Friday, March 26, 2010

Robust, ultra-sensitive sensor measures tensile and compression forces

Kistler's robust Type 9217A sensor uses an ultra-sensitive PiezoStar® element to provide precise measurement of compression and tensile forces under the toughest industrial conditions in production process monitoring systems. With a measuring range of ±500 Newtons and sensitivity of a few millinewtons, the Type 9217A force sensor is equally suitable for use in both production and laboratory applications. The rigid construction ensures that the sensor is resistant to lateral forces and has a high tolerance to bending moments, thus minimizing interference effects. The sensor weighs only 16 g, has an outer diameter of 8.5 mm, overall length of 28.5 mm and an operating temperature range from –80 to +205 oC

Mounting is by an M10 external thread with a front-end hole tapped M3 to provide simple and flexible adaptation for testing switches, push buttons, plugs, springs, etc., and for highly sensitive force measurement in research and development applications. The sensor is supplied with calibrated measuring ranges of 100% and 10%.

Partnership provides facilities for LIMS

Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced that up to data has become a member of its Informatics Global Partner Alliance Program. This addition to the more than 70 partners already in the program demonstrates the company's global strength and presence and its ability to fulfill the growing market needs around the world. up to data professional services will provide distribution and servicing of Thermo Scientific Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Chromatography Data Systems (CDS) throughout Germany.

The addition of up to data to the company's Global Partner Alliance will ensure that life sciences laboratories in Germany have access to a complete Thermo Scientific Informatics solution comprised of consulting, software, implementation and validation, and data management. up to data will also provide full operational support and administration support for all Thermo Scientific informatics products and underlying databases.

Life sciences technology investments in Germany are focused on the biotechnology sector, which is becoming a core area of research for future drugs. In addition, large pharmaceutical companies will continue to seek technology solutions that increase efficiencies within the drug lifecycle, reduce costs and shorten time to market. up to data has specialized in life sciences in Germany, and now this market will benefit from the addition of Thermo Scientific purpose-built informatics solutions to the up to data portfolio.

"Our customers will benefit from our new partnership with the global service and sales teams at Thermo Fisher Scientific. By offering best-in-class Thermo Scientific Informatics software, we are able to provide our customers with a comprehensive solution set for managing their data and for helping to ensure that their laboratory workflow meets the demanding regulatory requirements in Life Sciences,"
confirmed Dr. Martin Lohfink, managing director at up to data professional services.

Dave Champagne, vice president and general manager for Thermo Fisher's Informatics business, said: "Thermo Fisher's Global Partner Alliance Program brings together the expertise of sales and services organizations around the world, allowing Thermo Scientific Informatics solutions to be delivered to private and public sector businesses focused on a range of industries. up to data will contribute to our long-standing support of the important and growing life sciences community in Germany."

On-line tutorial

New Keithley Online Tutorial Provides Information on Ultra-Fast I-V Measurement Applications

Keithley Instruments has created an interactive applications overview that provides instruction and insight into a variety of semiconductor measurement applications that require ultra-fast I-V measurements. The new overview is titled "Ultra-Fast I-V Applications".

Ultra-fast I-V sourcing and measurement have become increasingly critical capabilities for many semiconductor technologies. Using pulsed I-V signals to characterize devices rather than DC signals makes it possible to study or eliminate the effects of self-heating (joule heating) or to minimize current drifting in measurements due to trapped charge.

The applications overview includes sections on integrated high speed sourcing and measurement; a discussion of voltage, current, and timing parameter ranges; a description of the built-in interactive software provided in Keithley's ultra-fast I-V test solution; and a detailed discussion of ultra-fast I-V applications. Built-in links provide easy navigation, and many of the schematics and other diagrams enlarge automatically when scrolled over to allow easier reading.

Ultra-fast I-V testing is appropriate for a growing range of semiconductor test applications, including:
  • CMOS device characterization (charge pumping, self-heating, and charge trapping)
  • NBTI and PBTI characterization, modeling, and monitoring
  • Testing non-volatile memory devices such as PCRAMs
  • Testing of compound semiconductor devices and materials (laser diodes and thermal impedance measurements), and
  • Characterization of nanotechnology, MEMs devices, and solar cells.

New option for mixed signal oscilloscope

A FlexRay serial bus analysis function is now available as an option to 4-channel models in the Yokogawa DLM2000 Series of mixed-signal oscilloscopes.

Designed to provide physical-layer waveform observation and protocol analysis for the fast, highly reliable FlexRay in-vehicle local area network, the new facility allows the user to capture FlexRay bus signals with a wide variety of dedicated triggers and carry out analysis and troubleshooting on parameters that can affect the FlexRay signal.

With the new analysis function, the DLM2000 can automatically detect and display packet information directly beneath the time-domain waveform and can search or trigger on specific serial bus conditions. A wide variety of trigger conditions can be set, including ID/data trigger combinations and combinations of serial bus triggers with normal edge triggers.

An important feature of the serial bus analysis function on the DLM2000 Series is that it enables simultaneous analyses of different buses. Waveforms and analysis results from two buses with different speeds can be displayed in individual zoom screens with different scales.

The series is a family of mixed-signal oscilloscopes offering up to 500 MHz bandwidth and 2.5 GS/s sampling speed along with the longest memory (up to 125 M points) and fastest update rate (up to 450,000 waveforms per second) in this class of instrument. The combination of flexible analogue and digital inputs, plus a large-screen display in a compact ergonomically styled body, makes the instruments exceptionally easy to use.

In addition to the key performance specifications, the DLM2000 Series features a number of advanced measurement and analysis features, including histogram and trending functions, up to 20,000 history memories, digital filtering, zoom windows, and user-defined mathematics.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

High-density switching subsystem for automated measurements

The new EX1200 series from VTI Instruments is a high- density switching subsystem for automated measurement and control, offering the capacity to switch up to 576 channels of voltage or temperature in a single-rack 1U high mainframe.

