Friday, May 14, 2010

Pressure transducers

Transducers meet ultra high pressure measurement needs

Ultra high pressure measurements at elevated temperature found for example in autoclaves or for burst pressure measurement, require particularly robust transducers that can be provided by RDP Electronics Ltd.

Although pressure transducers from the standard RDP range can routinely handle 50,000 to 60,000 psi when it comes to applications of the order of 100,000 psi then RDP Electronics can meet that need too. Offering very high accuracy and high resolution, with versions for gauge or absolute pressure for fluids or gas, these pressure transducers are typically of stainless steel construction with 4~20mA output.

Mating, unmating and endurance force testing of rectangular electrical connectors

Mating, unmating and endurance force testing of rectangular, wired electrical connectors can be automated using an LFPlus single column universal materials tester from Lloyd Instruments. The test procedure, which has been reported by Hemetek Techno Instruments, Lloyd Instruments’ distributor in India, is in full compliance with the European Space Agency ESA/SCC Generic Specification No. 3401 for rectangular and circular non-filtered electrical connectors.

Tests are carried out on the LFPlus machine equipped with a special test jig to hold the connectors. Mating and unmating forces are measured during a cycle of 4 matings and disconnections. The force is applied gradually and distributed equally about the connector. The mating and unmating force measurements are recorded on the first and last cycles.

For the endurance tests, the wired connector sets are subjected to between 100 and 500 complete mating and unmating cycles, with the forces applied by the LFPlus simulating a coupling and decoupling that would occur in actual service. The mating/unmating speed must not exceed 5 mm/second with a maximum cycle rate of 8 cycles/minute. The male and female connectors are completely separated during each cycle. The connectors are visually examined at the end of the test and should show no evidence of physical damage except for contact wear.

The versatile LFPlus can test for tensile strength, compression, flexural strength, coefficient of friction, tear strength, peel strength, adhesion, shear strength, ductility and many other parameters to determine the mechanical properties and performance of materials and finished components. It can be supplied with NEXYGENPlus control and analysis software featuring an extensive library of pre-defined test set-ups based on international standards as well as the capability to set up routine tests or create an advanced multi-stage test.

Networks in cranes

CANopen in cranes and other lifting equipment

CANopen is one of the most used standardized networks in cranes and other lifting equipment including aerial working platforms. The nonprofit CAN in Automation (CiA) users' and manufacturers' group develops and maintains the CANopen specifications. In order to simplify system integration, CiA is going to develop dedicated CANopen profiles and recommended practices for cranes and lifting devices. Already available are profiles for the communication between container handling devices and spreaders (CiA 444 series). Under development is an interface recommended practice for truck-mounted cranes (CiA 850) standardizing the interface between truck and crane.

The next profile developments will standardize interfaces for aerial working platform applications (CiA 851). This includes device profiles for overload protection and operator (seat) sub-systems as well as recommended practices for already existing profiles (remote I/O panels, hydraulic components, etc.). CiA calls for experts to participate in this standardization activity. In particular, machine builders are needed. They should influence the standardization, so that the CANopen profiles to be developed meet their system requirements.

Improved electric grid in Chile

AES Energy Storage has commissioned a 12MW frequency regulation and spinning reserve project at AES’ Los Andes substation in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Combining an inverter and control system provided by the SSD Drives Division of Parker Hannifin with a lithium ion battery system from A123 Systems, the project will improve the reliability of the electric grid in Northern Chile.

System operators need effective frequency regulation and spinning reserve to help them manage fluctuations in demand for power. One of the biggest challenges in electric grid management is that the amount of power generated and the amount consumed must be in exact balance at all times. When imbalances occur, the frequency of electricity (50/60Hz) required by users is not maintained, resulting in grid instability. Effective frequency regulation keeps the grid in balance.

Alongside frequency regulation, the spinning reserve is the extra generating capacity available immediately to meet peaks in demand or to cope with disruptions in supply such as when a generator goes down.

The newly commissioned Los Andes substation combines Parker SSD inverter drives in the power conversion section with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, all housed in climate controlled containers. Alternating containers of batteries and inverters make up the total 12MW system, with each inverter container housing 2MW of capacity. The system represents the largest of several projects that have used Parker Hannifin power conversion equipment in utility scale installations.

The technology delivers frequency regulation in a less expensive, more responsive and more accurate method than either the traditional alternatives of pumped hydro and compressed air, or the emerging flywheel energy storage technology which is being trialed for electricity grid applications. The solid state system installed at Los Andes offers the advantages of high efficiency, high speed of response and minimal maintenance. In addition, because the project frees up spinning reserve and replaces unpaid reserve from the power plant, AES can receive payment for its full output capacity by selling directly to the national grid.

The project was officially put into commercial operation on 16 November 2009, with a ribbon cutting ceremony that included Marcelo Tokman, Chilean Minister of Energy. And further upgrades are planned for other substations: a 20MW power station upgrade in 2010 will free up 5-10% spinning reserve to be sold to the national grid, while a 100MW upgrade within the next three years will free up a further 5-10% spinning reserve to be sold to the grid and provide connection of regional grid power systems in Northern, Central and Southern Chile.

