Friday, August 13, 2010

Versatile Coriolis flowmeter with advanced functionality

As Rota Yokogawa - the European flow centre for Yokogawa - celebrates its 100th anniversary, one of the company's flagship products, the ROTAMASS Coriolis mass flowmeter, enters its third generation. Now well-established in many industries, the functionality of the ROTAMASS Coriolis mass flowmeter continues to evolve to meet users' expectations.

The ROTAMASS now has a density accuracy of up to ±0.0005 g/cm3, which is achieved and substantiated by a density calibration with three different liquids and at different temperatures. This means that reliable and accurate density measurement can now be carried out with a Coriolis meter over a wide operating temperature range.

One of the indirect benefits of accurate density measurement is more accurate concentration measurement of mixtures and solutions, such as oil and water mixes or sugar solutions. The corresponding concentration values are displayed, as a percentage or in °API, °Brix or °Baume units, and can be integrated into the process control system via analogue or digital signals.

Traditionally the mass flow output from Coriolis meters responds in a highly sensitive manner to gas bubbles in liquids. The ROTAMASS, on the other hand, has a special sensor design which can tolerate a relatively high proportion of gas in the medium. Diagnostic functions also enable the detection of gas bubbles contained in the liquid, so that an appropriate response can be initiated, guaranteeing functionality even at high gas concentrations.

Many applications involving highly viscous media (for example asphalt) require high process temperatures in order to lower the viscosity of the medium for pumping purposes. To avoid cooling of the medium, the mass flowmeter requires special insulation and heating. This is a particular strength of the ROTAMASS flowmeter, which can handle applications involving temperatures of up to 350°C.

System connectivity solutions for in-vehicle networks

Harting can now offer a complete range of interconnectivity solutions for in-vehicle Ethernet communications networks in road and rail vehicles.

A combination of the company's Ha-VIS 4000 range of Ethernet switches and Ha-VIS EtherRail data cables forms the basis for reliable Ethernet networks both within and in between vehicles.

In addition, the implementation of redundant networks that are specially designed to meet the connectivity requirements encountered in buses, trams and trains can be optimised with a combination of supplementary, interactive products, such as Ethernet switches with PoE (power over Ethernet), highly flexible data cables compliant with LSZH (low-smoke/zero-halogen) requirements and their range of industrial connectors.

Hartings's Ha-VIS eCon 4080-BPoE1 8-port PoE switch can be used to implement video networks as an aid to enhancing passenger safety in the driver's cab or at bus/train stops. Highly flexible data cables with four-star construction can be used both as connecting cable at the carriage transition and for installations in the vehicles, and conforms to current fire regulations to TS EN 45 545-5 for rail and bus vehicles.

Drives alliance

Advantage Control becomes the 12th ABB Drives Alliance member following its appointment in July. Advantage Control offers ABB variable speed drives from 0.18 kW to 400 kW throughout Ireland.

As with all ABB Drives Alliance partners, Advantage Control offers a lifecycle of drive services, from pre-purchase including energy appraisals and application advice; through to installation and start-up; operation and maintenance; upgrade and retrofit; replacement and recycling. The company can be contacted 24/7, allowing a fast response to breakdowns.

Sales Director Alan Armstrong says: “Our customers come from wide and varied industries such as the agricultural sector, food and beverage, animal feed producers, plastic extrusions, quarries, and water authorities. As such, we provide solutions for our customers from initial concept to supply, fit and commission of drives for applications such as mixers, conveyors, extruders, as well as pumps and fans application, in many cases saving energy as a result."

Advantage Control has specific expertise in converting plastic extruders and cable winding machinery from DC drive control to AC drive control. The company also manufactures frequency converters using variable speed drives to convert 240 v single-phase supplies to 415 v 3-phase up to 5.5 kW. This has proved popular with the rural farming industry where the expense of running in a 3-phase supply from the grid can be very expensive.

Hire drives is another service offered by Advantage Control. “We offer hire drives up to 600 kW,” says Armstrong, “for customers who have suffered a breakdown and need a drive quickly, or to prove the energy savings possible on an application on a try before you buy basis. “Becoming an ABB Drives Alliance partner gives us the additional credibility of being part of the most advanced drives distribution network in Britain and Ireland. The support of ABB and the other partners will help us in our plans to grow the business by bringing an even better service to our customers.”

Improving the automation curriculum

The petroleum refining and chemical manufacturing industries throughout the US, and indeed throughout the world, have a quantifiable need for analyser technicians to monitor, maintain, repair and install sampling and process analysis equipment.

To meet this challenge, Lee College (TX US) and San Jacinto College (CA US) joined forces in 2008 to create the Analyser Technician Opportunities Project (ATOP) curriculum funded through a US National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The first analyser education program offered by a college in that country, the ATOP program engages students in the study of analytical instruments, emphasizing their use in safety, product analysis, product quality, and environmental monitoring and control.

Completers of the program will add their expertise to the technology base that assures local, regional, and national petrochemical, food and beverage, pulp and paper, and energy industries, among others, remain competitive and robust.

Supported by the International Society of Automation (ISA) and scheduled to coincide with Automation Week Technology and Solutions Event (#ISAwk) is the Automation Technology Education Summit to be held Westin Galleria - Houston, (TX US) Thursday, October 7, 2010 1:00 to 5:00PM)

Educators and industrial advisors from the automation industry will share ideas and valuable resources that can unify and improve automation curriculums throughout the USA.

In addition to the core automation technologies, they will explore several specialized automation disciplines and technologies including:
  • Fieldbus
  • Wireless
  • Analytical Instrumentation
  • Variable Speed Drives
  • Mechatronics
The Summit aims to the perfect platform to exchange ideas, best practices, and networking for sustainable automation technology programs.

