Saturday, February 6, 2010

Automated independent backup system

SIS-TECH now has the DIAMOND-SIS automated independent backup (AIB), a low-cost, standalone safety instrumented system (SIS) that backs up current process control trip logic and meets the requirements of IEC 61511. The system includes an IEC 61508 logic solver that is functionally independent from the process control system, supplements existing logic, and meets all appropriate safety standards.

This system provides high integrity and process reliability. It is available in single, dual, and triplicated channel configurations with on-line diagnostics, testing, and maintenance capabilities. The single and dual channel systems are acceptable for SIL 2, while the triplicated channel system is certified by Factory Mutual to SIL 3. This means that it can meet the fault tolerance and PFavg requirements of any application.

With its 5A output rating, the system can de-energize multiple final elements including motor control circuits and/or solenoid operated valves. Local or remote manual reset ensures controlled process re-start after shutdown.

It is particularly useful with legacy control systems that do not meet current SIS standards. Typically, during the early days of digital control, users implemented safety logic within their process control systems. Today, they do not want to impose SIS requirements or management restrictions within the existing systems.

Instead, they need an independent backup safety logic system that connects easily to existing plant equipment, meets all safety standards and requirements, and requires no reprogramming of process logic since it fulfills all of those requirements.

Easier to install and maintain than a Safety PLC
A single channel DIAMOND-SIS AIB system includes a pre-mounted and wired DIN-rail signal isolator, a Model 340 logic solver, a fuse block, and five terminals ready to accept existing wiring. All components are rated for -30 to 75 degrees C and Class I Div II operation, and meet the mechanical integrity requirements of IEC 61511.

The system can typically be mounted in an existing DCS marshalling cabinet, and the user wires the logic solver contacts in series with the DCS contacts. The logic solver then independently backs up the trip functionality of the DCS.

Each DIAMOND-SIS logic solver module can accept virtually any analog input. Its two field adjustable trip points allow the process to be shut down on high and/or low process variables, or to detect an out of range signal fault. The number of inputs and the voting architecture—such as 1oo1, 1oo2, 2oo2 or 2oo3—can be adjusted to meet performance requirements. The process shut-down signal from the logic solver can be sent to both the DCS, and directly to a shut-down device such as a relay or solenoid.

The installation does not require any reprogramming of the existing DCS. In addition, the installation cost of a system is 80% less than that of an equivalent Safety PLC with the same number of loops. Maintenance costs are also greatly reduced as it’s not necessary to purchase, implement and renew programming software.

The Safety Requirements Specification, including Safety Integrity Level (SIL) verification documentation, can be supplied as an option. This makes the DIAMOND-SIS AIB the perfect packaged solution to address low I/O SIS needs, and the low cost alternative to safety PLCs.

Freezer validation system

The weather has been extraordinary cold in many Northern Hemisphere regions this winter so the picture accompaning this release will summon up many memories.

MadgeTech has released their ULT90, an ultra-low temperature freezer validation system. It can be used for validation, mapping, stabilization studies and temperature surveys.

The ULT90 provides a complete temperature mapping and validation solution for freezers of all sizes and configurations. It includes Cryo-Temp data loggers, a USB docking station, MadgeTech’s Secure FDA 21 CFR Part 11 software and IQ/OQ/PQ validation protocols. The ULT90 can be fully customized to include user-specified quantities of each item in the system to accommodate specific applications.

The Cryo-Temp data logger can measure and record temperatures as low as -86°C and is splash resistant. To provide data integrity, and meet the requirements of FDA 21 CFR Part 11, the secure software includes electronic signatures, access codes, a secure data file and an audit trail.

For large freezers the software can graph datasets from multiple loggers to show variances in different parts of the freezer. This can reveal air stratification, hot spots and anomalies in chilling systems.

The ULT90 is available with 9 Cryo-Temps (ULT90-9), 15 Cryo-Temps (ULT90-15) or the system can be completely customized to meet the validation needs of a specific freezer (ULT90-Custom).

Agreement for technologies & services!

Emerson Process Management has entered into a 5-year Global Framework Agreement (GFA) with Shell to serve as a Main Automation Contractor (MAC) on future capital projects globally.

Under the Agreement, Emerson will provide project and support services for Main Automation Systems, including Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and Safety Instrumented Systems. The contract also provides for ongoing maintenance of existing systems, plus the supply of new systems for Brownfield and Greenfield facilities. While Shell has utilised a MAC strategy in its Downstream businesses for years, the Company is expanding the concept to make it a centre-point of an enterprise-wide automation strategy.

“This Global Framework Agreement marks a completely new approach within Shell,” said Nick Curley, upstream automation portfolio manager for Shell. “It is a long-term, competitive, collaborative, performance-based relationship that will facilitate the delivery of considerable value to both parties. We will be looking to emulate this approach in many other key global categories in the future.”

“This new agreement will put Emerson in a position to substantially broaden its Main Automation Contractor footprint within Shell,” said Ronaldo Marques, general manager, equipment, for Shell’s Enterprise Categories & Suppliers division. “For the first time in history, Emerson will have full and open access to all Shell business units - Upstream, Downstream, Wind, Power and Biofuels - plus affiliated Joint Ventures.”

"We have enjoyed a solid relationship with Shell for decades," said Steven A. Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. "This Global Framework Agreement symbolises the shared belief our two companies have that early engagement, clear objectives and collaborative work practices result in more predictable success for projects and operations. We are thrilled to be selected by Shell for the role of Main Automation Contractor."

South African entity wins leadership award

Invensys Operations Management, a global provider of technology systems, software solutions and consulting services to the process and manufacturing industries, today announced that one of its key ecosystem partners, Wonderware Southern Africa, has received the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award for its success in the South African manufacturing execution systems (MES) market.

According to Frost & Sullivan, Wonderware Southern Africa "has continued to demonstrate excellence in providing MES products of the highest quality, a supreme customer service and unprecedented value to a broad spectrum of end-user sectors. These factors have helped Wonderware to firmly establish itself as the leading supplier within the South African MES market, supplying products to end-user sectors that include the metals, minerals and mining, chemicals and petrochemicals, as well as the food and beverage industries."

"This award is a tribute both to the strength of our partner, Wonderware Southern Africa, and to our MES solutions that are enabling an increasing number of our customers to optimise their entire plant operations in real time and achieve operational excellence," said Giuseppe Caltabiano, vice president, marketing, Invensys Operations Management, Europe, Russia and Africa.