This is Parker’s first project with AES Energy Storage outside the U.S. and is also the first lithium-ion battery system to be deployed to the electric grid in Chile. In 2008 a Parker SSD system was used on a 1 MW Ancillary Services unit in the Northeast. Earlier this year a system was provided for a 2 MW Hybrid-APU at one of AES’ Southern California power plants to help meet reserve requirements.

Reed relay matrix card

New reed relay matrix card combines ultra-high density and superior configuration flexibility

Keithley Instruments has introduced the Model 3732 Quad 4x28 Ultra-High Density Reed Relay Matrix Card. The card, which offers 448 single-pole matrix crosspoints, was designed for automated switch and measure applications that require multiple instrument connections as well as high crosspoint density and high speed. It is an ideal solution for use in a wide range of high pin count research and development and production tests applications, such as low-level contact resistance testing of high-speed memory interface boards or next generation IC sockets.

Flexible, Highly Configurable Matrix
Matrix switching configurations offer system designers wide testing flexibility by allowing them to connect multiple inputs to multiple outputs; matrices are particularly useful for applications in which the system must make connections between several instruments and a multipin device. The Model 3732 has four banks of high-speed reed relays; each bank has four rows and 28 columns (4x28), providing a total of 448 single-pole crosspoints. These relays can be configured in a number of different ways, enabling the matrix size to be easily adapted to existing or future applications. For example, bank-configuration relays included on the card allow configuring the matrix banks automatically as a single 4x112 matrix or as two isolated 4x56 matrices, with no need for external wiring. The card also has analog backplane relays that allow expanding columns across cards automatically, up to a maximum of 4 rows by 672 columns in a single mainframe using six Model 3732 matrix cards. The Model 3732 also supports two-pole switching by automatically pairing relays to create either a dual 4x28 or a single 4x56 configuration.

The card uses dry reed relays that offer both low contact potential and low current offset to minimize the switching errors that often accompany this relay technology. Additionally, these relays will switch up to 200V at carry currents up to 1.2A, specifications not available in other high-density, card-based matrix solutions. The fast-switching, long-life reed relays have a switching speed of 0.6 milliseconds and are rated for more than 109 no-load operations, both necessary specifications for switching systems used in automated testing applications.

This model uses two 78-pin male D-sub connectors for signal and configuration connections. Accessories available include matching D-sub cables and screw terminal blocks. Three- and five-year extended warranties are also available.

Series 3700 System Switch/Multimeter Family
The Model 3732 is the latest addition to the Series 3700 System Switch/Multimeter and Plug-in Card Family . These combination instruments offer users the accuracy and flexibility of instrument-grade switching integrated with low-noise, high performance multimeter measurements. With up to 7-1/2-digit resolution, these one-box solutions are well-suited to a wide range of research and product development applications.

Series 3700 instruments include a variety of capabilities optimized for multi-channel testing, including multiple remote interfaces (LXI Class B, GPIB, and USB) and a wide assortment of cards. For Ethernet users, an embedded graphing toolkit provided through the instrument’s onboard web page allows for easy, point-and-click system configuration, test sequencing, and data analysis. Keithley's embedded Test Script Processor (TSP®) technology offers unparalleled system automation, throughput, and flexibility by bringing PC-like functionality into the instrument. TSP‑Link, a high-speed communication bus that simplifies expanding systems to keep pace with changing test demands, also provides for seamless integration with Series 2600A System SourceMeter® instruments, for adding high-speed I-V source and measurement capabilities.


The Model 3732 Quad 4x28 Ultra-High Density Reed Relay Matrix Card will be available two to four weeks after receipt of order.

Ultra-low range precision linear servo accelerometers

Sherborne Sensors has announced the global market debut of the A323 ‘L’ series, a range of highly rugged, ultra-low range gravity referenced linear servo accelerometers with 4-20mA (closed loop) output, designed for use within low acceleration analysis, structural health monitoring, flight test, and civil engineering applications.

The highly robust A323 ‘L’ series offers high-precision measurements over a range of ±0.1 g to ±2.0 g, with frequency response down to DC. The gravity referenced, closed loop sensors are designed to reliably monitor acceleration down to 20 micro g, yet rugged enough to withstand up to 1500 g of mechanical shock. Sensors are housed in a rugged, anodized light alloy case with IP65 environmental sealing, and can be specified with 6-pin Bayonet lock or solder pin connector. An optional 1g bias is also available. Units are fully self-contained and able to be connected to a DC power source and readout or control device to form a complete measurement system. Recommended accessories for the A323 ‘L’ series are an optional mating connector and indicator read-out, both available from Sherborne Sensors.

All Sherborne Sensors A323 ‘L’ series gravity referenced linear servo accelerometers are designed and manufactured at our AS9100B certified manufacturing facility, are 100% factory tested and calibrated prior to shipment and are accompanied by a two-year comprehensive product warranty. The A323 ‘L’ series is also included under the new Sherborne Sensors Guaranteed On-Time Delivery program.

