Friday, August 14, 2009

Vision technology

Product date expiry verification

The latest demands by major food retailers for future, mandatory, product label expiry date reading and verification have been met with already proven systems by Machine Vision Technology Ltd.

Incorporated into on-line, manufacturing processes, the MVT system is able to read and verify product codes including 1D bar code reading, and check corresponding expiry dates. The product and date can be menu selected, translated from existing factory management systems or use dates or date codes from any equation or code sequencing required by the end customer.

A key benefit of this solution is that it is based on proven, camera based technology using reliable optical character recognition (OCR) techniques. The company has vast experience in this area having carried out OCR with machine vision systems on fast-moving products in many different industry sectors.

They have over twenty existing and successful installations at Premier Foods’ sites, where, for example, OCR is being used to read codes on top of cans, at typical speeds of 800 per minute. This technology is now available to check expiry dates on labels or packaging.

MVT’s Product Label Verifier is quick and easy to install with no disruption to ongoing production. It can be stand alone if necessary with no dependence on existing factory automation or equally integrated into existing systems.

Usually placed at the end of the production line, there are a number of warning and process alternatives. These range from a flashing alarm beacon to indicate mismatch to a reject divert capability, with a divert gate mechanism option, to a halt in production. At the same time there is full product and reject count monitoring.

Water quality

China trial for new in-pipe monitor

New technology, developed by Intellitect Water, that provides visibility of water quality within the drinking water distribution network, is currently on trial in China.

Shanghai based, Ewaters Environmental Science & Technology Co., Ltd, which specialises in water network modelling and data management, carried out the trial and their Managing Director, Weijun Zhang says, "We are keen to promote this ground-breaking technology in China because we see the importance of capturing concurrent multi-parameter data and believe that the water industry in our country will derive enormous benefits from its deployment."

The monitors (Intellisondes™) provide real-time monitoring data from up to 12 sensors (including a robust, highly accurate solid-state chlorine sensor) inside a tiny sonde head that fits in the pipeline through a 1½ inch valve.

Measurement options include Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Mono-chloramine, Dissolved Oxygen, Conductivity, pH, ORP/Redox, Flow, Pressure, Temperature, Turbidity and Colour. Importantly, none of these require membranes or reagents and the sondes can be deployed for long periods without the need for frequent recalibration or maintenance.

The probes can be fitted into large pressurised pipes (via a 3.8 or 5cm valve) as well as pipes only five centimetres in diameter, for street level monitoring.

Emphasising the importance of the trial, Weijun Zhang says, "The management of water quality in distribution systems has always been a complicated task because it has been difficult to install water quality monitoring instruments and there is a lack of effective ways to capture real time data. As a result, it has been hard for water utilities to capture sufficient data to create a full picture of system performance under varying conditions, for management purposes. For example, utilities need to be able to study the impact of water quality in the trunk mains from hydraulic controls, pipe materials, age etc."

"This situation has also created difficulties for distribution system modelling. With insufficient data, model calibration and system performance is limited within the accuracy of the available data and often model prediction of water quality may only be indicative which may affect the quality of management decisions."

"Although the test in China was only at a single site, the data retrieved has clearly demonstrated both the sensitivity of the sensors, and the status of the water quality. The data provided a clear picture of water health including trends for each parameter and diurnal variation. For computer modellers the availability of such water quality data is a dream come true."

"From an operational perspective, the installation and maintenance of Intellisondes is simple. Also, the generation of real-time data makes it possible to link to a Web based data service and further integrated with a real time modelling system to assist in the evaluation of various operational scenarios."

Looking forward, Weijun Zhang says, "If the trials are successful, we believe that large numbers of low cost monitors will be installed in China's drinking water distribution networks. This will enable the optimisation of Chlorine dosing to reduce costs and protect water quality, customer taste and perception."

Ethernet switch

More about
Industrial Ethernet
This is the name given to the use of the Ethernet protocol in an industrial environment, for automation and production machine control.
See also Testing, comparing industrial Ethernets, the cover story in the August issue of InTech.

HardwarePT - Industrial Computing.
HardwarePT is an Industrial Automation Hardware business offering a comprehensive range of world-class industrial computing and connectivity tools to the Industrial Automation market in the Britain and Ireland. The company, which is located in Cheadle, was set-up in March 2007 and is a division of SolutionsPT Ltd which has over 20 years experience in supplying Industrial Automation Solutions. Product range includes: Industrial Computers, Panel PC's, Flat Panel Computers, Embedded Computers, Touch Panel Computers, Industrial Ethernet Switches, Network Interface Cards, High Availability Servers and Hardware Support.