The new system allows users to ‘mix and match’ a variety of modules to build a comprehensive signal switching and I/O subsystem for data logging, level detection and control applications.

The EX1200 series is designed to realise the benefits in terms of capital investment that result from having one common hardware and software platform that can be used in development, manufacturing and field service.

A compact design provides granularity to address small channel requirements, while a high-density 3U mainframe can be used in large channel count applications. Multiple EX1200 series can be easily connected with the LXI communications interface to create a highly synchronised, distributed measurement system.

VTI provides a variety of software utilities and options that reduce the time it takes to begin using the EX1200 family of products. The series is delivered with an embedded web interface that provides virtual monitoring and control of all switches and instruments without the need for third-party software.

The EX1200 series is supported by the popular DAC Express turnkey software package. The DAC Express intuitive graphical user interface significantly shortens test setup and configuration time, enabling test engineers to begin monitoring, recording and analysing data within minutes.

VTI Instruments products are available in Britain through TTi Instrument Distribution.

No tools to connect connector!

The Harting RJ Industrial® 10G is Harting's latest version of the world's first RJ45 connector requiring no tools for connection, and features a future-proof design compatible with 10-Gigabit Ethernet applications.

The connection is made reliably and quickly using proven insulation displacement terminal technology. The insulation displacement terminals are designed for rigid and flexible conductors with an extremely broad range of wire cross-sections.

Cables with diameters from 4.5 to 9 mm are securely fixed in place in the connector with a newly developed cable gland, allowing users to connect all standard Ethernet cable types with a single RJ45 connector design. Thanks to its compact design, the rugged and industry-standard IP 20 model is also suitable for multiport RJ 45 jacks.

In addition to the IP 20 models, all Harting's existing IP 65/67 PushPull types up to the Han® 3A version are now available with the new RJ Industrial® 10G insert.

Pressure TX for hygenic applications

For hygienic pressure measurement, Baumer offers the electrical pressure transmitter ED701. It is especially suitable for applications in the pharmaceutical and food & beverage industries as well as in medical technology. The measuring device features high accuracy and long-term stability. It is available with several Clamp and hygienic process connections.

The piezo-resistive pressure transmitter ED701 with its stainless-steel diaphragm is based on a silicon sensor designed for high precision over a wide temperature range. This ensures that the pressure transmitter offers very high accuracy (up to 0.1 % F.S.) and excellent long-term stability (0.1 % per year). If required the zero point can be recalibrated using a simple mechanical adjustment. The measuring range can also be programmed, which allows for adaptation to the customer-specific application.

With a large range of process connections and several output signal options (4…20mA, 0…10VDC, 0…5VDC), the ED701 is suitable for a great variety of applications. In order to reduce the surface roughness, the process connections can be electro-polished. For use with aggressive media, the ED701 can be provided with a pressure connection in Hastelloy C. For applications with oxygen, the device is available with a process connection cleaned of oil and grease.

The standard oil filling is FDA-approved white oil suitable for temperatures from -10 °C up to 125 °C and used for pressure measuring in the pharmaceutical and food & beverage industry. Other available options include halocarbon oil and silicon oil, which are suitable for applications with temperatures of up to 300 °C.

Direct on-line measurement of density and concentration

Eliminates the need for expensive laboratory analysis.

Endress+Hauser has introduced the Liquiphant M, a density meter that provides on-line measurements, eliminating the need for extensive and expensive off-line procedures and laboratory measurements. A built-in density calculator can be end user customized with complex tables and mathematical interdependencies, allowing the meter to provide the same kind of density and concentration measurements once possible only with lab instruments.

Because the Liquiphant M provides on-line measurements, it allows control systems to react much faster to changing process conditions. Instead of waiting for results to come back from the lab, a control system can take corrective action immediately by performing closed-loop control.

Calculating Density
The Liquiphant employs a mechanically oscillating fork with two tines that are each excited to resonant frequency. The frequency changes when the fork is immersed in any liquid. If the vibration falls below a predetermined frequency, the sensor reports the covered state to a subsequent switching electronics. The tines are excited by a piezoelectric drive. The resonant frequency depends on the moment of inertia of the fork as well as the membrane stiffness, and the frequency measures approximately 1000-1200Hz in air.

Changes in resonant frequency are directly interrelated with the density of the medium. In a lower medium density, such as liquefied gas, the resulting resonant frequency is higher than in more pronounced densities like water. The electronics of the Liquiphant can measure this change in the resonant frequency. The density of the medium can also be calculated taking temperature and process pressure into consideration.

Concentration can be calculated in mass or volume units. For example, "Degree Brix" is a measuring unit for the specific density of liquids. This is particularly used in the food industry to determine the sugar content in fruit juices and beverages, or in oil production to measure the salt concentration in tanks.

The customer can customize the Liquiphant M for many density and concentration applications including but not limited to:
  • Content measurement and concentration (sulphuric acid, sugar, alcohol, etc.)
  • Quality statements (mineral oil, milk, etc.)
  • Purity indication
  • Product identification
  • As a changing variable indicating the metabolism in relation to kinetic statements (reaction rate)
  • As a basic variable for physical calculations or simulations
  • For clarification of how much material is contained in a given volume.
The Liquiphant M Density meter is capable of providing analytical process information on-line and in-line according to customer requirements. It offers solutions for a variety of applications including process optimization, quality monitoring and reduction of waste. The meter can also be used for monitoring of preliminary, interim and final products during blending operations - and for verification and documentation of process steps. Because it reduces the need for offline laboratory measurements, it also improves plant availability and speeds response to changing conditions.