Flexible, high bandwidth gigabit Ethernet switch supports failsafe operation

A managed Layer 2/3+ switch supporting IPv6 switching and routing, NETernity™ CP921RC-30x delivers increased network uptime

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the NETernity™ CP921RC-30x 6U CompactPCI® 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch. Designed for challenging applications in telecommunications, industrial and military systems, it is a fully managed Layer 2/3+ switch with support for ‘future-proof’ IPv6 switching and routing.

Important new functionality is included in the form of Failover Groups (FOG), a feature that is part of their OpenWare™ switch management environment. Responding to the need for very high availability networks, FOG is designed to support redundancy at different levels – redundant links across backplanes from nodes to switches, redundant switches, and redundant links to external networks. This provides fast, application-independent, failover capabilities, suitable for a wide range of network configurations, from the simple to the very complex. This unique combination of innovative hardware and software technologies delivers leading edge functionality, flexibility and availability.

“As network traffic and dependency on the network increases, there is also an increased need for Ethernet switches that are high performance, high bandwidth and that offer the functionality necessary to deliver outstanding network uptime,” said Richard Spiesman, Product Manager at GE Intelligent Platforms. “This new addition to our extensive NETernity family of switches rises to the challenge and provides a sustainable competitive advantage for customers.”

The CP921RC-30x is optionally available with two front panel 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports capable of supporting SFP+ and SFP transceivers (which can be copper or fiber) respectively for greater configuration flexibility. These ports are invaluable for very high external bandwidth traffic aggregation environments.

The OpenWare software environment, designed specifically for the NETernity range of switches, provides a substantially improved user experience for application development and support. Additional functionality or customization can be simply incorporated within OpenWare according to customer requirements. The OpenWare switch management environment provides a full and robust set of configuration and management functions including VLANs, Quality of Service, Link Aggregation, SNMP, MSTP, Multicast and so on: these can be implemented via a serial console, Telnet or the Web.

PICMG 2.16- and RoHS compliant, the CP921RC-30x Ethernet switch supports high-availability hot swap as well as IPMI v1.5 to further improve availability, maintainability and manageability. As well as supporting Layer-2/3+ switching, it can support Layer 4-7 switching when required. A variety of rear transition boards is available to provide rear I/O configuration flexibility beyond the flexibility delivered by the CP921RC’s optional front panel ports. The CP921RC-30x is also available in an extended temperature variant for demanding industrial applications.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scottish approval in measurement processes

First Scottish Qualifications Authority Centre for assessing metering technicians

METCO Services of Abredeen (Scotland), part of Emerson Process Management, has gained approval by the Scottish Qualifications Authority to deliver the Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Measurement Processes (Maintenance), which is an internationally recognised qualification. METCO is believed to be the only measurement company in the world currently able to deliver a qualification assessment of this type for measurement technicians.

They are the largest world-wide specialist provider of independent, third party liquid and gas flow measurement/metering related services. This approval allows them to assess and put forward specialist metering technicians for a Level 3 SVQ in Measurement Processes (Maintenance) in both liquid and/or gas flow measurement. In addition METCO Services is now recognised as an approved Scottish Qualifications Authority Centre. This allows it to both assess candidates and verify that its own assessors apply standards consistently.

Gerry Inglis, METCO Operations Director, says “Being approved as a Scottish Qualifications Authority Centre is an important development for METCO. Achieving this acknowledges and demonstrates the continuing competence of METCO specialist metering technicians in the work they do for our clients worldwide”.

SVQs require all assessments to take place in the field. METCO currently has four qualified SVQ assessors and two SVQ internal verifiers and can assess candidates from both Britain and overseas. METCO offer assessments to Emerson employees, clients and other measurement companies. Over 50 candidates have already registered onto the programme including technicians from Britain, Trinidad and Algeria.

Acquisition increases global footprint

Complementary Technology Strengthens Honeywell’s Portfolio to Improve Industrial Plant Performance

Honeywell has announced it has signed an agreement valued at approximately $142 million USD (approximately $145 million CAD) to acquire Matrikon Inc., a company specializing in software that helps industrial manufacturers operate their plants safely, reliably and efficiently. The acquisition will strengthen Honeywell’s position in the high-growth oil and gas and power value chains and increase its global footprint in key regions. The transaction is subject to approval by Matrikon’s shareowners.

Matrikon will be integrated into Honeywell Process Solutions, which is part of Honeywell’s Automation and Control Solutions business group.

“Our industrial customers want their plants to run well in any economy, and Matrikon’s products help do that,”
said Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Process Solutions. “Combining Matrikon’s technology and expertise with Honeywell’s industrial platform expands our offering to help customers continue to improve plant performance. This is a great addition to our business.”

Matrikon will bring to Honeywell complementary applications that monitor oil and gas well performance and mining equipment, as well as supply chain solutions for mining. Matrikon’s cyber-security and alarm management solutions also align with Honeywell’s solutions for process safety and security.

