Saturday, June 5, 2010

Overfill protection

The system protects refineries, tank farms and process plants from dangerous overfill conditions

SIS-TECH has announced the Automated Overfill Protection System (AOPS), a safety instrumented system (SIS) that can prevent dangerous overfill conditions in terminals, tank farms and process vessels.

The AOPS incorporates a non-programmable Logic Solver (suitable up to SIL-3) that receives signals from switches or transmitters, determines if an abnormal process condition is present, and provides outputs to close isolation valves, shut down transfer pumps, or open diversion valves. The system operates independently of the plant’s process control system with the capability to communicate to the control system via hardwire, Modbus, Ethernet or wireless communications.

The AOPS prevents overfill conditions that can result in vessel damage and release of hazardous chemicals to the environment. It can also be configured to prevent underfill conditions. Underfill conditions can cause loss of suction to transfer pumps with the potential for pump damage, or cause significant hazards when a floating roof tank is used and level is too low.

Why is Level Control so Difficult?
Level seems simple to monitor, but it’s often just one of many process variables on an HMI display. Compounding the problem, incorrect level often doesn’t affect unit operation or cause any other significant process variable disturbance until the safe fill level is exceeded.

In many processes, level doesn’t have direct significance to plant production or product quality, and absolute level often varies over a large range around what is considered normal. In tank farms, the operating level is simply inventory to be managed and normally varies across a large range.

High level is often an indirect hazard, with the direct hazard being too much mass or volume. Some overfills challenge the tank or vessel, causing it to overpressure or to collapse when the retained mass exceeds the equipment structural design limits. Many overfills occur because of loss of containment when liquid passes to downstream equipment that is not designed to receive it.

The key problem is that, even though a tank may be approaching a dangerous overfill condition, the steadily increasing level does not cause any process upsets or other alarm conditions. This makes it very difficult for an operator to be aware of the dangerously approaching condition and, more importantly, the operator may not immediately know what to do to correct the situation.

For example, hazards may occur when operators take manual actions in response to high level, such as draining knock-out drums. Planned operator procedures must provide sufficient time for the operator to take action and provide a means to verify the process response. Further, there should be time to evacuate the area if the action doesn’t work as expected. In some cases, if the operator does not respond quickly enough or isn’t completely familiar with the manual procedures, a disaster can occur.

Three Billion-Dollar Disasters
Loss of level control has been a contributing cause in three significant industrial incidents:
  • The Esso Longford explosion (September 25, 1998) in Australia resulted in 2 fatalities, 8 injuries, and A$1.3 billion in losses.
  • The BP Texas City explosion (March 23, 2005) in the United States caused 15 fatalities and more than 170 injuries. Facility production was profoundly affected for months after the incident. Losses to BP were in excess of $1.6 billion.
  • The Buncefield explosion (December 11, 2005) in the England, injured 43 people and devastated the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal, The economic impact on regional businesses was estimated to be in the range of ₤130–170 million, and estimated total losses were ₤1 billion.
These incidents involve three different industries located in three different countries. Each incident propagated uniquely, arriving at its final outcome through different mechanisms. Yet, all suffered the same process deviation of high level, and all resulted in devastating consequences.

Automated Response is the Best Answer
Automated trips ensure protection even when the operator is focused on other duties. A SIS, such as the AOPS, can detect high level and prevent filling beyond the safe fill limit. The system uses independent sensors such as a switch or transmitter to detect high level, and independent final elements such as a motor control circuit or block valve to divert or terminate feed. The SIS trip action is automatically initiated at a setpoint that allows sufficient time for the action to be completed safely. Risk analysis determines the safety integrity level (SIL), typically SIL-1 or SIL-2, required to ensure that the overfill risk is adequately addressed.

The AOPS is a low-cost, stand-alone, independent, non-PE logic solver suitable for use up to SIL 3. Rated for –30C to +75C and constructed using Class I Div 2 components, the AOPS can be installed in the harshest process units near the tank. Further, the number of inputs and voting architecture (1oo1, 1oo2, 2oo2 or 2oo3), can be adjusted for each process variable to meet any SIL or reliability requirement.