"We are very honoured to receive such a prestigious award because the way our clients do business continues to change at an accelerated rate. Automation engineers and business IT professionals alike are starting to realise that MES is the vital information link between business and production that gives them the real-time control they're looking for," said Deon van Aardt, managing director of Wonderware Southern Africa. "This realisation is coming about after years of market education and proof of successful implementations in numerous industries and with companies of all sizes. No company can exist successfully without integrating their business and production processes. What we offer is not a new concept. It is a better way of integrating and disseminating knowledge, and therefore real-time control, at all levels of the organisation."

According to Frost & Sullivan, Wonderware Southern Africa and Invensys Operations Management have been successful for three critical reasons: They address a shortage of skilled engineers and technicians needed to install, control and maintain MES solutions; they educate end users about the benefits of employing MES technologies; and they continually introduce new software packages that enable Wonderware® System Platform and InTouch® HMI solutions to be integrated with MES, enterprise manufacturing intelligence, human-machine interface and SCADA solutions from a wide range of vendors using a single, unified platform. This approach empowers end users to achieve their business goals without abandoning prior investments in automation, process control or information systems.

"These combined factors make Wonderware Southern Africa the deserving recipient of the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award in the South African MES market," it concludes.

High G shock accelerometers

Meggitt Sensing Systems has announced the launch of Endevco® model 7255A, a miniature, lightweight piezoelectric accelerometer with integral electronics. The rugged design and performance characteristics of this model make it ideal for use in near-field, high shock and high-level mechanical impact testing applications, where unwanted high frequency signals often mask critical low-level, low frequency data.

Endevco® model 7255A incorporates a built-in mechanical filter, which blocks high-frequency energy associated with near-field high shock, and protects the sensing element from overstress. An internal electronic filter prevents saturation. The sensor features a two-wire system with integrated hybrid signal conditioner, which transmits a low-impedance voltage output through the same cable that supplies required constant current power. Signal ground is connected to the inner case of the unit, acting as a shield. Both output and signal ground terminals are electrically isolated from the mounting surface. For lower level shock measurements, a high output version is available. Both versions include internal sensor assembly strain isolation, which reduces strain input due to bending motion on the mounting surface, often found in high shock events.

Included with Endevco® model 7255A are two small gauge, lightweight hook-up wires, for use with the two solder-pin terminal interface. The wire configuration is well-suited for this type of shock sensor, as wires do not exhibit the triboelectric effect under motion, a benefit which facilitates device mounting with minimal strain to both device and cable. The resultant strain minimization significantly reduces potential for zero shift, and ensures high-reliability and performance.

Inclinometers for US market

Sherborne Sensors has announced the North American market introduction of the LSI series, a family of cost-effective, rugged, closed loop gravity referenced servo inclinometers. The LSI series is specially designed to withstand severe shock and vibration inputs, for precision measurement capabilities in even the most demanding of environments.

The LSI series incorporates a unique, flexure-supported torque balancing system, which is rugged enough to withstand shock inputs of 1500 g, yet still provides excellent accuracy and repeatability over a wide operating temperature range. For added durability, sensor components and associated electronics are contained within IP64 environmentally sealed housing. Units are available in ranges of ±14.5°, ±30° and ±90°, and offer a high level, 5-Volt analog DC-output signal, proportional to sine of the angle of tilt. LSI series models are fully self-contained, and are able to connect to a DC power source and a readout or control device, to form a complete operating system. These robust units are ideal for use in civil engineering, structural monitoring, geophysical and seismic studies, machinery and structural alignment, pipeline leveling, crane safety and satellite antenna leveling applications, among others. Recommended accessories include bi-polar power supplies and the new DTI series digital panel indicator, which allows a user to read outputs directly in degrees.

LSI series inclinometers are 100% factory tested and calibrated, and are issued with a calibration certificate prior to shipment. The units carry a two-year comprehensive warranty, and are part of the new Sherborne Sensors Guaranteed On-Time Delivery program. In addition, they offer the added benefits of ISO9001: 2000 certified manufacturing, extensive applications engineering support, global technical sales presence, repair, refurbishment and calibration services, stocking programs, and continuous product improvements.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Glass & packaging application

Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced announced that Bormioli Rocco, a producer of glass and plastic pharmaceutical packaging, glass containers for perfumery and foodstuffs and glass tableware, has purchased and deployed the 2000th Thermo Scientific iCAP 6000 Series inductively coupled plasma (ICP) emission spectrometer. The company relies on ICP emission spectrometry to ensure that alkaline metal concentrations in their glass materials conform to current European legislation. Since deployment, Bormioli Rocco has increased lab productivity while lowering its costs.

Bormioli Rocco selected the unit for its flexibility and exceptional performance capabilities, which ensure accurate, precise analytical results and higher productivity. Also important was the small footprint of the system, which makes it easier to transport and install, an important benefit for modern labs where bench space is increasingly limited.

Gareth Jones, product group director, Trace Elemental Analysis, Thermo Fisher Scientific, comments: “Our iCAP 6000 Series delivers outstanding performance, ease-of-use and low cost-of-ownership, all in a uniquely compact instrument. These benefits are possible because of the expertise, hard work and commitment that goes into producing such a superior analytical solution. Achieving the 2000th-order milestone clearly demonstrates that customer’s value the instrument’s quality and reliability."

The iCAP 6300 Duo ICP spectrometer features dedicated radial and duo plasma viewing options for enhanced application flexibility. The instrument’s high-efficiency optical design facilitates simultaneous analysis of 66 elements, providing detection limits at less than 1ppb. In addition, the system offers powerful full-frame technology for fingerprinting and retrospective analysis, as well as unique EMT torch technology for routine maintenance operations without switching off the plasma.

Laboratories use the iCAP 6000 Series ICP emission spectrometers to detect and measure low levels of toxic elements and a diverse range of pollutant elements in the global environmental, metallurgical, petrochemical, food and pharmaceutical industries. In spring 2009, the iCAP 6000 received a Queens Award for Enterprise (GB) as one of the year’s most outstanding technical innovations and it was a finalist in the IMechE Business Innovation of the Year Category of the National Business Awards.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

VTX: Vision and imaging products

Stemmer Imaging is showing an impressive range of brand new products at the VTX exhibition (see note below). New products will be found on each of the company’s exhibition displays, which cover machine vision, general cameras, high dynamic range imaging, high speed imaging, illumination and thermal imaging.

The machine vision display will highlight the BOA range of smart cameras from DALSA with its small 44 mm cube form factor and IP67 rated housing. New for VTX will be a colour version of BOA, even further extending the range of end-user applications. All versions of BOA feature a full suite of vision tools based on the popular iNspect software, which can be configured using a standard web browser.