Weather measurement at London show

Gill Instruments exhibited at Oceanology International 2010 marine science & technology exhibition in London’s Docklands (GB) in March 2010. Featured products on display were the New MetPak II Combined Weather Station as well as the WindSonic Wind Sensor, Extreme Weather WindObserver and WindMaster Pro Ultrasonic Anemometers.

The MetPak II is a compact and lightweight multi-sensor instrument that measures a wide range of weather parameters. Gill ultrasonic technology, as used in the proven WindSonic instrument, measures wind speed and direction. Temperature and humidity are measured using industry standard probes housed in a naturally aspirated radiation shield. Barometric pressure is measured within a vented enclosure. A serial data output is provided to interface to industry standard data loggers.

Manufacturing solar panels

Competitive Advantage Through Complete Visibility and Control Over Solar Panel Manufacturing Process

HelioVolt has implemented the GE Intelligent Platforms Proficy® Software suite in its new thin film solar PV module manufacturing plant. The company, based in Texas (US) chose GE’s software to increase plant yield and throughput, while meeting strict control and traceability requirements. With the solution, they will be able to achieve a rapid return on its investment and gain immediate visibility into its manufacturing processes.

HelioVolt is producing thin film solar PV modules for commercial rooftop, utility-scale ground mount, residential, BIPV and custom installations. It is the first thin-film company combining high-efficiency products with low-cost manufacturing capabilities to create a new generation of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) based solar modules. Thin film technologies reduce the amount (or mass) of light absorbing material required to create a solar cell. This can lead to reduced processing costs from that of bulk materials.

“Our automated and fully integrated manufacturing process, from substrate to final module assembly and test, allows us to reach high manufacturing efficiencies and low costs more rapidly than other competing technologies,” said Iga Hallberg, Vice President of Business Development for HelioVolt. “The Proficy solution can help us to keep plant yield and throughput high, as well as ensure quality. Ultimately, this will lead to better and more cost-effective solar modules for our customers.”

As a new company, HelioVolt needed a solution that is easily replicated to new plants, but also needed the solution to scale data storage for up to 30 years to satisfy warranty requirements. In addition, high volume manufacturing was a must to drive cost down while maintaining quality.

“HelioVolt had some tight project deadlines to meet to satisfy their investors, so only a turnkey solution supported by rapid implementation services would work for them,” said Erik Udstuen, Vice President of Software and Services for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Proficy offers a complete Lean Manufacturing solution that provides the flexibility to add equipment and optimized work processes as HelioVolt scales its business.”

The software system employed at HelioVolt is made up of five core elements of the Proficy suite providing the company with robust redundancy, enhanced data security, reliable information and increased control of every aspect of operations through access to critical data. By delivering web-based visualization and real-time analytics, operators are able to increase efficiency and optimize production processes in real-time resulting in reduced costs and increased profitability.

“GE’s experience in manufacturing as well as the company’s ability to get a complete system up and running in a short time frame were key to working with HelioVolt,” concluded HelioVolt’s Hallberg. “We are looking forward to a bright future in the solar business and we think this software solution will help us get there.”

More information on GE IP's Solar PV OEM Equipment

LVDTs successfully monitor structures in marine environments

Waves of the Irish Coast: Caisleán Nua.Monitoring cracks in structures in coastal environments such as sea-walls, harbours and tunnels calls for transducers that are precise, robust and can withstand the corrosive marine atmosphere.

RDP Electronics Ltd has decades of experience in providing Linear Variable Differential Transducers (LVDTs) that provide accurate measurement of even the smallest movement in cracks, to provide essential diagnostic data that can be used to determine the cause and where necessary prompt appropriate remedial action.

To combat the corrosive atmosphere in marine locations that can be more aggressive than total immersion in seawater due to the combination of saline water and oxygen that accelerates corrosion, it is essential to specify stainless steel transducers. For long-term tests, 316 stainless steel generally recognised as ‘marine grade’ stainless steel is preferred and usually LVDTs are additionally specified as rated up to IP68 and 230 bar.

LVDTs which are unguided types, rather than captive, are mounted on pins drilled either side of the crack. Locations often call for long cable runs from the LVDT’s location to instrumentation, which is achievable due to the 4 – 20mA output of the transducer.

Directors re-elected

At the annual general assembly of CiA (CAN in Automation), three directors have been re-elected: Arnulf Lockmann (Janz), Heinz-Juergen Oertel (Port), and Holger Zeltwanger (pictured right). They lead the non-profit association since 2005.

The CiA members also nominated the Technical Committee and Business Committee delegates (esd, Janz, Port, Schneider, Vector, and Wachendorff).

The CiA international users’ and manufacturers’ group, which supports the international standardized Controller Area Network (CAN) serial communication system (ISO 11898 series) has more than 500 members worldwide.

“The members requested activities to improve the standardization of CANopen device descriptions in order to simplify the selection of products,” says Holger Zeltwanger, the re-elected Managing Director. “This could lead to a data base, in which the system designer may search for specific device functionalities.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New low-cost USB device simplifies temperature measurements

New Device Features NI InstantDAQ Technology that Automatically Loads Built-In Measurement Software

National Instruments has announced the NI USB-TC01, a USB data acquisition (DAQ) device that measures and records temperature data from a thermocouple. The new device combines a quick and easy plug-and-play setup with the high-quality capabilities and features of NI DAQ products. The USB-TC01 thermocouple measurement device features NI InstantDAQ technology, which helps customers to instantly take temperature measurements with no set-up time or driver software installation. Additionally, the USB-TC01 features a standard miniplug connector that helps customers use different thermocouples to meet their specific application needs. Priced at £89 GBP or €99 Euros, the USB-TC01 is ideal for all types of labs and adds convenience to making temperature measurements.

You can see a demonstration of the USB-TC01 by viewing the video “NI USB-TC01 with NI InstantDAQ Technology”.

