Saturday, October 30, 2010

Innovative M2M provider recognised

Connected World magazine has included Dust Networks on a prestigious list of the most innovative technology providers of M2M and connected devices. Chosen by the editors of the magazine, the list provides a guide to the companies making a difference in connected devices and M2M. This year’s listing was published in the November issue of Connected World.

“We are honored to be included in the 2010 CW 100,” said Joy Weiss (right), president and CEO of Dust Networks. “Wireless mesh networking technology is fundamental to fostering a ‘smarter planet’. Dust Networks’ ultra low power SmartMesh products enable applications ranging from industrial process to data center energy management to monitoring solar energy plants, and the list of smart wireless applications continues to grow.”

“The reach of connected devices is increasing at an exponential rate increasing productivity, promoting green living, and even entertaining,” says Mike Carrozzo, chief editor, Connected World. “The members of the 2010 CW 100 are the companies bringing these solutions to market, and deserve to be recognized for their vision and determination.”

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ultra-smooth precision motion in a production grade design

Anti-creep precision cross roller bearings and direct drive servo with Aerotech's well proven hard top/side sealed protection system provide exceptionally smooth high precision motion in harsh manufacturing environments
Aerotech has launched a new range of industrial grade positioning stages that feature direct-drive linear servo motors and ultra-smooth cross roller bearings in a hard top/side sealed protection design that offers outstanding levels of positional and geometric precision for harsh production environments.

The new ALS2200 range is aimed at high precision/high throughput manufacturing applications such as multi-axis laser micromachining which typically demands very tight velocity and in-position control combined with exceptionally smooth motion and micron level straightness and flatness. Free from recirculating bearing elements and with a high power cog-free linear servo motor, drive induced stage vibration is reduced to almost imperceptible levels resulting in outstanding velocity stability.
With a nominal stage width of under 204 mm, the range covers a choice of 100 mm or 150 mm travel with direct load up to 30 kg, HALAR calibrated accuracy to +/- 0.75 microns, a bi-directional repeatability of +/- 0.2 microns, and speeds to 500 mm/sec. Positioning resolution is up to 3 nanometres with zero backlash.

The small footprint ALS2200 contains the linear servo motor, anti-creep precision bearings and encoder feedback completely within the stage's side sealed protection system. The full-length metal waycover and tensioned side strap design has been successfully applied over many generations of Aerotech stages and is much preferred to bellows protection which are troublesome to maintain and tend to increase the overall stage profile. The vertical side straps prevent debris from accumulating and are under constant tension to maintain a tight seal. End mounted motor and feedback connectors facilitate easy installation and dual X-Y stages can include track type cable trays on the upper axis for a neat cable management system. The durable aluminium construction includes a scratch resistant Teflon® impregnated hard coat finish with the tabletop mounting holes finished with steel inserts to ensure long thread life.

Aerotech's direct-drive linear servo motors and non contacting linear encoders are wear free, providing extremely high reliability, and with very low maintenance required the MTBF stage life is specified at more than 20,000 hours.

Aerotech can provide a choice of PWM digital amplifiers for best acceleration and speed performance, or low-noise linear stage amplifiers where customers require no-compromise smoothness and in-position stability. Both amplifier types combine with a flexible choice of Aerotech motion controls which suit stand alone or multi-axis use with advanced controls such as Position Synchronised Output (PSO) command that completely synchronises real time multi-axis position with laser firing, camera capture, data acquisition or NDT test triggering to produce the highest quality parts or critical accuracy test procedures.

Measuring technology and communication come together #SPS/IPC

At SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2010, Krohne is to present examples of how to integrate state-of-the-art process measuring technology into communication systems. Representative of the entire portfolio, a few functional models will be used to demonstrate how measuring devices can be connected to fieldbus communication interfaces such as Profibus, HART and Foundation Fieldbus. Of particular interest to users is that not only can the measuring devices transfer flow, level and temperature values, but also information from the integrated diagnostic functions. For example, an electromagnetic flowmeter in the OPTIFLUX family can detect application errors, report a measurement error or the need for maintenance and indicate when operating outside of specifications.

The wireless remote transmission of readings via GSM network will also be demonstrated live at the stand: a completely battery-operated and thus self-sufficient measuring station, consisting of the WATERFLUX water meter and a GSM transmitter, transmits the values via the mobile network to a PC on site. This solution allows even remote measuring stations without power to be connected to a control system.

SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2010 is scheduled for  Nuremberg 23 - 25 November 2010

Flexible AC current probes measure up to 2000A

GMC-I PROSyS has extended its range of non-invasive current measurement probes with the MICRO-flex ACP 2005 and the ACP 2015, providing a convenient, flexible and accurate means of measuring AC currents from 200 mA to 2000A, with no requirement for disconnecting or breaking into primary circuits.

The MICRO-flex ACP 2005 measures AC current in three switched ranges, with full-scale values of 20, 200, and 2000A, making the unit ideal for monitoring currents in Power Quality and Energy management applications and in any mains-powered device, electric motor, or uninterruptible power supply. It provides an output, in each range, of 0 – 2.0V full scale, simplifying connection to any digital multimeter, oscilloscope or chart recorder. The probe features accuracy of ± 1% of reading.

It uses the Rogowski coil principle to measure AC current. Integrating the signal from the coil yields an output that accurately represents the primary current. The design of the MICRO-flex allows measurements to be made in confined spaces that afford only limited access. In the ACP 2005 the detection coil takes the form of a thin, 6 mm diameter, flexible assembly; the user opens the loop, passes it around the primary conductor and re-connects it to the probe head. An advanced coupling design ensures consistent closure of the loop, and totally repeatable results.

A Rogowski coil is air-cored and free from saturation and circuit-loading problems: the principle is noted for its linearity and accuracy. In the ACP 2005 measurement error due to off-centre conductor positioning within the magnetic loop is only ± 2% of reading: linearity across the range is within ± 0.2% of reading. Three model variants, with differing magnetic loop lengths, cater for primary current conductor diameters of 50, 70 and 100 mm. Frequency response of the ACP 2005 is from 20 Hz to 100 kHz. The ACP 2015 also offers all of the same facilities and extends the frequency range to 1 MHz. With the ACP 2015 driving a digital storage oscilloscope, switching losses in power-semiconductor circuits can be examined in detail. Both series have fast response and faithfully reproduce rapid changes in the measured current.

The probes carry safety approvals to EN61010-2-032 600V CATIV and can be used in hazardous areas; they offer a maximum safe voltage rating of 1000 V, ACrms or DC. They can be powered from two AA alkaline batteries, or an external supply of 3V at 100 mA, and the integrator unit measures 110 x 65 x 23 mm.

Vacuum pump inlets traps

A line of vacuum pump inlet traps for protecting pumps in small laboratory, production, and R & D applications that can be easily adapted to changing processes is now available from MV Product.

MV PosiTrap® Vacuum Inlet Traps feature user-selectable filter elements that remove corrosive and abrasive particles from the vacuum stream to protect vacuum pumps in applications up to 85 M3H. Positively sealed at both ends, the filter elements come in a variety of specialized media which are easy to change and can be tailored to different processes.

