Monday, October 15, 2018

Interview: REACHing for safety.

The European REACH regulation, which aims to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment, imposes strict rules on the use of chemical substances. Hexavalent chromium used in the surface treatment of numerous Souriau products is one of the prohibited substances.

Thomas Pichot
In order to keep its technical leadership in connectors for harsh environments and to continue to further innovate together with its customers, the research and development department of the company has invested for several years in research into new manufacturing processes. When completed, these should allow it to comply with the regulations imposed by REACH, and at the same time safeguard the employment of its personnel in France for the future.

This interview with Thomas Pichot, manager of the aeronautic R & D Unit outlines their philosophy and solutions to comply.
Could you describe the use of hexavalent chromium in your industry?
TP: We design and manufacture electrical or optical connectors used in harsh environments, for aerospace, aeronautic, military and industrial applications. The housings and the accessories of our connectors are made of composite materials, aluminium or steel, and we have been using hexavalent chromium for decades in our electroplating process. This substance is used to give our products the anticorrosive properties, electrical continuity and appearance our customers want. Because hexavalent chromium is on the list of prohibited chemical substances, we are working to replace it.

Is it possible to replace one product by another?
TP: Yes of course, but it takes time. In fact, it's not just that we have a perfect mastery of the use of hexavalent chromium in the treatment of different materials such as aluminium, copper alloys or even certain thermoplastics, but the properties of these products are still far superior to what it is possible to achieve with other substances. So the difficulty is twofold; to make sure that it's possible to deploy the substitute on an industrial scale, and that it allows us to obtain the required performance.

For example, in certain cases we use hexavalent chromium to facilitate the adherence to other coatings on the support material. So we will have to qualify a product which offers the same functional characteristics while still allowing us to incorporate it in a controlled manner in our manufacturing procedures. Finally, we have to keep in mind that in other cases hexavalent chromium is used in the final stages of the process and therefore persists on the surface. If we replace it, we have to make sure that the new connectors are compatible with the connectors already in the field, because they may be in contact with each other.

It's possible but it's a really complex challenge, wouldn't you agree?
TP: In fact, as of now we don't have just one replacement solution, because chrome is not always used for the same purpose; it depends on the materials and the final treatment. Our approach has been to categorize our connector components according to their material, identify the electrochemical mechanisms in play and carry out a large number of tests at different stages from the bath to the pilot production line, orienting our research towards multiple solutions.

So what is the current status of your research?
TP: We no longer use hexavalent chromium in the treatment of composite housings. First of all, we perform a tribofinishing process to modify the surface properties and allow our new preparation treatment (hexavalent chrome-free) to facilitate the adherence of the successive metallic coatings. For aluminium connectors, we have also eliminated passivation with hexavalent chromium in our zinc-nickel treatment process while developing a new procedure using a substance certified and authorised by REACH as non-hazardous. We have thus reduced our annual consumption of hexavalent chromium half, from 8 to 4 tons.

Was this an easy transition?
TP: Obviously it wasn't. It took us several years to put this new "technological building block" into place and to validate it, because it is not just about validating a concept in the lab, it has to be reproduced at scale and over a long period. In some respects, one has to build up experience. Take for example electroplating baths which contain up to several hundred litres. Their composition and perfect mastery of the process are the result of experience in numerous aspects: the immersion time and the concentrations of the different products have to be validated. We have to make sure there's no impact on the geometry of the parts and monitor the aging of the baths to guarantee the quality of the treatment, etc. Dozens of parameters have to be taken into account, analyzed and mastered.

What is the status of hexavalent chromium for cadmium-plated connectors?
TP: Currently, only hexavalent chromium passivation can guarantee high resistance to corrosion and excellent electrical conductivity while retaining a non-reflecting and dark appearance which are still essential characteristics of military products. One of the solutions developed as an alternative to cadmium deposition is based on a zinc-nickel treatment with a hexavalent chrome-free passivation. This make is possible to have finished products which offer excellent characteristics while still guaranteeing full compatibility with the equipment already installed. However this solution is not necessarily going to be the right one in every case. We are continuing to use hexavalent chromium in cadmium- plated products to meet certain customer requirements or to reach markets outside Europe where the regulation does not apply and where we nevertheless have to stay competitive. We have obtained an exemption from the European Chemicals Agency for 12 years, which we are using to continue our research, and at the same time we are analyzing the techniques used in other industries, such as the car industry for example. Our final goal is naturally to completely eliminate of hexavalent chromium from all of our manufacturing processes.

