Friday, September 24, 2010

Real time simulation platform

A&D Instruments Ltd have released a new range of hardware and software test solutions for dynamic automotive measurement and modelling. Procyon is a 32 core ultra-high-performance simulation and control platform.

Procyon is their next generation of high-speed real-time simulation and control platform that meets the demands of the Automotive and Engineering solution providers for running large, complex simulations in real-time. The open and configurable system architecture supports multiple CPU’s with multiple cores and user-programmable FPGA’s, as well as Hyper Transport, PCI Express and conventional PCI interconnections.

The Procyon gives advanced processing technology. Its features include:
  • Multi-core and multi-CPU support (up to 32-core with 8 AMD Opterons)
  • Direct connection of I/O interface to CPU
  • Real-time application development environment with
  • MATLAB/Simulink and Virtual Console
  • Open system specification enables third-party I/O board development
  • Flexible system configuration
Phil Hopper, A&D’s Business Development Manager said of the release ‘We are very excited about this step into the UK market; we have had great success globally with our products and have developed unique and powerful solutions unmatched by other suppliers. We have already had considerable interest in our solutions specifically developed for Hybrid Vehicle and Battery test development and we are looking forward to market feedback for all our products.’

A&D Instruments are a leader in the development of test, measurement, monitoring and control solutions across the world with over 30 years experience in this specialist field, the release of their integrated product suite forms part of a strategic plan to raise the profile of their existing extensive range of solutions in Britain.

Measurement Solutions include:
  • Vehicle Measurement System
  • Wheel Force Sensors
  • Wheel Position Sensors
  • Rotating Torque Sensor
  • Combustion analysis
  • Force Matrix Sensor
  • WCA mini - portable FFT Analyser, data recorder, Noise and Vibration analysis.
Their range of complete solution and service development suite of products includes software, DSP hardware, sensors and related equipment, all part of A&D’s own product offering. Though initially targeted at the automotive sector the products clearly offer exceptional solutions in a wide variety of engineering applications.

As part of A&D Instruments Ltd’s process of continual product development and research, they have a long and key relationship with Birmingham City University where a fully equipped engine test and development cell is installed, providing a centrally located dynamic demonstration facility.

A&D uses Simulink and Model-Based Calibration Toolbox for calibration automation, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) system models and real-time control applications. A&D are a Mathworks Connections Program Partner.

As the only modelling solution providers to offer a proven multi-core processing solution, A&D Instruments are setting new standards for vehicle and product development. For further information please contact

Coker drum safety for crude oil refineries

Coker Drum Safety System prevents unsafe actions by coker drum operators.
The SIS-TECH Coker Drum Safety System (CDSS) automatically inhibits the opening of valves under unsafe process conditions. In a crude oil refinery, this prevents the release of hydrocarbons and/or hydrogen sulfide to the atmosphere, or introduction of hydrocarbons to an open drum. The CDSS logic solver makes sure that an in-service drum is not opened to the atmosphere, or that an open drum is not placed in service.

Understanding the Problem
OSHA (US Department of Occupational Safety & Health) says, in Hazards of Delayed Coker Unit (DCU) Operations, “The batch portion of DCU drum switching and coke cutting operations creates unique hazards, resulting in frequent and serious accidents.” The specific hazardous operating states are listed as coker drum switching, coker drum removal, and coke cutting (hydroblasting) operations.

Each DCU has at least two coker drums, and an operator is responsible for manually lining up the coker drums and valves. Although operator procedures and training emphasize the importance of correct line-up and the hazards of deviating from approved procedures, accidents often occur. Failure to open or close valves in the correct sequence can result in the release of hot hydrocarbons and/or hydrogen sulfide gas, and can also cause a fire.

Improper line-up of coker drums has led to several serious accidents, including fatalities. Because valve line-up is manually executed, operator error is one of the leading causes of these accidents.

Total Automation Solutions (TAS), recently installed a CDSS system at a major refinery. “The use of the CDSS in conjunction with the TAS Coker Interlock System eliminated the need to install a safety programmable logic controller (PLC),” said J.R. Thompson, senior vice president at TAS. “The installation was simple and straightforward, requiring only that we clearly defined the conditions under which certain valves could be opened or closed.”