Founded in 1988, Matrikon specializes in technology to manage production, optimize operations and monitor assets at industrial plants including oil and gas, refining, energy, power and mining companies. These products and solutions provide plant personnel actionable performance data to anticipate and correct problems, identify opportunities for improvement, share best practices and drive the action necessary to achieve and sustain operational objectives. Matrikon’s sales were approximately $80 million USD for the 12 month period ending in February 2010.

Nizar J. Somji, president and chief executive officer of Matrikon stated: “This combination is a tremendous opportunity for all Matrikon stakeholders, our shareowners, clients and employees. We believe that the path we embarked on with our next generation technology and our product and solution strategy blends well with Honeywell’s technology vision. This will enable our talented workforce to continue to realize global opportunities for large scale solution deployments and will provide the foundation to support our vision of long-term technology partnerships with customers.”

In addition, entities related to Nizar Somji, the president and CEO of Matrikon, have also granted an option to Honeywell to acquire their outstanding shares at a price of $4.50 CAD per share, exercisable at any time after July 12, 2010, until nine months from this date.

New component brochure

Rittal have released a new dedicated 120 page catalogue on their extensive range of RiLine60 power distribution components. In the full colour catalogue Rittal detail 3 and 4-pole busbar systems, connection technology and component adaptors in conjunction with compatible accessories. There are also sections with technical details, assembly data and approvals as well as background information on IEC and UL.

RiLine60 offers a comprehensive system package with components for individual customer solutions. Regardless of where in the world RiLine60 busbar systems are used, RiLine60 is the system for all markets, thanks to comprehensive type-testing to IEC 60 439-1 and its high approval status to UL. Simple project planning, fast assembly and perfect contact hazard protection are included as a matter of course with all RiLine60 system solutions.

The catalogue, a must for system builders, is available free of charge and can be downloaded from their Brochures Download page.

DC/DC converters

Calex has announced the HCM Series of high power density chassis mount DC/DC Converters. These 150 watt rugged, encapsulated DC/DC converters are ideal for harsh industrial and commercial off-the-shelf military applications.

All 10 models in the series offer a wide 4:1 input range, from 9 to 36 V DC and 18 to 75 V DC, making them ideal for 24 V industrial, 12 and 24 V battery applications and 48 V power sources. The output voltages available are 3.3, 5, 12, 15 and 24 V DC. All models are isolated input to output. The MTBF for all models is over one million hours.

The versatile enclosure of the HCM Series provides a "clamp" style recessed barrier strip which secures wire without twisting. The enclosure can be mounted with the barrier strip facing up or down depending on what is preferred for the application. The excellent thermal characteristics of the enclosure provide 3ºC per watt dissipated thermal impedance. The enclosure also has threaded inserts for securing a heatsink if needed for extended temperature applications. The case operating temperature range for the HCM is -40ºC to +100ºC.

The case dimensions are 110 x 82 x 26 mm and the weight is 325 g. RoHS and non-RoHS construction is available.

In addition to the mechanical advantages of the enclosure, the HCM offers a number of electrical features not often found in chassis-mount units:
  • Volt-seconds clamp and fast over voltage protection
  • Pulse by pulse current limiting
  • Short circuit frequency foldback
  • Dead short shut-down
  • Over-temperature protection
  • Auto-softstart
  • Remote sensing
  • Output voltage trim capability

Image capture & processing for 3D X-ray inspection system

Stemmer Imaging has supplied GÖPEL electronic with machine vision systems for use in its new OptiCon X-Line 3D X-ray inspection system for simultaneous inspection of both sides of double sided printed circuit boards. Parallel image capture allows real time 3D X-ray image reconstruction from 2D images taken at different angles at production line speeds.

At the heart of the image capture system is a 3D parallel X-Ray detector developed in-house by GÖPEL. This allows the simultaneous capture of images from nine different directions in a 12 bit grey scale with a maximum object resolution of 10 µm per pixel. The detector hardware achieves continuous data rates of up to 40 gigapixels/s.

Following hardware-based image integration and pre-processing there are 360 megapixels/s distributed over nine angles of observation available for further processing in the PC. In the reconstruction process, the image data are converted into a 3D output of typically 24 megapixels/s. As each projection captures a different region of the board, the board is moved under the X-ray beam so that all the required angles of observation are observed sequentially.

With reconstruction requiring a 64 bit PC platform, they worked closely with GÖPEL engineers. The Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Williamson, said: "This is a classic example of Stemmer working in partnership with an OEM customer. Our involvement extended far beyond the supply of the basic components. Our technical expertise was essential to ensure seamless integration of frame grabbers, 64 bit drivers and other image processing components to meet the required demands of speed and accuracy".

Plant of the year 2010?