New cameras on show will include three new families from AVT, together with the AVT Prosilica GX which doubles the speed of GigE vision using link aggregation technology. Other new cameras include new models in the DALSA Genie series and the tiny (22 x 24 x 24 mm) IDS uEye XS which features an autofocus lens and 8 Mpixel resolution. New linescan cameras include the JAI LT-400CL - 3CMOS RGB linescan camera and the DALSA Spyder3 Colour with dual linescan technology.

High dynamic range cameras are growing in popularity and Stemmer will be showing the IDS uEye family of HDR industrial cameras offering a dynamic range of over 120 dB along with the 2 CCD JAI AD-081GE which offers independent control of shutter speed and/or gain for each channel. A dedicated display of high speed cameras will include new additions to DALSA’s Falcon range along with Optronis cameras with frame rates up to 10, 000 fps.

Also new for VTX will be the Xenics Bobcat compact uncooled infrared camera. With an InGaAs detector for high sensitivity in the near infrared, the Bobcat also features a unique embedded digital signal processor for intelligent real-time image processing. The company's impressive line-up for VTX is completed with a new range of laser diode light sources from Z-Laser.

VTX is one of the constituent exhibitions at Advanced Manufacturing UK in Birmingham (GB) 27/28 April 2010.

Opportunities for Process Automation in US

The Global Foresight Group™ has identified several industry segments that will generate growing demand for Process Instrumentation and Automation (PI&A) products in 2010 and beyond. In the white paper Growth Opportunities 2010 and Beyond, they describe seven areas where PI&A suppliers will find much better North American growth opportunities in 2010 and beyond.

These opportunities highlight a number of industry wide and niche applications for PI&A products and services including:

  • Stimulus spending - provide opportunities for PI&A bookings directly in the electric utilities and water & wastewater industries as well as indirectly through road and bridge construction, and buildings projects through increased demand for primary metals, chemicals and mining products.
  • Oil & gas industry - the development of unconventional gas sources and continuing deepwater projects will result in PI&A bookings opportunities.
  • Field instrumentation and valve services - will become a significant revenue source for suppliers as the installed base of PI&A products ages and core skills leave the process industries and are not replaced.

  • Other areas that will see growth are the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor equipment industries.

    The Global Foresight GroupTM estimates that the North American PI&A market size fell by over $1B in 2009, from its historic high of $7.2B in 2008. The Group expects 2010 to be flat or only slightly up over 2009 with more significant annual growth beginning 2011.

    Mike Willey, Managing Partner at the Global Foresight GroupTM, said "PI &A suppliers need to make changes in their business planning to avoid wasting resources in stagnant markets and, more importantly, identify and exploit growth opportunities for 2010 and beyond."

    Wireless flow system promotes conservation

    Intelligent Design Enables Conservation” (pdf) by Gerald W. Knudsen, General Manager of AgriTech Consulting, describes an application where open ditch irrigation was replaced by a closed pipe system and precise flow control via wireless communications.

    Open ditch irrigation canals were replaced with a closed poly pipe water distribution system. The piping system saves water by reducing evaporation, cutting seepage and eliminating end of channel water losses.
    The transit time flow meters use two transducers mounted on the outside of the pipe, both of which function as an ultrasonic transmitter and receiver.
    The system was employed by the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company (MVIC) in Cortez, Colorado, U.S., to save water in the arid region. As much as 60% of the water that enters an open ditch irrigation canal is wasted via evaporation, seepage and losses at the end of the canal. By replacing five miles of open irrigation ditches with closed polyethylene pipe and flow control, MVIC is saving 1,000 acre-feet of water per year.

    Each branch turnout from the main header to a farm has a Dynasonics ultrasonic flow meter and two butterfly valves. The meter measures the amount of water passing through the turnout. The first butterfly valve is controlled by the MVIC and is used to set flows according to the number of shares of water allocated to that particular farmer. The second butterfly valve can be used by an owner to shut off or reduce water volume.

    Flow control and measurement is implemented via a wireless supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. The SCADA system consists of a telemetry receiver and master control center in the main office connected to field equipment via a wireless data link.

    Each flow meter is either solar or battery powered, providing substantial savings by eliminating power wiring. This green feature not only saved on installation, but will also provide ongoing savings in the form of lower energy use. The key component of each branch turnout is the flow meter.

    The closed pipe network project has been so successful that the US Bureau of Reclamation is providing $2.1 million in stimulus grants to the MVIC for construction of a second similar 7-mile pipeline project.

    Here is the the story (pdf)

    Elevation for openLift

    The Can in Automation Special Interest Group (CiASIG) CANopen Lift has published version 2.0 of the CANopen application profile for lift control systems (CiA 417).

    The completely re-structured specification is partly incompatible with version 1.0. In particular, the specification for some virtual devices such as car drive has been revised significantly. Also some PDO specifications have been updated.

    The next CANopen Lift plug-fest will test interoperability of devices compliant to CiA 417 version 2.0. The SIG CANopen Lift will continue to add new virtual devices, but it is not intended to change the technical specification of the newly released version 2.0. Part 1 and part 2 of the CiA 417 profile specification can be downloaded free-of-charge in order to provide an insight into CANopen lift. Companies, who like to implement CANopen Lift, need also part 3 and part 4 of CiA 417, which are only available for CiA members.

    At the Interlift 2009 exhibition in Augsburg (D), CiA has demonstrated the interoperability between CANopen Lift devices from 12 companies. The CiA booth was extremely well attended mainly by system designers, who wished to learn more about the CiA 417 application profile for lift control systems.
    “The installed base of more than 4000 lift control systems and the increasing number of device manufacturers supporting CANopen Lift, elevates the standardized application profile to the next level,” said Holger Zeltwanger, CiA Managing Director. Even in India, CiA has two new members interested in this profile: DSA Electro Controls and Omega Elevators. CiA is also exhibiting this week at the International Elevators and Escalators Expo in Mumbai (IND). CiA will also participate in the Lift exhibition in Italy and several conferences in Germany. In addition, CiA is to organise a German Road Show showing its CANopen Lift demonstrator.

    Microwave switch system adopted for test suite

    Keithley Instruments has announced that LeCroy Corporation has chosen Keithley’s System 46 (S46) RF/Microwave Switch System as part of the original equipment for its new USB 3.0 Test Suite product family. Keithley’s S46 switch is engineered to simplify the automated switching needed to test a wide range of telecommunications products and devices, including Bluetooth devices. The USB 3.0 Test Suite represents the industry’s first single-source lineup of test instruments that can comprehensively support the Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.0 standard, also known as SuperSpeed USB.