The AOPS is flexible and can be customized for any specific level application. For the ultimate in remote, stand-alone installation—solar power provides SIL protection without the need for utilities, while wireless communication sends system status to centralized control rooms. As compared to safety PLCs, total lifecycle costs are 50% less

Accredited flow

Internationally accepted accreditation reduces costs by eliminating the need for an independent audit or retesting in other countries
Emerson Process Management's European Flow Centre’s calibration procedures and facilities have been certified as meeting the requirements of ISO 17025, titled ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’. The accreditation - by the internationally recognised Dutch Accreditation Council RvA - confirms their ability to perform testing and calibration of flowmeters at its European Flow Centre.

“Our testing and calibration procedures have always met the requirements of this international standard,” said Peter Peters, Director Operations EMA, Emerson Process Management. “As one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of flow meters in Europe, many of our customers have confidence in our ability to test and calibrate them. This accreditation eliminates the need for the few customers that required independent verification, to audit our facilities or retest the meters at an approved laboratory."
ISO/IEC 17025:2005 specifies the general requirements for the competence to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling. It covers testing and calibration performed using standard methods, non-standard methods, and laboratory-developed methods.

To meet the requirements of ISO 17025, the measurement uncertainty of the calibration rig must be defined and documented. Calibration uncertainty values at the Flow Centre have been established for many years with VSL (formerly NMi-VSL), the Dutch physical standards authority. The RvA accreditation process confirmed end-to-end measurement uncertainties to be just 0.017% for mass flow and 0.07 kg/m3 for density. Emerson’s European Flow Centre laboratory is also certified to ISO 9001:2008 for its quality management systems.

Emerson’s European Flow Centre at Ede (NL), offers several options to check and calibrate meters on a scheduled basis to support customer quality procedures and practices. This includes calibration of the high precision Micro Motion® ELITE® Coriolis meters with optional accuracy specification of 0.05% for mass and 0.2 kg/m3 for density. These are used for critical applications or when the meters are used as master meters to calibrate other meters in the field.

Emerson’s European Flow Centre provides a complete service for the flow and density calibration of Micro Motion and Rosemount® flowmeters. The Centre is one of the most advanced of its kind in the world and relies on gravimetric calibration as its reference method. Flow ranges from 0.01 kg/min up to 18000 kg/min allow calibration and certification of the full range of Micro Motion Coriolis flowmeters, up to line sizes of a nominal diameter of 300 mm (12”).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Software for graphical visualisation

Unified portal and content server for InFusion Enterprise Control System enables flexible access to applications, reporting and visualisation information

Invensys Operations Management has released the Wonderware® Information Server version 4.0 software. Information Server is easy-to-use software for web-based graphical visualisation, reporting and analysis of real-time plant operations data, helping to drive productivity excellence across client organisations. The new version features support for ArchestrA® graphics, critical for those customers now using the company's Wonderware Systems Platform and InTouch® HMI products; enhanced operating system support; and superior web-based graphics built on Microsoft Silverlight™ technology.

"As needs for easier information access increase, providing web-based delivery is critical to maintaining productivity excellence," said Michael Schwarz, product marketing manager, Invensys Operations Management. "Wonderware Information Server provides an interactive, open method of delivering critical operating information to workers engaged in manufacturing and industrial infrastructure processes. Its ability to provide data in other forms compatible with corporate portals, such as Microsoft SharePoint™, expands its usefulness to a wide range of users within our customer's organisation."

Wonderware Information Server is a unified portal and content server for the company's InFusion™ Enterprise Control System components, including their System Platform, InTouch HMI and SCADA software, MES and Intelligence applications, and Foxboro® I/A Series® distributed control systems, enabling flexible access to applications, reporting and visualisation information using a web browser. When used with Wonderware Intelligence, an enterprise manufacturing intelligence product, Wonderware Information Server provides a corporate-wide view of production operations and KPIs, providing all workers in a manufacturing enterprise with a common real-time information dashboard.

Level & flow company is gazelle!

For the tenth year in a row, the Belgian economic magazine “Trends” searched for “Gazelles”; fast growing companies that symbolize competitive entrepreneurship. We think this is a great name for an award and hope that more awards are given poetic names like this.