There is no fee for attendance at the summit and participants my register here on the Automation Week site.
"Let’s create a concrete path forward for automation curriculums. And while you are in town, make plans to attend the Automation Career Day at Lee College on Friday, October 8. This event provides an opportunity for students to learn and gather information about careers in automation through a mini career fair including education and industry exhibits."

Next generation level

Endress+Hauser, has over 15 years of experience with radar based time of flight measuring principles. More than 1 Million installed measuring points are the basis of the in-depth knowledge of their research and application engineers. After the successful introduction of the Levelflex in 1998 they have continuously improved their portfolio in cooperation with customers and end-users.

The introduction of the new Levelflex series marks the next level of instrumentation, supporting their customers in their efforts to increase plant and process efficiency. The product line has been developed and designed in accordance to the latest safety and industry standards. This family fits perfectly and seamless into their customers' processes in the Chemical, Petrochemical, Oil & Gas, Power and Energy, and the other industry.

The Levelflex FMP55 Multiparameter is the first instrument in the world with SensorFusion. It combines the guided wave radar technology with the capacitance measurement principle to measure interface with the highest reliability. The term "SensorFusion" is used when the combination of two different principles achieves significantly better results than each of the principles individually - and that's exactly what is offered to customers with the Levelflex FMP55 for interface measurement. Innovative, redundant approaches to interface measurement based on SensorFusion offers precise and most reliable field instrumentation solutions, never reached so far.

The Levelflex family comprises eight products – from the standard product for basic applications through to high-performance versions for sophisticated use in high-pressure and high-temperature conditions, complex interface measurement or applications in gases and steams. The Levelflex FMP5x series guarantees the safe and efficient control of the level and inventory in your application.

A new and modern product design, combined with a selection of housing materials, allows a convenient commissioning and operation of the instruments. Also, the inner values and features of the product line establish new benchmarks for level instrumentation: dynamic, continuously adapting evaluation algorithms to guarantee precise measurement results - if desired confirmed and documented with a 5-point linearity protocol based on measurements performed on their certified measurement rig.

Intuitive and user-friendly menu guidance, a unique data management system via the integrated HistoROM and a comprehensive concept for device and process diagnostics complete the profile. A ready, application oriented product portfolio guarantees the best fit and correct selection of level equipment. Advanced diagnostics to reduce maintenance costs and to minimize the risk of unplanned shutdowns are only part of the feature set offering a new level of value proposition for the entire life cycle of the product.
A spokesman sums it up: "...the new Levelflex FMP5x series is the Next Level Instrumentation."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Selenium in shampoo!

Rapid and accurate analysis of Selenium in shampoo ensuring compliance with EU cosmetic products legislation

Thermo Fisher Scientific has published a new method guide for the analysis of selenium in shampoo. The method, which aligns with the European Union commission directive 97/73/EEC
stipulating the methods of analysis necessary for checking composition of cosmetic products, features the Thermo Scientific iCE 3000 Series atomic absorption spectrometers. These spectrometers include deuterium background correction as standard and offer a fast and accurate solution for the analysis of selenium in shampoo. The iCE 3000's wizard-driven SOLAAR software also provides simple spectrometer optimization and method development
tools. The method is detailed in an application note, entitled "The Determination of Selenium in Shampoo by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry."

Pityriasis capitis, more commonly known as dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory disease of the skin, are treated with selenium disulphide, which is contained in lotions and shampoos. After rinsing, selenium disulphide residues may remain on the scalp and can enter the body through broken or damaged skin. Since the element is considered to be a potential carcinogen, limits have been set for its content in shampoos and lotions. Commission directive 93/73/EEC mandates flame atomic absorption spectrometry with deuterium background correction as the formal method to measure and regulate the concentration of selenium disulphide in shampoo.

The new application note demonstrates how the iCE 3000 Series can be used for the identification and determination of selenium disulphide in a range of medicinal shampoos. Identification is performed by observation of a reactionary color change, while flame atomic absorption spectrometry is used for the quantitative determination of selenium. The spectrometer can be optimized simply and quickly using the wizard-driven SOLAAR software.
Deuterium background correction is implemented to ensure regulatory compliance and spiked recoveries used to verify the accuracy of the method. Experimental results have demonstrated that flame atomic absorption spectrometry with deuterium background correction is the ideal technique for the dependable analysis of selenium disulphide in shampoo.

The iCE 3000 Series atomic absorption spectrometers are high-performance, flexible, easy-to-use and compact systems. The iCE 3300 is a fully PC-controlled flame atomic absorption spectrometer with full graphite furnace and vapour generation options. The iCE 3400 features a dedicated Zeeman furnace system, superior optics and flexible background correction options to maximize analytical performance and simplicity. The iCE 3500 is a dual flame/furnace atomiser allowing automatic, efficient and safe switching between flame and furnace analyses. Advanced optics and background correction accuracy ensure best analytical performance.

Production execution & performance

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced a new version of Proficy® Plant Applications, providing improved global functionality and system performance, with more user interface options and conformance features. Plant Applications facilitates valuable manufacturing intelligence capabilities within the Proficy software platform and helps companies holistically improve operating performance and production execution.

Proficy automates and integrates the information activities in production execution and performance management, including managing and applying targets and limits for processing and quality parameters, logging actual data about processes and production events, as well as deriving relevant “intelligence” from raw data for situation awareness in real-time. In addition, Proficy facilitates data analysis for decision-support, as well as routine report generation for compliance and disclosure activities. The automation of these activities enables “management by exception” allowing production personnel to focus on improvement initiatives with enhanced situational intelligence.