Thompson has been working with refineries and coking systems for years, and he appreciates the safety and simplicity of the CDSS. “Without a CDSS, we would have to engineer, design and program a separate safety PLC system. This is a significantly more costly solution, and requires that the refinery have staff available to support the safety PLC.”
Monitoring Operator Actions
The SIS-TECH CDSS is a safety instrumented system independent of the TAS Coker Interlock System and other plant control systems. The CDSS monitors process conditions to prevent operations from opening the wrong valve or performing operations on the wrong drum. The CDSS provides a totally independent logic solver coupled with independent process sensors to provide a stand-alone layer of protection for the coker drum.

For each Coker Drum, the CDSS monitors three process variables: overhead pressure, overhead temperature and inlet temperature. It verifies safe conditions before allowing the TAS Coker Interlock System operator to open the vent, drain, top/bottom head, blowdown, overhead to fractionator, or inlet feed valves.

The CDSS logic solver monitors process variables to detect unsafe conditions. It then removes the permissive to operate the affected valves and sounds an alarm, thus preventing the valve from opening at the wrong time.

The CDSS is suitable for use up to SIL-3. 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 CDSS is rated for -30 to 75C operation, meets Class I Div II requirements, and can be installed in harsh refinery environment near the equipment under control.

Field installation and implementation of the CDSS logic solver costs less than half that of a safety PLC. In addition, on-going support costs are much lower as the CDSS is much simpler to maintain than a safety PLC.

Outdoor enclosures

Simple selection guide for complex outdoor solutions

Different applications demand different solutions and Rittal has released a new easy-to-read 16 page brochure to help clients choose the right outdoor enclosure for their application.

Containing a selection guide covering single and double walled free standing and wall (or pole) mounting enclosures in aluminium and stainless steel, the guide also gives details of “built-in” and “add-on” vandal resistance and noise reduction options for sites in residential environments, as well as the multiplicity of cooling preferences available.

The brochure includes details of cabinets used in a variety of industries, including energy, water, telemetry, rail and road traffic and telecoms together with applications as diverse as wind power, line monitoring, flood prevention, signal light controls, information systems and FTTx.

Details of the material choices, structure and extensive internal mounting options, EMC shielding and weather resistance for locating enclosures in the harshest of situations, including mountainous, coastal, desert and polar are included in the brochure.

Not only assisting in the design and selection of the best materials and cooling solution for the enclosure application, Rittal also provides an after sales service which includes full maintenance of the cooling system with its extended service intervals, due to the high technology nano-coating applied to the metal parts of the thermal interface.

Plastic connector housings

High-quality plastic connector housings are rugged, lightweight and cost-effective

The new Han-Eco® from Harting is a complete range of high-quality all-plastic industrial connector housings that combine ruggedness, light weight and reduced costs with versatility, safety and reliability.

Han-Eco® is the ideal solution for users who require a cost-effective, lightweight product and who do not require the full range of product features offered by Harting's established Han® B series of connector housings. The product also offers a higher contact-density/housing-size ratio than the Han® B series.

Like the Han® B standard series, the Han-Eco® series is available in sizes 6 B, 10 B, 16 B and 24 B. Depending on size, versions of the bulkhead mounting and hood with straight or angled cable exit can be supplied. The cable exits are available with metric threading.

Han-Eco® housings are made of high-performance plastic that is highly resistant to environmental stress and - in combination with the design - provides very good mechanical stability. When the connector is closed and locked, it provides IP 65 protection as defined in DIN EN 60 529. The material also meets the demanding flammability requirements of UL 94 Class V 0.

Fast, simple assembly is a key product feature, with a click-and-mate design totally eliminating the need for tools during assembly.

The Han-Eco® housing is compatible with the full range of modules from the Harting Han-Modular® series of industrial connectors. One extra module fits into the Han-Eco® housing compared to the equivalent product in the Han® B Standard series. This special feature applies to all four sizes.

A PE (protective earth) module has been developed specifically for the Han-Eco® housing to hold the protective ground conductor. Use of the PE module is optional depending on the application.

The new Harting series complies with all standards relating to user safety. All metal parts in the PE system are fully connected to the protective ground conductor. This prevents the risk of anyone touching live parts if a fault occurs. The housing is also suitable for use on machines and systems with Class II protective insulation.

To ensure a safe, compliant PE connection, the housings are not compatible with the Han® B Standard series. However, the mounting dimensions of the Han-Eco® bulkhead are identical with the mounting dimensions of the Han® B Standard series, eliminating the need to modify control cabinet side panels.