Magnetrol International NV, based in East Flanders, is again nominated in the category “large companies”. These companies reinforce the competitive capacity of the area thereby having a positive influence on business in general. The category contains companies with a turnover of at least €10 million.

Based on data and information published in Trends Top 100.000 – in which Magnetrol International ranks 3.915 – the editors examine which of the companies have grown the fastest in the period 2004 - 2008 as far as turnover, personnel and cash flow are concerned.

Since 1971 Magnetrol International NV has a branch office in Zele (larger Ghent Area), Belgium. Magnetrol grows each year thereby creating additional opportunities on the job market, two key factors that are taken into account while nominating companies for the ‘Trends Gazelles Award’.

Deadly warriers battle on TV

When staging battles between the most feared warriors in history, the hit Spike TV show, “Deadliest Warrior,” uses National Instruments software and hardware to help determine the winner. The show, whose engineers have conducted demonstrations at NIWeek, selected NI LabVIEW graphical system design software, the NI CompactDAQ data acquisition platform and NI DIAdem data management software to conduct impact tests and measure and analyse the biomechanics of injury. The ease of use, quick setup and seamless integration of NI products makes them ideal for meeting the show’s need for a fast-time-to-measurement solution that can be reconfigured easily to perform a wide range of measurements.

“Deadliest Warrior” pits warriors such as pirates and knights against each other to measure their combat skills as well as the impact and severity of the weapons used. The show uses the latest technology and world-class fighters to reenact battles and fighting styles of each warrior and then uses measurement data to determine who would win in a head-to-head competition. The first season of the show averaged 1.8 million viewers and was the Spike TV channel’s best-selling series in 2009 across all download-to-own platforms.

“‘Deadliest Warrior’ is a hit with our viewers because it allows us to answer the age-old question of ‘Who would win in a fight?’ using real, cutting-edge technology to determine the outcome,” said Gary Tarpinian, “Deadliest Warrior” Producer. “Because time is money on a TV show, we needed a solution that could be set up quickly and was capable of taking measurements from a lot of different sensors. National Instruments software and hardware products deliver the flexibility and accuracy we need to acquire and analyse measurements quickly, and, as an added bonus, they are visually compelling for a TV audience.”

LabVIEW and NI CompactDAQ serve as a single software and hardware interface, respectively, to third-party sensors that take measurements from the weapons and fighters used in the battle simulations. Because of the modular nature of NI CompactDAQ, “Deadliest Warrior” engineers can easily swap out NI C Series modules from the chassis and quickly perform a variety of measurements. Additionally, DIAdem makes it easy for the engineers to bring multiple test measurements into one software environment to quickly compare, analyse and visualise data from the sensor measurements and determine the results.

Readers can learn more about how the “Deadliest Warrior” show is using National Instruments hardware and software by visiting this site. You can also learn about other unique applications for National Instruments products.

Device management software

Yokogawa has released the R3.05 upgrade to Plant Resource Manager (PRM®), an integrated device management software package that can be used to centrally manage, monitor, and diagnose plant field devices. With the R3.05 upgrade, PRM now supports PROFIBUS DP/PA and Wired HART 7 devices, has a new maintenance mark function, and can run under Windows Server® 2008. Through these and other enhancements, PRM can now be used to manage a much wider range of devices online and the efficiency of maintenance activities has been significantly enhanced.

Development background
To strengthen competitiveness, manufacturers need to improve the efficiency of their existing production lines by introducing the latest technologies. They need standardised communication protocols that will allow them to construct optimum systems by freely selecting instruments from a variety of manufacturers. In response to this need, open protocols have been developed in various regions (Europe and the US) and industries. For these multivendor systems, users now need these enhancements to PRM to centrally control and monitor information from devices that are compatible with these standardised protocols.

PRM already supports the FOUNDATION™ fieldbus and HART protocols. With the added support of PROFIBUS DP/PA and Wired HART 7, the ability to manage and monitor a wide variety of plant field devices has been significantly enhanced.

Product Features
PROFIBUS DP/PA device support
With its support of the PROFIBUS DP/PA protocol relied on by more than 1200 device manufacturers worldwide, the scope of devices that can be managed and monitored online by PRM R3.05 has been significantly enhanced.

