Thursday, 20 January 2022

Salad days in Britain.

Lettuce is a valuable crop in Europe and the USA. But labour shortages make it difficult to harvest this valuable field vegetable, as sourcing sufficient seasonal labour to meet harvesting commitments is one of the sector's biggest challenges. Moreover, with wage inflation rising faster than producer prices, margins are very tight. 
Machine vision and AI are used to determine a precise intersection point on the stem

In Britain, agricultural technology and machinery experts are working with IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH to develop a robotic solution to automate lettuce harvesting. The team is working on a project funded by Innovate UK and includes experts from the Grimme agricultural machinery factory, the Agri-EPI Centre, Harper Adams University, the Centre for Machine Vision at the University of the West of England and two of Britain's largest salad producers, G's Fresh and PDM Produce.

Within the project, existing leek harvesting machinery is adapted to lift the lettuce clear from the ground and grip it in between pinch belts. The lettuce’s outer, or ‘wrapper’, leaves will be mechanically removed to expose the stem. Machine vision and artificial intelligence are then used to identify a precise cut point on the stem to neatly separate the head of lettuce.

"The cutting process of an iceberg is the most technically complicated step in the process to automate, according to teammates from G subsidiary Salad Harvesting Services Ltd.," explains IDS Product Sales Specialist Rob Webb. "The prototype harvesting robot being built incorporates a GigE Vision camera from the uEye FA family. It is considered to be particularly robust and is therefore ideally suited to demanding environments. "As this is an outdoor application, a housing with IP65/67 protection is required here," Rob Webb points out.

The choice fell on the GV-5280FA-C-HQ model with the compact 2/3" global shutter CMOS sensor IMX264 from Sony.

"The sensor was chosen mainly because of its versatility. We don't need full resolution for AI processing, so sensitivity can be increased by binning. The larger sensor format means that wide-angle optics are not needed either," Rob Webb summarised the requirements. In the application, the CMOS sensor convinces with excellent image quality, light sensitivity and exceptionally high dynamic range and delivers almost noise-free, very high-contrast 5 MP images in 5:4 format at 22 fps - even in applications with fluctuating light conditions.

The extensive range of accessories, such as lens tubes and trailing cables, is just as tough as the camera housing and the screwable connectors (8-pin M12 connector with X-coding and 8-pin Binder connector). Another advantage: camera-internal functions such as pixel pre-processing, LUT or gamma reduce the required computer power to a minimum.

Prototype lettuce harvesting robot
Agri-Epicentre (Scotland)
The prototype of the robotic mower will be used for field trials in England towards the end of the 2021 season. "We are delighted to be involved in the project and look forward to seeing the results. We are convinced of its potential to automate and increase the efficiency of the lettuce harvest, not only in terms of compensating for the lack of seasonal workers,” affirms Jan Hartmann, Managing Director of IDS Imaging Development Systems.

The challenges facing the agricultural sector are indeed complex. According to a forecast by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agricultural productivity will have to increase by almost 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2012 due to the dramatic increase in population. Such a yield expectation means an enormous challenge for the agricultural industry, which is still in its infancy in terms of digitalisation compared to other sectors and is already under high pressure to innovate in view of climatic changes and labour shortages.

The agriculture of the future is based on networked devices and automation. Cameras are an important building block, and artificial intelligence is a central technology here. Smart applications such as harvesting robots can make a significant contribution to this.

@IDS_Imaging @mepaxIntPR #Pauto #Vision #Food

Feedthrough connector and plug carrier.

Cliff Electronics have added a new Cat5e RJ45 Feedthrough Connector to their very successful FT range which all fit into an industry standard XLR connector 24mm diameter panel cut out. In addition, a compatible, secure, snap-in lockable XLR style Plug Carrier is available to facilitate the connection of an RJ45 plug (not supplied) or cable assembly.

John Hall, Managing Director of Cliff Electronics, comments, “Wired Ethernet networks remain popular in both industrial and domestic environments as they can offer more stable, interference free and faster data connection than wireless and reduce the risk of data being hacked. Our FeedThrough RJ45 Jack has a wide variety of applications for safe data connectivity for OEMs around the world and brings another variant to our very flexible FT connector range.”