Equipped with quick-release clamps, MV PosiTrap® Vacuum Inlet Traps can be changed in-line and come in 10 cm and 20 cm dia. straight-through and right-angle models that hold one- and four filter elements each. Filter types include stainless steel- and copper gauze, molecular sieve, activated char-coal, pleated polypropylene in 2-, 5-, and 20 μm pore sizes, and Sodasorb®

New communication option for water quality loggers

Innovative water quality instrumentation company, Intellitect Water, has increased the flexibility and compatibility of its flagship product, the Intellisonde™. An optional voltage output card can now be fitted internally to enable data communication with PLCs and other dataloggers.

Commenting on the announcement, the company's Operations Director John Howell said, "Many of our clients already have data-logging and communications infrastructure in place so they do not need to utilise RS232 or GPRS. Instead, the new output card provides a voltage signal for each of the sensors, which further helps to lower the cost of water quality monitoring."

The Intellisonde™ features up to 12 sensors in a tiny sonde head that inserts directly into a pipeline, logging water quality data and providing remote access to the data through a variety of communication options.

The optional Analogue Output Card provides up to 12 channels (0 to 2.5V) and can be fitted on request to allow simple connection to other data-loggers and programmable logic controllers.
Uniquely, the Intellisonde™ technology offers utilities the ability to monitor water quality in the many thousands of miles of pipe that carry water to industrial and domestic consumers. This reduces the cost of water treatment, improves water quality and aids the management of water distribution networks.

Greater project reliability, functionality and speed

With many new features, such as active device protection, channel oriented PLC design, point wiring and improvements in graphic functions, EPLAN Platform 2.0 ensures greater project reliability, functionality and speed. For this new release, more than 1,000 customer requirements were considered during development.

Version 2.0 takes electrical engineering to a new level, with ongoing time and cost savings and simultaneous support of fluid engineering, process automation, enclosure construction and production.

With EPLAN Electric P8 2.0 deletion is not possible. This applies to devices that can now be protected from changes. It was all too easy to make uncontrolled changes to an item or to delete it by mistake. With the new "protected device" function, all project parts are retained even in the case of graphic delete commands. The same applies for macros: a protected device knows its components, even when all individual parts have not been graphically placed in the macro. This prevents unwelcome surprises as early as in the pre-planning phase. Active protection of project data is freely defined in the parts definitions in the EPLAN platform. This ensures the transparency of extensive project documentation and is also the basis for standardized, efficient design. After the bill of materials is output, incorrect orders and production delays are ruled out.

Addresses now are central identifiers - even in PLC design, which is found in all automation concepts today. In addition to graphical oriented or device oriented working methods, PLC components can also be designed in a channel-oriented manner. This makes it easier to keep track of large projects and is consistent with current high-end design working methods The new PLC navigators also make it easy to select components. They are quickly designed and documented by simply assigning them in the schematic.  The PLC component view can be changed at any time.

Another highlight is the new additional 'Netbased Wiring' modul. In EPLAN Electric P8 you will be able to define detailed connections within a network at the database level, irrespective of the graphical representation. In the schematic, logical point wiring instead of target wiring will be shown. Clear representations in the schematic and the simplest of production links can be ideally implemented using this new working method. The advantage of this is that both working methods, netbased wiring and target-oriented wiring, can be used in the project.

More graphic functions are also provided. Extended CAD functions in the area of free graphics now guarantee clear production specifications. Trimming and chamfering as well as perpendicular and tangential design are only some of the functions that support detailed representations for mechanical production. To place graphical objects, XY coordinates can now be directly entered in EPLAN Electric P8. This lets users quickly create operator's desks and flange plates - with all the information needed for trouble-free production.

The new full text filter in parts management lets users use search terms to quickly filter parts masters and select the right component in the tree/list/combination view. Designing is also accelerated at the device level; the full text filter is integrated in the parts master data navigator. This simplifies handling, which is given an enormous boost in the new EPLAN Electric P8. Mini toolbars and detailed icons for toolbars now ensure intuitive handling to the benefit of both professional and occasional users.

Once again, the EPLAN platform demonstrates its practical orientation, which is manifested by its reliability - especially with regard to the new Machinery Directive. The quality of all documentation is guaranteed by online check functions; the system automatically prevents incorrect data from being entered.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Measurement engineering services for North Sea installations

Emerson’s METCO Services has been awarded a contract by Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited to provide measurement engineering support for its British North Sea offshore operations for the next three years. Emerson is to provide Total Metering Management (TMM) services on Maersk Oil’s Gryphon and GP III FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading) units and Janice FPU (Floating Production Unit).

As part of the €2.25 million service agreement, Emerson field technicians will be stationed full-time on the offshore installations. An additional metering engineer will work with the Maersk Oil engineering team at its Aberdeen facility to assist in the verification of daily production figures. Emerson will also help Maersk Oil ensure that systems, procedures, operations and maintenance comply with regulatory authority requirements.

Emerson has also been awarded a two-year contract by Maersk FPSOs to provide TMM services for the oil and gas metering systems on the Maersk Peregrino in the southwest part of the Campos Basin region, Brazil.

Donald Angus, business development director for Emerson's METCO Services, said, “We are delighted that Maersk Oil and Maersk FPSOs have recognized the benefits of our local experience and knowledge combined with our outstanding track record of delivery. We look forward to helping them improve the accuracy and reliability of their measurements.”  

METCO is Emerson's specialist measurement services organization, providing audit and consultancy services, field technicians, and office-based engineers to help oil and gas companies manage their fiscal, allocation, and environmental measurement infrastructure. METCO is registered with First Point Assessment under registration number 10040967 and with Achilles under registration number 76564.

Straightforward look at process control concepts and terminology

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has just published Control Loop Foundation—Batch and Continuous Processes, by Terrence Blevins and Mark Nixon.

Authors Blevins and Nixon, both from Emerson Process Management, have been involved in the application and design of process control systems throughout their careers. In this in-depth book, they address the concepts and terminology that are needed to work in the field of process control. The material is presented in a straightforward manner that is independent of the control system manufacturer. The book is written to be a guide for engineers, managers, technicians and others who are either new to process control or are experienced control engineers who are unfamiliar with multi-loop control techniques.

One chapter of the book is dedicated to techniques that may be used to create process simulations using tools that are commonly available within most distributed control systems. The last chapter of the book, on process applications, contains several more-complex examples from industry that illustrate how basic control techniques may be combined to meet a variety of application requirements.

At various points in the chapters on process characterization and control design, the reader has an opportunity to apply what was learned, using web-based workshops. Dynamic process simulations are built into the workshops to give the reader a realistic “hands-on” experience.

A website, Control Loop Foundation,  has been created to go with the book which includes excercises, workspaces, and other very comprehensive aids and downloads. (Added 29 Oct 2010 after Terry Blevins' comment below was received).

See also Hot Off the Press - New Control Loop Foundation Book, from Jim Cahill's Emerson Process Experts (His is the hand holding the book in the picture!)

Stock loadcells

Customers want the highest quality load cells, but that they also need them quickly! That’s why Omega has made a significant stock investment at their European Headquarters in Manchester (GB).

They have an extensive range of shear beam, tension link, though hole and low profile load cells in stock. This is an important development in enabling customers throughout Europe to have next day delivery of off-the-shelf, rugged, metric load cells.

They are committed to providing the highest quality products and has over 25 years of experience in the design and manufacture of load cells, with each device supplied with a traceable certificate.

They provide product selection and guidance, as well as full technical and after sales support.