Support for the Wired HART 7 standard

The added support of the Wired HART 7 protocol means that PRM R3.05 can now be used to access, manage, and monitor information from a much wider range of HART devices.

Maintenance mark function
It is now possible to add a maintenance mark to the information that is provided for individual devices. Maintenance marks indicate the device maintenance status. When a maintenance worker sets a maintenance mark, operators in the central control room can check it at a glance. PRM maintenance marks can also be linked with the function block operation marks used by the CENTUM production control system so that both maintenance staff and operators can have access to this information.

Windows Server 2008 support

PRM R3.05 can now run under the 32-bit version of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2, the latest in Microsoft's line of server operating systems. This enhances the efficiency of device status monitoring and online diagnosis.

CommunicationDTM and GatewayDTM support
PRM R3.05 now supports CommunicationDTM and GatewayDTM, functions of FDT/DTM, an open interface technology. PRM can now be used together with CommunicationDTM/GatewayDTM compatible communications equipment to set and adjust the parameters for PROFIBUS DP/PA devices.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New website launched

Variohm EuroSensor has launched a completely new and updated website at which aims to make finding the most suitable sensors and transducers easier and faster. With product sections including position, pressure, force, loadcells, temperature and vibration along with specialist areas such as motorsports, the new website links to sub sections for specific sensor types then to suppliers websites for detailed information and downloads - in just a few clicks.

It is estimated that the website covers more than 10,000 individual products in more than 200 product categories from over 25 distribution partners and suppliers as well as Variohm's own manufactured range of sensors. If users can't find the information they need or want to discuss custom measurement solutions, full contact information is of course available and a custom product form can be returned for fast and immediate attention, and a quick reply.

For a swift update on the latest products and emerging technologies in measurement, a 'New Product' section can be accessed directly from the home page. The website encourages direct contact with Variohm's 12-strong technical sales team with a 'Meet The Team' page.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Radiated immunity test

TESEQ has introduced its new ITS 6006 radiated immunity test system.

The ITS 6006 consists of an integrated RF signal generator, RF switch and EUT monitoring interfaces. The unit is designed for a wide range of radiated EMC applications in the 80 MHz to 6 GHz frequency range. In addition to the generator, the system includes the AM and PM modulators necessary for EMC testing. Other modulators can be connected to the external modulation input of the ITS 6006. The RF signal can be switched to one of four outputs, where up to four power amplifiers can be connected directly. Additional RF switches are available for combining two amplifier paths into a single antenna connection. Two of these relays are included for the four amplifier paths.

ITS 6006 interlock outputs ensure the activation of the power amplifier for only the selected signal path. The 3.5“color display shows the generator parameters. LEDs indicate the state of further functions. The EUT monitoring is provided by six digital, one analog and one optical input, as well as four digital outputs. Up to three power meters PMR 6006 can be connected directly to the ITS 6006. The ITS 6006 provides remote control through its network, RS232 and USB interfaces.

Teseq provides a traceable calibration certificate with all of its products and accredited calibration services are also available from TESEQ calibration labs upon request.

Meet the buyers at W & WW show

WWEM 2010 to feature UKTI ‘Meet the Buyer’ event

The organisers of WWEM 2010, the world’s largest environmental monitoring event, have announced the involvement of the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and a number of other leading industry organisations at this year’s event.

The UKTI, along with British Water, The Institute of Water, The Council of Gas Detection and Environmental Monitoring (CoGDEM) and Sensors for Water Interest Group (SWIG) will all be participating at WWEM 2010 on 10th and 11th November at the Telford International Centre (GB).

Other organisations involved include PROFIBUS, the Water Monitoring Association (WMA) and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

The UKTI will supply experts from around Europe who are taking part in two key activities that will support an international dimension to the show. These include a ‘Meet the International Buyer Event’, where exhibitors will have access to 24 buyers from across Europe and a workshop titled ‘Developing Your International Business’.

UKTI Commercial Officers will also advise on a range of topics including political/economic overview for countries including Portugal, Turkey and Russia, niche sector opportunities and advice on market entry.