    James J. Mueller, LeCroy’s VP of Measurement Technology, explains, “We chose the Keithley S46 switch for the USB 3.0 Test Suite because it was capable of handling the broad range of signals the instruments in this test suite will encounter. The S46 allows us to route transmitter output from a device under test to the receiver input of our Protocol-enabled Receiver and Transmitter Tolerance Tester (PeRT3 ™) or an oscilloscope, such as our WaveMaster™ 8 Zi Oscilloscopes. Additionally, the S46 allows us to route the transmitter output from the PeRT 3 directly to the receiver input of the device under test or to the oscilloscope for calibration.”

    Mark Hoersten, Keithley’s Vice President, Marketing, notes, “The S46’s standard configurations make it simple for manufacturers like LeCroy to select a system that meets the specifications of the testing application without the expense of unnecessary switches or other features. The ‘just what you need and no more’ design philosophy on which our S46 systems are based helps LeCroy to provide its customers with outstanding price/performance value.”

    The S46 RF/Microwave Switch is widely used in applications such as testing cellular and cordless phones, specialized mobile radios, base stations, specialized antenna systems, RF components including RFICs, wireless peripherals, including Bluetooth devices, broadband wireless transceivers, high speed digital communications including SONET devices with speeds of 3Gbps and 10Gbps. The standard S46 system is specified for a bandwidth of 18GHz; custom S46 systems can support bandwidths up to 40GHz. As test requirements change, relays can be easily added to the system to create a new switch configuration.

    The S46 controller automatically counts relay contact closures to allow equipment maintenance personnel to assess when the relays are nearing the end of their mechanical life. In this way, preventive maintenance can be performed in a timely way during scheduled shutdowns, avoiding unplanned shutdowns and the resulting loss of production time. In addition to counting contact closures, the S46 has a portion of its memory available to store S-parameters or calibration constants for each relay contact or each pathway. If a specific performance parameter is critical, such as Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) or insertion loss, the parameter can be stored in memory for use in trend analysis between scheduled maintenance shutdowns. Stored parameters can also be used for compensation to enhance accuracy during RF measurements.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Stainless steel transmitter for vortex meter

    Emerson Process Management announces the expansion of its Rosemount® 8800D Series of vortex flowmeters to include stainless steel transmitter housings, which are often required for applications in corrosive environments. This new stainless steel housing increases the reliability and longevity of the transmitter in these environments, greatly reducing the overall cost of ownership.

    The non-clogging, minimal leak point design of their flowmeters is valued by industries such as offshore oil and gas and marine. The corrosive environments caused by saltwater and salt in the air make these industries good candidates for stainless steel transmitter housings. Typical applications include high pressure gas or water injection for enhanced oil recovery. In addition, stainless steel transmitter housings are ideally suited to food, beverage and life science applications, where the numerous chemical processes and clean-in-place solutions can result in corrosion and premature failure.

    The stainless steel transmitter housing is available on the broad range of Rosemount Vortex flowmeters, including wafer and flanged meters, dual sensor and Reducer™ Vortex flowmeters.

    Rosemount 8800D flowmeters are part of the company's broad range of intelligent, digital field devices that power the PlantWeb® architecture. Further cost savings, increased plant availability, and enhanced safety and environmental compliance are achieved when the transmitters are integrated into the PlantWeb digital plant architecture.

    Photoelectric sensors for transparent targets

    Stable and dependable detection for transparent objects, including glass, films and PET, simple installation and ease of adjustment are the key benefits of the new E3ZM-B_T photoelectric sensors. These versatile sensors are the latest additions to Omron's E3Z product range, which is the most comprehensive and competitive family of compact sensors currently available for food industry applications.

    Designed for retroreflective operation, the new E3ZM-B_T sensors are suitable for sensing distances up to 500 mm. They are available with an easy-to-adjust potentiometer for range setting, or on request with a one-touch teach button for users who prefer automatic range adjustment.

    All models feature 316L stainless-steel housings and can be supplied in versions with integral cables or for use with connectors. A choice of PNP or NPN outputs is offered.

    These sensors use the same mounting brackets and compact connectors as the other sensors in the E3Z range, which also includes leading-edge products for standard applications, for mark detection and for use in hygienic environments. For food packaging lines, this simplifies machine design and construction, and also reduces the number of different bracket and connector types that users need to stock.

    There are also benefits for those machine builders that have a multivendor strategy for sensor sourcing, as the industry-standard compact format used by E3ZM-B_T sensors ensures that the general purpose products are physically interchangeable with sensors from many other suppliers around the world.

    The new sensors complement Omron’s existing E3Z-B basic transparent object sensors and its E3ZM-B sensors that are designed for the highest stability with PET targets, which will continue to be available.

    Patented solution for diaphragm break monitoring

    For particularly reliable pressure measurement in critical processes e.g. in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries, WIKA has developed a solution which is now patented (Patent No. DE19949831).

    The double diaphragm system can, in the event of a diaphragm break, reliably prevent either products finding their way into the environment or system fill fluid contaminating the process.

    The diaphragm break monitoring for diaphragm seals can be implemented on a wide range of instrument variants.

    Gas monitors on show

    Advanced gas sampling and monitoring instrumentation from Quantitech will be on display at HazMat 2010, the third annual conference for HazMat professionals in the UK (February 23 and 24, Birmingham GB).

    Organised by Britain's National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC), the two day conference is the preeminent networking event for people involved with hazardous materials.

    Quantitech was recently awarded a major contract to supply instrumentation for the Environment Agency’s Air Quality in Major Incidents Unit and examples of this equipment will be on display at the HazMat event, including the world's first portable FTIR gas analyser, the Gasmet Dx-4030. Suitable for use in a wide variety of applications, this instrument enables operators to measure multiple components simultaneously, including Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs), Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs), organic and inorganic fumigants and virtually anything else.

    Quantitech’s Dr Andrew Hobson said: “The lightweight Dx-4030 provides accurate real-time multi-gas analysis within seconds of powering up and is ideal for emergency response to any situation that calls for rapid reliable gas analysis.”

    The two-day conference draws on knowledge and experience from a range of Hazmat Professionals, Industry Leaders, as well as NCEC’s own Emergency Responders. Representatives from the Police Force, Fire and Rescue Service. Highways Agency and Coastguard Agency will also be in attendance.

    Multichannel RF signal generator

    “Enables challenging RF environments to be recreated in Test and Measurement Labs”

    RF Engines Limited (RFEL) has developed a highly sophisticated, 32 channel RF signal generator that is designed to enable challenging RF environments to be recreated in labs to test RF equipment. RFEL’s world class expertise in RF and signal processing has enabled them to create a complete solution on a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA chip that is run within a PC on a PCI-express card. The PCI Upconverter is a very flexible and configurable system that replaces racks of expensive RF test equipment offering significant saving for Test and Measurement Laboratories.