Event highlighted process and factory automation

Industry & Automation 2010 was the Benelux meeting point for industrial automation. This years event was subtitled "Solutions for Process- and Factory Automation." Technological innovations are becoming much more digitally based. Projects are becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary and industrial automation is becoming more and more important. It is just these market developments that inspired the foundation of this specialised trade show. It was an initiative of VNU Exhibitions, ISA and FEDA.

Networking at the ISA Pavilion
The ISA Pavilion was cooperation of companies all of whom something to do with the internationally recognized ISA standards. The Pavilion is a big orange tent (Appropriate for the Netherlands) and the center of collective expertise. You can find all your information in one place while enjoying a nice cup of coffee or at the end of the day, a refreshing beer.

Partners with ISA Europe in the pavilion were: ABB, Imtech, ProLeit, Care OES, Raster, Pro-At, Ninety-five, Simac Quadcore, Spie, PC Data, Actemium, Humiq and Egemin.

Industry has potential risks, for example the use of dangerous substances, moving parts of machines, heat, noise, vehicles etc. There was a special sector for companies that offer products and services relating to safety and security.

This event attracted some 20,000 visitors.

Process control advances in Kazakhstan

Virtual reality could revolutionise process control simulation in Kazakhstan
Nicholas Pomeroy, General Director, Invensys Kazakhstan Jose Manuel Barosso, President of the European Commission and President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan at summit in Brussels
At the Kazakhstan-European Partnership Summit (27 October 2010), Nicholas Pomeroy, General Director, Invensys Kazakhstan demonstrated the EYESim virtual reality (VR) system to President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and José Manuel Barosso, President of the European Commission. Anthony Gajadharsingh, Chief of Staff, Invensys Plc was also present on the occasion, as well as other distinguished members of the Kazakhstan government.

Developed by Invensys, the EYESim virtual reality (VR) system is the first industrial virtual reality training solution based on first-principle simulation and augmented reality. EYESim VR technology enables engineers and operators to see and safely interact with the plant and the processes they control. Using a stereoscopic headset, trainees enter a completely immersive environment in which they can move throughout the plant. Such freedom is possible because the virtual environment is rendered at 60 frames per second, significantly faster than what can be achieved by traditional, non real-time rendering.

EYESim technology is geared towards the energy, chemical, oil and gas, and other vital process industries as they face knowledge management, training and retention challenges brought on by an aging and dwindling industry workforce.

Speaking on the occasion, Nicholas Pomeroy said, “Kazakhstan is a strategic partner for Invensys and we are steadfast in our vision and commitment to Kazakhstan and look forward to helping develop the potential of the country particularly in the Oil & Gas and transportation sector. With our proven expertise in Operations Management and Rail, Invensys want to work in partnership to apply the advanced technologies that enable the world’s manufacturing and energy generating facilities, mainline and mass transit rail networks to operate safely and efficiently”.

In the past, Invensys has demonstrated its commitment to the education and development of Kazakhstani engineers through its sponsorship of the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU). President Nazarbayev greatly appreciated Invensys’s efforts and commitment to his country, applying advance technologies and contributing to the education and development of Kazakhstani citizens.

Another energy rethink!


A change to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme included in the British government’s Spending Review (they're all at it - cutting budgets!)  has made it suddenly become even more important for companies to cut their energy bills.

Monies raised through a levy on major energy users, that were intended to be redistributed to companies who had done well in reducing their energy consumption, will now go instead to the Treasury, alongside general taxation.

“Companies that thought they had a guaranteed chunk of money coming in through the CRC will now have to find a replacement,” says Andy Parker-Bates of Parker SSD Drives. “Few markets are so robust that turning up the sales wick will produce prompt results, so the best option is to crank up the energy reduction measures already in hand.”

British Chancellor (Finance Minister) George Osbourne said that this move was to reduce bureaucracy, but omitted to say how it would affect the private sector companies he says he wants to help. (Calculations suggest that a moderately large company could be £100,000 out of pocket).
 
“The CRC only came into force six months ago. Many people have only just worked out a strategy for being a winner under the scheme, getting a payback greater than the levy paid.

“It’s tempting to say that Mr Osbourne has made everyone a loser, but there is a definite positive to this. The most sensible thing to do is maintain or even increase the proposed investment into energy saving technology and reap rewards that way.”


An energy audit will identify areas where energy usage can be cut and how to do it. If there is an investment, payback calculations will help to identify a schedule of projects.

Some things, like reducing leakage from compressed air lines and turning off lighting when no one is present can produce large savings at little or no investment.

“Most companies will have gone through this phase a few years ago,” reckons Andy. “But fitting inverters to motors and similar technical solutions still create many more opportunities for energy savings.”

Naturally, production companies with manufacturing or processing plant will have many motors to be assessed, but motors are also found in air conditioning systems, driving pumps in the plumbing, and many other pieces of equipment. All of these have the potential for significant energy and cost savings.

“Many motors are left running continuously, even through the night and at weekends; while others could be switched off for a notable proportion of their duty cycle,”
says Andy.

“Very importantly, it should be noted that a motor’s energy consumption is proportional to the cube of its running speed. So cut its speed by half and you save 80 percent of the energy.
 

“There are huge numbers of motors in British industry that would benefit from the installation of an inverter.”

Andy identifies another strategy: “Consider replacing the motor itself.”

Motor efficiency has improved steadily over the last 10 years, so any motor over a few years old may be inefficient by modern standards. Motors also tend to lose efficiency with use; another reason for considering renewal.

“And until a couple of years ago it was common practice to oversize motors so that they had a bit of extra ‘umph’ should it be needed. But this disregarded the increased energy demand. Nowadays, its considered better to use a correctly sized motor and control the motor with a variable speed drive."

Portable manometers

Eurolec Instrumentation has introduced their new range of microprocessor based portable manometers: the PR Micro and Euro-Mano ranges.

Both ranges are compact, robust and feature digital zero adjust buttons, selection of measuring units (e.g. BAR, mBar, Pa, PSI, inH20 etc) and an autoranging display. Models range from 20mBar up to 7 Bar with up to 0.001 resolution. Other standard features include a selectable auto switch off function and displays with backlight and low battery indicator. There is an option for USB output also.

The Euro Mano series is housed in a robust moulded PC-ABS casing – the PR Micro with its extruded aluminium casing offers even greater protection for tougher environments. Accessories include foam lined carrying case, protective pouch, wall mounting bracket & pressure calibration pump.

Both models feature good accuracy (+/- 0.25% full scale; +/- 1 digit) and offer great versatility in pressure measurement providing application solutions for e.g. HVAC, air flow, process pressure checks, clean room monitoring and general industrial maintenance.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Level switches and Transmitters by phone!

K-TEK, part of ABB, has launced a mobile edition of the company's ecommerce site for level measurement products. The new site, located at http://buy.ktekonline.com, allows industrial end users and sales representatives to purchase off-the-shelf K-TEK products. The site is designed for quick and easy browsing and purchasing of products using smartphones.
"Mobile phones have changed the way we communicate, personally and professionally," said Kevin Hambrice, Director of Marketing and Customer Service at K-TEK. "Mobile ecommerce removes infrastructure obstacles to purchasing. Customers can now buy whenever and wherever they have a need for a product. And shipment is within 24 hours if orders are placed by 2pm CST as all products listed are off-the-shelf."