The locking lever (locking system with two transverse levers on all sizes) can be mounted on the bulkhead or the hood to suit user needs. A coupling hood is also available for cable-to-cable applications.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gearshift indication in racing

West Surrey Racing choose Variohm cable-extension transducers for neat gearshift indicator solution
When West Surrey Racing (WSR) needed a rapid solution to improve the gearshift indicator system on its FIA World Touring Car Championship BMW 320si, they chose MTA series cable-extension transducers from motorsports sensor specialists Variohm EuroSensor. The neat solution was delivered on the same day as the initial enquiry, in time to meet the deadline for FIA race approval, and easily installed and electrically interfaced to a simple dashboard display to indicate the selected gear from the gear stick position.

The compact miniature 'stringpot sensor' from Celesco was chosen for its installation simplicity and robustness. The 35 mm diameter x 13 mm thick sensor provided the distance measurement directly from the BMW's H-pattern 5-speed gearshift mechanism without the need to ensure precision alignment, with the integral spring loaded stainless steel cable simply connected to the gear stick. The IP55 rated aluminium housed unit was supplied on an optional mounting bracket that was fixed in a slightly offset position on the car chassis to ensure each gear position returned a different position reading.

WSR chose the smaller of two MTA models with a 75 mm stroke and voltage divider (potentiometer) output powered from the car's 12 VDC supply. The high duty cycle conductive plastic potentiometer has an essentially infinite resolution and very long working life, and with a full stroke accuracy of better than ±0.4% and repeatability of ±0.02%, it provided more than adequate performance for the application.

With demanding applications in areas such as heavy construction equipment and agricultural machinery, the MTA series is well suited to the arduous environmental conditions that the BMW typically sees throughout a race.

WSR is based in Sunbury-on-Thames (GB) and in addition to its eBay-backed FIA WTCC BMW 320si race team, also competes in the British Touring Car Championship and provides R&D, CAD and engineering services throughout the motorsports industry that can accommodate anything from one-off performance prototypes to 'Limited Edition' production.

Variohm EuroSensor also supplies WSR with ride height position measurement solutions using its race proven ELPM series linear slimline linear position transducers. The compact rod-type ELPM provides stroke lengths up to 75 mm in IP67 sealed housings.

Wireless first with vibration spectrum for detailed machinery analysis

Wireless Vibration Transmitter expands Smart Wireless predictive diagnostic capabilities and delivers critical information to both maintenance and operations

Emerson Process Management has expanded the capabilities of its CSI 9420 Wireless Vibration Transmitter to deliver more detailed information for machinery analysis. In addition to sending operators direct alerts on high vibration caused by faults like cavitation or bearing defects, the CSI 9420 can now also use Emerson's reliable Smart Wireless network to send high resolution spectra to vibration experts for detailed diagnosis of machinery issues.

The CSI 9420 connects quickly, easily, and economically to any machine. Its wireless capabilities are especially beneficial for equipment that is in remote or hard-to-reach locations, or is inadequately monitored, and needs more visibility to operations and maintenance personnel.

It has has been proven cost-effective in a wide range of applications across all industries. For example, it presents an excellent solution for monitoring refinery pumps, protecting against not only production loss but also health and safety risks from fugitive emissions. Other key uses include monitoring of cooling towers, compressors, and agitators in settling ponds, as well as all types of motors, pumps, and fans.

Vibration information delivered wirelessly by this unit includes velocity and PeakVue™ stress wave values. Configuration, diagnostics, and alerts from the CSI 9420 are available in Emerson's AMS Suite predictive maintenance software, while vibration data can be correlated with other process variables in the company's DeltaV™ and Ovation™ digital control systems as well as other suppliers data historians or control systems. The instrument has a user-configurable interface to report high resolution spectra and waveforms, as well as vibration energy bands for enhanced trending and alarming.

"Emerson is committed to providing our customers with Smart Wireless offerings that increase safety, reliability, and uptime – absolute priorities for our users," said Stuart Harris, vice president and general manager of the Asset Optimisation business. “By significantly enhancing wireless predictive diagnostics for essential machinery, we enable our customers to expand their monitoring programmes to address these key business priorities.”

Smart Wireless extends the benefits of Emerson’s PlantWeb™ digital plant architecture to areas of the plant that were previously out of physical or economic reach. In addition to the wireless vibration transmitter, Emerson offers a wide range of wireless field instrumentation and plant operations technology, including Fisher® position monitors, Rosemount® transmitters, Rosemount Analytical and Machinery Health™ Management devices, and native wireless interfaces to AMS Suite predictive maintenance software, DeltaV or Ovation digital automation systems, and wireless SmartStart™ services.