HCF seeks examples of exceptional application of HART technology

Ron HelsonEnd users around the world are invited to enter their plant for recognition in the 9th Annual HART Plant of the Year Awards Program. Presented annually by the HART Communication Foundation, the HART Plant of the Year is the only international award presented to end user companies in the process automation industry to recognize the exceptional application of HART technology. Nominations are encouraged from all world areas and will be accepted until 15 July 2010.

Winner in 2009 was Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation's ethylene plant located in Kashima, Japan.

“We are seeking the plant that has taken the capabilities of their HART instruments beyond configuration and calibration,” says HART Communication Foundation Executive Director Ron Helson (pictured). “Or, the plant that is using real-time diagnostics and process variables in HART-enabled devices integrated with control, information, asset management or safety systems.”

Selection of the HART Plant of the Year is based on a plant’s use of HART technology not on the size of the installation. Nominations are welcomed from end users and/or suppliers. Nomination forms and details are available at

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Water training workshops for Ireland

Specialist electrochemical sensor manufacturer Analytical Technology is hosting a number of water training workshops in Ireland. The free-of-charge sessions, which are aimed at councils and contractors in Ireland, will include advice on clean water processes including static mixing and chlorine dosing points, as well as training on the full range of Analytical Technology instrumentation.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland has stressed that parameters such as chlorine and turbidity should be measured in all Irish councils, which will require the installation and maintenance of new monitoring instrumentation. It is therefore essential that councils understand these requirements and how to achieve compliance. Analytical Technology's workshops will provide advice on implementing processes and instrumentation to comply with new requirements, particularly focusing on how to minimise costs in the current economic climate.

As one of the largest suppliers of water and wastewater monitors to the Irish market, Analytical Technology is ideally placed to advise the industry on best practice in light of new requirements. The sessions will cover portable measurement of chlorine and other parameters within a network, battery-powered instruments using solar power, static mixing and 'contact' time for dosing HOCL (chlorine), advice on best points for chlorine injection, checking filter efficiency with a turbidity monitor, reducing power by keeping sensors clean, reducing water/power & pollutants when monitoring and eliminating the need to use buffers.

Dr. Michael Strahand, General Manager Europe at Analytical Technology, comments: "Our presence in Ireland has grown significantly, thanks to strong support from councils and contractors. We are pleased to be able to use our expertise to advise companies in the water industry on adapting to changing requirements from the EPA."

Analytical Technology's training workshops will be held throughout May and June 2010.

Crash testing

The Kistler Group has won a £12 million sterling contract to supply instrumentation for three new crash test facilities to be built in India. Their bid won against strong global competition on both technical and cost grounds.

Rapid expansion of the Indian automobile industry in both domestic and international markets has created a need for modern crash test facilities to meet international environmental and safety standards. Building modern crash test centres in Delhi, Pune and Chennai will be the responsibility of the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRIP), an autonomous project set up by the Indian Government within the Department of Heavy Industries. The crash test centres will be built and equipped over the next eighteen months.

“Our acquisition of MSC Automotive, Corrsys-Datron and KT Automotive last year has given Kistler the capability to bid for major international instrumentation contracts,” said Kistler group CEO, Rolf Sonderegger, “We are now shaping ourselves into a systems partner of the automotive industry able to provide a single source of instrumentation solutions and services.”

Sanitary air augmented pressure regulator

Steriflow’s Mark 96 with air augmentation (AA) option offers the same line sizes, Cv choices, seats, great low droop characteristics, and stability of the standard, MK96, but with an advantage. By connecting an air pressure signal to the 1/4" FNPT dome fitting via an air regulator or I/P, the set point can be changed remotely by "sending an air signal instead of a technician".

The Mark 96AA gives users the ability to change pressure set points to any point in excess of the springs minimum set point (2 psi on a 3/4" - 1" Mark 96; 10 psi on a 1-1/2" - 2", and 15 psi on a 3"). Users adjust the regulator's spring to the lowest set point, or to the lowest set pressure that the regulator will operate at (sterilization steam pressure for example). To achieve a higher pressure set point (CIP or WFI flush), air pressure is added to the regulator dome. To lower the set point to it's previous value, or to the springs manual set point, the pressure is reduced in the same manner.

Mark 96AA upgrade kits are available for Mark 96 regulators.

These valves are markr=eted in Ireland through Manotherm.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Innovation centre has "finest collection of valve engineers on planet!"

Mega-technology critical to reliability, safety in process and energy industries; testing 15 tonne and 6.5 metre tall, high-performance valves
Emerson Process Management has just opened the state-of-the-art Emerson Innovation Centre – Fisher® Technology in Marshalltown, Iowa, USA. This $30 million investment is designed to help customers tackle the toughest engineering challenges facing today’s process manufacturing and energy industries.

11 May 2010: The official opening was attended by the American Automation Press and links to their on-the-spot reactions and pictures on social media is given on Jim Cahill's (Chief Blogger, Surface Dweller, and Head of Social Media for Emerson Process Management) Blog
When asked, "Why Marshalltown?" Ed Monser of Emerson Corp said "...because it has the finest collection of valve engineers on planet."