K-TEK's mobile ecommerce site is organized by major product lines, including magnetic level gauge switches, magnetostrictive level transmitter modules and floats, guided wave radar modules, and laser level transmitters. The mobile site is optimized for the iPhone. Additional devices will be supported in the near future.

Global accreditation

Internationally recognised accreditation helps process manufacturers ensure product integrity and improves acceptance of exported goods
Emerson expands ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation of global Micro Motion flow production calibration facilities
Emerson Process Management has completed a global network of ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration services. This network makes available ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibrations from the Coriolis production calibration facilities at Emerson’s Micro Motion® U.S. headquarters in Boulder, (CO US), at the Emerson European Flow Centre at Ede (NL), and at Emerson’s Asia Flow Technology Center in Nanjing (CN). These accreditations encompass the patented Micro Motion TSM (Transfer Standard Method) process, which has utilised a network of ISO/IEC 17025 accredited reference meters as its basis for over 7 years.

Throughout the world today, process manufacturers who use flow and density measurement devices are seeking ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for the added assurance that the products they purchase and produce will meet expectations. The confidence in the technical competency of a calibration laboratory with ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation improves acceptance of goods exported internationally and can avoid expensive retesting when products reach their final destination.

Accreditation of Emerson’s Micro Motion calibration facilities and procedures are recognition of proven compliance to ISO/IEC 17025:2005, titled “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.” Emerson’s Micro Motion US facility has received ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation from multiple accrediting bodies, namely: the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), and the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), all independently confirming Emerson’s ability to perform accredited calibration of flowmeters. Similarly, Emerson´s European Flow Centre at Ede, the Netherlands, has ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation from the internationally recognised Dutch Accreditation Council RvA. The Asia Flow Technology Centre at Nanjing, China accreditation is from the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC-SINGLAS).

“Micro Motion has long demonstrated its commitment to global metrology, working with various national standards institutes in support of their international laboratory testing efforts,”
said Andrew G. Kolbeck, vice president of quality, Emerson Process Management. “Expanding our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation more broadly in the production environment is a natural evolution of our commitment to excellence and determination in providing the world’s best Coriolis measurement technology.”
 

ISO/IEC 17025:2005 specifies the general requirements for the competence to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling. It covers testing and calibration performed using standard methods, non-standard methods, and laboratory-developed methods.

ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation documentation affirms the measurement uncertainty of the calibration facility according to the latest revision of the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM). Calibration uncertainty values at the Micro Motion U.S. facility, with its unique TSM process and primary gravimetric systems, have been established for many years, offering best measurement uncertainties to 0.014%(k=2). This newest ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation includes additional Coriolis product calibration processes with confirmed best measurement uncertainties to 0.014% (Gravimetric) and 0.03% (TSM) for mass flow and 0.08 kg/m3 for density. Best measurement uncertainties in the Netherlands and Nanjing facilities are 0.017% for mass flow and 0.07 kg/m3 for density. All the ISO/IEC 17025 accredited facilities in Boulder, Ede and Nanjing, are also certified to ISO9001:2008 for quality management systems.

Emerson’s global flow calibration facilities are used to calibrate high precision Micro Motion ELITE® Coriolis meters. These meters are frequently used for critical applications and as master meters to calibrate other meters in the field. These facilities employ sophisticated automated calibration systems for precise, reproducible, and efficient results. Flow ranges from 0.01 kg/min up to 27000 kg/min allow accredited calibration of the full range of Micro Motion Coriolis flowmeters, fitting up to line sizes of a nominal diameter of 300 mm (12”).

ATEX signal amplifier

Mantracourt has a new ALA5 Load Cell Amplifier. The ALA5 is an ATEX approved strain gauge/load cell amplifier designed for operation within gas atmospheres in hazardous zones 0, 1 & 2.
Mantracourt are specialists in the design and manufacture of electronics for measurement technologies including strain gauge, temperature, pressure, voltage, current, potentiometer, rate, flow, LVDT and displacement in either analogue, digital or wireless form. The launch of an ATEX approved amplifier brings a new offering to those customers based in hazardous environments such as processing plants and refineries and enables Mantracourt’s technology to be applied directly into Zone 0 (under EX marking II 1 G Ex ia IIC T4).


"Being able to manufacture an ATEX approved product provides Mantracourt with a broader appeal," says Brett James, Senior Engineer. "Mantracourt’s expertise is instrumentation and being able to offer a high performing cost effective amplifier with ATEX certification provides us with another set of capabilities. We are now planning to expand our range of ATEX products and are assessing expansion into our (DSC) Digital Strain Converters and (T24) Radio Telemetry range".

The high performance amplifier provides 2-wire 4-20mA current loop output and connects in-line providing signal conditioning for strain gauges, load cells, pressure and torque transducers. The ALA5 is intrinsically safe to EN60079-11 (previously EN50020) standards. The device can be connected to ATEX approved equipment within the hazardous zone or to non-approved ATEX equipment outside the hazardous zone provided that a suitable barrier is used.

"The amplifier in question was already a well established 2 wire 4-20mA product converting strain gauge input to a mA output," adds Brett . "Gaining ATEX approval for Zones 0 entailed intense scrutiny of the amplifier design and its component parts, ensuring that our manufacturing systems met the requirements of the safety legislation. Although the project took several months to complete it had been in the planning for sometime."

Mantracourt are also offering the internal signal amplifier component of the ALA5 for inclusion within OEM designs. The ICA5ATEX Embedded Load Cell Amplifier is a small single board, high performance solution and is designed to be fitted into the majority of transducers for a wide range of signal conditioning for strain gauges, load cells, pressure, torque, etc.

Controlling unique sand dune water filtration process

Process will help create drinking water for more than one million people in the region around The Hague
Dunea’s water production process is unique, utilizing sand filters, rain water and coastal sand dunes as a natural filter to create drinking water for more than one million people in the region around The Hague
ABB is automating the entire production and distribution operations of a leading Netherlands water company with a uniquely eco-friendly production process that uses coastal sand dunes to purify river water into drinking water for 1.2 million people.

Based on their award-winning System 800xA Extended Automation platform, the solution will enable Dutch water utility Dunea to transform its older, multiple-process automation systems into a single state-of-the-art system that will control and manage the utility’s entire water production and distribution operations from one central control room.

The solution is replacing the existing process automation systems at Dunea’s five production facilities. Previously, each facility had its own process automation system that required its own control room, its own staff of operators, its own hardware and software, and its own spare part strategy.

Single system-wide solution
Replacing these decentralized systems with a single integrated operations-wide solution brings Dunea significant benefits, the most important of which is a standard and unified system of process control.

Dunea is one of the largest water utilities in the Netherlands, supplying 80 million cubic meters of drinking water a year to 1.2 million people in the area in and around The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands.

This solution will significantly improve the company's efficiency, reduce its operating and manning costs, and enhance the reliability of its production process to ensure Dunea’s customers receive a steady supply of safe, high-quality drinking water.

“The primary advantage (of the new solution) is that from the central control room we can now manage and monitor the purification processes of each production site with the aid of the 800xA system,”
said Thijs Aanhane, operational manager, Dunea.

Dunea’s water production process is uniquely eco-friendly and thought to be the only process of its kind in the world. Water from a local river is pumped to an underground pumping station, where it is pre-purified by means of sand filters.

The water is transferred to one of three coastal sites where it is mixed with rain water and filtered naturally through the sand dunes for about two months to create ‘dune water.’