The new USB-TC01 device offers instant setup for a wide breadth of temperature applications for use in scientific labs; heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) units; cryogenics; industrial ovens and furnaces; engine exhaust and combustion systems; building monitoring; and many other environments. In addition to saving time and resources in system setup, the new device also exhibits the overall accuracy and reliability of more complex measurement systems. With traditional stand-alone data loggers, measurements are made independently of the PC so data can only be viewed offline. The USB-TC01 is always connected to the PC so customers can take live measurements and view results displayed instantly on the PC monitor.

Customers also have the option to expand upon the basic functionality of the USB-TC01 by downloading additional, free ready-to-run applications from their website. For further customisation, customers can build their own applications by combining the USB-TC01 with NI LabVIEW graphical system design software and NI-DAQmx driver software.

Leading brand show in Chinese electronics community

electronica & Productronica China 2010 has achieved new record number of exhibitors, visitors and exhibition space. 380 Chinese and international companies participated in the show. The exhibition space covered 20,000 sq.m, nearly two times that of 2009. 32,125 visitors have attended the show. The number has increased by 14 % compared to last year's event. These figures make clear that electronica & Productronica China is a leading brand show in the Chinese electronics Community.

The shows were held from 16 to 18 March 2010 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Shanghai, China, and presented the whole range of electronic components, ICs, cable processing, and surface mounting equipment. On the exhibitor list were leading international players such as Tyco, NXP, EPCOS, Omron, Panasonic, Phoenix, Weidmuller, Vishay, ERNI, Infineon, Bosch, Microsemi, Komax, Schleuniger, Shinmaywa, JAM, Kodera, and Schaefer. Among the Chinese companies exhibiting at the event were Songchuan, Hongfa, Brightking, Degson, Faratronic, Three-Circle, Yinhua, Junquan Automation, Hebi Haichang, Changchun Zhenyu, and HIPrecise.

These companies together with the participants of the German and Japanese companies' national pavilions brought to the show cutting-edge technologies and latest industry trends.

Atsushi Aihara, Senior Manager of Automation Controls Division, Panasonic Electronic Works (China) appreciated the size of the exhibition scale and the number of exhibitors. He said: "electronica & Productronica China is bigger than similar trade shows in Japan and there are more visitors here". Dr.-Ing. Stephan Zizala, Senior Director of Microcontroller, Industrial and Multimarket, Infineon said: "It's excellent. Our booth is always crowded. As for the quality of visitors, we feel it's a good mix of technical engineers and decision makers. "

Tyco Electronics were actively participating in the Innovation Forum and are very satisfied. Thomas W.M Shen, Director of China Automotive Business, Tyco Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. explains: "Our German experts came all the way here to give speeches in order to have direct exchange with the targeted engineers. electronica & Productronica China provide an excellent platform for us to communicate with the target market."

Conference, Symposium, Forums
Along with the busy fair ground, nine inspiring innovation forums, conferences and symposiums were held during the trade show, featuring expert talks and presentations on a wide array of hot topics and trends such as automotive electronics, power electronics, passive components, cable processing, electronics manufacturing, and LED. Nearly 100 speeches were given attracting 2,598 attendees

At the 2-day International Conference on Advanced Automotive Electronics Technology, experts from FAW, SAIC, DONGFENG, Infineon, Tyco, Bosch, and Continental presented the latest developments in automotive electronics, power train system and safety.

The Symposium on Future Developments and Applications of Power Electronics Technology focused on energy-saving and environmental protection and highlighted topics such as power conversion and renewable energy. Scientists and industry experts from Fudan University, China Power Supply Society, Tongji University, Vishay, and Infineon shared their insights into the low-carbon economy in China.

Two LED-related forums, "the 4th Shanghai LED Lighting Innovation and Application Forum" and the "LED Technology Forum" presented topics such as LED industry policy development and preferential policies and technology applications.

electronica & Productronica China was held in parallel to LASER World of Photonics CHINA SEMICON China and the CPCA show under the umbrella of the Shanghai International IT and Electronics Fair (SIIEF).

electronica & Productronica China 2011 will be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Shanghai, P.R. China, from 15 – 17 March 2011.

56th International Instrumentation Symposium

The International Society of Automation (ISA) is to hold its 56th International Instrumentation Symposium (IIS) on the 10-14 May 2010 in New York (NY US).Registration for the event is open, with online pre-registration extending until 3 May 2010.

The IIS brings together industry experts, scholars, and researchers from across the globe to discuss instrumentation, and the technologies that surround this field, through four days of sessions, meetings, and training. Speakers will present papers on topics such as electronic instrumentation, wireless technology, cybersecurity, aerospace systems, process measurement and control, virtual instrumentation systems, laser and electro-optics instrumentation, geo-science and remote sensing, and more. The event also will feature volunteer-led tutorials, vendor exhibits, and social functions.

A pre-conference ISA training course, Industrial Wireless Systems (IC85C), will be led by Wayne Manges, ISA100 committee co-chair. Attendees of this course can earn Continuing Education Units, while attendees of the symposium sessions can earn Professional Development Hours.

The IIS is ISA’s longest-running symposium and is sponsored by three of ISA’s technical Divisions: Aerospace Industries, Test Measurement, and Process Measurement and Control.

Symposium sponsorships are available and those interested should contact Carol Schafer.

Load cells for tension control

Sherborne Sensors has introduced the SS6000 series, a range of fully customizable shear strain gauge load cells, designed to directly integrate with new or existing roll bearing systems, for high-precision force measurements within demanding web tension applications.

The design of the SS6000 series incorporates precision transducer quality bonded strain gauges as its primary transduction element, to ensure high-reliability under demanding conditions, as well as to facilitate easy integration with closed loop tension control systems. The transducers are fully compensated for the effects of temperature on zero output and sensitivity, with minimal deflection and high resonant frequency, ensuring rapid response to tension changes. Sensors are machined from stainless steel, for high resistance to shock, overload and corrosion, and are offered in ranges from ±2,000 to ±5,000 kg (4,400 to 11,000 lbf), with 2 mV/V output. The cylindrical end shape of the SS6000 series allows bearings to be mounted direct to the load cell.