The new Cliff RJ45 FT Jack is a rugged nickel-plated diecast zinc metal construction offering protection to IP65, providing a dust tight and water-resistant connector for rugged applications and is supplied with an integrated dust cover for continued protection when not in use. Rated at Cat5e the socket is suitable for both Fast Ethernet (10/100) and Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000) data communications.

Widely used in IT systems, consumer and audio/broadcast products Cliff’s female RJ45 Feed Through Ethernet sockets meet the wiring standard for using an 8P8C connector as defined in Part 68 of the FCC rules and are generally mounted directly on a device or on an I/O patch panel. The all-metal design reduces the effects of EMI, has a dielectric strength of 1K VDC, frequency range from 1-100MHz, contacts are rated at 1.5A/50V, lifetime is greater than 1000 mating cycles and operating temperature range is from -30°C to +80°C.

#CliffElectronic #PAuto #Connectors

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Foundry temperature measurement.

Atik Metal the foundry industry leader, has approved AMETEK Land’s Cyclops L portable pyrometer for use in its furnaces, with the aim of replacing its traditional dip thermocouple instruments.

Prasath Venkatasamy,
AMETEK Land’s Regional Manager of Business Development and Service for the Middle East and India, commented: “As a leading foundry company, Atik was looking to make sure its processes and systems were first-class, which led to implementing the testing of Cyclops. We’re pleased to see that the results are unquestionable – using Cyclops leads to improved quality and a reduction in defects. Most importantly, it increases safety for furnace workers.”

Atik was using dip thermocouples to take measurements at the furnaces, casting lines and pouring lines, collecting temperature data at each part of the casting. However, the company wanted to assess the Cyclops for its suitability to improve quality, reduce casting defects and costs, and minimise the use of the short-lived dip thermocouples.

The Cyclops L is a portable handheld optical pyrometer that delivers instant temperature measurements using a trigger control. It can be aimed at the area of focus on liquid metal by looking through an eyepiece.

In order to carry out the required tests, Atik used the Cyclops L to measure temperatures in the melting furnaces and moulding plants, evaluating the pyrometer’s ergonomics, accuracy of data transfer, and ease of use.

To calibrate and compare, Atik measured temperature with both a dip thermocouple and the Cyclops. The measurement time for a dip thermocouple was 13-14 seconds. The Cyclops, meanwhile, only took 1-2 seconds.

The Cyclops measurement testing was also carried out without the need to open the furnace lid, and directly measured from pouring metal. With a range of up to 5 metres away, this provided a much safer environment for the workers.

An additional benefit of using the Cyclops L is that, unlike thermocouples, it does not use disposable tips that need replacing, thereby allowing for successive measurements.

Following the assessment, Atik Metals has approved the use of Cyclops L in its furnaces.

 @landinst @codacomms #Pauto

Ethernet switches.

The expansion of its networking infrastructure portfolio has been announced by Antaira Technologies with their LMP-1600G-M12-67-24 Series of 16-port fully managed gigabit Ethernet switches providing 10/100/1000 Base-T(X) Ethernet connectivity, including models with PoE+ to deliver up to 30W of power to devices per port.

Ideal for hostile plant deployments requiring robust M12 connections, these new Light Layer 3 switches offer industrial-grade dependability, coupled with the scalability to adapt to evolving network connectivity needs for future-proof installments. In addition to the M12 connections, the switches are IP67-rated for extreme reliability in areas subject to high vibration and shock, water, and dust. Plus, being able to operate in a normal temperature range of -10°C to 65°C or an extended range of -40°C to 70°C (LMP-1600G-M12-67-24-T), the switches can be installed in almost any adverse environment. Designed to optimize the uptime of industrial systems, the switches also feature G.8032 ERPS v2 protocol for rapid detection and recovery time if a link or node fails, in the order of 50 ms to the network.

Antaira LMP-1600G-M12-67-24 switches offer 24 to 55VDC redundant power inputs through a 5-pin M12 K-coded male connector. Total power of 240W is available for supplying up to sixteen 802.3af (PoE) and 802.3at (PoE+) devices, while built-in fault tolerance ensures against PoE system or PD overloads thanks to the PSE management system. In the event of a complete power failure, the switches incorporate bypass technology to keep data communication flowing even if the switch is offline.