This is then softened, filtered to remove sand grains and other particles, and stored in tanks ready for distribution throughout the water network.

"To make the drinking water process as efficient as possible, we are completely standardizing the process automation of all the production sites to the ABB 800xA automation system,” he says.

Dunea has developed its own software for the new operations-wide automation system. Known as Plenty®, the software enables Dunea to access the process data and image displays for any production facility at any time of day and from any of the company’s sites.

Operating manuals, control diagrams of pumps and valves, parameter lists, and other process data and material are also accessible the same way.

ABB (and companies that were bought by ABB) supplied the original automation systems in the 1980s and 1990s. The contract for a new solution was put out to tender, and subsequently awarded to ABB. The flexibility of the System 800xA platform to incorporate the Plenty concept and the competitive total cost of ownership of the solution were two of the reasons why ABB was selected.

“I know exactly what I can demand of ABB, and ABB knows exactly the kind of quality we want; it is an excellent collaboration, and that’s what is needed."
concludes Thijs Aanhane.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life Sciences summit

The inaugural Life Sciences International Summit (the Summit), which takes place on 11 November 2010 at Croke Park, will discuss Ireland’s potential for innovation and is expected to attract over 300 delegates including world-renowned opinion leaders, experts from pharmaceutical and fine chemicals sectors, firms producing diagnostic equipment, medical devices manufacturers and international venture capitalists.

The event is being hosted by Business & Finance Media Group and is partnered with IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, PwC, ByrneWallace and MSD.

Conor Walsh
The Summit will attract Former Harvard ‘Innovator of the Year’ Conor Walsh, who now lectures at the University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Ian Quinn, founder and Chairman of Creganna-Tactx Medical. Creganna-Tactx Medical is ranked among the top 10 global providers of outsourced design and manufacturing solutions to medical device companies and is Ireland’s largest indigenous medical device company.

The event – themed Towards 2020: Harnessing the Opportunities – aims to provide an overview of the challenges facing the global life sciences sector as well as critical insights into possible developments and solutions. The Summit will showcase Ireland’s considerable achievements to date in the international life sciences arena and what the country can continue to offer international investors as a global innovation test-bed for innovation.

Stephen Simpson, Director, Life Sciences, Science Foundation Ireland commented, “This is a unique opportunity in Irish terms to access a series of speakers of international renown whose reputation for imagination and technology-based business development is peerless.”



The inaugural Life Sciences International Summit (the Summit), which takes place on 11 November 2010 at Croke Park, will discuss Ireland’s potential for innovation and is expected to attract over 300 delegates including world-renowned opinion leaders, experts from pharmaceutical and fine chemicals sectors, firms producing diagnostic equipment, medical devices manufacturers and international venture capitalists.

MagLab uses field simulator

Field measurements on SCH electromagnetic shields
Cobham Technical Services' Opera 3D electromagnetic field simulator is playing a vital role in the design of an innovative hybrid magnet being developed by the USA's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) in Florida.

The NHMFL - popularly known as the MagLab - is home to some of the largest and most powerful laboratory magnets in the world. Headquartered in a 370,000-square-foot complex at Florida State University, the facility provides scientists and engineers with a unique environment in which to conduct experiments involving very high energy magnetic fields.

Many of the innovative magnets used at the MagLab are designed and built on-site, by the facility's Magnet Science & Technology group. One of the latest additions, currently early in its construction, is a Series-Connected Hybrid (SCH) magnet designed to provide unprecedented power efficiency and field homogeneity. Development of this resistive-superconducting hybrid magnet is being funded by an $11.7 million grant from the US National Science Foundation, and the magnet will be used for research purposes in high field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), condensed matter physics, biology and chemistry.

The SCH uses a water-cooled Florida-Bitter resistive magnet - a highly innovative technology developed by the MS&T group, capable of generating high magnetic field strengths more efficiently than alternative means - nested within a superconducting magnet that is cooled by liquid helium. The two magnets are connected in series and together create a very high intensity central magnetic field of 36 tesla. The SCH is connected to a 650 V supply and has an operating current of 20,000 A; this 13 MW power consumption is 66 percent less than what would be required for an all-resistive magnet providing the same field and bore.

The Opera-3D electromagnetic simulator from Cobham Technical Services was used to aid the design of the SCH magnet and its shielding.

Electromagnetic shielding of the SCH is provided by a set of eight magnetically soft, 100 mm thick iron plates which form an octagonal wall around the entire magnet system. The magnetic properties of these shields were characterised by a B-H curve, obtained by using Opera 3D.

According to Iain Dixon, Research Associate at the Magnet Science & Technology division, "We chose to use Opera v12.0 to evaluate the 3D magnetic field uniformity and fringe fields of the SCH because the simulator is accurate and fast. The inner coils of the SCH are of Florida-Bitter type with essentially non-uniform current densities. To emulate this, we subdivided each coil into a large number of radially thin coils with uniform current densities, and the whole coil system was generated by use of an external program called by Opera from command line."

Opera 3D has also been used for a variety of other performance-related studies on the SCH, including evaluating the magnetic fields around the magnet's HTS (high temperature superconductor) vapour-cooled leads, and calculating eddy currents in the thermal radiation shields surrounding the superconducting coil. In the latter case, these calculations are of critical importance; during fast discharge of the magnet - such as in the case of a quench - eddy currents can exert large mechanical forces on the shields, and they therefore need to be accurately simulated for safety.

The SCH promises to set a new standard in powered magnet performance. Its efficiency means that it will have a lower operating cost than any other magnet in its class, and its innovative magnet configuration should provide an unprecedented level of field homogeneity and stability. Such is the design expectation that the MagLab is already involved in two further variations of the SCH; one other under construction is destined for the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (D) where it will be used for neutron-scattering experiments, the other in design is for the Spallation Neutron Source at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee (US).

The world´s smallest brushless motor with integrated motion controller

The well-known BX4 family of brushless DC servo motors from Faulhaber has an innovative new member. With a 22 mm module, the 2232/2250...BX4 CSD/CCD is the world´s smallest brushless motor with integrated motion controller in uniform-diameter construction. It combines all the advantages of BX4 technology in a tiny package: long service life, high non-cogging torque and freedom from adhesives. This makes them ideal for use in demanding application areas such as robotics, automation, medical technology, specialty machinery and the aerospace industry.

The drives are based on proven their motion control systems. With their compact, uniform-diameter construction and suitable gearing combinations, they provide the ideal drive solution for a wide variety of applications. The drives have serial RS232 or CAN interfaces and can be configured using FAULHABER Motion Manager 4.4 software. Additional features of the new drives further expand their scope of use: a wide temperature range of -25 to +85 °C, thermally allowable continuous current up to 0.69 A, and flexibly configurable speed in the range of 5 to 8000 rpm. The units are also available with customer-specific software on request.

All products with integrated electronics have automatic peak and continuous current limitation to protect the motor and the electronics. Operation of the motor and the electronics from separate supply voltages is possible as an option.

The new drives are available in two motor lengths (32 and 50 mm) with a rated voltage of 24 V DC. Outstanding features of these innovative new products are an extremely flat torque versus speed curve and an excellent torque to volume ratio, with torque output of 18 to 35 mNm.

New patented dual DC socket

Cliff Electronics has introduced a new, patented DC socket.

The innovative design of the DC10L dual DC socket means that it can accept both 2.1mm and 2.5mm plugs allowing manufacturers to simplify their design and procurement processes, reducing inventory and lowering costs through  economies of scale.