With extensive in-house applications engineering and manufacturing expertise, Sherborne Sensors can also design and manufacture custom load cells to meet specific application and conformance requirements, including enhanced measurement capabilities, wider temperature ranges, and specialty connectors.

The SS6000 series is ideal for precision web tension control measurements, including slitting, coating, laminating and embossing processes, as well as winding machinery control applications. All SS6000 series load cells are 100% tested and calibrated at the factory prior to shipment, and are accompanied by a two-year comprehensive warranty. The product is also included under the new Sherborne Sensors Guaranteed On-Time Delivery program.

Refinery margins improved by up to 25 cents per barrell!

Invensys Operations Management has released its Refinery-wide Performance Optimisation Solution. The company has leveraged and integrated multiple technologies from its solutions portfolio to deliver different aspects of real-time business operations management to the refining industry. From simple control loop performance management and rigorous unit optimisation to LP vector updating for multi-unit planning optimisation, customers will be able to optimise all of their refining assets and reap cost savings and margin improvements of up to 25 cents per barrel.

"Based on the collective feedback from the more than 50 customers who are already using the solution, as well as our own industry expertise, we believe the Refinery-wide Performance Optimization Solution is the most comprehensive refinery performance enabler in the marketplace, capable of delivering millions of dollars in savings each year," said Don Clark, vice president, industry solutions, Invensys Operations Management. "It enables companies to quantify and understand the financial impact of their business decisions in real time and ensures that their technology does not fall into disrepair as they pursue operations excellence related to safety, the environment and asset management. With a sustainable, tuned optimiser, our customers are also able to ensure optimal refinery planning by automatically downloading updated planning model LP vectors that can further drive the profitability of their refining operations."

The solution leverages Invensys Operations Management's SimSci-Esscor(r) ROMeo® optimizer and Wonderware® Intelligence enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) applications. The backbone of their On-line Performance Suite, ROMeo software is the industry's leading unified modeling environment for off-line and on-line optimisation and is being used to optimise operations in refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants worldwide. The Wonderware Intelligence EMI application acquires critical process and optimal performance data from the ROMeo optimiser and models and aggregates it with data acquired from other operational data sources, including laboratory information management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, manufacturing execution systems and refinery process historians, to provide deeper insight and tracking of refinery performance. The Wonderware Intelligence software can calculate and make readily available unique and extremely valuable key performance indicators to all plant personnel, allowing operators and executives to measure the real-time financial impact of the optimiser through flexible web-based dashboards.

With clear, measurable and visible benefits that can total millions of dollars per year, refining companies that utilise the solution can make better decisions about how to deliver long-term, sustainable benefits. Additional attributes of the Refinery-wide Performance Optimization Solution include:
  • A scalable software platform that allows incremental, scalable deployment, all within a common architecture that helps ensure rapid ROI and the ability to grow as the benefits grow;
  • The ability to layer the Wonderware Intelligence EMI solution on top of existing SimSci-Esscor ROMeo optimizer installations;
  • Refinery-wide modeling to identify the most profitable processing of different crude oil feedstocks, which can help ensure the highest value product pools;
  • Closed-loop optimisation of individual units and naphtha pools, as well as the refinery's utilities and hydrogen systems;
  • Refinery-wide mass balance data reconciliation to identify faulty meters and optimal yield accounting;
  • World-class refinery solutions talent from Invensys that have a proven track record of enabling success.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Test software combines electrical & mechanical analysis

During APEX 2010 Las Vegas ( NV US; 6-9 April 2010), ASTER Technologies, are to introduce the first Design for Test (DfT) software to combine electrical and mechanical analysis.

It has been developed to address a new vision of the DfT market that has to solve the many challenges that developers face today, such as: shrinking release cycles, budget compression and improvement in product quality.

TestWay, the world-wide reference coverage analysis tool that allows users to quantify and qualify the test coverage for a wide range of inspection and test equipment, has been enhanced to address the problem for companies that subcontract the manufacture and test of their products, but need to know how to optimize the physical test access in order to achieve maximum test coverage.

The “probe analyzer” is an interactive, rules-based routine specifically designed to assist the Layout engineer or Test developer to identify any possible probe location based on the copper surface, which is useable for a physical access. Access constraints, spacing checks, test points assignment, use of the largest probe size, pin offset and Agilent’s bead probes are taken into account in accordance with company specific guidelines

Once the potential probe placement has been identified, TestWay can estimate the test coverage for ICT and FPT based on the measurement capabilities of the targeted test equipment. The “probe analyzer” also generates a comprehensive accessibility report that clearly states whether adequate probe locations were identified for each net, highlighting mechanical rules violation, so that this information can be fed back to design to support improvements. By reading the access report interactively with the layout viewer, colour coding is used to assist the design and test engineer to graphically browse the non-testable nets in the design.

TestWay provides a sophisticated level of coverage analysis by allowing users to define the test line and combine ICT or FPT with complementary test techniques such as AOI, AXI, BST, FPT, ICT, MDA and Functional Test. It estimates the theoretical coverage aligned to various test strategies, prior to test development, in order to identify areas where test coverage can be improved, so that electrical rules could be applied to identify DFT violations that limit the test efficiency.

The ability to estimate coverage that is aligned to the mechanical layout constraints of the PCB, allows users complete visibility of what can realistically be achieved, so that the effectiveness of the completed test programs can be realized.

Christophe Lotz, Managing Director of ASTER Technologies, said, “Within the new electronic world where the people who design is no longer the same as the people who produce, the market expects a new generation of tool that is useable by both groups. Now, design & test engineers can identify in a matter of minutes, a missing test point, and understand the consequences in terms of test coverage”.