Industrial Ethernet switch added to product portfolio

HardwarePT, a division of SolutionsPT Limited has added Advantech's EKI-4654R, an IEC61850-3 compliant managed Ethernet switch for grid automation applications to its product portfolio. IEC61850-3 certification ensures environmental and EMI immunity of network devices used in substations and allows the EKI-4564R to be interconnected with a myriad of devices, providing reliable consistency in power & energy applications.
The EKI-4654R features 24 10/100Base-T Ethernet ports and two 1000Base-T SFP slots and has a wide range of redundant power inputs (2x 100~240 VAC/100~240 VDC) allowing connection to two separate power supplies, guaranteeing operation in the event of sources going offline. In addition, the dual connections can be used to connect multiple managed switches in a self-healing ring configuration, which provides a secondary communication path in the event that the primary is interrupted.

In addition to an open standard Spanning Tree (SFP) and Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP), the EKI-4654R also supports Advantech’s ultra-fast X-Ring, which guarantees recovery in less than 10ms. Furthermore, the EKI-4654R features the “Dual X-Ring” technology, allowing it to be a hub for an existing X-Ring, so that users need only one switch to link redundant rings.

The EKI-4654R has many advanced features such as: IP security, VLAN, QoS, Port Mirroring, MAC security, IGMP Snooping, Port Trunking, CoS/TOS, email warnings, SNMP Trap, and SMTP. For user access control, the EKI-4654R supports port-based IEEE 802.1x user authentication from a centralized RADIUS server.

The EKI-4654R is fanless with a 1U size, rear-end wiring, an LED indicator, front panel LEDs, and high port density providing simple management and easy maintenance.

Machine vision

New IR Technology for Machine Vision with Thermography
Image Recording and Analysis for Automated Swine Flue Detection

Xenics will demonstrate its highly sensitive line-scan detector Xlin-1.7-1024 with unique features, the high-detectivity Onca for multi-spectral imaging, the uncooled InGaAs "smart" Bobcat 320/ 640 for low-cost mass markets, new software for the high-speed SWIR Cheetah-640CL, and a new real-time Gobi/Raven thermography application: a digital recording and image analysis package developed with Quadrox for automated Swine Flue detection in public places. at Vision 2009 ( Hall 4, Stand E82).

At Vision 2009, Xenics is set to once again prove its broad science-based design and production capabilities in IR imaging by focusing on five commercially successful and pioneering product groups: Xlin, Onca (right), Bobcat, Cheetah and the upgraded thermography version of Gobi -- emphasizing the current need for advanced thermal imaging solutions. The presentation underscores Xenics' two-pronged strategy of supporting the growing demand for high-resolution and high-sensitivity cameras suited for industrial uses as well as cost-sensitive mass markets.

Featured prominently will be Xenics' line-scan detector Xlin-1.7-1024 sporting a unique combination of features for high-speed imaging applications in machine vision and spectroscopy. At a line rate of 40 kHz and a resolution of 1024 pixels in combination with 12.5 µm pitch, Xlin-1.7-1024 enables more accurate inspection and smaller particle detection at shorter wavelengths than other cameras. This very competitive combination of product features with best signal-to-noise performance positions Xenics in the upper echelons of line-scan camera providers on the world market.

Likewise, Xenics' Onca family (see picture), conceived as a high-end IR and thermal imaging platform with cooled detector offering high detectivity and uniformity, is also claiming top position in the competitive ranking. The Onca camera is excellently suited for R&D environments as well as industrial process monitoring, high-speed imaging, target signature radiometric data collection, tracking and IR spectroscopy. In this regard, Onca is of special interest because it increases frame rate while reducing overhead for high-speed process monitoring in windowing mode. Delivering more than 100 images per second, Onca's image acquisition and control are compatible with GigE Vision and CameraLink for easy integration in customers' systems.

Onca is available in various formats: MWIR-InSb, MWIR-MCT, LWIR-QWIP and LWIR-MCT, thus covering extended wavelengths at a broad sensitivity range. A filter wheel achieves best performance in multi-spectral imaging and super frame mode enables viewing of hot and cold spots in one sequence -- equalling ultimate dynamic range. Radiometric calibration results in temperature measurement at utmost accuracy.

Bobcat, another proven Xenics camera operating in the 0.9 to 1.7 µm band, is now available for cost-sensitive, high-volume markets, replacing the XS-1.7-320. As a compact "smart" SWIR camera complete with uncooled InGaAs detector and full on-board image processing (DSP, TCP/IP, CL, video interface), Bobcat comes with either 320 or 640 pixel resolution. It is laid out for easy system integration and use, and is set to conquer traditional markets based on outdated vidicons. This pertains to industrial monitoring, EVS, night vision and gated imaging - all open now to cost-reducing uncooled InGaAs camera solutions.

Cheetah-640CL, which premiered at last year's Vision, supports continuous full-speed data transfer via double CameraLink. It is now available with the IO Industries Streams 5^(TM) image acquisition software. This allows grabbing still or dynamic images at highest flexibility by setting control parameters such as integration time, operating temperature or frame rate, via the Cheetah-640CL configuration tool.