David Connolly, Environment & Water Team Project Manager for Europe at UKTI, said: “Our events will give visitors the unique opportunity to receive a one-to-one briefing from UKTI, covering political, economic and water industry specific opportunities. Delegates will also be able to learn about the wide range of planned UKTI activities both here and overseas that aim to help promote UK expertise overseas and assist companies in taking advantage of the opportunities these markets offer.”

WWEM organiser Marcus Pattison added: “The reputation of the WWEM events has grown significantly on both a national and international level, as demonstrated by the involvement this year of these organisations. WWEM 2010 will provide the perfect opportunity for anyone with a professional interest in testing and monitoring to gather and exchange the latest information on technologies, techniques and regulations.”
The event will also see a host of Conference presentations providing information on the latest regulations affecting process and effluent monitoring with authoritative speakers from the Environment Agency, ABB, SIRA, and UKAS.

The fourth dimension!

Live video adds a “fourth dimension” to intelligent visualization and control solutions.

Real-Time Video Provides a Fourth Dimension for Intelligent Visualization and Control,” a brief by Craig Resnick of ARC Advisory Group, says that adding video to today’s HMI operator stations in automation and process control can play an important role in improving a company’s ergonometrics, while also enhancing safety, security, and regulatory compliance.

"Longwatch, Inc. has demonstrated that it is in a unique position to provide real-time live video that enables synchronized visualization, integrates applications, and delivers contextualized information."
ARC report
“Most HMI solutions only provide the operator with a partial view of what’s happening across the entire process,” says Resnick. “When real-time live video and other external applications are not well integrated with the display, the operator is confronted with many different types of visualization tools and unsynchronized data. This breeds confusion.”

For operators to make the correct decisions quickly, they require synchronized and appropriately contextualized information. “This is only possible when the applications have been well integrated into the HMI, enabling all information – including live video, documentation and operator instructions, and maintenance and production data – to be presented on any screen at any time,” he explains.

ARC believes that video is the key to maximizing operator performance. “Since it’s well accepted that ‘seeing is believing,’ integrating real-time live video into human machine interface (HMI) tools provides an excellent opportunity to maximize operator effectiveness and ergonometrics,” he says. “Live video adds a ‘fourth dimension’ to today’s excellent intelligent visualization and control solutions. Integrated, recorded video can also improve operator training and provide cause-and-effect insight for process improvements.”

Most companies in the fast-growing remote video monitoring space have plenty of expertise in basic video technology. However, providing real-time video that effectively integrates and synchronizes live visualization with industrial applications to provide operators with contextualized information requires significant additional expertise. ARC warns that adding video to HMIs is not a simple matter.

“Specifically, it requires expertise in specialized areas such as HMI hardware and software, manufacturing execution systems (MES), data recording and historization systems, and industrial networks,” notes Resnick. “It requires a thorough understanding of how industrial plants operate, specific safety and security requirements, and regulatory compliance issues. The company must also understand distributed system architecture, automation industry standards, and Microsoft software development tools. Ideally, the company should also understand the manufacturing-related business drivers across a wide range of industries, such as water & wastewater, power utilities, oil & gas production, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, and discrete parts manufacturing.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Invisible cooling for outdoor cabinets

Rittal has introduced a secure outdoor cabinet complete with hidden cooling solutions. Designed for use in remote areas, or those subject to high levels of vandalism, the WK4 enclosure has no visible louvres or other obvious orifices for the air to air heat exchanger, or chiller, integrated into the cabinet.

Air inlet and exhaust takes place entirely between the double skin panels of the enclosure, thus not presenting an opportunity for insertion of tools or levers to attack the cabinet to extract or damage the contents. A side effect of this design is that external noise levels are minimised, thus helping to meet European noise requirements in residential areas, and further not drawing unwanted attention to the unit.

Ideally configured for secure communications, safety equipment and high availability (five nines) systems, the all stainless steel cabinet includes a security locking system and has been tested for burglar-proofing to level WK4.