“Manufacturing intelligence on an enterprise scale helps businesses optimize and balance performance across the often competing operational priorities vital to sustainable business success,” said Sheila Kester, General Manager, Operations Management Software for GE Intelligent Platforms. “A core value of Proficy Plant Applications is its ability to make business sense out of mission-critical production data, in real-time. Management needs timely, accurate, actionable information to make informed business decisions.”

Proficy offers manufacturing intelligence that involves real-time integration of the information across the various aspects of manufacturing operations. It provides an information environment infused into the operation that enables tracking and optimizing operating efficiency, product and process quality, environmental and safety compliance, schedule execution, WIP inventory, genealogy and traceability, and more. With Proficy, users can:

· Manage business objectives and drive them into the manufacturing operation, such as: production schedules, work instructions, quality specs, bills of materials, machine set-points, and recipes

· Track the actual outcomes as they occur automatically, with minimal intrusion on the operators, such as: quality data, process conditions, energy consumption, environmental events, and other adverse situation events, like downtime and waste

· Assess conformance and communicate automatically with pop-up alarms and automated emails for fast appropriate response to prevent and minimize problems, to assure compliance and optimum performance

· Capture details of causes and actions taken related to exceptions like downtime events, scrap/waste, off- spec quality, schedule deviations, and the like.

Proficy is an example of how GE’s $4 billion-a-year software and solutions services businesses are helping customers improve productivity.

Drain inspection

With autumn just around the corner, thoughts turn to blocked drains caused by leaves and heavy rain, resulting in an increased demand for versatile and reliable equipment to undertake Remote Visual Inspection (RVI) of pipes and drains.

Pipes and drains come in all shapes and sizes, presenting a wide range of physical challenges to inspection equipment, and instrumentation specialist Ashtead Technology has developed one of the most comprehensive hire fleets of RVI instrumentation in Britain, covering every drainage inspection need.

Designed specifically to investigate pipes and tunnels ranging from 300mm to 1200mm in diameter, the iPEK Rovver 225 Crawler Inspection System is one of the most advanced instruments of its kind. It features a camera and lighting unit that can be remotely raised and lowered to ensure optimum viewing conditions in any investigation and is powered by two 40 watt motors driving all six wheels. The 225 is also fully operational even when submersed in up to 10 metres of water and is supplied with a DVD Recorder so that colour footage can be studied both during and after inspection work.

Also available is the smaller iPEK Rovver 125 which can be used in pipes with diameters from 150mm to 450mm. This system has proved highly popular for drain inspection because of its durability and low maintenance requirement.

A comprehensive range of pushrods and video pipeline inspection systems are also available for hire direct from Ashtead Technology to help provide a complete solution for any drainage inspection needs. In addition, GPR utility locators and personal gas detectors for confined space entry are available for hire during inspection work.

Alan Hasson, Ashtead Technology’s General Manager, said: “Not only can we provide the most comprehensive range of rental instruments, but we can also match this with a high level of support and technical expertise.

“Our fleet of iPEK crawlers and Pushrod inspection systems are extremely reliable and versatile and can be used in even the most demanding drains and pipelines. Hiring such instrumentation also avoids the excessive capital costs associated with purchase.”

Distributed motion solution with EtherCAT technology

National Instruments releases new high-performance servo drives and motors

National Instruments has announced new AKD Servo Drives and AKM Servo Motors that make it possible for engineers and scientists to easily build scalable, distributed motion control systems. The new products simplify setup and configuration for deploying custom motion applications to any NI real-time controller supporting NI EtherCAT technology including NI CompactRIO, PXI real-time controllers and NI industrial controllers. Additionally, National Instruments is releasing the NI LabVIEW 2010 NI SoftMotion Module that provides support for NI EtherCAT drives for simplified motion application development.

The new AKM brushless servo motors provide superior dynamic performance, are available in four different frame sizes and feature high torque, density and speed ranges. The motors use low-inertia rotors and feature low-cog, low-harmonic distortion magnetic design. The motors are also perfectly matched with NI servo drives and provide plug-and-play configuration with integrated Smart Feedback Device (SFD) technology and simplified cabling.

The new AKD Servo Drives feature simplified setup and configuration through EtherCAT technology and integration with the LabVIEW project, a feature in LabVIEW software that engineers use to group together LabVIEW and third-party files, create build specifications for executables and deploy or download files to hardware targets. The new drives deliver cutting-edge technology and performance with torque loop updates in 0.67 μs, and velocity and position loops at 62.5 μs and 125 μs. The AKD Servo Drives provide a solution for a wide range of applications, from basic torque-and-velocity applications to indexing to multi-axis programmable motion, using graphical system design.

The new motors and drives provide seamless integration with LabVIEW graphical programming through the LabVIEW NI SoftMotion Module to deliver graphical development for custom motion control applications. With the module, engineers and scientists can use the LabVIEW project to configure motion axis settings, test configuration, tune motors and quickly develop a custom motion application. The new version of the NI SoftMotion Module features an updated interactive configuration and a high-level function block API for increased ease of use and makes the execution of motion applications on a Windows-based system possible. In addition, the new module easily connects to the new drives and motors as well as third-party drives and motors using NI C Series drive interface hardware.

More about EtherCAT.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Drive upgraded for motion control duties

Parker Hannifin adds high resolution analogue input and encoder boards to AC890 series drives

Parker Hannifin has increased the flexibility and capability of its AC890 Modular Systems and AC890PX High Power Systems AC drives with the launch of high resolution analogue input and encoder option boards. These option boards provide the extra inputs and outputs required in the likes of electronic line shaft applications, machine tools, and other demanding motion control tasks.