ASTER proposes a wide range of products that support electrical DfT and test coverage analysis. This allows users to select a configuration, which meets their immediate requirements. TestWay is a scalable product from TestWay Express for coverage estimation and measurement, up to TestWay-Classic that provides additional features such as a fully programmable environment capable of supporting customer’s rules checking, test optimization criteria, advanced reporting and Boundary-Scan test generation.

Digital automation system hardware wins award.

iF International Forum Design, based in Hanover, (D), has recognised Emerson’s DeltaV™ digital automation system S-series hardware for outstanding product design. The iF product design award has served as an internationally recognised trademark for outstanding design for 56 years. The award was presented in Hanover, as part of CeBIT, the world's largest digital IT and telecommunications solutions trade fair.

The evaluation criteria for the iF product design award includes design quality, workmanship, choice of materials, degree of innovation, environmental friendliness, functionality, ergonomics, visualisation of use, safety, brand value, branding and universal design.

“We evaluated how automation engineers interacted with automation system hardware across many industries and global locations and found many ways current practices could be significantly improved,” said Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer at Emerson. “We worked with M3 Design to tap their considerable experience and expertise in human-focused product development to overcome the issues with the current generation of automation hardware. Together we have significantly improved our DeltaV hardware design to eliminate steps and reduce project complexity, and make it easier to install, use, and maintain.”

“We worked with the Emerson team to take a human centred design approach, focused on usability,”
said Paul Noble-Campbell, Director of Industrial Design at Austin, Texas-based M3 Design. “It is great to see our contribution to the S-series recognised as being truly innovative by the iF International Forum Design group.” The M3 Design effort included packaging for the new CHARMS (Characterisation Modules) that make up the electronic marshalling technology in the new S-series hardware, the CHARM I/O card, and the I/O card carrier. The innovative packaging included a design to efficiently remove heat from the electronics and at the same time exclude unwanted items such as termination screws.

The text of the award reads, “Several innovative features create dramatic savings to installation costs, such as characterisation modules that reduce cable complexity by a factor of several times. These systems ensure the safe and efficient operation of production processes; creating large savings in the consumption of energy and other precious resources. All touch points and status indicators were designed to ensure that the products are intuitive and easy to service. The new design language showcases the functional improvements in communicating the attributes of reliability, simplicity and ease of use; and positions Emerson as a market leader.”

See also our article CHARMS gets THUMS up in Rijswijk on the introduction of this product in Europe!

Longer warrenty and higher temp for encoders

Reflecting the total confidence in the quality of its wide range of WDG encoders and systems, German manufacturer Wachendorff Automation GmbH has extended its warranty from 3 to 5 years as well as increase the working temperature range of all WDG encoders to those used for military specifications.

They saw the warranty expansion as a logical extension to the positive feedback and extremely favourable returns statistics from many satisfied users.

WDG products include incremental and absolute encoders, guided belt measuring systems and draw wire type linear measurement encoders. In particular, WDG series encoders cover incremental shaft and hollow shaft encoders from 24mm to 145mm in diameter with standard quadrature resolution up to 25000 pulses per rev. WDG series absolute encoders include single- and multi-turn variants with up to 18-bit resolution and output options of SSI, CANopen and Profibus-DP in both optical and highly robust magnetic designs. A wide and flexible choice of mounting styles include synchro-flange, clamp ring and screw-flange mechanical interfacing.

The decision to increase the standard temperature rating places the rugged and durable standard WDG encoder product line in operating temperatures from -40°C to +80°C with storage up to +100°C.

All Wachendorff WDG encoder products and systems are characterised by high reliability and resistance to vibration with IP68 rated housings available for the toughest of environments. Application areas for the product includes cranes, lifts, road marking machinery, agricultural and construction vehicles.

Wachendorff is represented exclusively in Britain by Variohm EuroSensor, which provides complete sales and technical support across the full range of products with stock delivery available on many standard products and the ability to coordinate special custom encoder requirements with Wachendorff.

New product guide

CAN in Automation (CiA) has published the CANopen Product Guide 2010 on the Internet and on CD-ROM.

A total of 287 CANopen-specific entries are listed and provide a comprehensive overview of CANopen products. Devices are listed by the application-specific employability and by their functionality (e.g. controller and display, sensor and actuator, gateway). The product entries, which also include CANopen software, literature and services, can be looked up by their product name or by their manufacturer's name. As a special service they are additionally listed by their conformance to the CiA device and application profiles.

Extensive information on worldwide sales and technical company contacts are included in a company-specific section. Ample information on CANopen, the standardized embedded network, and on the CiA device and application profiles is provided as well. In addition, the CANopen Product Guide will be distributed on CD-ROM at the international CiA training events as well as on national and international fairs and exhibitions. The CANopen Product Guide 2010 on CD-ROM is also available free of charge from CIA Headquarters.

High dynamic range cameras based on solar cell technology

The image shows a 40W light bulb, imaged on the left with a conventional CCD sensor and on the right with the FX4 HDR sensor.

A new range of cameras from Stemmer Imaging use a sensor based on solar cell technology to allow imaging from scenes which simultaneously contain both very light and very dark areas. This makes them ideally suited to use in environments with a very high dynamic range, or where there are strong and unpredictable brightness fluctuations. The new FX4 HDR (High Dynamic Range) sensor from IDS produces a logarithmic signal output. This enables fine differences in brightness to be imaged even in very bright scenes, without saturation, in a similar way to the human eye. Most of the USB and all of the GigE versions (HE, RE and SE) of the IDS uEye family of industrial cameras feature an FX4 HDR sensor version.