S-Type Load Cells

The STA series of S-Type tension/compression load cells from LCM Systems provide the perfect solution for measuring both tensile and compressive forces. With a wide range of ex-stock products, available for same day despatch with easy credit card payments, the STA series is ideal for a wide range of applications where high accuracy measurements are required. Typical applications include hanging scales, material test machines and general force measurement.

Four different models can be purchased. All have standard metric threads at each end that are designed to accept standard mating spherical rod-end bearings and can be supplied on their own or combined with LCM Systems’ comprehensive range of instrumentation to provide a complete load monitoring system. Popular instrumentation supplied with the STA load cells include the SGA strain gauge amplifiers and the TR150.

The STA-1 series has rated loads from 50 to 300kg, is manufactured in aluminium alloy and is environmentally sealed to IP66. For measurements in harsh environments, the STA-3 series is the range of choice. With load ratings up to 1,000kg, it is constructed in nickel-plated alloy steel and manufactured to IP67. For engineers looking for higher load ratings, the STA-4 is the tension/compression load cell of choice ranging from 1500 – 5000kg and along with the STA-3 series makes it a very cost-effective solution for many process weighing applications.

For straightforward application advice, LCM Systems’ experienced in-house design engineers are only a phone call or email away and they will talk you through the most appropriate load cell for your particular requirements

Thai oil contract signed

Invensys Operations Management has signed a five-year, multi-million dollar contract to deliver a comprehensive refinery-wide optimisation solution for Bangkok-based Thai Oil Public Company Limited, one of Asia Pacific’s leading refining and petrochemical companies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Invensys will implement its SimSci-Esscor ROMeo® optimisation software to improve the real-time performance of Thai Oil’s refinery operations. An integrated software solution for simulation, data reconciliation and operations decision support, the ROMeo software solution will be a critical part of Thai Oil’s five-year master plan to optimize all its major distillation and conversion units, as well as its plant-wide energy and hydrogen systems, supporting its vision of becoming a fully integrated high-performance refiner. Invensys will also provide turnkey design, engineering, commissioning and consulting services for the refinery-wide optimisation solutions.

“We look forward to helping Thai Oil achieve sustainable growth as they pursue their long-term strategic plan,” said Ravi Gopinath, president, Invensys Operations Management, Asia Pacific. “By providing accurate modelling capabilities and superior solver capabilities at every critical unit, the ROMeo solution will help Thai Oil maximize profits, minimize plant and processing costs, while achieving operations excellence by balancing control, asset and productivity excellence, along with environment and safety excellence.”

SimSci-Esscor’s ROMeo software provides a leading unified modeling environment for off-line and on-line optimisation. In use at dozens of refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants worldwide, it provides a scalable environment for optimizing all major refinery units, as well other aspects of refinery profitability, such as utilities and instrument/equipment performance. Additional benefits are derived from leveraging the rigorous predictive models to enhance planning and scheduling decisions, leading to increased refinery margins. It is an integrated software solution for simulation, data reconciliation, operations decision support and optimisation.
“Given the difficult economic forecast for refining in the near term, we need a comprehensive, scalable solution that will help us drive continuous peak performance,” said Chaiwat Damrongmongkulgul, deputy managing director, refinery, Thai Oil. “We have had considerable success in implementing advanced process control, but to ensure we meet our long-term strategic objectives, we have to move to real-time optimisation. We need an experienced partner and a sustainable optimisation solution that will allow us to improve the profitability of our operations in real time, and we believe that Invensys can deliver.”

Security track at #ISAwk

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has announced the offerings of its Security Track at ISA Automation Week 2010: Technology and Solutions Event, Tuesday, 4-7 October 2010, at the Westin Galleria Hotel, Houston, Texas, USA.

ISA’s Security Track offers a variety of topics to keep professionals current on the latest topics, including regulatory issues, alarming and monitoring, firewalls, encryption, physical security, safeguarding energy reserves, and others. Security standards ISA99, NIST 800, and will also be addressed.

Sessions will include paper presentations and participants from notable companies including AkzoNobel; Constellation Energy; OSIsoft, LLC; EnGlobal; Yokogawa; Apprion; Exida; Shell; ABB; and others.