    “There are so many sources of RF these days such as Tetra, mobile phones, Bluetooth, WiFi, and microwave links, meaning that sensitive equipment can be deluged with signals in a real world environment and not function properly,” explained John Summers, RFEL’s CEO. “At the moment, the solution for test laboratories is to use racks of arbitrary waveform generators coupled to mixers and modulators with each channel, and so incurring very high equipment and configuration costs. By contrast, our solution can generate up to 32 simultaneous channels of complex and bespoke test scenarios, so providing huge cost savings.”

    In addition, current solutions generate signals from data stored on memory chips so that the signals repeat after a few seconds. By contrast, the PCI Upconverter streams its data from hard disks so that 32 channels of different signals can be generated over several days recreating real environments for proper soak testing. The complex modulated signals themselves can be created in MATLAB® or similar programmes with any type of waveform modulation including frequency hopping, TDMA, FDMA, CW, QPSK and QAM, and the characteristics can be manipulated in real-time. Each channel can be individually programmed with the required bandwidth and being digitally generated, there are no sideband or filtering issues that would be problems with multiple signal analogue systems. The system is controlled via a simple API on a Windows platform, and is provided with a suite of functions that allow direct control from a MATLAB environment. The integral MATLAB Graphical User Interface simplifies operations and makes the system “look and feel” like a piece of test equipment.

    Rotary switch

    Lorlin Electronics continues to add to its highly successful range. The popular CKS and CKF rotary switch ranges already offer IP67/IP65 sealed versions and are now available as standard with low axial play, smooth feel and damped indexing for the pro-audio, broadcast and high quality instrumentation applications.

    The complete Lorlin CKS and CKF rotary switch family offer a cost effective single wafer switch for a wide range of applications. The switch body is manufactured from UL VO compliant fire retardant material has a 27.5mm diameter with standard 30º spindle indexing and may be specified with either solder or printed circuit board terminals. Up to 4 poles are available per switch with a maximum 12 positions and shorting (make before break - 30º indexing only) or non shorting (break before make) contact options. An adjustable stop is provided to allow the number of positions in use to be restricted. Other special order options include 60º or 90º indexing, continuous spindle rotation and reinforcement ring and a moulded fixed stop.

    These switches are available with silver, gold flashed or gold plated switching contacts. Spindles may be specified with full length flats. The CKS and CKF rotary switch families are rated at 150mA @ 250V ac/dc with an operating life >10,000 cycles. Operating temperature is -30ºC to +85 ºC and its proof voltage is 1,500Vac (Initial).

    Rob Peach, Technical Marketing Manager at Lorlin Electronics comments, "I doubt if any other switch manufacturer can match Lorlin in the amount of customisation and flexibility available on our rotary switch range. This allows us to provide a rapid response to customer specific requirements and emerging new markets. Our new low axial play, smooth feel CKS and CKFswitches provide manufacturers of high quality systems with a switch that enhances the perceived value of their product by providing improved damped indexing feel. Our ever increasing range of rotary switches now offers design solutions for switching in applications as diverse as pro-audio, to outdoor security, and are ideal for portable equipment used outside such as marine, test and measurement, remote controls for vehicles. Typical applications for Lorlin’s new smooth action rotary switches include, audio mixing desks, broadcast equipment, studio lighting controllers, medical equipment and instrumentation".

    Engineers choice for connectivity!

    Kepware Technologies's KEPServerEX product has been selected as winner of the Connectivity Category in the annual Control Engineering Magazine, “Engineers Choice” Awards.

    Control Engineering 2010 Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products introduced in 2009 as chosen by Control Engineering's print and online subscribers. Survey respondents were asked to select products based on technological advancement, service to the industry, and market impact.
    The “Engineers Choice” award winners are selected by close to 600 of Control Engineering’s readership, those with hands-on experience solving real-world problems. A total of 95 new products competed in this year’s award process. KEPServerEX was chosen as first in its category. KEPServerEX delivers a one server architecture with over 140 communication protocols to choose from, and client connectivity including standards – OPC DA, OPC AE, OPC UA (New) and native interfaces for Oracle, Wonderware (Invensys) and GE Intelligent Platforms.

    “We work incredibly hard to make sure we deliver exceptional quality in our products,” explained Tony Paine, President of Kepware Technologies. “We have rigorous engineering and QA practices in place, and have a team of people with deep industry knowledge and application expertise. We spend every moment focusing on creating a better product for our customers and make sure our customers have a long term solution with Kepware. This endorsement means a lot to us all.”
    “Kepware has won this award in the past and we are not surprised that they’ve done it again,” stated David Greenfield, Editorial Director for Control Engineering. “We see Kepware in the news on a consistent basis. They sure seem to be doing things right with their wide range of OEMs and customer endorsements.”

    Intelligent touch screen display

    Anders Electronics has added a 5.7” VGA (640 x 480 pixel) resolution display to its popular UMR 5 Series of products. The new Anders 5.7” display platform offers manufacturers of industrial and medical devices a standard form factor with high-end optical specifications, guaranteed long term availability, and easier, more cost-effective integration of colour, touch and other embedded functionality.

    The display component of this newest member of the UMR 5 Series is a 5.7” VGA amorphous silicon-based TFT display with LED backlight, produced by a tier-1 manufacturer with guaranteed long lifetime availability. The display is suitable for a wide variety of demanding industrial and medical applications, offering high colour saturation, excellent brightness (400 cd/m2), high contrast (600:1), ultra-wide viewing angles (up to 75/70/50°), and integral 4-wire resistive touch functionality.

    The UMR 5 Series embedded system features PXA270 Intel XScale® architecture, ARM5TE ISA with WMMX extension, running WIN CE 5.0 with options of 312 MHz or 520 MHz clock speeds, 64 or 128 MB SDRAM and 128 or 512 MB NAND FLASH. The embedded systems offer standard interfaces such as I2C, SPI, GPIO, serial ports, 10/100-Base-T Ethernet, and USB Host and Slave. Together with the Anders Software Development Toolkit and sample code for the various on board interfaces, the UMR 5 Series embedded system enables rapid development, testing and deployment of end user applications.

    Designed with device end user experience in mind, the Anders UMR 5 Series of intelligent displays provides a unified platform for rapid creation and integration of the iPhone™-like user interfaces that device manufacturers need to differentiate their offerings. The unique Anders IDS (Interface Development Suite), comprising a desktop interface builder and embedded vector graphics engine, enables rapid creation of feature-rich user interfaces. Integration of the Anders IDS with evC++ and Visual Studio enables interaction between embedded system physical interfaces and screen objects with minimum effort.