The 8903-EP encoder option board features an incremental encoder input for a reference encoder, and a synthetic encoder output. The encoder input provides optically isolated differential inputs on channels A, B and Z. All inputs are compatible with RS422 and RS485 encoders, as well as encoders that provide output voltages as high as ±30V. The board embeds all the decoding logic required to interface the encoder input to the drive’s microprocessor, providing true ‘plug and play’ connectivity. Three non-isolated differential digital outputs are used for synthesising an encoder output.

Installed on a drive pre-fitted with an 8902-EQ incremental encoder option, the new board can be used to create an electronic line shaft between the reference and feedback encoders.

The 8903-AI card adds a sixth analogue input to the AC890 and AC890PX drives. It offers all the functionality of the 8903-EP encoder option board, plus a high resolution 16-bit ±10V analogue input. This makes the drive particularly suited to machine tool applications, where the drive will typically follow an analogue speed setpoint from a CNC, and send back to the CNC the position of the controlled axis. It provides the fast response times required for accurate position control.

AC Drives Product Manager Andy Evans comments: “Option boards provide a very cost-effective means of tailoring a preferred drive to meet specific application requirements, or expanding a drive to meet the needs of applications as they evolve over time. These two new option cards expand the flexibility of the AC890 series which has proven itself to be a popular choice in some of the industry’s most demanding applications."

Push-back test probe with integrated switch function

The new P222 from Peak Test Services is a push-back test probe featuring an integrated switch function and designed for tests on devices with 3 mm centres.

Push-back tests are generally used for testing safety-relevant wire harnesses and connectors, and involve checking the correct positioning of the contact pins and the electrical function of the contact elements in the connector. If the mechanical seat of the contact element in the connector is correct, the probe is pushed back and is used to trigger a switch function. If it is not correct, it is pushed out of its reference position.

The switch function required in a push-back test can be realised in different ways, including special receptacles or two-level probes, but integrating the switch into the probe offers the most economical approach.

The P222 probe also meets the requirement that push-back tests need robust spring-contact probes with very high spring forces. To ensure simple and secure fixing in the test module, the P222 has a groove which allows it to be fixed either with glue of with a washer. In addition, a knurl ensures a firm seat in the drill-hole. A twist-proof test can be realised by adding a guide plate to the test module.

For maintenance reasons, plunger and spring can be ordered separately and can be exchanged in the module without dismantling, offering further reduction in users' operating costs.

Explosion proof "hockey-puck" instruments!

Moore Industries BH Model field-mount enclosure certified by cCSAus

This story introduces us to a term we had never heard before this side of the Atlantic, where ice hockey does not enjoy the popularity it does in North America, "hockey-puck instruments!" We must admit it is a very appropriate term though (see pics!)

CSA International has certified Moore Industries’ BH field-mount instrumentation enclosures explosion-proof.

The BH enclosures provide protection for field-mounted hockey-puck instruments. In fact, the housing meets standards for enclosing indoor and outdoor electronic instruments approved for use in explosion-proof, dust-ignition proof and intrinsically-safe locations.

With the new certificate, the BH equipment rating is as follows:
    Class I, Groups A, B, C and D; Class II, Groups E, F and G; Class III; Type 4X, IP66. Prior approvals include Factory Mutual (FM) Explosion-Proof, Dust-Ignition Proof and NEMA 4X; IP66, and ATEX Flame-Proof certifications.
Meeting NEMA 4X and IP66 ratings, the BH housing is resistant to ultraviolet rays and chemicals. Its high impact structure protects instruments even in harsh field conditions.

With the new cCSAus Certificate of Conformity, the BH Model Field-Mount Enclosure has been Certified as Explosion-Proof, added as “Part B” to the existing Certificate issued for Moore Industries’ SB Stainless Steel, Explosion-Proof Enclosure for Hockey-Puck Instruments.

Inventory management

Matrikon Inc., now part of Honeywell, today announced it will provide ENMAX Corp. – a provider of electricity, natural gas and value-added services in Canada – with an integrated work and inventory management solution that will help it improve short- and long-term maintenance planning.

The solution is being implemented in ENMAX’s Generation division. Matrikon will configure and implement its IBM Maximo solution to help ENMAX reduce equipment breakdowns, cut maintenance costs and improve efficiency. The Maximo asset management software helps streamline business processes for increased asset reliability and improved staff productivity. In addition to maintenance planning, the system should improve the utilization of resources at generation facilities and help ensure inventory parts are available when required.

“Implementing a fully integrated work and inventory management system is an important milestone for the growing Generation division at ENMAX,” said Dave Rehn, executive vice president, Generation and Wholesale Energy, ENMAX Corp. “Maximo is a technology that supports our goal of generating success by enabling safe work practices while focusing on operational excellence. Matrikon has the depth of knowledge and technical expertise we were seeking for this implementation.”

“Our extensive experience in the power industry, coupled with our track record of successful Maximo implementations, gave ENMAX confidence that we were the right technology provider to help it achieve a work and inventory management system guided by best practices,” said Mike Brown, vice president of North American Solutions at Matrikon.

A key feature of the solution is its flexibility in meeting the power company’s future requirements. Corporate systems, such as PeopleSoft financials and Kronos payroll, will be integrated so that the data seamlessly flows back and forth for increased visibility of information in one integrated environment. Once the environment is integrated at the corporate level, ENMAX can consider expanding the use of Maximo to support work and inventory management needs of other ENMAX businesses.

With 30 certified IBM Maximo consultants, Matrikon is a leading integrator and support partner of IBM Maximo solutions.

Sensors on show

RDP Electronics Ltd will be showing the latest developments in sensor technology on stand C22 at the Sensing Technology show. (28th & 29th September 2010 Birmingham GB)

RDP’s comprehensive range of transducers includes load cells, pressure sensors, LVDTs, torque and magnetostrictive transducers complete with instrumentation and measurement software. The company specialises in providing cost effective solutions to a broad range of measurement needs, right from the point of measurement through to PC display of data.