Module allows wireless to be added to field devices

Integrates Dust Networks’ Industry-Leading IA-510(H) WirelessHART Technology

RF Monolithics (RFM) has expanded its M2M portfolio of wireless communications products today by adding a new WirelessHART-compliant RF module – the XDM2510H – to the company’s industrial-grade RF module products. Built on the Dust Networks'® IA-510(H)™ WirelessHART® system, the XDM2510H is compliant with the international IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) standard and enables industrial automation vendors to meet the rapidly growing demand for standards-based wireless sensor networking (WSN) solutions. WirelessHART has emerged as the dominant standard for process automation allowing battery-powered sensors to be deployed in previously hard-to-reach locations while providing wire-like reliability.

“RFM is pleased to be offering Dust Networks’ leading WirelessHART technology in module form allowing field device manufacturers of all sizes to add WirelessHART capability to their products, quickly, simply, and economically,” said Tim Cutler, Director of M2M products. “RFM believes the WirelessHART standard can truly offer high reliability, battery operated, wireless connectivity in the difficult industrial environments where it will be deployed.”

"RFM has an excellent track record of integrating Dust Networks’ technology into pre-certified modules,” said Brenda Glaze, Vice President Sales and Marketing for Dust Networks. "Their module technology platform makes it easy for design engineers to integrate WirelessHART into end-products, and further expands the worldwide availability of WirelessHART solutions.”

The Dust Networks’ IA 510(H) WirelessHART technology is widely recognized as a foundational building block of the WirelessHART standard. The RFM XDM2510H incorporates Dust Networks’ technology and offers original equipment manufactures (OEMs) a quick path to market for field devices that are enabled with WirelessHART protocol.

The XDM2510H module provides a UART serial port for connection to sensors and an RF connector for antenna connection thereby removing the need for any RF engineering by OEMs, and with the XDM2510H module certifications in the USA, Canada and Europe (pending), no type acceptance testing is required of the OEMs’ end products. RFM’s XG2510HE gateway product completes the network solution allowing connection either locally or anywhere across the Internet.

As with all the company’s RF module products, offers a developer kit (XDM2510HDK) to help design engineers fast-track their designs. The XDM2510HDK includes 4 XDM2510H modules, 4 XDM2510H development boards, 1 XG2510HE gateway, 1 Ethernet cable, 5 Serial cables, 9V Batteries and Wall-mount Power Supplies for each development board, Antennas and RF Cables, Software and Manuals CD, and Quick Start Guide.

The XDM2510HDK developer kit will be available by the end of June 2010 from distributors Acal, Avnet, Digi-Key, Mouser Electronics, Nu Horizons, and Welotec (in Germany).

Earning a crust!

Humidity transmitter in fermentation chambers – Michell rises to the challenge

A leading European food processing manufacturer has chosen Michell’s PF211 RH transmitter to control the humidity and temperature in their range of fermentation chambers.

Designed for small to medium bakeries, fermentation chambers provide a consistent environment for bread dough and yeasted products to rise and prove. The cabinets are insulated with an air conditioning system to provide accurate control of both temperature and humidity as well as a flow of fresh air.

Previously, in small or artisan bakeries, mixing, kneading and fermentation would be a completely manual process. The development of these cabinets allows the automation and regulation of part of this process and ensures more consistent results.

The challenge for the manufacturer is to provide reliable control of humidity across the wide range of temperatures required in bread making, from proving (rising dough at a warm temperature) to retardation, where bread dough is kept to rise at a low temperature for up to 12 hours to develop flavour.

The PF211 probe was chosen because of its wide measurement range – from 0 to 100% RH as well as -30 to +70°C. The sensor is highly stable with ±1% RH drift a year, to ensure reliable results over a long period of time.

To make maintenance as simple as possible, the PF211 uses the I7000 ‘Hygrosmart’ interchangeable module. The sensor head incorporates all the calibration data, and to ensure continued reliability over time, the user can simply replace the old sensor with a new one. The process is as quick and simple as changing a light bulb – which is a real benefit to end customers who can relax knowing that they will not be required to undertake any complicated maintenance procedures.

PXI USP switch

Pickering Interfaces is expanding its range of PXI switching products with the introduction of the 40-737 USB switch.