Engineered to unleash all the possibilities and benefits of the Industrial IoT, the switches deliver 148,800pps for fast packet switching with store and forward technology, along with auto-negotiation speeds, full/half-duplex mode, and auto MDI/MDI-X connections. Because preventing cyber attacks is mission-critical, the LMP-1600G-M12-67-24 Series supports Multi-user account, IGMP, GVRP, VLAN, QoS, SNMP, RADIUS, TACACS+, Aggregation (Static, LACP), SSH, SSL, and IP source guard to place an emphasis on establishing the most secure network environment.

@AntairaTech @OConnell_PR #PAuto #Communications

Champion resellers and service partners!

Seeq Corporation has announced its 2021 Reseller and Service Partners of the Year. These partners have been selected for their excellence in providing value to customers, their continued investments in technical expertise with their Seeq-certified employees and training professionals, and for creating awareness of Seeq through collaboration in marketing activities and events.

Seeq enables engineers and scientists in process manufacturing organizations to rapidly analyze, predict, collaborate, and share insights to improve production outcomes. Seeq customers include companies in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, chemical, energy, mining, food and beverage, and other process industries. Investors in Seeq include Insight Ventures, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, Altira Group, Chevron Technology Ventures, and Cisco Investments.

In 2021, Seeq announced a $50 million Series C funding round led by Insight Partners, was recognized by Frost & Sullivan’s North American Technology Innovation Leadership Award for Seeq Data Lab, and expanded its products and capabilities, including support for machine learning innovation.

“We are pleased to select four companies as our 2021 Reseller and Service Partners of the Year,” said Will Knight, Head of Worldwide Partner Sales at Seeq. “These awards recognize the impact these partners have on empowering our customers to create advanced analytics insights, and the standards they have set for excellence in delivering the next generation of process manufacturing improvements.”

Resellers of the Year

Asia Pacific
Nukon is Seeq’s 2021 Asia Pacific Partner of the Year. Nukon was selected among Seeq’s reselling partners for its focus on customer support and its tremendous growth in the Australian market, more than doubling its revenue over the previous year. The company provides a variety of OT and IT solutions and services to its clients in the consumer goods, infrastructure, utilities, and waste management industries. 
“We’re honored to be selected as a Seeq Partner of the Year for the second year running,” says Alec Konynenburg, General Manager at Nukon. “Nukon prides itself on providing the best solutions for clients, and Seeq’s capability allows us to do this through their unique set of offerings. The Nukon and Seeq partnership is built on joint values and commitment to our customers, and we’re excited to continue to provide this value in 2022 and beyond.”

Swan-Black is Seeq’s 2021 Americas Partner of the Year. Swan-Black was selected for its rapid growth in the Americas and globally, and its support for Seeq’s customers in the food and beverage and bioscience industries. Swan-Black has expertise in batch and continuous manufacturing processes, with a focus on applying advanced analytics to improve business outcomes. 
“We are incredibly honored to be recognized by Seeq as Partner of the Year for the Americas,” says Joe Gardner, Practice Lead at Swan-Black. “The Seeq solution and the team’s support of our efforts empower us to deliver meaningful process data insights for our customers, leading to increased process efficiency and optimization. We look forward to our continued partnership with Seeq and the value it will bring our customers well into the future.”

Crucial Solutions and Services (CSS) is Seeq’s 2021 EMEA Partner of the Year. CSS was selected for its support and leadership of Seeq’s customers in the Middle East, notably its collaboration on Saudi Aramco’s industrial digitalization initiatives. The company provides a variety of technology offerings to its clients in the oil and gas, petrochemical, and power and utilities industries. 
“CSS is dedicated to providing customers with game-changing services and solutions that optimize their efficiency and enhance business growth,” says Sulaiman Alzuhair, Founder and CEO at CSS. “Seeq’s complementary products and capabilities enable CSS to achieve this mission and we are honored to be selected as the Seeq Partner of the Year for EMEA.”