Finally, in a real-time thermography application aiming at the current Swine Flue epidemic, Xenics will demonstrate a digital recording software and video management platform of Quadrox in conjunction with its Gobi and Raven cameras - as featured on signpost last May. The system was co-developed by Xenics and Quadrox featuring a software decision engine for the automated detection of flue-infected persons in pedestrian flows at airports, border stations or public schools.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Radar level

Guided Wave Radar level transmitters for Safety Instrumented Systems

The 5300 series makes it possible to meet safety requirements while maintaining maximum plant availability and reducing lifecycle costs

Emerson Process Management now has available its Rosemount® 5300 Guided Wave Radar (GWR) level transmitters for SIL 2 safety instrumented systems. Following successful third-party evaluation, the 5300 series now comes with the required Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostic Analysis (FMEDA) report. As a result, companies in the oil & gas production, refining, petrochemical, chemical and power industries can benefit from the superior performance of Guided Wave Radar (GWR) technology while ensuring compliance with associated IEC industry standards.

The 5300 Series was evaluated, as per hardware assessment IEC 61508, by global organisation Exida. The resulting FMEDA report, with Safe Failure Fraction (SFF) over 90%, shows SIL 2 suitability. As per IEC 61508 & IEC 61511 the documentation provides safety instrumentation engineers with the required failure data and with proof test recommendations. With a five-year-plus proof test interval, the proof test can be co-ordinated with plant turnaround, minimising process interruption and reducing risk to personnel.

This series is a 2-wire GWR for challenging level and interface measurements on liquids, slurries and solids. It leverages the company’s 30 years of proven radar expertise and is designed to improve plant profitability through superior reliability, state-of-the-art safety features, effortless handling and unlimited connectivity.

It has an enhanced capability to handle disturbing factors, longer measuring range, and lower dielectrics, even with a single probe. Its robust design prevents leakage and performs reliably, especially under extreme process conditions. Heavy-duty probes are available to meet the extreme temperatures and pressure challenges with multiple layer of protection and advanced echo logics for reliable overfill detection.

The 5300 series’ 2-wire technology enables fast and inexpensive installation. With user-friendly graphical interfaces and wizards, measure-and-learn functionality, suggestions for application-specific configuration and PlantWeb® digital architecture functionality, the transmitter integrates easily into new or existing control systems. This, in addition to maintenance-free operation and advanced diagnostics, results in a quicker return on investment with overall improved uptime and enhanced safety.

Rosemount transmitters are components of Emerson's smart SIS safety management solution, an extension of the company's PlantWeb® digital plant architecture. Emerson's smart SIS provides an integrated approach to complete safety loops — from sensor to logic solver to final control element. The smart SIS solution enables process manufacturers to implement safer facilities, improve availability, lower life-cycle costs, and simplify regulatory compliance. The smart SIS system components include Rosemount® and Micro Motion® certified and proven-in-use devices, the DeltaV™ SIS system, the Fisher certified valves or SIL-PAC final control solution with FIELDVUE DVC6000 SIS, and the AMS® Suite: Intelligent Device Manager.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dissolved ammonia

Dissolved ammonia monitor enables continuous measurement of ammonia in river water

Specialist electrochemical sensor manufacturer Analytical
tells us that its Q45N Dissolved Ammonia Monitor achieves continuous, on-line monitoring of ammonia levels in raw water from rivers. Continuous monitoring of ammonia in river water is important for plant operations and environmental agencies. Analytical Technology's dissolved ammonia monitor enables organisations to effectively measure the levels of ammonia in river water.

River water quality is assessed by the Environment Agency through the General Quality Assessment (GQA) scheme and it is essential that potentially harmful chemicals in river water are controlled. Ammonia is an important nutrient for plants and algae that reside in river water. However, when river temperatures change, ionized ammonia changes to un-ionized ammonia gas. This can be fatal to fish and other water organisms in the river, therefore it is important that ammonia levels are continuously monitored.

Water quality is also important for water treatment plants using river water as the water source. High ammonia levels in the inlet water cause major problems in the disinfection process. By successfully measuring the ammonia content in river water at inlets to water treatment plants, organisations are able to protect the inlet supply. In some applications, when ammonia levels hit unacceptably high levels the inlet can be closed.

Current ammonia monitoring technology is expensive and complex, using ion selective electrodes and costly reagents, which are toxic and difficult to dispose of. These monitors are also non specific and require continuous calibration in order to suit different needs such as wastewater treatment, potable water treatment and measuring levels of ammonia in river water. Ion selective electrodes typically need daily zeroing and calibration using reagents.