The 40-737 is an 8 channel multiplexer designed specifically for switching USB signals. The new module permits users to connect and disconnect USB devices in test systems and is particularly well suited for the bulk testing of USB devices. Each path is designed to be compliant to USB cabling standards with controlled impedance data lines. USB powered devices requiring the highest permitted current are supported through the use of low impedance power connections.

Each path is capable of supporting USB1.1 or USB2.0 with negligible impact on the cabling distance supported by USB devices thanks to the wide differential bandwidth.

To simplify cabling support the 40-737 uses a USB Type B connector on the common and USB Type A connector on the 8 channels, allowing users to directly connect using industry standard USB leads.

Weatherproof inclinometers

Sherborne Sensors Debuts LSW Series Weatherproof Servo Inclinometers

Sherborne Sensors has recently announced the launch of the LSW series, a range of highly rugged, single axis servo inclinometers, designed for high-reliability precision angular measurements within demanding all-weather environments.

Available in ranges from ±3° to ±90° and rugged to 1500 g mechanical shock, LSW Series inclinometer sensing elements are housed in a durable stainless steel case, environmentally sealed and weatherproof to IP67 (NEMA 6), with a field replaceable waterproof connector/cable system, should the cable become damaged in service. The LSW series range is offered with resolution down to 0.2 arc seconds (0.00006°) and with ±5 Vdc full range output. Units are fully self-contained and able to connect to a DC power source and a readout or control device to form a complete operating system. They are designed to reliably operate over a temperature range of -18 to +70°C (-0.4 to +158°F). Custom versions are also available to suit customer-specified application or conformance requirements.

With their unique weatherproof construction and exceptional measurement capabilities, the LSW Series is ideal for high precision measurements within physically challenging environments, adverse weather conditions, or where exceptionally high levels of shock and vibration are present, including offshore, industrial, military, civil engineering, borehole mapping applications, as well as geophysical and seismic studies.

All Sherborne Sensors LSW series weatherproof inclinometers 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 LSW series is also included under the company's new Guaranteed On-Time Delivery program.

Compact modules for decentralised I/O system

Compact modules are now available for the Pilz decentralised I/O system PSSuniversal.
Modules are available with 16 digital standard inputs and 16 digital standard outputs; there are also modules with digital inputs and outputs.

The three new compact modules are also compatible with the electronic and base modules in the system PSSuniversal.

Fewer components are needed when using compact modules, enabling savings to be made. The new compact modules represent an economical solution; with 16 channels, only one compact module is needed, instead of the four individual modules that used to be required.
Various connectors are available, so that the modules are suitable for 1, 2 or 3-wire connection technology.

The high packing density of the compact modules reduces the assembly area by up to 40 per cent. What’s more, replacing four individual modules with one compact module reduces the number of components required substantially, saving a considerable amount of space in the control cabinet.

Fewer modules, combined with an extremely simple connection technology, guarantee that PSSuniversal compact modules are simple to handle. Thanks to plug-in terminals which can be pre-assembled, the compact modules are ideally suitable for series applications.
In practice, the large area available for labelling the equipment identifier for each signal, plus the clear visibility of the signal and status LEDs, all make handling of these compact modules considerably easier.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Geotechnical mwasurements

Simplified Linear Measuring System Uses Displacement Transducers
The ability to measure linear displacement over an extended range means access to new applications and industries for Applied Measurements. With the existing AML-SGD products starting as low as 0 - 5mm and measuring up to 50mm over four models, the latest introduction measuring 0-100mm is the result of increased demand from customers preferring to use a strain gauge based measuring system.

Based on a four-arm Wheatstone-Bridge design with a nominal impedance of 350 Ohms, the design ensures excellent non-linearity, low power consumption and excellent temperature stability. Additionally, the characteristics of strain gauge based sensors provide higher accuracy linear sensing than that of less accurate and lower resolution LVDT sensors.

Because these sensors operate at similar voltage levels and produce output signals compatible with other commonly used strain gauge sensors such as load cells and pressure transducers, they can easily form part of the same measurement chain in one central instrumentation system.

These displacement sensors operate on low cost DC strain indicators or digital voltmeters, whereas standard LVDT transducers require conversion of the signals to achieve the same level of compatibility. The simplicity of this type of measurement requiring no further processing of the basic signal, can make this type of test or measurement significantly more attractive to a user.