    “We launched the 5.7” UMR Intelligent display specifically to meet the demands of clients seeking upgrade legacy industrial monochrome or CSTN products with colour and touch functionality,” said Ian Ritson, Business Development Manager, Intelligent Displays. “Anders Intelligent Displays let manufacturers avoid the hassles of upgrading the display experience, while still delivering friendly, easy to use devices that excel not only in performance, but also in usability,” he concluded.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Small-sized controllers

    GE Intelligent Platforms has launched its new Durus Plus controllers. The Durus is a complete controller with built-in I/O, control and operator interface. The Durus Plus is a powerful low-end controller featuring RTD, analog out, four-function math, PID and the Modbus Master/Slave communications.
    The new Durus Plus features additional functionality above and beyond the Durus:
  • The display has been increased to 12 lines by 16 characters
  • Memory has been increased from 200 lines of ladder code to 300 lines
  • Memory has been increased from 99 blocks to 260 blocks for Function Block Diagram programming
  • Add/Subtract, Multiply/Divide, PID, Data Multiplexer, Analog Out Ramp and Data Move function blocks were added to increase programming capabilities

  • It builds on the solid foundation of the Durus, adding more functionality to the same footprint for applications where extra capability is needed.

    “Typical applications for the Durus Plus would be lighting control, conveyor control, water level control or motor monitoring were the unit can replace timers and counters for increased reliability,” said Bill Black, Controllers Product Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms. “The strong and sturdy family of Durus Controllers integrates I/O, operator interface and control in one small package.”

    The Durus controller complements GE’s existing line of controllers and provides a rugged design filled with state-of-the-art features. It is built to take on the industrial environment with standard features like a built-in Operator Interface, a wide range of communications options, expansion slots, and a solid slide-and-snap mechanical interlock to expansion modules. Its very competitive price provides users even more choice in a controller product.

    Durus controllers include features such as easy to use built-in display/keypad, high current outputs, multiple communication options, and are very affordable. They can be programmed using both the built-in display and keypad or with the Durus controller’s free programming software.

    Tempcontrolled food shipping

    Yokogawa Electric Corporation has developed a range of monitoring solutions for use on temperature-controlled container ships used for cold-treated food transportation. Based on Yokogawa’s data acquisition hardware integrated with customised software, these systems have received the all-important USDA certification, which is mandatory for all such food imported by ship into the USA.

    The USDA Intransit Cold Treatment regulation stipulates that a USDA-approved recording system has to be on board every cooling vessel importing goods such as bananas and citrus fruits into the US. Approval for the Yokogawa recording systems and their associated software solutions means that Yokogawa can offer a range of USDA-approved recording systems that will suit vessels of all sizes and levels of sophistication.

    Key products used in the USDA approved systems include the DXAdvanced DAQSTATION range of data-acquisition and control stations and the MX100 PC-based data-acquisition system. These products complement earlier Yokogawa devices that have USDA approval, including the DR240 hybrid recorder and the µR20000 chart recorder.

    The DXAdvanced DAQSTATION, with its high-visibility TFT screen, is ideal for environments where instant visual feedback and alerts are essential. Measured values are captured on both a high-capacity internal memory (80 to 200 Mbyte) and removable flash storage (up to 2 Gbyte). Combined with MW100 remote input units, the DAQstation can log more than 240 input signals. When configured with Yokogawa’s Advanced Report software tool, USDA-approved reports can be automatically generated at user-specified intervals.

    The PC front-end MX100 system offers reliable multi-channel data acquisition for easy connection to a PC running MCPS logging and monitoring software. The live monitoring screens give a clear indication of trend curves and actual measurement values, while the customised report function and automated tasks periodically create USDA reports showing the temperature conditions of all cooling compartments during a journey.

    "We now have a USDA-approved recording system suitable for every class of cooled vessel", says Marco Bischoff of Yokogawa Europe: "Automated data monitoring has an increasingly important role in food transport, and the US regulations are among the most stringent. We are delighted that our systems have this accreditation, and we will continue to work with shipping operators to ensure that their refrigerated vessels continue to deliver their goods both safely and accountably."

    Ultra-compact precision electric actuators

    Festo has launched an extensive new range of ultra-compact precision electric actuators that can be ordered via the web from its on-line shop. This means that machine designers and builders can now take delivery of positioning actuators offering ±10 micron repeatability within 24 hours of placing their order. Downloadable PC-based software for dimensioning electromechanical linear axes and electric motors, backed by native CAD models of the actuators, further helps users accelerate design-in and machine build.

    Their new EGSK and EGSP series actuators provide exceptionally accurate positioning capabilities. Featuring a one-piece solid steel housing which also serves as a guide rail - conveying a high degree of rigidity to the design - they are ideal for applications demanding short and precise moves, especially where space is limited. Their low profile makes them particularly suitable for the type of small pick-and-place systems and X-Y tables used in the semiconductor manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries.

    These electric actuators offer a choice of three classes of precision, with repetition accuracies of ±3, ±5 or ±10 microns, and are available in two performance categories, to help maximise applications flexibility.

    The EGSK range of standard performance electric actuators comprises five models, with profile heights from 15 to 46 mm. All five models employ a ball screw drive, with a choice of pitches, and offer a wide variety of stroke lengths - from 25 to 800 mm, depending upon the particular model. The ±10 micron precision class versions of all EGSK actuators, which are suitable for the majority of applications and are therefore likely to prove the most popular, are available off-the-shelf from Festo.

    The EGSP range of high performance electric actuators use caged recirculating ball bearings between the carriage and the guide, to further help reduce friction and noise. There are our four models in the range - with profile heights of 20, 26, 33 and 46 mm - and again, each model is available with a choice of ball screw drive pitches and a variety of stroke lengths, ranging from 25 to 800 mm. The two largest size actuators also employ caged ball bearing chains in the ball screw drive assembly, to ensure smooth, trouble-free operation under heavy load conditions.

    All Festo EGSK and EGSP electric actuators feature four rows of ball bearings circulating within the loaded area of the moving carriage to maximise rigidity and help ensure a long service life. The ball bearings run between the honed grooves of the carriage and the linear guide, until they are returned by means of the reversers in the end plates and the recirculation channels. The four rows of balls are arranged at a contact angle of 45 degrees, which means that the guide carriage has the same basic load ratings in both radial coordinate directions; the actuator can therefore be used in any mounting position and can accommodate a wide range of load conditions.

    The electric actuators are fully compatible with Festo's range of stepper and servo motors and controllers, and can also be used with third-party motors; Festo produces a comprehensive range of motor mounting flanges and couplings, as well as actuator mounting plates and axial mounting kits. The company also offers optional cover kits for these actuators, plus a sensor rail kit which enables inductive position sensors to be attached to the left or right side of the actuator body.