Drawing on more than 40 years of research, development and manufacture, RDP are thoroughly experienced in manufacturing to the highest accredited international standards, with proven accuracy and long-term reliability, supported by a first class sales engineering team.

High-channel-count expansion chassis range

Three New Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) Chassis Deliver C Series to High-Speed Cabled and Wireless Buses

National Instruments has announced the NI 9157 and NI 9159 MXI-Express RIO chassis and NI 9148 Ethernet RIO chassis, which in addition to the existing NI 9144 EtherCAT chassis, extend the company’s offering of high-channel-count expansion chassis on a variety of buses. Built on NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) technology, these chassis deliver the benefits of field programmable gate array (FPGA)-based hardware and C Series I/O to applications requiring hundreds, or even thousands, of channels. Each expansion chassis contains a Xilinx FPGA that is programmable with the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, giving engineers the flexibility of high-speed and customisable I/O timing, inline processing and control.

The new MXI-Express RIO 14-slot expansion chassis with onboard Virtex-5 FPGAs offer a high-end solution for large applications that require high channel counts, mixed I/O for a variety of measurements and custom signal processing and control algorithms. The MXI-Express link delivers high bandwidth for streaming data to and from multiple chassis from a single controller, offering hundreds of C Series module slots and thousands of channels of analogue, digital and communication I/O including strain, acceleration, channel-to-channel isolated voltage input and simultaneous voltage. The new chassis are ideal for hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing, industrial machine monitoring and complex research applications.

White Paper
Learn more about RIO expansion chassis options by reading the “NI C Series Expansion I/O for RIO Systems” white paper.
“Using the MXI-Express RIO chassis, we can build highly customisable, high-channel-count conditioned measurement systems,” said Albion Knight, Vice President of Green Mountain Research Inc. “We now use LabVIEW FPGA to program the FPGA within the chassis and add custom signal processing, control and timing to solve a variety of high-channel-count control and acquisition applications.”

The NI 9148 8-slot Ethernet expansion chassis adds flexible distributed I/O to RIO systems. With standard CAT 5 Ethernet cabling, it communicates with NI CompactRIO, real-time PXI controllers, the NI industrial controller or any networked Windows PC. The flexibility of the NI 9148 chassis makes it an ideal choice for seamlessly adding expansion I/O to an existing network. With an onboard FPGA and LabVIEW FPGA software, engineers can implement custom signal analysis, control and safety interlocks local to each chassis to create a truly modular system. Engineers can also use more than 50 third-party C Series I/O modules with these new chassis, including wireless modules based on 802.11, GPS, Edge, and other technologies. When combining the new NI 9148 Ethernet chassis with wireless modules from S.E.A. Datentechnik GmbH., engineers can turn the NI 9148 chassis into wireless expansion systems for application with difficult or impossible cabling.

These expansion chassis are an extension of the NI RIO platform, which delivers a wide variety of solutions at different prices and performance levels for control, design and test applications. The common NI RIO architecture consists of a processor, customisable FPGA and modular I/O, which combine to create a flexible system that solves complex application problems. Engineers can use the LabVIEW graphical development environment to program the processor, FPGA and I/O of their RIO system to create an embedded system that rivals the performance and optimisation of custom hardware.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Smart level

Smart alternative to vibrating fork level switches

With the level switch LBFS, Baumer offers a cost-efficient and reliable alternative to widely-used vibration level switches. The device is able to detect the level of viscous or dry substances as well as liquids and can be mounted in any position in tanks or pipelines. The sensor is unaffected by flow, turbulence, bubbles, foam, and suspended solids. As the sensor head is smooth and very small, even adhesive media do not stick to it. The sensor’s short response time enables fast filling processes as well as an accurate and reliable keeping of levels.

The level switch detects high and low levels in tanks and pipelines. Furthermore, it can be used for overfill protection, dry running protection of pumps and phase separation in oil-water mixtures. There are many fields of applications: drinking water, wastewater, filtration, HVAC, hydraulics, oil and gas, bio energy, wood pellets, flour mills, railway transportation or pump systems.

The sensor is mounted in a compact, very robust, and corrosion-resistant stainless steel housing. It can be installed and sealed easily with a Teflon tape. It can be easily configured on PC via the FlexProgrammer 9701. Due to its fast response time of just 0.2 seconds, the sensor offers reliable level detection even in fast filling processes. The device can be used at a wide operation temperature range from -40 up to 115 °C.

The LBFS is based on the frequency sweep technology whereby a frequency is swept by the transmitter and becomes subject to a phase shift depending on the medium. When in contact with the medium, which has a different dielectric constant (DC) outside the selected DC range, an electronic switch is triggered. The high sensitivity over a large sensing range from DC 1.5 up to more than 100 allows the level detection of all kinds of powders, granulates and liquids. Even difficult substances like polyamide granulate or paper can be detected reliably. Compared to other measuring methods like vibrating forks, conductive ultrasonic or optical sensors, this technology has further important advantages. It has no vibrating parts and is not sensitive to changes based on conductivity, temperature or pressure. Furthermore, the sensor is suitable for all kinds of applications for which a range of different technology devices would have been required.

Laboratory, drilling & power applications

CANopen profiles for laboratory automation

CAN in Automation (CiA) has released additional device interfaces for laboratory automation. The CiA 434 specifications (part 2 and part 3) describe device profiles for heating, cooling, and shaking units as well as dispensers, dilutors, and pumps. The profiles specify process data and configuration parameters. This makes the device in a CANopen network interoperable and even partly exchangeable. This simplifies system design.