Service Partner of the Year
BKO Services LLC is Seeq’s first Service Partner of the Year recipient. BKO was selected for its expertise in the oil and gas and power generation industries, its work on Shell’s upstream digital initiatives and Tranter’s use of advanced digital tools to manage its clients’ fleet of heat transfer equipment, and its investment in Seeq-certified employees. In 2021 alone, BKO added five certified partner analytics engineers and one certified instructor to its team. The company provides data engineering, machine learning, and OSIsoft application development services for the oil and gas, power, and other process manufacturing industries. 
“As the true value of data analytics and machine learning become more apparent, technology must not only keep pace with the increasing availability of data, but effectively utilize it to improve operations and safety,” says Shaun Wright, CEO of BKO. “We are pleased and proud to be a Seeq partner and part of the radical mindset shift driving this rapidly emerging field of science and technology.”

Seeq’s worldwide growth is fueled in part by its partnerships and commitment to cloud-based computing. Seeq is available in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) marketplace, is an AWS Industrial and Energy Competency Partner, and supports many data storage services, including Amazon Redshift, S3, plus machine learning in SageMaker, and others.

On Microsoft Azure, Seeq has been available as a SaaS application in the Azure Marketplace since 2019, with support for many Azure cloud services including Synapse, Azure Data Lake, and Active Directory. Seeq also supports connectivity to Azure Data Explorer, Time Series Insights, and Power BI.

In addition to cloud partnerships, Seeq connects to an extensive set of data storage platforms from vendors including OSIsoft, Siemens, GE, Honeywell, Inductive Automation, AVEVA, AspenTech, Yokogawa, InfluxDB, Snowflake, and others.

@SeeqCorporation @BkoServices #PAuto 

Clamp-on flow!

Prosonic Flow W 400 brings the modern technology of Endress+Hauser’s Proline device series to clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters. The W 400 clamp-on and I 400 insertion units provide comprehensive process monitoring with long-term cost efficiency and extensive diagnostics. These sensors pair with Endress+Hauser’s Proline 400 transmitter to provide a complete flow metering solution.

For decades, users in many process industries have turned to ultrasonic clamp-on instruments for convenient flow measurement. This trend continues, but with growing requirements for instrument data. Prosonic Flow W 400 addresses this and other issues by providing reliable measurements of process parameters, along with a host of additional information.

The flowmeter uses a nonintrusive, clamp-on measurement method, with its ultrasonic sensors mounted directly on a pipe’s exterior. This provides safe measurement of many fluids, independent of their conductivity or other properties. This includes corrosive, abrasive, and toxic fluids, making this flowmeter ideal for monitoring countless processes.

Because neither piping nor process flow are interrupted, clamp-on flowmeters can be easily used for retrofitting at any time. They are suitable for low- or high-pressure applications, on pipes smaller than an inch in diameter, and up to 160 inches, such as those encountered in water distribution.

This size range illustrates the Prosonic Flow W 400 measurement solution’s versatility. It can be used to measure flow, monitor processes, verify previously installed flowmeters, detect leaks in a pipeline, and for other applications.

The flowmeter’s IP68 Type 6P submergence-rated ultrasonic sensors provide long-term and reliable operation, requiring little maintenance. This makes them suitable for use in harsh process and ambient conditions, able to withstand temperatures from –40 to +266 °F.

The Proline 400 transmitter includes a built-in web server, so users can access process, diagnostic, configuration, and other instrument data via any device capable of hosting a web browser, such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

The transmitter provides targeted parameterization of measuring points, and it saves time during commissioning, maintenance, and service. Its LCD display and web-based operating tool each show real-time measurement quality—good, acceptable, or bad—to provide key status information at a glance.

Piping systems in the process industry often have multiple fittings and elbows that disturb the flow profile and, along with it, the accuracy of ultrasonic flow measurement. The Prosonic Flow W 400 solution is optionally available with Endress+Hauser’s FlowDC function, which detects and corrects for the effects of flow disturbance. This ensures measurement accuracy even in the presence of a short pipe inlet run, for example when significantly reduced from the standard 15 pipe diameters down to two. The FlowDC function increases flexibility for equipping new or retrofitted systems with clamp-on flowmeters.