The world’s appetite for energy is driving the development of next-generation nuclear plants, mega-train liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, and large oil and gas refineries, which require larger capacities and highly engineered control valves and instrumentation. The 12,600-square-metre Emerson Innovation Centre is designed to help companies deliver record volumes of natural gas and other forms of energy, and consume less in the process, reducing costs and making plants run quieter and with reduced greenhouse emissions.

The centre is home to the world’s largest “flow lab” that, for the first time, enables large valves to be tested in real-world plant conditions to ensure production reliability, efficiency, environmental compliance, and safety before being installed at a customer site.

“No other facility in the world can do what our Marshalltown Emerson Innovation Centre can do – from seismically qualifying a 15 tonne control valve to testing a 6.5 metre tall valve that controls the flow of feedstocks for a petrochemical plant,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “This $30 million investment in innovation directly reflects Emerson’s commitment to helping our customers run smarter plants that improve production quality, lower operations and maintenance costs, and enhance environmental performance and worker safety.”

Emerson, whose Fisher valves are installed in more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear facilities, is able to provide seismic qualification of its valves at the new Innovation Centre, which is critically important to making nuclear plants safe and reliable during earthquakes. Emerson was recently awarded contracts to provide its Fisher control valves for Westinghouse Electric Company’s newest generation of nuclear power plants.

“We are very pleased to be working with Emerson Process Management for control valves on our AP1000™ nuclear power plant,” said William Rice, Westinghouse director of engineering. “We plan to take advantage of this new facility to prove out critical operating characteristics, under actual passive heat-removal system service conditions, for one of Fisher’s unique large control valves designed to meet our requirements.”

The centre’s flow lab has enough capacity to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just over eight minutes, or a Goodyear blimp in about 12 seconds. Control valves can be tested at pressures up to 240 bar, the equivalent of providing enough force to support a sport utility vehicle on a postage stamp. Meanwhile, the centre also is home to a 2400-square-metre sound chamber in which Emerson can develop and verify noise levels of new devices before a customer’s plant is built.

Located in Marshalltown, Iowa, USA, home to Fisher, which was acquired by Emerson in 1992, the centre required almost 900 tonnes of process piping, more than 500 metres of 76cm and 91cm pipe, seven underground air storage tanks each more than 46 metres long, and more than 3400 cubic metres of concrete.

Interface for industrial measurement & control

Acromag Releases ActiveX and .NET Controls for Modbus TCP and RTU I/O Modules

Acromag has released a series of ActiveX and .NET controls to help engineers developing measurement and control systems in a Visual Basic or C++ environment communicate with their Ethernet and Modbus I/O modules. Acromag's AMRN/AMRX (for Modbus/RTU) and AMTN/AMTX (for Modbus/TCP) controls packages provide a fast, easy way to interface with any Modbus slave device (not just Acromag I/O) connected to a PC's serial or network ports. These software tools start at just $225. Free evaluation versions are available.

“Within minutes, your Visual Basic, Visual C, .NET, Excel, or other compatible applications will be talking Modbus protocol to interface with I/O modules monitoring or controlling your process,”
claims Donald Lupo, Acromag’s Marketing and Sales Director for Process Products.

Two software support packages are offered for Modbus/RTU and two for Modbus/TCP devices. The AMRX and AMTX packages are easy to use ActiveX controls that simplify communication with slave devices connected to a PC’s wired or wireless network. They include a timer for polled data acquisition and a floating point conversion control. AMRN and AMTN are Windows Forms Controls (.NET) that provide a quick way to communicate with slave devices connected to a PC’s serial or Ethernet port.

Other key features make this software very easy to use. Any container application that can embed ActiveX controls can use these tools. At design time, you can access Modbus devices from the software’s test property page to make start-up and troubleshooting a snap – all without writing a single line of code. Talking to a Modbus slave is as simple as calling a function with the necessary arguments. The software automatically builds the command, appends a CRC, sends the request over the network, and validates the response. Application programs just read and write simple 16-bit data values. ActiveX controls include a help file and examples for Excel, Visual Basic, and Visual C++. The .NET controls include a help file and examples for Visual Basic, C#, and Managed C++.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RFID data loggers & readers

Omega’s new CE compliant OM-80 series of data loggers and readers are economical, accurate and provide a reliable solution for cold chain environmental monitoring. The OM-84 model features a miniature weather-resistant design with a factory replaceable battery. Each logger can store up to 10,000 readings and is reusable. Stored data can be downloaded and saved to your computer using the reader and software that is included.

Each package of data loggers comes with a traceable certificate (No Points).

Built-in LEDs display high and low alarm verification indicating whether or not measured temperatures have remained within the user programmable alarm window throughout deployment.

This product is ideal for produce, seafood, dairy, supermarkets or any applications where temperature monitoring is needed.