The CANopen profiles for laboratory automation have been developed by market-leading companies and are designed especially for pipette automation systems, but are also suitable for other laboratory equipment. In such systems, IEC 61131-3 programmable devices are increasingly used, which are originally developed for industrial automation. The CiA 434 specification has been published CiA internally; excerpts are available for non-members.

CANopen profile for drilling machines

The CiA 455 application profile is suitable for construction machinery with drilling functions such as rotary drilling rigs. It has been designed with special regard on positioning and tool control. The CANopen profile specifies the electronic interfaces for several units including feeder, position, tool, mast, winch, material tank, and sensor control units as well as the drilling controller. Besides process data and configuration parameters, the profile recommends bit-rates, connectors, and some other physical layer parameters.

The standardized interfaces simplify the system integration and allow the use of third party units. The application profile has been published CiA-internally, but an excerpt is available also for non-members. It is the second profile for construction machines; the first was the CiA 415 profile for sensor systems of road construction machines such as pavers and compactors.

Power supplies device updated

The CiA 453 device profile for power supplies has been reviewed and updated. The new version 1.1 specifies extended CANopen communication capabilities for power supply units.

A power supply unit compliant to CiA 453 is able to switch from local to remote control mode and vice versa except in the sequential processing mode. The introduced extensions comprise configuration of the internal logical circuitry (digital inputs and outputs) and configuration of the signal delay times of the power supply units. In addition, the boot-up configuration register has been introduced. It will provide information about the power supply device state after initialization. In general, the different power supply status procedures have been harmonized. The Emergency (EMCY) message contains now also fault indicator information. The editorial changes in the new version should increase the readability.

Humidity, Temperature & CO2 by wireless

Wireless Sensors from the Sensor Specialist

EE240 wireless sensors from E+E Elektronik are the ideal solution for high quality, wireless measurement of humidity, temperature or CO2. With the introduction of state-of-the-art wireless data transmission, E+E Elektronik, the sensor specialist, is expanding its expertise into wireless sensor systems.

Up to three intelligent probes can be connected to each transmitter. Each probe operates independently and can be hot swapped. Remote probes allow the sensing head to be placed at a distance of up to 10m away from the transmitter. These features make the E+E wireless sensors especially suited for industrial applications that require sensors to be routinely recalibrated without affecting network operation. The measured values can be read directly off the display on the transmitter or read remotely using your web browser from any PC in the company network.

The base station features a digital Ethernet interface for effective connection to the network and data analysis. The integrated web server allows you to easily and individually configure the wireless sensor network from any PC without installing any software. The base station comes with four analog outputs for connection to your system controller.

A mobile measuring system with up to 500 transmitter stations can be built without having to install any wiring. In addition to this high degree of flexibility, coded bidirectional communication ensures completely secure data transmission.

The E+E wireless sensors conform to protection class IP65, making them suitable for use under demanding operating conditions as well as in outdoor applications.

Wireless routers are available to expand the network and range or to bypass obstacles.

E+E products are marketed in Ireland through Instrument Technology Ltd.

Alarm response

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of the Proficy® SCADA Alarm Response Management Solution Pack. The new Solution Pack provides operators with step-by-step instructions during alarm events, takes automatic action on nuisance alarms and escalates alarm notification to speed response, minimize training time and costs, decrease errors, rework and waste, and improve safety. It also automatically generates detailed reports by alarm location to ease compliance and track and improve staff performance.

Proficy SCADA Alarm Response Management allows operators to focus on the critical alarms that create the largest problems. Alarms – including those that can shut down the entire facility or create safety hazards – can trigger step-by-step instructions to operators, even from within the window of their usual HMI /SCADA application. Operators do not have a new system to learn and can immediately improve response to alarms and ensure operations run smoothly. Additionally, Proficy can filter out nuisance alarms and take automatic action, so the team only needs to perform steps on certain alarms. As needed, Alarm Response Management will escalate alarms, notifying management of the critical situation and next steps, automatically triggering emails or text messages, for example, when the situation requires.

“The insight through information provided by the Proficy Software platform is a foundation for optimizing operations,” said Sheila Kester, General Manager, Operations Management for GE Intelligent Platforms. “By tracking the results of the operations team – both for performance improvement and compliance, managers will know who performed what tasks, when they performed them, and how long each step took, giving them a sustainable competitive advantage in their field.

“In addition, with the ability to automate compliancy reporting, the solution provides the proof needed to show regulatory entities that the operations team is following proper procedures,” Kester continued. “This is particularly useful in the Food & Beverage, Water & Wastewater, Power & Energy, Life Sciences, and other heavily regulated industries.”

Proficy SCADA Alarm Response Management solution allows organizations to capture knowledge from experienced operators and provide it via traceable, easy to follow work instructions for newer employees. Operators see screens and Work Instructions that reflect the operational knowledge base and best practices of the company. Results are provided detailing where the alarms occurred and which response steps required the most amount of troubleshooting time, allowing organizations to analyze how to improve responses in the future.

An easy-to-use solutions pack, Alarm Response Management includes templates for creating response workflows and escalating alarms.

• Alarm response instructions automatically trigger based on pre-existing alarms in the SCADA/HMI, providing operators with necessary work instructions as needed.

• Procedures documented electronically allow operators to follow instructions through a user-friendly, step-by-step task list.

• Managers receive reports showing how long each team member took to complete tasks and where the alarm occurred in the facility, offering a means to easily identify whom requires additional help and in which areas.

• Videos can be embedded in Workflows for visual feedback.

• Workflows used for training decrease the time to ramp up new operators.

•Digitized procedures reduce alarm response time, operator errors and waste.

Proficy SCADA Alarm Response Management is the latest example of how GE’s $4 billion-a-year software and solutions services businesses are helping customers improve productivity.