The FX4 HDR sensor features a patented pixel structure that provides a truly logarithmic output with effective suppression of fixed noise and gives a dynamic range of 120 db. This equates to a 1000 times greater brightness ratio (ratio of the highest brightness value to the lowest brightness value that can be imaged in a scene) compared to conventional linear CCD sensors, which typically have a dynamic range of 60 db.

The logarithmic response not only means that large changes in brightness in light areas of a scene cause only small changes in image brightness, but also prevents saturation in the image and ‘blooming’. Conventional linear CCD sensors can become saturated, then additional light leads to overexposure, which causes blooming, where charge from overexposed pixels ‘overflows’ into neighbouring pixels, causing whole areas of an image to appear white with the loss of image data.

High dynamic range applications include automotive/traffic, welding, paints/glossy finishes and payment kiosks. In traffic applications the sensor may need to identify detail in the dark interior of a vehicle while the headlights are on. In welding, details of a weld seam or the object being welded can be imaged even in the presence of the bright weld arc. Reflections and glossy spots on reflecting surfaces such as paints require increased dynamic range sensors. Payment kiosks for petrol stations or ATM withdrawals are frequently poorly illuminated and therefore require high dynamic range sensors to adequately image people using the machines. Applications involving very strong fluctuations in brightness are often related to security and monitoring, such as monitoring on a sunny day with fast-moving cloud cover.

The sensor provides a full 12-bit colour depth output to take full advantage of its reduced noise characteristics. This allows contrast to be adjusted to enhance the visual display of images in applications where the dynamic range of the scene is less than that of the sensor. For added versatility, the sensor can be set to give a linear output similar to conventional sensors for conventional imaging. The FX4 sensor does not use integration methods and so operates completely in real time at 30 frames/sec.

"Stellar results!"

QUMAS showed ongoing growth and profitability last year. QUMAS signed up 24 new customers for their compliance solutions including Tufts University, Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation, Siena Biotech, and several Fortune 100 companies in the Automotive, Banking, Energy, Insurance, and Technology sectors.
Kevin O'LearyKen Hayward

“It is always worth celebrating when a company grows as strongly as QUMAS did in 2009. Not only because of the number of new clients, but also because our core software sales grew by more than 20%. And all of this at a time when markets were severely under pressure,”
said Kevin O’Leary, CEO. “Our profitability picture is a credit to an outstanding team who continue to focus on delivering great products to our rapidly growing client base. We are looking forward to a strong 2010 where we anticipate strong new client adoption across a broad range of markets.”

The company continued to invest heavily in R&D in 2009. New products launched last year included MyQUMAS 3.1, QUMAS DocCompliance 4.2, QUMAS ComplianceUnity and the QUMAS Biotechnology Package, a complete, web-based eDMS solution for biotechnology companies preparing for regulatory submissions that is delivered pre-configured and ready to use.

“Last year we focused on making our products easier to use and provided customers with the capability to configure dashboards on compliance activities across business units,”
stated Ken Hayward, Chief Technology Officer of QUMAS. “In 2010 we will be focusing on extending our line of packaged solutions to help firms get up and running quickly with best-of-breed compliance solutions.”

Licensing agreement for refinery process models

Invensys Operations Management has entered into an agreement with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) that allows Invensys to sub-license a suite of EMRE's refinery process models to third parties. The suite of models will be delivered through Invensys Operations Management's market-leading SimSci-Esscor® optimisation software, using its ROMeo® solution to enable clients to model and optimise process units.

"With depressed demand, decreased margins and increased environmental mandates, refiners no longer have the option to simply operate at maximum throughput," said Sudipta Bhattacharya, president and chief executive of Invensys Operations Management (right). "Over the course of the coming decade, we will see a drastic shift in the oil industry as refiners constantly optimise their operations in the face of changing feedstock and energy costs, product specs and margins. Refiners will increasingly rely on accurate modeling technologies to construct a refinery-wide picture and assess the financial impact of different operating scenarios. Our SimSci-Esscor optimisation software and ROMeo solution, combined with EMRE process models, enables refiners to make improved economic decisions throughout the refinery, from crude feed to final product blending."

While traditional modelling solutions can only simulate individual process units or provide point solutions to solve a specific problem, Invensys Operations Management's SimSci-Esscor solution provides a scalable software environment that enables companies to optimise refinery-wide performance, as well as other aspects of refinery profitability, such as utilities and instrument/equipment health monitoring. Additional benefits are derived from leveraging the data generated by rigorous models to enhance planning and scheduling decisions, leading to increased refinery margins.
"These modeling improvements allow refiners to better optimise their operations," said Charles Darnell, global manager for optimisation at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. "We use ROMeo technology in our plants for multiple applications and continue to work with Invensys to develop improvements in this technology."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Problems of Transport Delay Systems in Control Applications

A one half-day workshop/meeting will be held on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at the University of Strathclyde sponsored by the IEEE UK & Republic of Ireland (UKRI) Section: Industry Applications Society (IAS) Chapter and jointly organised by the Universities of Strathclyde and Stirling and the Applied Control Technology Consortium (ACTC) on the problems that transport delays cause in a range of applications and particularly those in the process industries.

The meeting will begin with a buffet lunch so that introductions can be effected which will be followed by an overview provided by the past president of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and Chairman of the IFAC World Congress, Professor Pedro Albertos. There will then be a number of contributions from both academia and industry with a focus on practical methods of coping with transport delays in applications ranging from the petrochemicals industry to metal processing.

The meeting will conclude with a short Panel Discussion (Chaired by Professor Pedro Albertos) on the way forward in this challenging area.

1200 hrs Registration and Buffet Lunch.