Security Track session titles include:
  • What Are Users Doing to Secure Their Industrial Control Systems?
  • Lifecycle of a Vulnerability from Detection through Mitigation
  • Defense against Advanced ICS Attack Scenarios
  • Secure Remote Access to ICS Networks
  • Emerging Research and Development in ICS Security
  • Industrial Certification: What Does it Mean for Industry?
  • The Convergence of Safety and Security
Complete details of each Security Track session are now available online.

“ISA’s conferences continue to be the best place for security professionals working at any level from facilities to engage in thought-provoking discussions on issues that affect our world,” said ISA Automation Week Program Committee Co-chair, Gerald Cockrell of Indiana State University. “Each year, industry’s top professionals attend to share their research and knowledge, which really has developed the program into what it is today.”

ISA Automation Week is a technical conference that covers two and a half days of sessions, and includes two keynote addresses, networking and social events, and a 10,000-square-foot exhibit area that features more than 100 exhibitors.

Internal & remote temp measurement

Digital monitor provides accurate internal & remote temperature measurements

Linear Technology Corporation has introduced the LTC2990, an I²C temperature and voltage monitor for 3V and 5V systems. Many emerging, low voltage systems today rely on monitoring ICs to relay parametric data used in assessing overall system health and reliability. Traditional ADC implementations require a sensor, low noise preamplifier, precise reference and some type of digital interface, resulting in a complex monitoring scheme prone to inaccuracies if not carefully designed. This is a highly integrated monitoring solution that incorporates a 14-bit ADC, a 10ppm/°C voltage reference and I2C digital interface to provide submillivolt voltage resolution, as well as +1°C accuracy internally and +0.5°C accuracy remotely when making temperature measurements. The LTC2990 provides a configurable, yet simple solution for monitoring temperature and voltage without compromising accuracy on any parameter.

The LTC2990 caters to a wide variety of applications including supply voltage monitoring and remote diode temperature measurement, particularly in industrial or computing systems where thermal management is crucial for maximizing performance. The device enables configuration of four single-ended voltage inputs to measure any combination of internal temperature, remote temperature, remote voltage and internal VCC for single or repeated measurements. When making differential measurements of diode or transistor voltages to calculate temperature, the LTC2990 allows for cancellation of error due to sensor series resistance. Its accuracy is the result of the averaging 14-bit ADC, while the number of supporting components and area required is minimized thanks to the internal 10ppm voltage reference. In addition, the I2C serial interface enables easy configuration and read back of the device's control, status and data registers, with support of up to 400kbit/s in I2C fast mode.

The LTC2990 is offered in commercial and industrial versions, supporting operating temperature ranges from 0°C to 70°C and -40°C to 85°C, respectively. The LTC2990 is available today in a small RoHS compliant, 10-lead MSOP package.

Rapid oxygen analysis

HACH LANGE will demonstrate a range of advanced technology for the brewing industry at this year’s International Brewing Convention.

Benefitting from over 40 years of experience in oxygen measurement within the industry, they will be at stand B8 in Manchester (GB) on October 18-20 to demonstrate the Orbisphere of instrumentation, which is designed for high levels of accuracy and low levels of maintenance.

On display will be the Orbispher 3100 portable gas analyser for flexible plant monitoring, 6110 total package analyser for quality control, the DR 5000 UV VIS spectrophotometer and the advanced optical LDO sensor for continuous oxygen monitoring.

HACH LANGE’s Gareth Hughes, a brewing industry specialist, said: “From water treatment to in-process control, quality control and wastewater treatment, HACH LANGE instruments monitor key parameters such as oxygen and turbidity, which are crucial to product quality. We are looking forward to demonstrating how brewers can benefit from rapid, reliable measurement results with our instrumentation.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

LIMS in Northern Ireland

Thermo Fisher Scientific Implements Enterprise-Level LIMS for Northern Ireland Water

Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced that Northern Ireland Water (NI Water), the sole provider of water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland, has standardized on Thermo Scientific SampleManager LIMS (laboratory information management system) across its laboratories as part of its continuous focus on improving sample management and maintaining the highest quality water. SampleManager LIMS is used to manage more than 150,000 samples per year taken from reservoirs, water treatment works and directly from the taps in consumers' homes. NI Water's state-of-the-art laboratories carry out the necessary testing to ensure that drinking water is safe for consumption and meets all regulatory and quality standards.

Standardizing on SampleManager LIMS across its laboratories allows NI Water to maintain the highest levels of testing and consistency in results. To enhance the quality of the test methods and to reduce time associated with collecting and logging field samples, NI Water has integrated a new handheld remote sampler with SampleManager LIMS. This allows field samples to be taken, results recorded and input directly into the LIMS, saving time, ensuring the quality of the sample at log-in, and reducing manual transcription errors as well as providing a secure record of sampler locations.