Two models are available; the DC-10L dual socket, pin ring type, with switch contacts and chassis mounting solder tag connection and the DC-10LP dual socket, pin ring type, with switch contacts and 90°PCB mounting. The patented design of these new sockets ensures superior electrical contact for both 2.1 mm and 2.5 mm plugs and both are rated at 12V / 5A.

Other standard features include body material made from PBT for superior temperature characteristics, tin plated copper alloy contacts and RoHS compliance.

John Hall
, General Manager of Cliff Electronics comments; "Cliff Electronics has been providing a wide range of DC connectors for many years. The introduction of our new, patented dual DC socket makes life much simpler for the whole supply chain and end users alike. This new product continues to build on our long established reputation as a single source for engineering, design, moulding, assembly, cabling and associated services.”

Typical applications for the new Cliff Electronics DC10L dual DC socket include power connections to audio, medical, telecom and broadcast equipment and many types of portable devices. The DC10L is available direct from Cliff or from Distrelec, ELFA, Premier Farnell, CPC, Schukat and TME as well as Cliff Electronics Inc in the USA.

Mini connectors

Souriau has a new range of miniature connectors developed from the MIL-DTL-38999: micro38999. This new range offers the best possible performance - in the most compact models on the market. The micro38999 allows size and weight savings of 50% compared to the smallest MIL-DTL38999 Series III units.

For many years, the need for more compact, lighter connection solutions, able to satisfy aeronautic, military and industrial requirements, has been growing. The rapid development of UAVs, sensors and on-board electronics, plus the emergence of composite materials, has driven the industry to reduce the size and weight of all equipment, including connectors.

The micro38999 has been shown to be more compact than other products currently available on the market, while still offering better performance in the field. Souriau was able to meet this challenge head-on, thanks to our knowledge of how materials behave at their operating limits, our mastery of manufacturing processes and our design choices for the D38999 ranges.

The combination of these three skills made it possible to recreate a miniaturized 38999, keeping the same electrical, mechanical and environmental performance as in the standard model. These new ranges will strengthen Souriau´s position as a leader in circular connection solutions.

To give an example of this exceptional performance, look at micro38999´s ability to withstand vibration of 44 Grms at a temperature of 125°C for 8 hours. At this point in time, no other manufacturer has managed to raise their miniature connectors up to this demanding level.

The electrical crimp contacts can be removed, enabling users to wire and unwire connectors directly on site. (The contacts used have a M39029 design: this provides further assurance of a high-quality secure connection.)

In addition to the traditional platings available on the market, all micro38999 connectors can be supplied with non-reflective black Zinc Nickel protection, to satisfy the latest RoHS directives.

This will enable many customers to benefit from a reliable miniature solution for their applications in severe or extreme operating environments.

The micro38999 range is available with three different coupling systems: the threaded 8DA, the bayonet-coupled 8LTA, and the push-pull type 8BA.

The introduction of this new miniature range to the market will open a new page in the history of connection solutions around the world. It will indeed make it possible to transmit just as much - if not more - information under harsh conditions, at the same time helping to reduce the size of equipment.

The micro38999 range will be shown at the Electronica Fair (Munich, 9-12 November), Hall B4 - 543.

Video productivity software expanded



Console screens and operator actions on ACP thin clients can be captured, stored and reviewed.

Longwatch's video productivity suite of software can now work with any ACP enabled thin client. This includes the Longwatch Video Historian, live and archived video, and the Console Recorder.
With the Console Recorder, customers can now record thin client screens for use by operations for trouble shooting, training, and compliance.This unit , when used with ACP enabled thin clients, helps customers reduce downtime and see exactly what their operators were viewing during shutdown, line stoppages and other system events.

The Longwatch Console Recorder software records what is seen on the ACP thin client, and the operator’s responses on the keyboard and mouse, but does not have any impact on terminal services sessions or servers.

Managers and supervisors can view recorded screens to determine what really happened during an “event” from the operator’s perspective. The Console Recorder can synchronize recorded video from the operator console with manufacturing databases and process historians, so that when managers and supervisors view the recorded operator screens, they can also view archived data from the historian or databases on additional thin client screens. This is extremely valuable when doing root cause analysis and troubleshooting, because it recreates the event. The recordings can also be used as a training tool for new operators or to share with operators for continuous improvement.

A major benefit of an ACP ThinManager system is that the main Longwatch software application resides on a secure central server, which can support multiple ThinManager stations. The ThinManager terminals do not host the software, so a customer does not have to worry about making software or security upgrades on multiple systems.

Because a single ACP thin client device can support up to five monitors, a user in one location can view one or more video screens plus displays from multiple applications running on the main server or on other computers on the network.

Running Longwatch video software in conjunction with a thin client is seamless from the administrator or operator perspective. The Longwatch Console Recording Engine interacts with the thin client software without any changes to the ACP system overall. The result is the same as capturing screens from a standard PC; that is, menus, commands and screens appear and react exactly the same to user entries from a keyboard, touchscreen or mouse.

“Because the ACP system is seamless, customers running a Longwatch console monitoring software with major HMI/SCADA platforms, such as Wonderware, Intellution, TheFix, or ClearSCADA, can implement a thin client application without any changes to the HMI or Longwatch software,” says Steve Rubin, president of Longwatch.

Tim Caine, chief technical officer at Automation Control Products (ACP), says, “ACP is very excited that the integration with the Longwatch product has been completed. The ability to record sessions from ACP enabled thin clients will prove to be a very useful function for end users in a wide variety of plant floor installations.”

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Turbine control migration solution

For decades, companies have depended on GE's Mark™ IV and V series of turbine controls for exceptional performance and reliability. With systems approaching 30 years of continuous service, users now seek to modernize their systems to address obsolescence and take advantage of the many GE offerings to further improve turbine performance, operability, and availability. With tight budgets and short timelines, companies are looking for optimal value. At the 7EA Users Group Annual Conference (26 - 28 October, Memphis, TN US), GE will showcase Mark IV and Mark V control migration solutions at the Vendor Fair on the evening of the 27th October.

To minimize risk, cost, and downtime, GE's migrations upgrade Mark IV and Mark V Control systems to the latest Mark VIe through replacement of critical and obsolete technology only.  All existing turbine devices and wiring terminations remain.