    They has also developed a powerful PC-based software tool to help machine designers and other potential users make best use of electric drive technology such as the EGSK actuators. This positioning drive software enables users to choose the optimum components for a complete, high-efficiency positioning system, and can be downloaded free of charge from the electric drive technology page. Once a few application details have been entered, the software automatically calculates the ideal combination of electric linear axes, motors, gear units, controllers and software, from a widely coordinated product range. By specifying various project parameters, users can also obtain the load characteristic values for the selected drive, quickly and reliably.

    More at Embedded World'10

    ADLINK Technology is to demonstrate its latest embedded computing platforms and solutions based on the latest Intel® processors and chipsets at Embedded World 2010 (Mar 2/4 2010).

    RuffSystemProducts particularly designed for harsh and extreme environments Ampro by ADLINK™ Extreme Rugged™ boards and systems are designed from the ground up to support the extremes of shock, vibration, humidity, and temperature in harsh environments. The highlight of ADLINK's presentation at Embedded World 2010 is the Ampro by ADLINK™ RuffSystem™ 840, an Extreme Rugged™ computer system with conduction cooling that is designed to meet MIL-STD-810F (shock/vibration, temp, humidity) and have an extended operating temperature range of -40°C to 75°C. A version of the RuffSystem™ 840 to meet the needs of military applications, the MilSystem™ 840 with MIL-STD-D38999 connectors, will also be shown on site. Both systems feature the Intel® Core™2 Duo 1.66GHz processor with two SODIMM sockets for up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM.

    In addition to Ampro by ADLINK™ Extreme Rugged™ products, ADLINK will also demonstrate rugged conduction-cooled 3U and 6U CompactPCI® blades based on Intel® Core™2 Duo processors. The CT-30 and CT-60 are 3U / 6U CompactPCI® blades specially designed for harsh environments such as those encountered in military and transportation applications.

    High-performance AdvancedTCA® solutions for telecommunications

    ADLINK adds to its wide range of products for telecommunication applications with its latest high-performance AdvancedTCA® (ATCA) blades, the aTCA-6100. This is a processor blade featuring two 2.13GHz quad-core Intel® Xeon® Processor L5518 and an optional AMC Bay, delivering outstanding performance for high-end telecom and media server applications.
    New products featuring the latest Intel® Architectures in different form factors
    Also on exhibit are new products based on the latest mobile Intel® Core™ i7/i5 processors. These include two COM Express™ modules, the Express-CB for embedded and mobile applications, and the Express-CBR for military markets. The Express-CBR follows the Ampro by ADLINK™ Extreme Rugged™ design methodology for applications requiring MIL-STD-202F shock and vibration compliance and extended -40 to +85°C operating temperature range.
    Additionally, the cPCI-6510, a low power-consumption 6U CompactPCI® processor blade based on the same mobile Intel® platform will be displayed.

    ADLINK demonstrates its continuing focus on solutions featuring the newest Intel® low power platforms with two other new products. The cPCI-3610 is a 3U CompactPCI® processor blade featuring the Intel® Atom™ D510/D410/N450 processor. The Ampro by ADLINK™ CoreModule® 740 is a PC/104-Plus Extreme Rugged™ SBC equipped with the Intel® N450 processor.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Field instrumentation protection

    Intertec has developed a new range of steam heaters for field instrumentation protection applications. Offering a choice of vertical, horizontal or panel mounting styles, with four power outputs ranging from around 65 to 490 W, users can easily select the appropriate heater for all common enclosure-scale freeze/condensation protection or temperature maintenance applications.

    The new STEAM range has been developed from the most popular sizes of finned convection heater profiles in their electrical heater range. These Intertec-designed anodized aluminium profiles have all been field-proven in enclosure heating applications over many years, and in many tens of thousands of applications.

    Steam heating is still employed in many refineries and other plants, because steam energy is produced as a byproduct of the core process, and because it is a simple alternative to electric heating.

    Two of the options in their new steam heater range are designed to mount vertically to provide convection heating. They are physically compact and suitable for smaller-scale heating requirements: in freeze protection applications the outputs are typically 65 and 130 W respectively when used on typical lines offering steam at a pressure of three bar and a temperature of 130Deg C. A third convection option is designed to mount horizontally and provides a typical output of 490 W. The fourth element has both flat and finned sides to allow it to be mounted against a panel or on the side of equipment; it delivers around 200 W of combined convection and conduction heating output, providing a useful design alternative for some process applications. The sizes of the four heaters are 5 x 5 x 15.5 cm, 8 x 8 x 22.5 cm, 22.5 x 21.3 x 10 cm, and 5 x 21.3 x 22.5 cm.

    The steam heating elements are identical in size to those used in Intertec's long-established electrical heating range, but come with a press-fitted 12 mm OD stainless steel tube for connection to the steam/hot water service line. This compatibility simplifies the configuration of an environmentally-protected enclosure, allowing users to work through the specification process in exactly the same manner regardless of whether steam or electrical heat sources will be employed: choosing the style and size of enclosure, calculating the power requirements, and selecting the right shape and size of heating element. The new products complement an existing selection of finned tubes that Intertec offers for small-scale freeze protection applications.

    The heating elements may also be used with hot water lines, and for temperature maintenance up to typically 40 degrees C when used with a thermally-actuated control valve. This stainless steel accessory is tamperproof, and can maintain a desired set-point temperature to within typically ±1 degree. Further accessories available to support the new heaters include steam traps.

    In addition to supplying steam heater components to instrumentation engineers and system builders, Intertec is able to supply complete pre-fabricated 'hook-ups' for field-based plant instrumentation - based on proven designs. The turnkey service covers the complete concept-to-installation process including engineering design, assembly and on-site delivery. A typical application is a field instrumentation node such as pressure or differential pressure transmitter(s) - supplied complete with manifold, tubing connections, plus the appropriate style of enclosure and environmental protection.

    This approach can often improve the performance, and reduce the lifecycle costs, of field instrumentation because of the proven nature of the designs used, and the use of a modular range of building-block components. Intertec has a very large database of designs covering all common field instrumentation applications. These protection systems are fabricated using proven components and layout principles that reduce the variability of instrument installation and provide a site standard - greatly simplifying ongoing maintenance.

    An introduction to load, force and torque

    Omega Engineering is producing a new Technical reference series of web pages detailing the history, theory and best operating principles of measurement and control fundamentals. Designed as a technical aid for engineers, technicians and students, the first in this series is aimed at force load & torque, and provides details on strain configurations, load cell design, piezoelectric sensors, as well as acceleration and vibration sensors.

    Advanced crane simulation

    A three-axis motion platform based on Baldor’s Ethernet-compatible drives is helping to further increase the realism of crane training experience by physically moving a simulator system’s replica operator cabin in synchronism with computer-generated images.
    A view inside the simulator's control cabinet, showing the three Baldor MicroFlex e100 servo drives.
    The specialist machine manufacturer Electropneumatics & Hydraulics developed the motion platform for the leading training solutions and services supplier Applied Research International (ARI).