Giving engineers their time back!

16th Annual Graphical System Design Conference Demonstrates Efficiency of Innovation With NI Tools
Executives from National Instruments discussed how NI products are supporting innovation during the 16th annual NIWeek graphical system design conference and exhibition. Speaking to a record crowd of more than 3,000 engineers and scientists, NI executives and engineers demonstrated new products and technologies that help innovators increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs.
A Flavour
This interview (in two parts) by NI's irrepressible Todd on his "Engineering Mind" give some idea of the personality of the closing Keynote Speaker, Dr. Michio Kaku.

These are links to Deirdre Walsh's Blog made direct from the action as it happened!
Day 1 [ ] Day 2 [ ] Day 3
Deirdre is NI's Social Media and Community Manager

Dr. James Truchard, NI President, CEO and Cofounder, opened NIWeek 2010 by discussing how NI is taking advantage of computer-based technologies and Moore’s Law to deliver a unique ecosystem of highly integrated software and hardware that increases performance while decreasing cost, complexity and the time spent getting solutions to market. He explained how the well-integrated architecture of tools such as NI LabVIEW graphical system design software and NI CompactRIO modular instrumentation delivers the efficiency customers need so they have more time to create real solutions that address the world’s engineering challenges.

“With the integration that we create with LabVIEW and other tools across multicore and distributed systems, we can make ever more powerful systems, integrating hardware and software,” Truchard said. “This is all about system-level design making a platform that increases the efficiency and productivity of engineers’ designs, so small teams can do a lot more.”

Following Truchard, John Graff, NI Vice President of Americas,Sales and Marketing, hosted NI engineers on stage to demonstrate how new NI products are paving the way for efficient, long-term innovation. These products include LabVIEW 2010 with its optimised compiler, the industry’s first vector network analyser available in a compact PXI form factor, high-performance data acquisition hardware, optical sensing instrumentation and several others. NI engineers showed how these products address advanced demands, expanding the variety of solutions that NI delivers for test, embedded and industrial applications.

To illustrate how NI continues to help customers advance the state of the art in technology, John Pasquarette, NI Vice President of Software Marketing, along with NI R&D developers, began the second day of the conference with previews of several current and forthcoming NI technologies. Engineers demonstrated in-development projects including product concepts for using mobile devices and cloud computing technologies for real-time, distributed data acquisition. The team also demonstrated the new LabVIEW FPGA Compile Farm Toolkit and LabVIEW FPGA Cloud Compile Service Beta, which will make it possible for engineers to assign field-programmable gate array (FPGA) compiling tasks to remote servers. Other demonstrations showed new driver technologies for facilitating hardware support across multiple operating systems including Mac and Linux, advanced RF measurement technology and a PXI multichassis communication protocol for high-performance computing.

Jeff Kodosky, NI Business and Technology Fellow, Cofounder and “Father of LabVIEW,” followed Pasquarette by discussing the past, present and future of the role of time in computation and programming languages. He detailed the challenges today’s computer scientists face with synchronising software and hardware in real time, and the solutions that new LabVIEW compiler technology can provide for advancing real-time computation and future innovation.

On the last day of the conference, Ray Almgren, NI Vice President of Marketing for Core Platforms, demonstrated how today’s students are driving the future of technology with NI products. He then invited university student teams to demonstrate how they are using NI technology to improve the world. Members of the Racing Green Endurance team from Imperial College of London showed how they quickly prototyped and deployed an electric car, which can drive 350 miles on a single charge, within eight months using LabVIEW and CompactRIO. Almgren then introduced the Virginia Tech Blind Driver Challenge team, demonstrating a car that the blind can drive, which they prototyped in just four months using NI products.

Dr. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, author, professor and host of numerous scientific documentaries, closed NIWeek 2010 with informed projections about the future of science, technology and innovation. He explained how with Moore’s Law doubling computer power every 18 months, innovation is happening faster than ever. In addition to detailing numerous emerging technologies that will drive the future, he discussed how NI is helping advance those technologies. With examples such as NI involvement in the CERN Large Hadron Collider and ITER fusion projects, he declared that, “NI has set the gold standard for data processing.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Maintenance-free pH sensor for harsh environments

The Yokogawa FU24 is a new 'four in one' pH sensor designed to offer virtually maintenance-free operation and long sensor lifetime - especially in harsh applications involving severe temperature and pressure fluctuations.

This sensor incorporates a patented Yokogawa-designed bellows system which automatically compensates for the effect of pressure fluctuations. Such pressure variations can be highly detrimental to sensor operation, as they can initiate a pumping effect resulting from the expansion and shrinkage of the gel or liquid inside the sensor. The outcome is that the process liquid will start to ingress into the sensor and the reference voltage - and hence the pH measurement - will start to drift.

In the FU24 sensor, pressure fluctuations are automatically compensated by the built-in bellows up to 10 bar, making the sensor virtually insensitive to pressure variations. A positive overpressure maintained by the tension in the bellows generates a steady flow out of the sensor.

Coriolis meter family enhanced

Emerson Process Management’s Micro Motion® F-Series compact Coriolis meters are now available with additional digital protocols and Smart Meter Verification, an easy-to-use tool that delivers assurance of the structural and measurement integrity of the meter. These new capabilities are enabled by connectivity to the enhanced core processor and 2400S transmitter, both powered by Micro Motion next-generation MVD™ (multivariable digital) processing technology, which enables superior stability and meter performance. The 2400S transmitter option also enables DeviceNet™ and PROFIBUS-DP protocols in an extremely compact package.