Advanced wireless vibration data and improved ease-of-use with process automation systems

AMS Machinery Manager v5.4 makes easy work of viewing critical data from mechanical equipment – whether from wireless transmitters, online monitors, or route-based instruments – in a single software application

Emerson Process Management has announced the latest release of its asset management software, AMS™ Suite: Machinery Health Manager. AMS Machinery Manager v5.4 augments its presentation of predictive diagnostics from all types of mechanical assets by adding wireless access to spectral and waveform vibration diagnostics. Additionally, this release enables the easy integration of the CSI 6500 Machinery Health Monitor protection and prediction system with either the DeltaV™ or Ovation™ digital automation system. This solution integrates machinery health diagnostics information between the protection system, asset management software, and control system. This enables maintenance and operations personnel to access critical, real-time machinery health information that allows them to identify and resolve machinery issues before process interruptions occur.

Wireless vibration transmitters provide accurate vibration monitoring on mechanical assets such as motors, fans, and pumps. AMS Machinery Manager v5.4 supports important spectrum, waveform, and trend vibration data from the CSI 9420 Wireless Vibration Transmitter. This information allows users to more effectively manage the performance of rotating equipment through analysis of key machinery health information. Data can be imported on demand or at regularly scheduled intervals, based on specific maintenance and equipment needs. Emerson’s CSI 9420 is the first vibration transmitter to use the IEC-approved WirelessHART industry-standard protocol to deliver full vibration data for machinery health analysis.

In addition, CSI 2130 Machinery Health Analyser users will benefit from new functionality in AMS Machinery Manager v5.4, including multiple route load, new plotting tools for Bode and Nyquist plots, multiple trends displayed on a single plot, and fault frequency displayed on Analyser Job data. Expanded case history management in AMS Machinery Manager supports additional file types associated with individual case history entries. AMS Machinery Manager v5.4 also includes a new easy-to-use Overall Vibration Index report for quickly identifying those plant assets where vibration levels exceed threshold values.

“Emerson’s commitment to wireless technology and maximising user value in AMS Suite is evident in this latest release,” said Craig Llewellyn, president of Emerson’s Asset Optimization business. “With an emphasis on ease-of-use, AMS Suite is raising the bar with unprecedented visibility to the condition and performance of critical machinery in the plant. Through the integration of wireless vibration diagnostics and machinery protection systems, operators and maintenance personnel can more effectively identify and resolve issues while maintaining production and preserving equipment health.”

Real time recording instrument

Signal recording instrument synchronizes two 16-bit channels at 200 MSPS

Pentek has announced its Model RTS 2703 Real-Time Recording Instrument, which packs up to 4 Terabytes of removable RAID storage and dual 200 MHz, 16-bit sampling channels into a 4U rack-mount instrument. Both sampling channels use the same start, stop, triggering and clock timing to ensure that the two data sets are fully synchronized. In addition to the data acquisition and recording functions, the instrument forms a complete high-performance Windows XP workstation that can run under standalone operation as well as connect to a gigabit Ethernet network for remote access and control.

“This instrument is the first to offer two A/Ds with 16-bit resolution and a 200 MHz sampling rate. It’s ideal for radar, communications and storage applications that need high-speed synchronized recording of multiple data channels,” said Chris Tojeira, recording systems product manager at Pentek. “A single instrument can capture two 90 MHz bandwidth signals and users can easily synchronize multiple instruments to increase channel count for beamforming applications.”
High Performance Data Acquisition and Storage
The two 16-bit data acquisition channels deliver nearly 90 dB of spurious free dynamic range, allowing users to detect small signals of interest surrounded by large interferers. A hardware-driven DMA engine continuously streams data at 200 Msamples/second from each channel to dedicated five-unit RAID arrays with a capacity of 2 TB per channel, ensuring more than an hour of continuous recording without dropping a single sample.

The storage system incorporates 10 SATA disk drives configured as dual five-unit RAID arrays. The units can offer RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 10 and 50 and can be configured to offer redundancy in the recording to ensure that data is never lost. The hot-swappable RAID disks are front-panel accessible, which allows users to readily remove and replace the drives for extended recording or transport to another location.

Simple Access to Recorded Data
Unlike the proprietary file formats typically used in other high-performance data recording instruments, the RTS 2703 records its data files in the Windows-compatible NTFS file system. This means users can access files with the instrument’s workstation capabilities immediately after recording with no file conversion processing required. Users can also remove the RAID drives from the instrument and use them immediately in another Windows-compatible system with no file conversion or other special software.

Each data file includes a header containing a time stamp, file size and recording parameters such as channel number and acquisition settings. With long files, users can extract segments of interest from within the file and save them as separate files. Data is accessible off-unit through a variety of mechanisms, including transfers using the built-in USB or gigabit Ethernet ports to external storage or other network-connected computing systems. Users can also copy files to optical disk using the 8X double layer DVD +R/RW drive on the front panel.

SystemFlow Software
As with other members of Pentek’s RTS 27xx family, the dual-channel recording instrument is fully supported by Pentek’s Model 4990 SystemFlow Instrument Software. This includes a Windows-based graphical user interface (GUI) that provides a simple means to configure and control the instrument. Virtual-instrument push buttons, status indicators, pull-down menus and data-parameter entry windows provide simple and intuitive operation for all functions. Custom configurations can be stored as profiles and later loaded when needed, allowing the user to select pre-configured instrumentation settings with a single click.