    Based in New Delhi (IND), ARI produces a comprehensive range of simulators for marine and allied applications. Its products include a wide variety of offshore, quay-side and gantry crane simulators to provide safe, cost-effective operational training for container movement and bulk handling operations. Their simulators emulate the visual, behavioural and operational characteristics of their real-world counterparts to create a fully immersive environment in which the trainee can gain true hands-on experience. A typical crane simulator comprises a modular PC-based control system, a replica operator cabin and seat, a high fidelity audio-visual system, and an instructor station equipped with CCTV for monitoring the actions of the trainee.

    When they decided to add an optional motion platform to its line of crane simulators, it approached Electropneumatics & Hydraulics for assistance. This company – whose headquarters and manufacturing facility at Chakan, near Pune (IND) – was founded in 1972, and has acquired an enviable reputation for its electromechanical machine design and manufacturing capabilities. They specialise in the production of metalforming equipment, such as hydraulic presses and tube bending machines, and also designs and builds special-purpose machinery including different levels of automation with total indigenous content and capability.

    Electropneumatics & Hydraulics chose to base the motion platform for the crane simulator on Baldor's Powerlink- and Ethernet-compatible drives and servomotors. According to the company’s Technical Director, Ashley Rasquinha, “Baldor’s MicroFlex e100 AC servo drives are very cost-effective for this type of application, because they can be controlled via TCP/IP direct from the simulator’s host PC, without the need for additional hardware.”

    The three-axis motion platform provides X, Y and Z movement of the replica operator cabin, synchronised to the computer-generated images being presented to the trainee. Since it is designed to emulate the movement of a real-life gantry crane very accurately, the platform’s drive axes are only required to handle relatively simple motion control tasks such as point-to-point moves and homing sequences, and do not require interpolation. As a consequence, the MicroFlex e100 servo drives can be used in their basic Ethernet mode, without any additional complexity of real-time control.

    Each axis is driven by a Baldor BSM 3-phase servomotor equipped with an incremental encoder for position and velocity feedback, controlled by a dedicated MicroFlex e100 servo drive. All three drives are housed in a separate floor-standing control cabinet, and are connected via a D-Link 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch to the simulator’s host PC.

    Ashley Rasquinha also points out that Baldor’s ActiveX development tools for its Mint motion control language helped to minimise programming effort. “The tools hide the complexity of Ethernet messages and provide a simple interface to all the Mint programming commands and functions; in conjunction with the excellent libraries of routines that Baldor provides, these made it very easy for us to create and validate all the motion control sequences. During the development of the motion platform, we also received excellent support from Baldor Electric India, which happens to be based near our manufacturing facility.”

    ARI’s crane simulators are proving to be extremely popular with maritime organisations worldwide, and Electropneumatics & Hydraulics has already delivered 15 motion platforms to the company, for real customers wishing to embrace the virtual world.

    PSU supplier hires more staff

    Powerstax, "one of Europe’s leading application-rich power solutions specialists," has made a number of key appointments in response to record sales growth in 2009.

    A new member of the Powerstax finance team is Charlotte Isbill (Left above); a graduate from The University of Portsmouth (GB), Charlotte has a degree in Accounting and Business Economics BA (Hons) and is currently studying for the CIMA qualification. As Finance Assistant, Charlotte manages the day-to-day tasks of the Powerstax finance department.

    James MacCaig has joined the Powerstax internal sales team. With Maths, Physics and Philosophy qualifications and the opportunity to go to University, James decided developing a career would be a better option. At 19 years old this is James’s first job and it offers him the chance to gain international technical sales experience and “back-office” knowledge including CRM systems and maintenance of the Powerstax website.

    Filling a new role as Personal and Marketing Assistant to the CEO, Kathy Marriage brings project management, software development and statistical analysis expertise to the Powerstax team. Kathy has a BSc (Hons) degree in statistics and operational research and a MSc (Eng) degree in operational research. Her career includes roles as support and consultancy for a statistical software house, an analyst programmer in the financial sector and running her own business developing bespoke statistical analysis solutions for large manufacturing, finance, media and education establishments. With continually improving flexibility of off the shelf software Kathy moved into project management of global software implementations for Telecoms and Petrochemical companies.

    “I am really enjoying working for Powerstax.”
    Said Kathy. “Everyone is committed to the job in hand but can always find the time to assist their colleagues, whether it be pushing cars stuck in the snow or pulling together to prepare for exhibitions. There’s definitely a powerful team here at Powerstax!”

    Tim Worley, CEO, of Powerstax commented, ”We have a lean and close knit team at Powerstax and these new appointments reflect our commitment to customer service and continuous improvement in every department of our business. With continued growth, Powerstax will make further strategic appointments to ensure all areas of our business continue to deal effectively with and support that growth. Our new team members are a mix of highly qualified, experienced and enthusiastic people who will grow in their roles as Powerstax continues to increase its presence in the power conversion market.”

    Control for "Gym for the lungs"

    ML Electronics has successfully completed an electronic design for POWERbreathe Kinetic, a respiratory exercise system, which enables the feature-packed device to run comfortably from rechargeable NiMH AAA batteries – including driving a 12V stepper motor.

    Advanced power management techniques and power efficient circuit design were key design goals. At the heart of the POWERbreathe electronics a PIC microcontroller takes values from a pressure sensor and uses them to control the stepper motor, ensuring that the ‘resistance’ is constant throughout the breath. ML Electronics leveraged the MCU’s micro-Amp real-time clocks, low power system voltage monitors, and its ability to run the CPU core at a different speed from the peripherals.

    Functional circuitry was completed with differential amplifiers to provide inputs from the breath pressure sensor and a stepper motor driver linked to a low-cost off-the-shelf motor. In addition, the design provides a buzzer, LED and LCD displays, a function button and USB2.0 interface. All circuits can be switched in and out to conserve power using software developed by HaB.

    Their hardware designers worked hard to minimise voltage drops everywhere, as even a 0.1V drop translates to a significant lowering of battery life. This not only impacted on the tracking and layout, but also necessitated using FETs instead of standard diodes, which resulted in a very compact printed circuit board.

    “Our specifications were quite demanding and power management was one of the hardest things to crack. MLE proved to be excellent people to work with, offering a relaxed way of working as well as keen pricing and creative expertise,” said Dave Spurling, product designer, HaB International POWERbreathe trainers incorporating MLE’s innovative design are currently going into volume production and should be on sale in time for the New Year health and fitness peak.