Tuesday, May 21, 2019

25 years in sound & vibration.

AcSoft Sound & Vibration is celebrating 25 years as one of Britain's leading specialists in high performance sound and vibration instrumentation and sensors for a wide range of sectors including environmental, automotive, aerospace, transport and telecommunications.

The company was established in 1994 by Managing Director, John Shelton, working from his home. Having spent many years with a competitor business in Britain and Denmark, he recognised that software-based measurement systems were the future.

Reflecting on the company’s early years, John comments: “There was definitely a demand for new, more innovative ways of doing things such as audio recording for noise nuisance and portable real-time analysis. Most of our software was in DOS then but we were the first business to offer a Windows-based laptop system that met the sound level meter standards.

“A firm believer in the power of marketing, we were also one of the first businesses in the industry to launch a website and produced regular newsletters which were very well received at the time.”

In those days, recording signals to disk, and real-time frequency analysis required high specification hardware and digital signal processing, but modern PCs easily outpaced dedicated hardware of even a few years ago.

During the past 25 years, John and his team have built on contacts in the industry and experience of advanced applications to develop a complementary range of products and software from top quality transducers through to final analysis and reporting software.

AcSoft has now grown into a multidisciplinary company offering solutions to large multinational businesses and small consultancies alike, along with applications advice, to ensure maximum return on investment.

In 2016, AcSoft opened an air conditioned, purpose-built noise and vibration calibration laboratory at its facility in Bedford. It can calibrate a variety of acoustic and vibration equipment to nationally traceable standards, including microphones, preamplifiers, calibrators and pistonphones, accelerometers, analysers and dosimeters, whilst offering competitive rates and fast turnaround times.

AcSoft also boasts a growing rental division designed to make it easier for customers to hire instrumentation, software and sensors to meet short and long term project monitoring needs. If fact, the company recently announced that revenue from its rental business doubled during 2018, with more growth forecast for the year ahead.

John continues: “We are delighted to be celebrating 25 years in business. Along with our loyal customer base, we attribute a lot of our success to our dedicated employees. We’ve always strived to put people first, building a talented workforce and nurturing a culture of first class customer service, loyalty, best of breed products and strong values.

“Plus we have always chosen our partners carefully which has allowed us to offer a high quality, solution-based approach, ensuring long-term growth and close relationships with both suppliers and customers alike.”

AcSoft offers a large portfolio of cutting-edge products from major brands, including Sinus Messtechnik, gfai tech, Microflown, Listen Inc., SEMEX EngCon, Sensidyne, Crystal Instruments, Look Line and Sources Line.

Long-standing customer Andy Officer, Senior Engineer at Arup says: “I have known John Shelton for over 35 years, since his early days at Bruel & Kjaer. As a fledging new kid on the very competitive noise and vibration block, he quickly managed to establish AcSoft as the ‘go to’ for an alternative suite of powerful instrumentation. As a result, AcSoft is now recognised internationally as an established and well respected company with real integrity.

“The team are very professional, providing excellent customer care, support and technical advice, alongside great products, which I have purchased from Acsoft from the very outset, starting all those 25 years ago with the ground breaking Svan 912. The company’s latest venture into the sound level meter calibration field is another testament to their commitment to providing customers and others with a competitive alternative for traceable calibrations, and backed by fast and efficient turnaround times.

“In fact, we have been so impressed with this new service that AcSoft now calibrates all our noise instrumentation. I look forward to the time when they perhaps provide UKAS calibrations too.”

AcSoft Sound and Vibration now has two sister companies. Svantek UK was formed in 2011 to expand the market for high quality noise and vibration instrumentation for environmental and occupational health monitoring applications.

GRAS Sound and Vibration UK Ltd, was established in 2014. A subsidiary of Denmark-based G.R.A.S Sound and Vibration A/S, it is a leading specialist in measurement microphones and related acoustic equipment.

“As a business we are in good shape for the future and we want to thank our customers, suppliers and employees. Without them, we would never have reached this significant milestone,” John concludes.

@Acsoft_Sound #PAuto @elhcomms 

87 million nodes.

ProfiBUS & ProfiNet International (PI) has concluded its annual notarised count of the installed base of devices with interfaces using communication technologies from PI. As in previous years, the numbers from 2018 indicate a very positive trend.