SystemFlow Signal Viewer
SystemFlow also includes a powerful signal viewing and analysis tool, so users can monitor signals before, during and after a recording session. The Signal Viewer includes a virtual oscilloscope and a virtual spectrum analyzer for detailed signal analysis in both time and frequency domains.

Advanced signal analysis capabilities include automatic calculators for signal amplitude and frequency, second and third harmonic components, total harmonic distortion (THD) and signal to noise and distortion (SINAD). With time and frequency zoom, panning modes and dual annotated cursors to mark and measure points of interest, the SystemFlow Signal Viewer can often eliminate the need for a separate oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer to monitor signals of interest.

Unique pneumatic valve terminal accommodates four different valve sizes

Festo has further extended the capabilities of its popular VTSA pneumatic valve terminal, which can now accommodate 55 mm ISO size 2 valves, as well as 18 mm, 26 mm and 42 mm valves. This additional capability enables the terminal to handle flow rates as high as 3,000 l/min - 30% more than the previous model - and opens up entirely new application areas in medium to large machine control.

The new valve terminal is capable of housing up to 32 pneumatic valves - in any combination of the four permissible sizes - on the same manifold, without the need for adapter plates. It is the only terminal on the market offering this level of configuration flexibility, making it an obvious first choice for OEMs and machine builders seeking a fully scalable control solution.

Its high flow rate capability - together with its easy integration with the metal version of their CPX electrical terminal and the availability of specialised safety function valves - makes it ideal for machines used in heavy-duty manufacturing environments. Typical applications include automotive presses, tyre manufacturing machines, brick and ceramic tile production machines, and large palletising systems. Supplied fully-assembled and pre-tested, the valve terminals are 100% compliant with the international ISO 15407-2 and ISO 5599-2 standards.

VTSA valve terminals feature robust, all metal sub-base modules, and employ generously proportioned air ducts designed to maximise flow rate. Festo offers a wide range of compatible 5/3, 5/2 and dual 3/2 and 2/2 valves, all of which have an operating pressure range of -0.9 to 10 bar. The valves are available in 18 mm, 26 mm, 42 mm and 55 mm sizes, with respective flow rates of 500 litres/minute, 1,100 litres/minute, 1,400 litres/minute and 3,000 litres/minute. All four valve sizes offer a choice of 24 Vdc and 110 Vac solenoids for maximum applications flexibility, and can be configured so that their solenoid breather ports vent into the exhaust port instead of to atmosphere.

Festo is introducing a series of pneumatics products featuring integrated safety functions, to help users comply with the new EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard. A number of these products, including soft-start valves, and 5/2 fail-safe valves for lifting and rotary cylinders, are compatible with the VTSA valve terminal.

A unique feature of this valve terminal is that it allows the valves to be oriented so that all pneumatic and electrical connections are accessed from one side of the unit. This leads to a very clean installation, which requires less physical space and simplifies servicing. Furthermore, the valves all feature front-panel LEDs and the pressure regulators are equipped with swivelling pressure gauges, making it easy for operators to see the overall system status from a single viewpoint.

The VTSA valve terminal can have individual electrical connections, a multi-pin connection or can integrate directly with Festo's CPX terminal controller, which is a modular, high functionality hub with an Ethernet interface and extensive fieldbus protocol support. The controller enables advanced remote diagnostics capabilities to be easily incorporated into factory-wide local area networks, to provide centralised control and monitoring of individual valve performance. Local diagnostics can either be performed using the valves' front panel LEDs, or via Festo's unique CPX-MMI handheld control unit.

New data portal

The new version of the EPLAN Data Portal is now online with functions that accelerate the organisation and administration of devices and components. Numerous search and administration functions are easier for users and make the engineering process faster. In practice designing becomes more efficient with the extensive selection of component and device data.

Smart filters, for example, now allow the storage of all the filter schemes as individual search patterns. These can simply be called up again repeatedly – thus saving a lot of time. Key word tagging, with corresponding catch words parts are organised perfectly. Whether by purpose of use, procurement or project name, parts can now be grouped and organised with an excellent overview.

Through the new display of the manufacturer tree structure, component data can be searched for exactly in accordance with the catalogue structure. No more tedious paging or manual transfer, simply insert the data into the project and carry on.

When cooperation is required, working groups can now be formed to design together on the basis of a uniform parts database. A group administrator defines the filter and part selection so that only parts approved for the project can be selected. A new accessory management with jump function comfortably shows the suitable accessory devices for the selected main devices and of course also vice versa.

A new macro preview in EPLAN Data Portal shows which macros are available for the respective device or part. Complete macros from PLC devices, measuring transducers or frequency converters can be imported specifically into the project. Integrated connection diagrams and function templates ensure exact representation of complex devices and components, not only ensuring a smooth interconnection, but ideally prepare the data for use in the process.