Remote Sampler, developed by CSols, is already in pilot usage with customers across Europe and in British-based water companies, who are using Remote Sampler with existing SampleManager LIMS installations. The introduction of Remote Sampler at NI Water extends the use of SampleManager LIMS to field applications, thus allowing more samples to be processed by in-the-field sampling. Because Remote Sampler reduces the time necessary to collect and log-in a sample, it enables more efficient use of laboratory resources, as well as consistent compliance with various regulatory requirements for documented processes, such as those defined by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) for the Water Industry.

"We have introduced Remote Sampler in the field for all our water quality samplers. Remote Sampler runs on rugged handheld computers and integrates seamlessly with Thermo Scientific SampleManager LIMS. The use of Remote Sampler allows us to ensure that all samples taken in the field are accurately recorded, taken where they are claimed to be, and inputted into the LIMS at source. This saves time and facilitates data management," said Gareth Maxwell, LIMS and Compliance Reporting Manager for NI Water. "With SampleManager LIMS in place and our investment in remote sampling, NI Water is setting the benchmark in the future of water testing in Europe. This solution puts NI Water in the leading edge of extracting real benefits from our quality testing programme. NI Water will have better sampling audits than most other UK water utilities currently."

"We're delighted with the working relationship that we have with Gareth and the rest of the staff at Northern Ireland Water. It has enabled us to focus on exactly what is required to make our sampling software work effectively in a busy routine environment which is tightly regulated," said Dr. Phil Goddard, CEO of CSols. "Integration with SampleManager LIMS has proved to be straightforward and robust."

NI Water is a Government Owned Company (GoCo) set up in April 2007 to provide the water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland. It supplies 625 million liters of clean water every day for nearly 1.7 million people and treats 134 million m3 of wastewater each year. NI Water has equipped its laboratories with the technologies and infrastructure that allow it to deliver the highest quality water which consistently meets all regulatory and quality standards for consumption. SampleManager LIMS integrated with Remote Sampler has improved the efficiency and security of data entry as samples are taken in the various field locations, and greatly assisted sample identification and tracking. As all samples are now recorded on a single electronic database, the integrated solution has provided NI Water with a means to retrieve and report data in a way that would not have been previously possible, while also ensuring the integrity of the field samples at log-in.

"The integration of the Remote Sampler with SampleManager LIMS illustrates the broad partnership opportunities inherent in any collaborative relationship with Thermo Fisher Scientific," says Dave Champagne, vp and general manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific - Informatics. "Thermo Fisher's long standing partnership with CSols enabled this solution to be delivered to NI Water, a solution which now serves as a template for other water agencies or public service companies around the world. And the configurability of SampleManager LIMS, allowing for workflow customization in any industry setting, as well as its ability to be easily integrated with any kind of laboratory instrumentation or ERP system, further enabled this new Remote Sampler solution to be realized. The ultimate benefits belong to NI Water and other companies at the forefront of solving pressing industry challenges."

Electric car battery research​

Project will investigate turning used electric car batteries into energy storage devices
ABB and General Motors have signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding to cooperate on a research and development project that will investigate uses for electric vehicle batteries once their useful life in the vehicle is over.

The project will examine the potential of reusing spent lithium-ion battery packs from GM’s electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, as a means of providing cost-effective energy storage capacity, which will improve the efficiency of electrical systems as they evolve into smart grids.

“Future smart grids will incorporate a larger proportion of renewable energy sources and will need to supply a vast e-mobility infrastructure – both of which require a wide range of energy storage solutions,” said Bazmi Husain, head of ABB’s smart grids initiative. “We are excited to explore the possibility of employing electric car batteries in a second use that could help build needed storage capacity and provide far-reaching economic and environmental benefits.”

According to GM, the Volt’s battery will still have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life.

"That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to make the Volt batteries provide environmental benefits that stretch beyond the highway,” said Micky Bly, Executive Director of Electrical and Hybrid Systems, who announced the partnership at the EV Battery Tech conference in Troy, Michigan. “Our relationship with ABB will help develop solutions that optimize the full lifecycle of the Volt battery.”