The process of phasing out hexavalent chromium seems to be well underway...
TP: As soon as the European REACH regulation was put in place, the management of Souriau Esterline and the whole team realized that we had to launch a major program to innovate our surface treatment technology so that we could keep the production of our connectors in France. It's a major effort in terms of investment and it has also strengthened the cooperation between our teams and with our customers as well. Our desire to demonstrate our capacity for innovation, by finding replacement solutions for hexavalent chromium, is strengthening our experience and leveraging our know-how. Our customers are supporting us in this task; they know that we are on the right path going forward for the future. We have to protect human health and the environment.

@SouriauSunbank #PAuto #Safety @EU_ECHA

Magnetostrictive liquid level transmitters.

ABB has announced the release of its next generation of magnetostrictive liquid level transmitters that will improve level measurement for a wide variety of applications in oil, gas, chemical and power generation industries.

The new LMT Series of magnetostrictive level transmitters' principle of operation and simple setup ensure that total and/or interface levels are always measured reliably and accurately, minimizing downtime and maximizing process efficiency and operating profits. Key features include:

  • Certified to Safety integrity level 2 (SIL2) and systematic capability 3 (SC3) according to IEC61508 and can be used in applications area of IEC61511-1 up to SIL-2(HFT=0) and SIL3(HFT=1)
  • High accuracy: 0.01% of full scale or ± 1.27mm for total level and/or interface measurement with superior patented AccuTrack Sensor technology
  • HART 7 digital communication and 4 to 20mA analog output
  • First magnetostrictive level transmitter with Through The Glass (TTG touch screen interface and Integrated and Interactive Waveform
  • Packaged in ABB’s advanced common instrumentation platform resulting in simplified operation, maintenance and training to provide a common user experience.
  • Most accurate and reliable for the 3-in-1 measurement of total level, interface and temperature variables with the direct insertion model.
  • RoHS 2.0 and NAMUR standards with global Hazloc ATEX/IECEx, cFMus, NEPSI, CRN approvals
  • Online self-verification and diagnostics feature for easy commissioning and troubleshooting to deliver the best in class asset optimization

The new LMT Series level transmitters, available as the LMT100 direct insertion model, and the non-intrusive LMT200 model, are mountable on any magnetic level gauge. The result is an accurate, safer, more reliable and easier way to maintain the level measurement system.

@ABBgroupnews #PAuto

Analytics solutions for process manufacturing companies highlighted.

Seeq was a Gold Sponsor at OSIsoft PI World Barcelona, the largest gathering of OSIsoft customers and partners outside the United States. 

Seeq builds on machine learning and big data technologies to speed time to insight for diagnostic, descriptive, and predictive analytics. Their presentations and partner discussions covered results typical of the benefits that customers are realizing in the oil & gas, power, pharmaceutical, chemical, energy, mining, food and beverage, and other process industries.

"The passion to generate even more value from data in the OSIsoft PI System and deliver customer-centric solutions from our partner community is truly remarkable," says Tim Johnson, Senior Director of Partners and Resellers, OSIsoft. "Together, Seeq and OSIsoft can help companies improve their operations and production outcomes through advanced analytics as demonstrated by our shared customers and partners."

In addition to the Gold Sponsorship of PI World and having presentations in the Oil & Gas and Marketplace tracks, several of Seeq’s European partners showcased their support efforts for Seeq as system integrators and independent software vendors. Seeq’s partner network now includes dozens of partners on six of the seven continents.

Featured partners attending PI World with Seeq included Amitec of Oslo, Norway, Wersys of Cologne, Germany, Servelec of Great Britain, and Magion of Den Haag, The Netherlands.

“Building on our strong and long lasting 20-year partnership with OSIsoft, we have seen our customers store and manage increasing volumes of data in the OSIsoft PI System,” says Børre Heggernes, CTO of Amitec. “They need faster, smarter ways to leverage this data to improve operations, and Seeq lets them do just that.”

Seeq presentations included a shared session with OSIsoft in the Oil & Gas industry track, with Seeq CTO Brian Parsonnet discussing use cases for Seeq. In the Marketplace track, Managing Director for EMEA Mike Purcell of Seeq provided an introduction to Seeq.

“The benefits of OSIsoft and Seeq collaboration demonstrate how our customers achieve improved production outcomes from our products,” notes Steve Sliwa, Co-Founder and CEO, Seeq Corporation. “Their success and feedback on product requirements has led to the innovative and easy-to-use advanced analytics application that Seeq is today."