Heartbeat Technology—a testing function integrated into all Endress+Hauser Proline measuring devices—provides instrumentation self-diagnostics, along with traceable measurement verification during operation. This technology monitors for changes to the instrument electronics and sensors caused by extreme environmental or process conditions, increasing measurement integrity.

Prosonic Flow W 400 can be mounted on a wide variety of pipe types and materials with or without lining, including metal—e.g., steel or cast iron—plastic, glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, and composite materials. A maintenance-free contact medium, called a coupling pad, provides optimum sound transmission between sensor surface and the pipe, and the resulting high signal strength ensures stable measurement results and long-term reliability. These clamp-on flow sensors are available in multiple ultrasonic frequencies ranging from 0.3 to 5 MHz, optimized for application pipe size, pipe material, and fluid.

@Endress_Hauser @Endress_CA @endress_UK @Endress_US #PAuto 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Simplifying creation of advanced IIoT applications.

Helps OEMs and end users rapidly configure and implement advanced edge computing, visualisation and IIoT technology

PACSystems™ Edge Solutions is a new portfolio of turnkey industrial edge hardware and software solutions from Emerson. This portfolio simplifies selection and deployment, helping original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), systems integrators, and end users significantly reduce the time spent integrating, developing and validating digital transformation projects. From low footprint connectivity and computing to plantwide analytics and supervision, the portfolio delivers a scalable range of edge capabilities in fit-for-purpose packages. 

The solutions allow personnel in food and beverage, industrial machinery, renewable energy and other industries to easily collect and visualise critical data and analytics locally, right where they work, enabling them to optimise and proactively maintain operations for maximum uptime and efficiency.

Portfolio offers fit-for-purpose packages to reduce the time spent integrating, developing and validating IIoT projects.

Manufacturers are faced with many options for edge hardware and software, making it challenging to piece together effective IIoT solutions that can collect and process data at the edge for deep analysis to improve productivity, energy use, machinery health and more. PACSystems Edge Solutions are fully licensed and optimised combinations of Emerson’s edge and IIoT software and computing hardware, which significantly reduce the time and complexity of selecting, configuring and supporting edge solutions. End users gain faster access to insights from disparate and stranded data sources across the operation, minimising the time to achieve results. OEMs can securely and proactively monitor machine health, improve actionability and visibility into performance, and notify operators of potential issues before they become downtime events.

“Accessing critical data and analytics right at the point of generation empowers plant personnel to take fast, informed action to improve production,” said Sabee Mitra, Emerson’s group president for Systems and Software. “With PACSystems Edge Solutions, any industry application using PLCs can deliver immediate insights when and where operators need them most while maintaining easy scalability.”

Emerson’s new edge solutions leverage Movicon™.NExT, WebHMI, Connext OPC UA server and the PACEdge™ platform in optimised software packages to provide powerful and flexible connectivity, visualisation, and a cloud-enabled toolset. Users can connect openly to any field device or control system to create advanced edge computing, plant and energy analytics and supervisory systems, then present that information on a single, common human machine interface (HMI) from machine to enterprise level.

Individual fit-for-purpose PACSystems Edge Solutions seamlessly interconnect, unlocking easy scalability across the entire platform. Organisations can start with one application and build as future needs grow, easily expanding the value of solutions already in place. They include:

  • RXi HMI: Improves visibility into machine operation and performance and empowers operators with quick access to critical information.
  • RXi Edge Computing: Harnesses data from any source to deliver real-time insights and machine learning that is immediately accessible to operators to improve decision-making.
  • RX3i Edge Controller: Unlocks real-time process optimisation through high-speed, deterministic control and machine intelligence in a single device.
  • RXi Edge Analytics: Simplifies access and visibility to plant productivity, performance and energy usage with intuitive, pre-configured analytics.
  • RXi Supervisor: Connects plant assets and production data into a comprehensive, real-time view of production operations with anywhere-access visualisation.

End users, systems integrators and OEMs alike will benefit from accelerated application development and secure, open connectivity from device to cloud, helping meet the IIoT needs of engineers and operators, along with the necessary flexibility to support future OT and IT integrations.

@Emerson_News @EMR_Automation @HHC_Lewis #PAuto #IIoT