ProfiNET Nodes 2018
In the case of ProfiNet, the 5.1 million devices delivered in 2018 represent an increase of 0.6 million over the previous year’s record. By the end of 2018, a total of 26 million ProfiNet devices were working to automate production. Even the number of ProfiBUS devices installed during the year – 2.4 million – represented a rise compared to the previous year. Reaching nearly 61 million, the overall number passed yet another threshold. The total of the two annual figures of 7.5 million also represents an all-time high.

ProfiBUS’s trend in process automation also remains stable. Though the actual number delivered in 2018 – 0.8 million – was slightly less than the previous year, a total of 12.3 million ProfiBUS devices (i. e. 20% of the overall total of 61 million) are now being used in process systems.

With 2.2 million PROFIsafe nodes brought to market in 2018, which corresponds to growth of nearly 25% as compared to the previous year, PROFIsafe also saw its highest annual gain ever. In total, PROFIsafe passed the 10-million hurdle by a considerable margin with its 11 million nodes.

3.3 million IO-Link nodes were brought to market in 2018. The overall count amounts to 11.4 million IO-Link nodes.

ProfiBUS devices in PA 2018
As in the previous years, IO-Link likewise achieved two landmark achievements in 2018. On the one hand, 3.3 million IO-Link nodes were delivered, which amounts to growth of more than 40% year-on-year. And the overall count of 11.4 million IO-Link nodes means that the 10-million hurdle was passed by a considerable margin.

This motivates us to continue with resolve and to implement step by step the strategy presented at the PI Konferenz in Frankfurt (March 2019)," said Karsten Schneider, Chairman of ProfiBUS & ProfiNet International (PI). "The record-setting PI Konferenz attendance also confirms the broad acceptance of our technologies today and the trust in our organization to make the right decisions in the future as well, which in turn will be a crucial element for the economic success of our member companies. "

@AllThingsPROFI  #PAuto #Fieldbus  @ProfibusUK 

Sensors for small-scale process.

Balluff is expanding their range of sensors for media-contacting temperature detection, in hydraulic power units for example. New are a temperature sensor with display, a temperature transmitter as well as a PT1000 sensor .The version without display is especially compact and vibration-resistant, whereas the versions with the turnable and highly readable display offers high operating convenience and flexible installation.

Depending on the version, the BFT sensors provide PNP switching outputs, analog signals 0...10V/4...20mA or work as a PT1000 sensor. They are simple to install by threading into the process using a standard process connection with G- and NPT threads. Integrating them requires just a 4-pin M12 plug on the sensor.

Continuous monitoring of process media on machines and equipment contributes greatly to process security. Values that need to be maintained are pressure, level and temperature. When for example in a hydraulic system you need to monitor the temperature of the hydraulic fluid, you can do this reliably using our BFT media-contacting temperature sensors. Monitoring the temperature within the hydraulic loop guarantees correct fluid viscosity and thereby the best performance of a machine. Critical process conditions such as a temperature limit can be controlled directly via the switching output. An analog output provides continuous measurement results. The BFT temperature sensors also stand out when it comes to monitoring the cooling water, lubricants and compressed air, making them ideal for a variety of applications.

@Balluff #PAuto 

Flexibility and production enhanced at German chemical plant.

As part of its five-year investment to boost capacity and operational excellence within its global plastics additives business, BASF has awarded Emerson a multi-million-dollar contract to modernise automation software and controllers at its specialty chemical production facility in Lampertheim (D). These enhancements will help the world’s largest chemical manufacturer increase production flexibility and enhance operations.

As the European chemical industry faces increasing market competition from outside Europe, flexible
and cost-competitive development methodologies and production technologies are needed to ensure success, says research by DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V. (Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology Society). BASF is making a significant investment to modernise plant automation as part of its effort to sustain market leadership and achieve Top Quartile performance.

“To maximise operational efficiency and production flexibility, we will continue to implement the latest automation technology and systems,” said Jens Grimm, automation manager at BASF Lampertheim. “Emerson is a trusted business partner with the proven expertise to help ensure a seamless system migration as we partner to modernise Lampertheim for successful, long-term production.”

BASF will implement Emerson’s new hybrid automation solution that replaces existing programmable logic controllers (PLCs), used to control 20 reactors, with Emerson’s leading DeltaV™ PK Controller. The new hybrid technology integrates into BASF’s existing DeltaV automation system, which will significantly reduce the cost, time and complexity of modernising the automation system; minimise start-up time for new production batches; and make switching production easier.