Recent releases of Seeq have focused on enabling larger deployments through scalability features, and making the Seeq applications easier to use. R20 features, released in June 2018, include the ability to have live updates to Seeq Topics, which publish insights from Seeq to other users; expanded machine learning functionality for customers doing predictive analytics with Seeq; and an improved query model for customers accessing contextual data from SQL-based data sources to provide faster connections to big data sources.

@SeeqCorporation #PAuto @OSIsoft

Friday, October 12, 2018

Integrated MES and Material Handling & Storage.

Aegis Software and Inovaxe, a world leader and provider of innovative material handling and inventory control systems, have teamed up to provide an integrated solution that delivers ultra-lean material handling, storage, and production capabilities. This complementary combination will help manufacturers improve productivity, reduce labor and inventory costs, maximize yield, optimize floor space, and minimize unplanned downtime, ultimately increasing quality, revenues, and customer satisfaction.

Inventory management on the factory floor is a tremendous area of lost opportunity for organizations to realize a direct effect on the bottom line profit and customer satisfaction. Yet, for many manufacturers, this is an area that is often viewed as a chasm that consumes finances and resources. The partnership between Aegis and Inovaxe eliminates that chasm, thereby driving out cost and inefficiencies that can now be redirected to growing the business. The Inovaxe product line provides Single Package, Single Location storage Carts, and bins that dynamically optimize storage space while intelligently ensuring the right part is picked at the right time. Users can now add the functionality of the MES and QMS (Quality Management System) platform from Aegis, FactoryLogix®, which manages the complete manufacturing production lifecycle: from product launch to material logistics, through manufacturing execution, ensuring that production is in line with demands. This powerful combination can lead to significant improvements such as improving inventory accuracy, reducing non-value-added labor costs, increasing the use of production space, and driving real-time visibility across the supply chain.

“Aegis offers a holistic platform that includes robust lean materials management capabilities that manage factory floor materials using a lean ‘pull-based’ approach. Due to FactoryLogix’ unique ability to provide complete material awareness, at the lowest level of component, including location, real-time consumption, and machine utilization manufacturers are able to drastically reduce inventory costs and maximize utilization,” said Jason Spera, CEO of Aegis Software. “By partnering with Inovaxe, we are providing a complementary offering that further assures the right part is picked at the right time and that real-time information is being communicated across the supply chain to drive down inventory costs and increase production throughput.”

“At Inovaxe we are committed to providing lean, innovative Material Handling Solutions that deliver streamlined material handling and accuracy for low to high volume/high mix manufacturing. The integration between Inovaxe and FactoryLogix eliminates the traditional challenges of excessive inventory stores due to lack of material awareness, quality mistakes due to picking the wrong materials, and increased labor costs due to inefficient inventory management,” said Ben Khoshnood, President of Inovaxe. “Leading manufacturers can now leverage this joint solution to address a pressing business challenge – inventory management - and transform into Smart Factories that are lean and more aligned and connected with the overall supply chain.”

• Aegis Software and Inovaxe will be at SMTA International 2018 to discuss and highlight how Aegis and Inovaxe together can reduce labor costs, improve inventory accuracy, optimize production space, and increase throughput. You can visit Aegis Software at Booth #909, and you can visit Inovaxe Corporation at Booth #715.

 @FactoryLogix  @Inovaxe #PAuto 

Wireless sensor suppliers opens branch in Scotland.

Flicq has opened a British subsidiary - Flicq UK Ltd - and has chosen Dr Roddy Urquhart to lead it. The first Flicq UK office will be located in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Dr. Roddy Urquhart
“We are delighted to expand our worldwide presence by opening our first office in Europe”, said Karthik Rau, CEO, Flicq Inc. He added, “Having already seen strong interest for our remote sensing solution in the oil and gas sector, Aberdeen was a logical location for our office”.

Flicq sensors utilize leading edge design techniques to minimise power thus providing outstanding battery life. They bring algorithms and analytics to the edge of the IIoT, thereby providing the lowest possible latency and minimising the quantity of backhaul data. Flicq’s algorithms and platform detect, analyze and curate data and extract valuable information that enables customers to create new revenue streams and improve operating efficiency.

Roddy Urquhart, a veteran of the electronics industry, joins Flicq UK as managing director after a series of international management roles in semiconductor, electronic design automation and intellectual property companies.