Additionally, strain gauge based displacement transducers exhibit typical non-linearity errors of a quarter of that of typical LVDT’s. As with other strain gauge devices, the resolution is infinite and strain sensitivity is constant with a stabilised input voltage between 1.5Vdc and 15 Vdc.

These advantages are realised by Fugro Offshore Geotechnics, who use these sensors within their accredited soil testing laboratories. It is within these high-tech establishments where sub-sea soil samples are analysed and the sensors are used (together with submersible load cells, also from Applied Measurements) to monitor compression of the sample relative to the force applied.

As Fugro Senior Lab Manager Phil Robinson says, "We test soil samples from destinations all over the world and much time and considerable effort is spent retrieving them from sub-sea locations. By the time we receive them, they are worth a great deal of money and cannot be replaced. The tests can run for only a few hours or for several weeks and as we can only ever run a test once, we need confidence in our testing equipment and that the results can be relied upon."

The range of AML-SGD displacement sensors are precision assemblies contained within a rugged stainless steel outer casing. The internal construction of the AML-SGD transducer ensures a smooth, virtually frictionless movement of the inner core, resulting in high overall accuracy of <+/- 0.1%.

The return force of the spindle is maintained at a minimum level for effective operation when installed upside-down, without having to attach the spindle to the subject. This makes the sensor less intrusive to the application when measuring on soft or pliable materials. The sensors’ are designed for long life and excellent mechanical reliability, hence the 3-year manufacturing warranty offered. This is evidenced by existing applications where these transducers have passed 14 million cycles in normal operation. And unlike some LVDT transducers, the AML-SGD product is completely serviceable by the manufacturer in the event of damage in use.

Any transducer device would be quite useless without means of providing appropriate supply voltage and output signal and this is often a significant part of any data acquisition programme. The AML/SGD range of displacement sensors ensure these costs remain at a minimum, by utilising strain gauge signal inputs of existing data acquisition equipment. In this way, these displacement sensors limit expenditure to the cost of the sensor only, thus eliminating further capital outlay on dedicated instrumentation.

However these advantages would be of no use if this combination of user benefits meant extended lead times. As such it is the policy of Applied Measurements to keep most standard ranges in stock, meaning that the payback period is shorter and the benefits can be realised sooner.

Compact, rugged and easy-to-install, AML/SGD displacement sensors are used by industries such as R&D, machine builders, automotive, marine and geotechnical. The total cost of ownership of instrumentation is now more relevant than ever for these industries and improvements in the versatility of sensors that allow their use with simple DC signal conditioning is but one method of spreading the life costs.

Highest level of safety for up to 64 sensors

Digital input modules for the control system PNOZmulti

The IP67 digital, decentralised input module PDP67 F 8DI ION is now available from Pilz, enabling a higher number of sensors to be connected safely, even outside the control cabinet. As a result, decentralised monitoring of all sensors in the field can be connected to the configurable control system PNOZmulti.

The digital input modules enable contact-based as well as electronic sensors to be connected outside the control cabinet with as much as ease as inside, in accordance with PL e of EN ISO 13849-1 and SIL 3 of EN/IEC 62061; the unit carries out the required feasibility check. As a result, the PNOZmulti is available as an evaluation device for centralised as well as decentralised sensor technology, with proven configuration and diagnostic functions via the PNOZmulti Configurator.

Communication is via a safe data link, so up to 64 safe sensors can be monitored decentrally. Hardware costs are reduced because this solution manages without a local control cabinet and uses only a single cable for communication and supply. All the benefits of the PNOZmulti product range can be enjoyed – free and easy configuration, rapid diagnostics plus the option to monitor a wide range of safety functions with just one unit.

It’s important to note that safety level PL e of EN ISO 13849-1 is only maintained when electronic sensors are used, as these enable a feasibility check. The time needed for this feasibility check must be taken into account in the machine configuration, to ensure that an e-stop is triggered in time in the event of danger.

If contact-based sensors are used, the performance level for a corresponding interface will be assessed as PL c in accordance with the standard EN ISO 13849-1.