailey on a large scale DCS job and got a lot of hands on and troubleshooting opportunity. I got really good at what I do for a living. In 1999, I left ABB and joined an American AE firm for a power plant commissioning project as a contact worker. In my new assignment, I had to do more Bailey work. Two years later, the project was completed and handed over to the customer. I chose to leave the company and started my own DCS service company.

Initially my business focused on Bailey DCS services and consulting. Business was good for the first couple of years. The only problem I had was constantly having man power issues coz I am the only guy who knows Bailey in this region. Due to the market situation, the business later evolved and I started to move into the OPC part of the business. OPC is the technology for the end users to invest, today. I believe it is here to stay. OPC business is good and OPC is easy to configure for the standard protocols e.g. modbus and modbus plus. But the problems come in when OPC is applied to legacy systems e.g. Honeywell, Foxboro, Emerson, ABB, GE and Alstom.

Most of the legacy DCS systems have OPC servers readily available in the market. The problem is the legacy DCS systems also needs special hardware for the OPC interface and these hardware are usually expensive and hard to get. Even if the hardware can be obtained, the configuration and installation is another problem. As a Bailey DCS guy, I can easily set up a Bailey OPC interface but when it comes to other legacy DCS systems, I am complete dummy (coz every product has its unique configuration and one wouldn't know the configuration unless he is at one time a DCS specialist himself). Hence my business area gets narrowed down to only facilities with Bailey products.

If we can form a league of freelance DCS specialists with different DCS systems know how, the business scope will become bigger. My question is if this league becomes strong one day, what would the DCS companies think of us? A friend or a foe? I still hope to be able to get hooked up with freelance DCS specialists all over the world so that we can exchange DCS product know how, configuration skills and business opportunities. Is anyone out there with me on my vision?

By DeltaV DCS on 31 August, 2006 - 1:58 pm

This is Really Good Oppurtunity.
We are Freelancing Firm, Specially in DeltaV DCS system.
Visit/Write for more info on DeltaV DCS System.

DeltaV Emerson DCS system:
www.deltavexpert.com

I have personally set up a few Bailey CIUs with ROVISYS OPC server for Bailey for Emerson. Bailey's legacy is over. It's now time for migration. I see that opportunity too but most of the big DCS vendors (e.g. Honeywell, Siemens, Foxboro and Emerson)have Bailey migration programs and which is the best?

Please fell free to contact me @ baileyguy@gmail.com.

I will only comment on the last part of your message, since I have no experience with DCS (on the contrary have made a career of working with PLC's and their MMI interfaces only). However the decision you are contemplating is not unlike where I was in the early 1980's after starting my automation integration firm. Based on a fairly thorough review of vendors and competitive firms in the market I choose to specialize in Allen-Bradley PLC's. The hardware reflected my preference in quality, and I respected their strong commitment to prior model compatibility. Some 25 years later I regret having made the decision of exclusivity (and sticking by it at considerable cost to me at times). There is nothing to be gained by you in making an effort to be accepted by the DCS vendors. You are just an annoyance to them. Any verbal commitment you get is worth nothing, they will squish you the first time you get in their way. Even if you find someone on the vendor side who understands what you bring to the table, their staff will change. My advice: Focus an what is best for you and your business. Don't try to figure out the vendors. They will ignore you or wipe you out without a thought. Take action to keep learning, diversify and do the best you can to make yourself valuable to your clients. They pay you.

Hugo

(Oh no, I'm not bitter. Rockwell going in to the application engineering business makes me chuckle. It's allowing me to raise my rates, makes customers aware of the bargain I present and appreciative of the service they get from me.

Thank you for your advice. I do realise that the DCS market leaders can easily wipe us out if they want to. Reason why I asked is because I got myself into a sticky situation. The customer that I have been supporting is planning to get their old DCS upgraded and I have been approached by 2 DCS companies for the project. I will be helping my customer to decide on which DCS in the market today is a better Bailey DCS replacement. Both, DCS companies claim that they have the biggest market share and the most successful DCS migration package for Bailey. I tried to look on the web for their market share but to no avail. If I choose one over the other, I'd lose a friend in the field.

You have pointed out a fact that I totally agree with, "stop wasting time making the DCS companies accept us". The DCS companies are just using my relationship with my customer to get their system in to the plant. Once they get in, they can squash us and get rid of us easily. I guess I should focus on learing more DCS systems like you have suggested.

Personally, I think that the 2 DCS companies are equally strong and their products are very good. For now, I will choose whichever company that is nicer to me and has more competitive pricing.

Thanks for waking me up! They will never really treat us as partners or friends.

I am curious, since I think ABB's Bailey migration path is pretty good, why you think ABB is dead? You seem to be recommending against upgrading to ABB all the time, and I'd like to know why.

Walt Boyes
Editor in Chief
Control magazine
www.controlglobal.com
blog:Sound OFF!! http://waltboyes.livejournal.com
_________________

Putman Media Inc.
555 W. Pierce Rd. Suite 301
Itasca, IL 60143
630-467-1301 x368
wboyes@putman.net

By Chris Jennings on 11 September, 2006 - 1:16 pm

From what I have seen ABB have no migration path for Bailey code to the new 800xA system (ie Function Block migration to new ABB systems). This is the same problem they have with migrating ABB Advant to the new 800xA system.

On the other hand the hardware looks good, the BRC300 controllers and the S800 I/O on the Bailey are great and they work really well together. I am just worried about all those hundreds of thousands of Bailey CAD drawings that are not useable by the AC800 controllers. I'm sure it will be fixed in the future, but at the moment there is no backward compatability for Bailey code.