“Embracing digital transformation technologies and strategies is critical to achieving top performance levels,” said Jim Nyquist, group president of Systems and Solutions for Emerson’s Automation Solutions business. “Through the implementation of Emerson automation technologies, BASF is well-positioned to drive business performance and remain the market leader.”

For BASF, Emerson will also replace an obsolete system controlling the tank farm and distillation columns at the facility, which produces additives that improve characteristics for plastics and coatings. The expansion of Emerson’s DeltaV distributed control system, which is already used to control other parts of the plant, will ensure continued efficient production and enable BASF to standardise its control architecture, helping to reduce integration complexity and operator training costs.

A key part of the project is to expand automation security protections. This advanced technology, developed with Emerson to address cybersecurity threats, has been applied at other BASF manufacturing plants. By modernising its automation systems, BASF can take advantage of new capabilities embedded in Emerson’s automation systems that help fortify plant operations against cyber threats.

Emerson will also provide approximately 8,000 hours of on-site engineering services, a separate virtualised system to reduce hardware capital and operating costs, and lifecycle support services.

@EMR_Automation #PAuto @BASF #Germany  @HHC_Lewis 

Mass air flow sensors.

Devices Allow Users to Create a Custom Flow Body Design While Reducing System Size, Increasing Reliability, and Establishing Proprietary Calibration Values

Posifa Technologies has announced its new PMF6000 series of mass air flow sensors for use in bypass assemblies. Featuring a manifold-mount design, the devices reduce system size and increase reliability while allowing users to establish proprietary calibration values.

Featuring compact robust packages, the PMF6000 series sensors were developed specifically for users wanting the flexibility of designing their own flow body and restrictor element. The devices' manifold-mount design eliminates the need for hoses and external connections, reducing the overall system size and the number of potential leak points.

By utilizing the linearized factory calibration provided by Posifa, users can create master calibration curves specific to their custom bypass design with minimal additional corrections in the production process. Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, PMF6000 series sensors provide users with a competitive edge by allowing them to perform their own calibration and maintain the values within the company.

The devices feature Posifa's third-generation thermal flow die, which uses a pair of thermopiles to detect changes in temperature gradient caused by mass flow. The result is excellent repeatability and accuracy of 4 % reading typical. The solid-state thermal isolation structure on the sensor die eliminates the need for a surface cavity or fragile membrane used in competing technologies, making the sensor resistant to clogging and pressure shock.

Measuring flow rates at 1000 sccm (PMF6102) and 6000 sccm (PMF6106), the devices offer extremely fast response times of 5 ms typical and operate over a -25 °C to +85 °C temperature range. Please contact Posifa to discuss options for customizing the sensors' specifications.

#PosifaTech #PAuto

Monday, May 20, 2019

Acquisition strengthens software portfolio.

Mitsubishi has announced the acquisition of ICONICS. This partnership is to strengthen Mitsubishi’s software portfolio and technology for the manufacturing, industrial, and building automation markets. ICONICS’ advanced software products are used for SCADA, HMI, IoT, mobile, analytics and cloud applications. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

“We are most excited about the recent acquisition of ICONICS,” said Yoshikazu Miyata, Executive Officer and Group President of Factory Automation Systems at Mitsubishi Electric, “so that Mitsubishi can accelerate its global software strategy as importance for software is increasing for factory automation business. Our vision is to continuously invest in the field of IoT and software.”

“We look forward to our partnership with Mitsubishi,” said Russ Agrusa, CEO of ICONICS, “a $40 billion-dollar world leader in markets across many industries, to pioneer a new Software Center of Excellence in Foxborough, MA, USA, and to accelerate the development of advanced factory and building automation software.”

As the demand increases for data utilization with IoT technology in manufacturing industries, Mitsubishi Electric—based on its e-F@ctory concept—launched software products compatible with its Edgecross platform to enhance solutions for edge computing and the cloud. ICONICS develops and offers competitive software products for various business sectors, such as manufacturing, industrial and building automation, and it possesses advanced technology and remarkable industry leading knowledge in the development of industrial software.