1300 hrs Welcome & Introduction by Workshop co-Chairs:
Professor Mike Grimble & Dr Amir Hussain

1315 hrs KEYNOTE: An Overview of the Problems of Transport Delays in Industrial Processes and Compensation Methods
Professor Pedro Albertos, Polytechnic University of Valencia

1400 hrs Transport Delay Compensation for Linear and Nonlinear Stochastic Systems with Application to Offshore Wind Farms
Professor Mike Grimble, University of Strathclyde

1430 hrs Tea/Coffee

1445 hrs Practical Applications of Transport Delay Compensation Methods
Dr Andrew Clegg, ISC Ltd., Glasgow

1515 hrs A Classical Approach at Transport Delay Compensation and Applications
Dr Gerald Hearns, Converteam, Rugby

1545 hrs The Effects of Transport Delays in Networks
Dr M Reza Katebi, University of Strathclyde

1615 hrs Using Neural Networks to Compensate for Transport Delays with Varying
Dr Amir Hussain, IEEE UKRI IAS Chapter Chair, University of Stirling

1645 hrs Panel Discussion (Chaired by Professor Pedro Albertos)

1715 hrs Closing Remarks Professor Mike Grimble

Venue: University of Strathclyde, Room 2.15 (Montrose Room)
Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Royal College Building
204 George Street, Glasgow G1 1X
Seminar contact details: Email:; Tel: 0141-548 2378
Directions (Map)

Device profile for pumps

CANopen device profile for pumps (CiA 450) released

The Task Force (TF) pumps of the CAN in Automation (CiA) international users’ and manufacturers’ group has published the version 1.0 of the CANopen device profile for pumps (CiA 450). The profile specifies the CANopen interfaces for generic and liquid pumps. On request, the CANopen interfaces for process vacuum and turbo vacuum pumps will be specified, too. The specification is based on the bus-independent profile for pumps developed by VDMA (German association of machine builders).

The profile defines the pump configuration data, control and status information as well as the values measured by the pump electronics. Operation behavior of the pumps is controlled via the defined state machines. Via Emergency messages failures, warnings or alarms are indicated to the user. Also multiple pumps may be operated via the same CANopen interface. The profile is currently available for CiA members.

Meat analyser at IFFA

NDC Infrared Engineering will be showing the simple-to-use InfraLab at-line NIR Meat Analyzer at IFFA (8/13 may 2010 Frankfurt/Main D). At-line measurement using NDC’s proven NIR (Near Infrared) technology, provides a rapid and accurate measurement of moisture, fat or protein in meat, without the need to send samples off for time-consuming laboratory analysis.

The InfraLab can be calibrated to standard laboratory methods such as Gravimetric Oven or Karl Fischer for moisture, Soxhlet (for crude fat), Werner-Schmidt or Weibull Stoldt (for total fat), NMR (for fat) and Kjeldahl for protein. This ensures laboratory accuracy without the costs or the need to use the often-hazardous chemicals associated with laboratory methods. In addition the grab samples used by the InfraLab are much larger than those used by many laboratory techniques making them much more representative of the actual manufacturing process.

Easy to use, and with automated sample detection, the InfraLab requires no special user skills. Measurement data can be stored in the instrument and/or downloaded to a PC at any time for in-depth analysis by tracking measurement values product by product over long time periods.

New software for switchgear

Rittal’s new Power Engineering software tool

Power Engineering v4.1, is Rittal’s new version of planning and configuration software for type-tested low-voltage switchgear of their Ri4Power systems, Form 1, Form 2-4 and Ri4Power Form 1 ISV. The software offers quick and easy generation of quotations and bill of materials with better assembly information and the capability to view the side of the assembly, where part numbers and their location within the system are indicated.

Software includes project handling that ranges from an automatic generation of bill of materials via price determination up to material ordering. By means of comprehensive import and export functions it is possible to add third party products, required for distribution, to the software database. Special enclosure designs can be optionally stored in the software as own field types.

Comprehensive help functions lead the user through the programme and explain the necessary steps. When entering some parameters, bill of orders and drawings can be generated for individual field types. The user is able to add further Rittal products or other articles from a self-created article master at any time during field configuration.

After configuration of the individual fields a CAD view can automatically be displayed, printed or exported if required. The generated bills of materials, whose content can be freely generated, can optionally be printed or exported as a file.

Included in the bill of materials are new technical brochures; Tightening Torques for flat-PLS bus bar system and Assembly Instructions for Ri4Power low voltage switchgear.

White paper on “Tuning the Forgotten Loop” published

We can tune PID controllers, but what about tuning operators? This white paper describes a new method for combining archived video, recordings of operator actions and process historians for training and tuning operators.

An operator’s job has often been described as hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer panic. What the operator does during panic situations often depends on how well he or she has been trained, or “tuned.” Advanced tuning of an operator can yield better outputs, higher quality, fewer errors and a wider response to fluctuating operating conditions. This white paper explores how to improve operator actions, and offers a method for doing so.

As part of cost reduction and increased automation, fewer humans are involved with operating larger and larger plants. Thus, those few operators who are left have huge responsibilities, and their actions can have a major effect on plant output and, ultimately, business performance. “Tuning the Forgotten Loop,” by Steve Rubin, president of Longwatch, covers the problems facing operators, including alarm floods, trying to diagnose problems in the plant from HMI displays, lack of attention, boredom, being faced with abnormal situations, and human error.

With the increased emphasis on Six Sigma quality issues, new technologies such as the Smart Grid, increasingly complex HMI screens, and insurance and regulatory issues, operators are under increased pressure to perform. But few tools are available to train and “tune” operators. Simulators help, but nothing beats giving operators visual feedback of their responses to alarms, incidents and accidents.

This white paper suggests that video recordings from the plant, video recordings of operator consoles, and data from plant historians can be combined to provide operators with an “instant replay” of their actions, or the actions of experienced operators faced with the same situation. Being able to reconstruct exactly what happened during an incident aids in troubleshooting, training and “operator tuning.

Download the white paper in pdf format here or view it on-line here.
We highlighted the Longwatch Control Console in Read-out September/October 2009.