Upgrading to the Mark VIe system provides increased computing power, which enables many new features and algorithms for new turbine functions, such as advanced Dry Low NOx systems and operational flexibility (OpFlex™) enhancements. OpFlex is a suite of software solutions that increases user flexibility, speed and efficiency in turbine control. This upgrade provides a complete modernization of operator stations and networks to current technology. Additional upgrade features and benefits include:
  • Minimized Cost & Installation Time: Eliminates the need for new field terminations and turbine devices, reducing downtime.
  • Elimination of Out-of-Production Technologies: Solves the problem of difficult-to-obtain spare parts.
  • Enhanced Operability: Fully distributable and scalable system offers ease of operation with improved graphics, alarm/event management, trending, and more. Up-to-date I/O capability allows adding and distributing Mark VIe I/O blocks - locally or remotely - and communication via modern, high-speed networks at all levels with Ethernet client/server capability.
  • Increased Communications Availability: Provides redundant communications within the control and options for network redundancy between controls and HMIs.
  • More Efficient Maintenance: One, modern software tool configures networks, processors, and I/O boards, along with editors, block libraries, and diagnostics.
  • Enhanced Compatibility: Compatible with current programs for compliance with cyber security standards, maintenance programs, and remote monitoring and diagnostics.
  • Plant-Wide Integration: Complete unit network integration with other Mark VI, Mark VIe, and EX2100 systems used for turbine control, plant control (DCS), generator control, and safety systems. Integration with 3rd party plant DCS systems is also standard.
Above all, this upgrade gives plants a clear path for future enhancements and life cycle support, allowing increased reliability, stability, and operational flexibility of the plant's turbine generator. In addition, this provides an opportunity to install an EX2100 digital front end during the same short outage to modernize aging generator excitation controls.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Productive meetings in Washington (US)

The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization under which member associations and societies engaged in manufacturing and process automation activities can work more effectively to fulfill their missions, advance the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications and develop the workforce needed to capitalize on the benefits of automation. The Automation Federation is working to become the “Voice of Automation.” However most of these initiatives if not all refer to the United States government.

The previous release from AF announced that the IET was joining the federation and hopefully that will bring initiatives which have a greater relevence to the global automation community.

The Automation Federation (AF) announced the completion of a series of strategic meetings with U.S. Congressional staff, U.S. federal agencies, and industry and business organizations in Washington D.C. this past week. A team of five volunteers, led by Steve Huffman, chair of the Automation Federation government relations committee, participated in these strategic meetings which took place 18–22 October.

AF has and continues to aggressively promote to the U.S. Congress the message of the importance of the automation profession and its importance to the revitalization of manufacturing. This recent series of meetings continues AF’s efforts to remain engaged with the U.S. Congress and federal agencies through direct meetings in Washington D.C. 

The meetings focused on several key AF initiatives:
These meetings yielded many positive results, including:
  • The identification of AF as a source for expertise for the development of the U.S. Manufacturing Policy
  • The recruitment of the Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chris Guith, as the keynote speaker for the 54th Annual ISA POWID Symposium
  • Support for AF’s Workforce Development Initiative, including support for
    • The AF Veterans Initiative (These are veterans from the US forces returned from active service in places like Iraq and Afganistan and the initiative is part of a drive to help them back into civilian society. ED)
    • AF’s alliance with FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology; The founder and driving force of this is Dean Kamen who keynoted at #ISAwk in October)
  • The development of a relationship with the US Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC)
  • The development of a relationship with the US National Rural Water Association (NRWA)
  • The strengthening of relationships with existing partners and supporters
Huffman said of the meetings, “The Automation Federation has once again put a spotlight on the automation profession, with another series of important meetings in Washington D.C. AF has spent the last few days creating and strengthening relationships with key governmental groups for the benefit of the automation profession. We are confident these meetings served to reinforce AF as “the Voice of Automation” and to spread the word about the important work AF is undertaking to “Build the Next Generation of Automation Professionals.”

Testing component for smart gas meters

Custom-built test system boosts productivity at Landis+Gyr’s Stockport plant

A custom-built automatic test system supplied by the Peak Group is helping to boost productivity for the world's leading manufacturer of smart gas meters.

The system, installed at Landis+Gyr's meter manufacturing plant in Stockport (GB), automatically tests and sorts the key components that form the heart of the company's solid-state gas meters. Landis+Gyr is the leading provider of integrated energy management solutions tailored to energy company needs. With a global presence and a reputation for quality and innovation, Landis+Gyr is unique in its ability to deliver true end-to-end advanced metering solutions.

The Stockport plant is the company's 'centre of excellence' for gas meters, producing in-house developed instruments.

Until recently, tests on a key component on these products were carried out on a machine which had a relatively large footprint and high running costs. The test equipment also utilised an electromechanical arm which contributed significantly to the measurement cycle time because it generated electromagnetic interference through its use of electric motors. This meant that the tests could only be done while the motors were not in operation, thereby producing 'non value add' test cycle time.

In order to address Landis+Gyr's need to increase its production capacity for this key component, the company approached The Peak Group - who had previously supplied test fixtures for other applications within the company. The project brief was to see if Peak could develop a faster, more compact and environmentally friendly solution.

The specification for the testing machine laid down a minimum of six test points and 13 ejection points for sorted components, and required that the machine should minimise the use of electric motors and PLCs to reduce the amount of electrical noise within the machine. In addition, the footprint of the machine and test equipment was targeted not to exceed 1.4 × 1.4 m, and it had to increase the production capacity by a minimum of 35%.

The solution developed by Peak achieved the defined criteria, using a rotary table to transfer the components from one test station to the next and making use of pneumatic rather than electric controls to effect mechanical movements.

The project delivered a new test strategy, meeting agreed performance levels and ensuring that all environmental and Health & Safety requirements were met.

"From the conception of this project through to completion The Peak Group worked very closely with Landis+Gyr to deliver a machine capable of fulfilling targeted production output with full test coverage", says Garry Bower, Senior Production Engineer at Landis+Gyr, who project-managed the introduction of the new machine: "We now have the opportunity to fit another machine or process in the space that has been created by the reduction in footprint".

This collaboration project was based upon The Peak Group being responsible for all mechanical aspects of the system and its interface with the Landis+Gyr control electronics and in-house written specification test software.

Key performance indication

The COSCOM KPI (Key Performance Indicator) module is designed as a Web application to give users location-independent access to corporate data and analyses at all times. Online visualisation provides real-time information on the progress of the process. This allows optimisation and organisational measures to be initiated while the process is still underway.

Any smartphone with a Web browser
COSCOM Computer GmbH, has more than two decades of experience in the development, marketing and implementation of software solutions for process optimisation in the production environment. The modular structure of the COSCOM MES system allows it to be used in a wide variety of applications. COSCOM software tools - ProXIA for detailed job scheduling, PEP for staff scheduling, MDE for machine data acquisition and BDE for operational data acquisition - provide the basic data for determining meaningful KPIs. They dramatically simplify the localisation of bottlenecks and negative factors in the production flow, thereby enabling users to initiate specific optimisation actions and monitor their effectiveness.

KPI analysis is becoming more and more important in the production industry. Organisational and business strategies such as lean manufacturing and kaizen pursue the essential objectives of eliminating all forms of waste, achieving customer satisfaction and delivering top quality. But what forms the basis for optimisation decisions? Experience from the implementation of real projects shows that poorly founded decisions can have a negative impact on the production process. For example, individual actions - such as reducing staff levels - can easily lead to lower productivity. Well-founded decisions are not possible unless all parties involved in the production process are forced to ´fess up´.

Visualisation of KPIs plays a major role here. Unlike KPI analysis at the end of the production process, which only tells you whether the process was OK or not OK, online visualisation provides real-time information on the progress of the process. COSCOM´s newest product is primarily dedicated to this task. In the form of a mobile application, this module can also run on any smartphone with a Web browser, thereby enabling managers to make well-founded decisions no matter where they are - in the plant or on a business trip.

Low-cost string pot sensor

General purpose cable extension sensor  has flexible built-in options in a compact durable housing

Variohm EuroSensor's new SP3 String Pot sensor from Celesco Inc. features a rugged cable extension design with a plastic-hybrid precision potentiometer and winding drum in an economical and flexible package that can be user configured for a choice of 4-20 mA or 0-10 VDC output by simply connecting the appropriate signal wires on installation.