“With the addition of ICONICS software, product development, and technology capabilities,” said Satoshi Takeda, Senior Deputy General Manager of Nagoya Works, Mitsubishi Electric, “this will allow Mitsubishi to accelerate its e-F@ctory and edge computing solutions.”


@ICONICS #PAuto @MitsubishiElect 

SAW technology to harness tide!

Non-contact torque sensors from Sensor Technology are playing a key role in the development of commercial-scale in-stream tidal turbines produced by OpenHydro. The company is using these novel sensors, which are based on surface acoustic wave (SAW) technology, to accurately measure rotational speed and frictional forces in a simulator for the turbine bearings, thereby allowing it to optimise the performance and reliability of its innovative products.



OpenHydro is a technology company that designs and manufactures marine
turbines to generate renewable energy from tidal streams. The company's vision is to deploy farms of tidal turbines under the world's oceans, where they will dependably generate electricity with no cost to the environment. This method of producing electricity has many benefits.

Because the turbines are submerged, they are invisible and they produce no noise. And because they are submerged at a considerable depth, they present no hazard to shipping. An advantage that is possibly the most important, however, is that the tides are completely predictable, which means that the energy output of the turbines is equally predictable. There are no large seasonal variations and no dependence on the vagaries of the weather, as there are with many other renewable energy sources.

Reliably and efficiently harvesting energy from the tides, however, requires the use of novel technology and, in the case of OpenHydro, this takes the form of open-centre turbines that can be deployed directly on the seabed. Clearly, installation in such an inaccessible location makes reliability a prime consideration in the design and construction of the turbines. For this reason, OpenHydro carefully and comprehensively evaluates the performance of all of the components used in its turbines.

For the bearings, this evaluation involves the use of a simulator that allows the company's engineers to determine how frictional forces in the bearings vary with different loads and rotational speeds. Central to the operation of this simulator is the measurement of torque in a shaft from the motor that drives the bearing under test. With conventional sensors, it is hard to carry out this type of torque measurement accurately and reliably, but OpenHydro found that Sensor Technology's TorqSense RWT420 series sensor provided an ideal solution.

Like all TorqSense sensors, the RWT420 units depend for their operation on surface acoustic wave (SAW) transducers. These transducers comprise two thin metal electrodes, in the form of interlocking "fingers", on a piezoelectric substrate such as quartz.

When an RF signal of the correct frequency is applied to the transducer, surface acoustic waves are set up, and the transducer behaves as a resonant circuit.

If the substrate is deformed, however, the resonant frequency changes. When the transducer is attached to a drive shaft, the deformation of the substrate and hence the change in resonant frequency will be related to the torque applied to the shaft. In other words, the transducer operates as a frequency-dependent strain gauge.

Since the transducers operate at radio frequencies, it is easy to couple signals to them wirelessly. Hence TorqSense sensors can be used on rotating shafts, and can provide data continuously without the need for the inherently unreliable and inconvenient brushes and slip rings often found in traditional torque measurement systems.

"We chose the RWT420 because of its convenient wireless operation, and because it was easy for us to fix in line with an existing shaft in our experimental set up," said Kevin Harnett, Mechanical Engineer at OpenHydro. "In addition, this model of sensor has integral electronics and a serial output, which means that we can link it directly to a laptop computer in our test laboratory. This is a very straightforward and convenient arrangement.”

OpenHydro uses the RWT420 sensor in conjunction with Sensor Technology's TorqView software. This offers a choice of dial, digital bar and chart graph format display for torque, RPM, temperature and power. It also provides facilities for realtime plotting and for data recording, and can output stored results as files that are compatible with Matlab and Excel.

"We have found both the sensor and the software very easy to work with," said Kevin,   "and the sensor has proved itself to be well able to withstand the tough operating conditions in our laboratory. We've also received excellent technical support from Sensor Technology, which was very helpful as we have never previously worked with sensors of this type. Overall, we're very happy with product and the service we've received, and the sensor is providing invaluable data for our development work."

Proof that this development work is yielding dividends was amply provided late in 2009, when OpenHydro deployed the first commercial-scale in-stream tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, on behalf of its customer, Nova Scotia Power.

This 1 MW unit was operational, rotating with the tides, collecting data and producing energy within six days f arrival on site.

• See video on the Fundy Bay project here: OpenHydro connects north America's most powerful tidal turbine

@sensortech #POwer @openhydro