Chris Jennings

Hi Chris,

ABB is currently developing libraries and tools to "import" existing Bailey Function Codes to the newer 800xA platform (Control Builder and Function Designer). The libraries are currently in an early beta stage. Also ABB is developing hardware which will allow for a direct peer-to-peer linking between a BRC and an AC800M controller, again in beta. These programs are in no way to remove the need for the BRC (et. al.) from the market, as ABB clearly states they will support this hardware at least beyond 2015. The idea is to move "seamlessly" from one controller platform to another. This is a challenge for anyone to do, but at least ABB is making the attempt.

Mahehem

Here's a laugh -

I often am contracted to work directly for the PLC and DCS companies as a consultant. I tell them that it's my policy to charge them the same rate that they charge their customers for senior level application engineering. You should hear them scream that my rates are too high!!!

Dick Caro
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CMC Associates
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Tel: +1.978.635.9449 Mobile: +.978.764.4728
Fax: +1.978.246.1270
E-mail: RCaro@CMC.us <mailto:RCaro@CMC.us>
Blog: <http://DickCaro.liveJournal.com>
Web: <http://www.CMC.us>
Buy my books:
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Wireless Networks for Industrial Automation
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By Walt Boyes on 31 August, 2006 - 3:40 pm

What you really are is a specialized control system integrator. Think about joining CSIA (http://www.controlsys.org).

Walt Boyes
Editor in Chief
Control magazine
www.controlglobal.com
blog:Sound OFF!! http://waltboyes.livejournal.com
_________________

Putman Media Inc.
555 W. Pierce Rd. Suite 301
Itasca, IL 60143
630-467-1301 x368
wboyes@putman.net

Hi Baileyguy,

My name is Anil. If u could give me ur mail id, we could discuss in detail or u can write to me at nill.96@gmail.com.

Cheers,
Anil

Answer: Foe.

The service contracts are BIG money for DCS vendors. 3rd party service takes away part of the pie. How would you view another competitive 3rd party Bailey DCS service?

Should that deter you? It wouldn't me.

Dave

I guess you are right. Most of the DCS vendors don't like us, some do and some even pretend to like us. Nevertheless, I believe that contractors blends in better with the end users most of the time. If the DCS vendors do not provide good after sales support, it would encourage the end users seek alternative support.

It's all about survival of the fittest. We may be foe but there are still times that we can help bridging the vendor and customer relationship. I hope that DCS vendors will look from a different point of view and try to work along with us and vice versa.

There are always opportunities for everyone.

By Ronald Sewell on 2 September, 2006 - 9:06 am

True, DCS vendors do not want third party support competing with their service, but that is old news. The trend, now well established, is for the DCS vendor to go for the whole plant, down to replacing the lightbulbs. They will size the valves, spec the instruments, handle the drives and motors, contract a turn key project, then maintain the plant forevermore. The customer then can focus on his "core competency". I don't think they will clear the land...yet. So, they really really do not want you to support their DCS. A case of what's mine is mine and whats yours is mine. They are competing in the traditional realm of not just mom and pop shops, but going against established international engineering consulting corporations.

Fair enough, its a free economy. I have personally found DCS reps to be generally helpful. So the above is to be taken as more an observation than a rant.

Regards
Ron Sewell
Sigmatic Controls Kelowna, B.C.

Dear friend.

I am DCS engineer familiar with Yokogawa DCS. I have done quite a lot of projects so far. I am experienced with connecting CS3000 system with a variety of other systems via OPC, Profibus and Modbus (for ex. InTouch, S7, Woodward...). I was thinking about freelancing one year ago. I have tried to make a deal with some companies in the process automation bussines, but I did not succedded. They have treates not to share work with freelancers. They want to have all pie for themselves.

Because of that, I am stil employee. But I wish good luck to all freelancers. If you need a help with something I am experienced with, feel free to contact me.

Lubo
lminarech@salamon.sk

Friends/No man land/Foes

Friends, to learn in/outs of their DCS.

No man land, when users need us to define their application during analysis/design phase. I have seen clients asking for a very detail analysis, then turning to the DCS vendor for design, programming, integration, start up, then back again to us for changes/maintenance.

Foes, when competing for the job.

So, we cover a lot of territory.

Keep it in mind , Good DCS days are over , what
we get is patchwork technology.

Yes , your suggestion of forming Group is very good, which would be recognised over a long period of time.DCS vendor would recognise this group only during recession or No business scene.

Let me tell you , just DCS experties are not
sufficient.

If you bring DCS vendors under " consumer "
list , there will be endless list cases against
them & would be paying....... , because nobody
have guts to honor the committment.

How can we proceed from here? I mean to form a team of DCS people with diffrent knowledge and exposures. I have lots of inquiries for Advant AC450 interfaces but I can't take the job due to lack of product know how and hardware documentation.

I agree with you totally. We stand on the same grounds.

Freelancers have our own strength. Unlike corporate, we sell, comission and deliver with the same team and we only sell projects that we can deliver. Most of the time we finish on time and project charges remain as per the original deal.

Corporate has corporate weaknesses too.

As for corporate, the sales person would usually sell anything and everything and promises the sky to close the deal. But the engineers will usually have a big problem when they design and deliver because most of the time a lot of the issues are not achievable. What happens next is the project manager will than ask for more money to get the job completed. I've seen so much of scenarios like these.

I can be reached at baileyguy@gmail.com.