@flicqinc #PAuto #Wireless #Britain

Strain gauge with wireless.

Sensor Technology has a new range of transmitters that can add wireless capabilities to any make of strain gauge. The WSG series transmitters allow any manufacturer’s strain gauge to send readings to their wide range of displays and readouts, which can be located at a distance from the gauge itself.

Alternatively, they can be used with Sensor Technology’s PC-based software so that, as well as direct read out, analysis and interpretation can be completed instantly.

The transmitters are for use with 350 ohm strain gauges and above. Calibration data is set using simple interface software. The wireless signal transmission is based on the unrestricted 2.4GHz technology, so does not need an operating licence.

In use because there is no need to install and protect long cable runs from the gauge to the readout, the WSG units create a versatile and easy to install system. This also makes it simple to move the equipment between installations if required.

There are various models available within the range. The WSG-STD unit is DIN rail mountable and powered by a standard 11-32V DIN rail supply. The WSG-STM variant is designed for bench or wall mounting and has an internal rechargeable battery; it also has a socket so that it can also be powered from an external 11-32V supply.

Both versions have a USB port for connection for a PC.

@sensortech  #PAuto #Wireless

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Working with large datasets - Webinars.

A significantly improved user experience working with large datasets is among important new features introduced with the new version 2.8 of C Visual Explorer (CVE) from Process Plant Computing Limited (PPCL).

A series of global webinars on 24 October will give process and control engineers the opportunity to interrogate the new features and learn about benefits specific to their own applications.

CVE is a unique process visualization tool that allows engineers to display hundreds of thousands of measurements across hundreds of variables, allowing them to interrogate historical process and laboratory data. CVE allows users to easily explore operating windows and operating envelopes based on their domain knowledge and without the need for deep understanding of higher mathematics.

Predictive Analytics is a time-consuming method which requires a data scientist to interpret the results, and which provides generalized answers through simplifications which can destroy much of the richness of the data. By contrast, Geometric Process Control (GPC) – a technology developed at PPCL – avoids these pitfalls.

By providing engineers with graphical tools to work with datasets spanning their entire plant, it allows them to create low-cost predictive models, without equations, to develop new process understanding quickly and easily.

24 October webinar registration is open now. Choose from four time slots which are suitable for users in all parts of the world: 06.00 (British time), 09.00, 14.00 or 21.00.
The 24 October webinars will explain how to approach big datasets and explore them visually, using operating envelopes and finding interactions between variables.

GPC allows engineers to fully explore their data and make discoveries that they can’t now. It covers the entire process from incoming analysis through processing conditions to final quality variables, KPIs and performance variables.

Engineers have been using the basic features of CVE for many years to work more efficiently with their plant data. It allows faster and easier management of key areas including alarm rationalization, process optimization and plant troubleshooting as well as building and evaluating real-time operating envelope models from C Process Modeller (CPM), PPCL’s online real-time process monitoring and event prediction product.

The new features introduced with CVE 2.8 represent advances in three key areas: improved user experience working with large datasets; across the board display improvements; and new options for alarm-based variables. These will be demonstrated in real time during the October webinars, starting with analysis of a process with 750 variables over a year at 10-minute intervals.

For improved working with large datasets, network versions now use a 64-bit executable, effectively allowing datasets limited only by the computer’s memory. Datasets in excess of 200 million values (product of variables and time points) have been routinely used on typical desktop machines during the development of version 2.8. To help users work with these large datasets, many common tasks have been simplified or automated, including bulk file join and append and bulk creation of function variables. Variable names can be colored, allowing classes of variables to be defined, for instance-controlled variables, valve positions, or even definition by unit.

Display improvements include normalization options on distribution plots, which allow much easier comparison of populations within the operation. More query colors are also now included, along with the ability to visually remove background data without using focus, as well as many new plot options, including cumulative distributions.

New options for alarm-based variables (alarm count and annunciation rate) now allow direct comparison of alarm performance across different modes of operation, in addition to the existing capability of comparing different alarm sets. For the user the benefit is much quicker evaluation of existing and proposed alarm limits across the range of plant operation. Summary statistics, such as total alarms and clean board rate, are always displayed.

A pre-processing filter has also been added to read the output from the online monitoring tool, C Process Modeller (CPM). This makes it much quicker and easier to analyze replay results and evaluate model performance.

New licencing options make CVE more easily affordable for geographically dispersed organizations.

@ppcl_news  #PAuto #Training