Economical grid storage is often identified as a key “enabler” technology of smart grids that will drive the wider use of a variety of applications, including:
    managing the intermittency of wind and solar resources
    mitigating spikes in electricity demand
    providing backup power
    allowing cheaper off-peak power to be used during peak periods
ABB is currently at work on more than 20 projects around the world examining all aspects of the smart grid, from energy storage to network management, metering and communication, distribution automation and home automation systems.

Big physics solutions

NI COTS Instrumentation and Vitrociset Services Offer Complete Solutions for Advanced Physics Applications

National Instruments is collaborating with Vitrociset, a leading European technical services provider for highly complex systems, to offer complete solutions for big physics applications such as particle accelerators and fusion devices. Vitrociset will integrate NI commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software into its service packages to offer an innovative product portfolio to organizations developing sophisticated physics projects. By combining NI experience in delivering COTS products for advanced physics with the service expertise of Vitrociset in large control applications, the collaboration will provide the physics community well-integrated, efficient solutions to its challenges.
“When two impressive companies like Vitrociset and NI collaborate, organizations like ITER benefit,” said Paola Batistoni, industry liaison officer for ITER Italy, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor fusion project. “This collaboration will make it possible for us to more fully implement COTS solutions in our projects, which ultimately will save us development time and costs.”
Stefano Concezzi, director of big physics at National Instruments, added, “Both NI and Vitrociset have provided a variety of impressive solutions for advanced control projects. Because Vitrociset has a solid reputation and long track record of addressing large, demanding control challenges, we at NI are excited about the many ways we can team up to help streamline the development of big physics projects.”

Rome (I) -based Vitrociset has delivered successful solutions for numerous complex applications ranging from European government space vehicle control and launching projects, avionics and air traffic management to environmental monitoring, telecommunications and security. By incorporating NI products such as NI LabVIEW graphical system development software and high-performance PXI instrumentation into its services, Vitrociset can provide solutions for governments and other large organizations seeking to address advanced control challenges.

“National Instruments has consistently provided Vitrociset engineers with innovative products that help us meet even the most demanding application requirements,” said Lorenzo D’Onghia, general manager of Vitrociset. “We look forward to giving NI tools center stage in helping the physics community achieve its goals.”

NI has contributed product solutions to some of the world’s most advanced physics projects including the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and a tokamak fusion device control system at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics. With LabVIEW and instrumentation based on the PXI standard, as well as the NI CompactRIO programmable automation controller (PAC), National Instruments has helped many physicists and engineers streamline project development and simplify solutions that otherwise would be cost-prohibitive.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Keeping trains in train!

New standards in Rail Traction are preparing the sector for more widespread trans-European, cross-border train operation, imposing stringent requirements in energy monitoring. Anticipating these new demands, transducer specialist LEM has created a measurement technology that enables unprecedented levels of accuracy in on-board monitoring of train power consumption.

The matched and optimised devices comprise transducers for current and voltage, and a new energy meter. All three units provide levels of accuracy not previously seen in the sector, and come with the specific certification recognised in the electric rail traction industry. Used together, they enable designers to meet or exceed existing and planned specifications: they also offer the same levels of accuracy to system designers working in other areas of high-power electrical supply.

Current, in the high-accuracy power transducer suite, is monitored by new introductions to LEM’s ITC 4000 or ITC 2000/1000 ranges. Certified to Class 0.5R, the ITC 4000 employs an advanced closed-loop (compensated) current measurement design based on the Fluxgate principle. Nominally rated at 4000A, the ITC 4000 will measure +/-6000A, consuming less than 80 mA (at zero primary current) to under +/-340 mA (at 4000A primary current) from a supply voltage of +/-24V to its measurement (secondary) circuit.

Fluxgate technology is noted for its high levels of both accuracy and linearity; the ITC 4000’s linearity error is under 0.05%. The device’s offset current is less than +/- 10μA and it also exhibits extremely very low temperature drift. The ITC 4000 operates over –40 to +85 deg oC, and meets or exceeds all relevant standards for safety and operating environment.

For voltage measurement to the same standards or precision, LEM offers a development of its DV series voltage transducer that spans 1200-4200V RMS. Introduced with an accuracy performance of Class 1, further development has taken the DV Series to Class 0.75 accuracy. The DV offers (as an active device) current consumption of 19-23 mA, measurement frequency bandwidth of 12 kHz, and an insulation voltage of 18.5 kV.

A more compact device than any competing transducer, The DV series measures just
134 x 54.22 x 147.25 mm; like its current-measurement transducer counterpart, it meets all of the requirements of the rail industry in terms of EMC performance, partial discharge extinction voltage and safety, while featuring low weight, and flexible mechanical mounting and electrical output characteristics.