With precision absolute linear position measurement in a choice of four ranges covering 120 mm, 315 mm, 635 mm and 1270 mm, the extremely compact unit can be mounted within an envelope of just 25 mm wide x 50 mm deep x 90 mm high and its durable water resistant polycarbonate housing has four point fixing and an optional (or is it included?) bracket that facilitates universal mounting. The cable extension sensor  requires no critical cable alignment which suits difficult to measure applications where there is no space to fit more traditional measurement devices or where the moving components may be submerged or obscured by other equipment.

The SP3 has an acceleration rating of up to 15g in retraction and a rated life of over 2.5 million cycles for the 120 mm travel unit (250K cycles for the 1270 mm travel version).  Overall accuracy is between 0.25% to 1.0% FS depending upon stroke length, repeatability better than 0.05% FS, and the measuring resolution is essentially infinite.  

The supply voltage is 8 – 40 VDC for the current output version and 12 – 32 VDC for the voltage version. Electrical connection is via a 1 metre multi conductor cable.

With competitive pricing and stock availability from Variohm, the SP3 offers high reliability and ample levels of precision for many applications in light industrial machinery and OEM equipment.

Award for excellence

Brammer UK Ltd has presented Festo GB with its prestigious 2010 Award for excellence in Supplier Relationship Management. The awards ceremony formed part of Brammer’s annual Manufacturing Forum, held this year at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum near Telford (GB), and was hosted by Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spokesman and communications strategist.


During the build-up to the award presentation, Alastair Campbell stated, “Brammer works with many of the world’s leading engineering component manufacturers, enabling it to offer customers an unrivalled choice of over 1 million individual products. Managing this level of supply chain complexity demands strong working relationships with supply partners. Over the past 12 months, one global organisation has stood out for its innovation and continuous improvement in supporting Brammer in the UK – and that is Festo.”

Photo shows (left to right) Ian Ritchie of Brammer, Stuart Gittins and Mike Gaffney of Festo, and Alastair Campbell 
The award was jointly presented by Alastair Campbell and Ian Ritchie, MD of Brammer UK, and accepted on behalf of Festo by Mike Gaffney, Deputy MD of Festo GB, and Stuart Gittins, Festo’s Distribution End User Manager.

Although Stuart Gittins has overall managerial responsibility for supplier relationships, including Brammer, he was keen to point out, “This award actually marks recognition of a huge team effort. Festo brings a large number of new products to market every year, which means that helping Brammer maintain its position as a specialist, highly-focussed supplier involves a truly collaborative and multi-disciplined approach to distribution. We operate very much as a team at every stage of the supply process, from initial discussions and procurement strategies, through internal product training, to external customer support.”

Connectors for extreme environments

The Harting MicroTCA backplane connector has now passed the ruggedised environmental tests laid down in the draft MTCA.3 specification. The PICMG, a leading standards organisation for the communications, industrial and embedded computer industries, recently announced the successful completion of the "MicroTCA conduction cooled" test programme for these devices.

The MTCA.3 subsidiary specification of the MicroTCA standard targets defence and aerospace applications with extreme requirements for vibration, shock and temperature range based on MIL-STD-801. The goal of the recent tests was to show that the card edge connector system meets the stringent environmental requirements for the target markets.

The tests were performed by the independent testing and research company Contech Research. In the test setup, a backplane equipped with MicroTCA connectors featuring the company's con:card+ technology was used. After completion, the connector is now the first and currently the only MicroTCA connector recommended for a conduction-cooled MicroTCA system.

This test shows that the MicroTCA hardware standard can be used in harsh environments and is also a viable alternative platform for industrial and transportation applications. The MTCA.3 specification is expected to be finalised by the end of 2010.

The final test results can be obtained without charge from PICMG's website: www.picmg.org under the 'Resources' section.

Benchtop signal conditioner

Has fixed amplitude output signal and real-time front panel level meter for environmental testing and ESS applications

Meggitt Sensing Systems has introduced the Endevco® model 2775B, a high-reliability benchtop signal conditioner with fixed amplitude output signal and real-time front panel level meter, for use within environmental test laboratory, aerospace test cells, ESS, calibration systems and general vibration laboratory testing applications.

The model 2775B is designed to accept inputs from ISOTRON® (IEPE-type) transducers, piezoelectric transducers, and remote charge converters (RCCs), with a full scale input range from 0.01 to 100,000 engineering units (EU’s) and a wide sensor sensitivity input range of 0.01 to 10,000 mV/EC and RC/EU, with a gain range of 0 to 10,000 and a frequency response bandwidth of 120 kHz (-3 dB corner). Units offer AC, DC and servo outputs and operate from 90-240 VAC input power, with selectable ground isolation for cleaner data collection. With capability to install up to six units in an optional 19-inch rack accessory (model 4948A), the flexible setup of the model 2775B is accomplished either manually via the unit’s front panel, or via the unit’s integral RS232 interface using the supplied optional application software (model 35933A).  An additional filter card (model 35771) or filter with single/double integration (model 35818) is also possible.

New stress analysis service

Having built their first transducer in 1991, Applied Measurements of Reading (GB) now offer an ISO 9001 compliant stress analysis service to complement existing in-house manufacturing of strain gauge based sensors for the measurement of load, force, pressure, torque and linear displacement.

Increasingly measurements are required on parts that either cannot be moved or the application is for research and long term monitoring is required. This might include bonding of strain gauges directly to components, structures or machines.  The service can be tuned to suit specific customer requirements that may include installation and calibration only, design of bespoke transducers to run a test or full installation, testing and reporting on completion.

Applied Measurements can accommodate all measurement parameters including short as well as long term tests, harsh or potentially explosive environments, multiple measurement channels and extremes of temperatures. These include both fixed and rotating applications where wireless signal transmission may be required.

Typical applications include:

  • Torque measurement on drives & PTO’s
  • Static tests such as structural monitoring with remote data acquisition
  • Fatigue tests for life estimations & equipment failure investigation
  • Gravimetric level control of silos and hoppers
  • Press force monitoring
  • Residual stress analysis and crack propagation
  • Custom sensors for automotive, marine, aerospace etc
Applied Measurements’ field service team travel throughout Britain and overseas and there are few applications the team haven’t seen before. “We are already highly experienced in the supply of sensors into industries as diverse as medical, marine and motor racing. We understand the needs of bespoke applications and what it takes to get reliable measurements in conditions that are often less than ideal,” stated David Johnson, Head of Business Development.

As Senior Structural Engineer Adrian Robinson at Wright Group says about the service supplied, “we find them to be very flexible and reliable in meeting our demanding needs. We would have no hesitation in recommending them to other companies”
And Airbus UK Launch Manager endorses these services further by saying “they have supported every aspect required of this program in a prompt, efficient and innovative manner whilst playing an integral part in supporting the most successful FTI program in Airbus UK’s history”

The British Society of Strain Measurement (BSSM) underpins installation standards, as the quality of the strain gauge application is vital to reliable long-term measurements. “As one of the most experienced manufacturers of strain gauge transducers in the country, we are grateful for this opportunity to partner Sensor Solutions Ltd - specialists in this type of work, as it is integral to the expansion of our skills base and adds to our continuing success. Additionally, launching of this service coincides with the increased traffic being seen amongst insightful engineering organisations for a service to qualify the actual performance of equipment against predicted, as well as audit of aging plant,” concluded Johnson.