The Q45N Dissolved Ammonia Monitor avoids the challenges of conventional ammonia monitors through using a completely unique method. Ammonia is converted to a stable monochloramine compound, equivalent in concentration to the original ammonia level. The chloramine concentration is then measured with a polarographic membraned sensor that selectively responds linearly to chloramines. The reaction chemistry gives the monitor excellent sensitivity even at very low (ppb) ammonia levels.

Reagents are simple and inexpensive and their usage is low. As a consequence the unit has a very low cost of ownership. The monitor has two 4-20mA outputs programmable for free ammonia, total ammonia and monochloramine concentration. This allows all the important parameters to be measured on a single instrument.

The larger UK water companies and some Environment Agency approved laboratories are already using the Q45N monitor to effectively monitor ammonia levels in river water. This new ammonia system from Analytical Technology provides users with a monitor that is both simple to operate and economical to purchase, with low running costs and no measurement interferences.

Wind power

Complete wind turbine solution delivers 3kW electrical power for home or business

Carlo Gavazzi is meeting the increasing demand for small-scale renewable energy sources with a complete package for residential or commercial wind power generation. The Mistral solution comprises of a 3kW micro wind turbine, braking control unit and inverter, enables users to generate electricity for the home or office, and feed surplus energy into the public grid.

Power is generated by a horizontal axis wind turbine (HAWT), which offers high efficiency with a low level of audible noise. The 2.6m diameter propeller provides a sweep area of 5.31m² and is integrated with a generator and tail atop a zinc-coated pole typically 6m in height. This 48.5kg unit makes use of lightweight, weather resistant materials: together with a specially-designed blade profile, it provides very high performance even in case of dominant wind turbulence. In harsh conditions, even when installed close to high buildings; this small turbine provides up to 39% of total efficiency. When the wind speed is more than 12.5m/s the safety “furling protection” tilts the mill tail, orientating the propeller diagonally to the wind direction, and forcing the propeller to slow down. In such condition the maximum power is also self limited to 3.3kW.

The generator is a three-phase permanent magnet unit with 18 electrical poles, designed to produce power even at low rotating speeds and providing a maximum output of 3.3kW. It is housed in a central body assembly, which also incorporates yaw bearings enabling the turbine to rotate and maintain the optimum heading. Electrical connections to the inverter and control system are via a slip ring located in the tower mount.

Three phase power at variable voltage is converted to a single-phase, 230VAC output at 50Hz, using the WTI3 inverter unit. A safety and monitoring system maintains efficiency to better than 95% and guarantees immunity from electro magnetic influence within international EMC standards. Full digital control ensures low current distortion of better than 3%, along with output frequency detection and synchronisation. Also integrated is Carlo Gavazzi’s maximum peak power tracking technology to maintain optimum wind power output. Active anti-islanding protection is provided for grid monitoring to ensure the highest levels of installer and user protection.

The WTB3 braking box sits between the generator and inverter, providing automated or manual control of the turbine. In its basic form, this unit ensures safe operation acting as the main breaker from the generator to the grid. The inverter drives two different electromagnetic brakes: a resistor brake, which operates when the wind speed goes above 13.5m/s, and a short-circuit brake that takes over if the resistor brake is activated repeatedly in a short time, or if the wind turbine speed increases despite the action of the resistor brake. In addition, manual brakes are provided via a mushroom switch and a maintained-action push button.

Braking unit and inverter are available separately or within a complete packaged wind turbine cabinet WTC3 that also integrates surge protection, along with the facility to monitor power output using a MID-compliant energy meter connected via an RS-485 interface, grid interface and breaker.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tabletop microscope software

3D Analysis & Measurement Software for Hitachi TM-1000 Tabletop Microscope

Hitachi High-Technologies has introduced a new software option for its ever-popular TM-1000 Tabletop microscope. The new 3DView analysis package provides the capability to produce, manipulate and record 3D visualizations of a specimen and make comprehensive measurements of the 3D surface characteristics without the need for specimen tilt.

The range of measurements that can be made using the new software includes height, surface area and roughness measurements (S: Sm: Rlr: Da: Rpm: Rv: Rp: Rms: Ra: Ry: Rz: L). Measurements are obtained using a section profile, utilizing current industry-standard methods. Mouse-controlled zoom and rotation of the 3D image is provided, together with the ability to record animations of image manipulations as AVI files so that the 3D graphical information can be easily shared without the need for any special software. All data obtained (measurements, section profiles and images) can be easily exported to other software packages for further analysis.

The new 3DView option further enhances the flexibility of this easy-to-use microscope. Combined with the availability of EDX elemental analysis & application-specific stages (Heating/Cooling, Tensile/Compression, Nano-manipulators, Tilt / Rotation with IR Chamberscope) the TM-1000 can offer powerful flexibility and functionality to many microscopy facilities.