Micro Motion MVD technology provides a faster meter response time and uses advanced algorithms to deliver meter stability and performance in challenging operating conditions. Smart Meter Verification delivers flow meter measurement confidence on-demand and is the only verification tool to test the complete meter, in minutes, without process impact, without the use of secondary references, and without requiring complicated and time-consuming wiring. The meter verification test, carried out while the meter is in line and the process is flowing, checks the sensor tubes and electronics against original factory settings. For processes required to regularly verify and document meter performance, such as pharmaceutical and custody transfer, Smart Meter Verification can make significant savings for ongoing operating costs.

The F-Series meter with the Model 2400S transmitter adds DeviceNet and PROFIBUS-DP communication protocols options, expanding on the currently available interfaces such as FOUNDATION™ fieldbus, Profibus-PA, HART®, 4-20 mA, Pulse, and WirelessHART®.

This product family is suitable for applications ranging from DN6 (1/4”) to DN100 (4”) line sizes, with mass flow ranges from 2720 kg/h to 272000 kg/h. F-Series Coriolis meters are compact and drainable, ideal for liquid or gas measurement in many challenging applications where accuracy and a compact format are required. This product is available in 316L Stainless Steel and Nickel-alloy, for pressures up to 345 bar (5000 psi) and temperatures up to 350°C. Transmitter options include integral, remote, 2-wire or 4-wire, with options for mounting in rugged field enclosures for hazardous areas, or DIN rail or rack and panel mounting for control room applications.

Micro Motion Coriolis flow meters lead the process manufacturing industry in quality, measurement performance, and reliability, and are part of Emerson's broad range of intelligent, digital field devices that power the PlantWeb™ digital plant architecture. Further cost savings, increased plant availability, and enhanced safety and environmental compliance are achieved when the flow meters are integrated into the PlantWeb digital plant architecture.

Timers for various functions

Linear Technology has announced the TimerBlox™ family, a set of simple, small, accurate and low power devices for five commonly used timing functions: voltage-controlled oscillator, low frequency oscillator, pulse width modulated oscillator, monostable pulse generator (one-shot) and delay. As a family, the TimerBlox parts provide a precision, easy-to-use solution; these parts offer a single common platform and allow the use of precise building block solutions for each function.

Leveraging the company's advanced silicon oscillator technology, TimerBlox parts combine an accurate, programmable oscillator with precision circuitry and logic. Like all Linear Technology silicon oscillators, TimerBlox devices are solid state and can be operated under high acceleration, vibration and temperature extremes. TimerBlox products ensure accuracy and stability at a much higher level than typical resistor/capacitor-based oscillators. Each TimerBlox part can operate over a wide frequency or time range, and is programmed with 1 to 3 resistors. The micropower operation provides an alternative to resistor/capacitor-based timers that often require milliwatts of power.

The 20mA source and sink capability directly drives opto-isolators and transformers for electrical isolation. Fully specified over the temperature range of -40°C to 125°C, the TimerBlox parts are suitable for demanding automotive and industrial environments, where many oscillators and microcontrollers are unable to operate. The small SOT23 footprint allows each timing device to be placed at the point of use, without routing signals over long distances, and provides an ideal timer for space-limited applications such as handheld and portable devices.

“TimerBlox devices ease the design and time constraints facing today’s engineers,”
says Erik Soule, General Manager for Linear Technology. “They eliminate the complexity of software programming and circuit design, while providing good accuracy, low power and a small footprint.”

Application examples and design ideas have been compiled in the TimerBlox Circuit Collection, available online at Incorporating TimerBlox parts into larger systems is simplified with a complete set of TimerBlox LTspice® models. The LTspice design tool is a high performance Spice III simulator, schematic capture and waveform viewer, available for download from Linear Technology. In addition, the TimerBlox can be quickly set up using the TimerBlox Designer, an Excel-based set-up tool that generates a schematic, with part name and resistor values, and a timing diagram based on the timing function parameters. Finally, a complete line of TimerBlox demo boards are available for purchase from Linear Technology.

The first available device in the TimerBlox series, the LTC6990 Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) provides accurate and simple voltage-controlled output frequencies from 488Hz to 2MHz. Using only a few resistors, the designer can set the center frequency and modulate the output with an external voltage. A narrow or wide VCO tuning range can be customized for the application, and the high modulation bandwidth allows the part to adapt to a wide range of applications. For example, the LTC6990’s voltage-to-frequency capability can interface to temperature, light and other environmental sensors, and the output can drive isolators, piezo and ultrasonic devices. Baseline frequency error is only 1.5% maximum and the enable function ensures clean, glitch-free output pulses.

MEMS based inclination

New MEMS-based inclinometer with linear output

ASM has a new inclinometer, the PTAM27L series, based upon MEMS technology for single and dual axis tilt angle measurement. The compact, flat housing was designed for OEM applications. For single axis versions, the measurement ranges span from±15° to ±180°, in increments of 15°. For dual axis versions, the measurement ranges span from ±15° to ± 60°, in increments of 15°.

The new series is an extension of the POSITILT® family of MEMS based inclinometers. This wear-free sensing technology offers high resolution and is shock resistant. The housing is rated IP64 and with a height of only 10mm, the PTAM27L can be easily installed into the tightest locations.

The maximum measurement range is ±180° for the single axis and ±60°, both are available in increments of 15°.

Several analog outputs and the corresponding excitation voltages are available:
    U2L = 0.5…10 V with 18…36 VDC,
    U6L = 0.5…4.5 V with 5 V DC ±5% (ratiometric),
    U8L = 0.5…4.5 V with 10…36 VDC and
    I1L = 4…20 mA with 18…36 VDC.
The PTAM27L offers 0.1° resolution,±1° linearity and ±100 x 10-6/ C° temperature stability. The operating temperature range is 0 to 60 C° full scale.