Completing the measurement technology package is LEM’s EM4T II single-phase energy meter, also rated to Class 0.5R accuracy: this form of accuracy specification is according to the proposed EN 50463 standard that will unify measurement practices for trans-border train operation across Europe. The EM4T II is a four-channel device that records data such as load profile, and train data and location (from GPS inputs) at regular intervals. Used in conjunction with the capabilities of the ITC 4000 current transducer, the EM4T II accurately logs bi-directional power flow, enabling accurate monitoring of energy usage even under regenerative braking.

Fit-and-forget protection for low-pressure systems

A versatile new pressure relief valve for low pressure instrumentation applications up to 400 PSI (27.6 bar) has been launched by the Instrumentation Products Division of Parker Hannifin, the global leader in motion and control technologies.

A versatile new pressure relief valve for low pressure instrumentation applications has been launched by Parker Hannifin.CE marked and certified to the highest Category-IV level of the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) the new HPRV valve is supplied pre-set to any of six pressure ranges from 10 to 400 PSI (0.7 to 27.6 bar). The chosen cracking pressure is laser etched onto the valve body at the factory. Another variant of this relief valve design is available for higher pressure applications.

The new HPRV valve provides a simple 'fit and forget' solution for building reliable safety, environmental and/or equipment protection into a wide variety of process and laboratory instrumentation applications - one that needs no testing or calibration by the end user.

Unlike some competitive products, Parker supplies each HPRV low pressure valve as a complete item including the spring that determines the cracking pressure, under a single order number to simplify purchasing. The valve is 100% PED certified, and requires no additional paperwork or approvals to use the product. Parker has additionally set up its manufacturing and assembly process to ensure short lead-times.

The valve has a 5.2 mm (0.203 inch) orifice. As standard, it comes with either twin-ferrule A-LOK or single-ferrule CPI compression tube fitting ends, eliminating threaded connections and the potential problems that are associated with using thread sealants such as PTFE tape. Other types of end connection may be specified to suit the installation.

The valve's outlet port can release over-pressures to atmosphere, or be configured to duct media to a safe place. The cracking pressure is determined by one of six factory-fitted springs. These provide a choice of six cracking pressure ranges: 10-25, 25-50, 50-100,100-150,150-225 or 225-400 PSI (0.7-1.7, 1.7-3.4, 3.4-6.9, 6.9-10.3, 10.3-15.5 or 15.5-27.6 bar). A locking wire may be fitted to secure the chosen pressure setting and guard against tampering.

O-ring seals adapt the HPRV valve for different types of media, and operating temperatures from -57 to 204 degrees C (-70 to +400 degrees F). Five choices of material are available: fluorocarbon rubber and nitrile rubber for general-purpose use, ethylene propylene or neoprene rubber for compatibility with a wider range of chemicals, or highly fluorinated fluorocarbon rubber which is compatible with a very wide range of chemicals.

Charles Harris, Business Development Manager for Parker Hannifin, comments: "The introduction of these low pressure options rounds out Parker's range of relief valves for process instrumentation applications, providing users with the means to select optimised and accurate protection for pressure-containing systems operating from 10 to 6000 PSI. The European Directive approval also gives us a distinct advantage over many of our key competitors."

Reagent recycling scheme awards ‘green’ companies

In recognition of their outstanding commitment to recycling, HACH LANGE has awarded two companies with silver bars made from recycled chemical test reagents.

HACH LANGE manufacturers pre-prepared chemical test reagents that significantly improve the accuracy and simplicity of water testing.

The company’s Recycling Centre in Germany facilitates recovery of toxic materials from reagent tubes including Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) cuvettes from which Mercury, Silver and Chromium are recovered. Over 70% of returned materials are either re-used or recycled.

Customers are encouraged to recycle used HACH LANGE reagents, and to recognise the recycling achievements of two customers; Scottish Water and NWL Scientific Services, HACH LANGE has presented them with a special award.

Paul Burton, Environmental Laboratory Manager at NWL Scientific Services, said: "As a company we recycle as much as we possibly can and ensure that all used reagents are disposed of as ethically as possible. This is why we fully support HACH LANGE’s recycling initiative and gratefully receive the award for our own efforts."
David McMullan of Scottish Water added: "It is a key company ethic of ours to be as environmentally-friendly as possible and so it was a natural choice to become involved in HACH LANGE’s scheme for recycled COD reagents. We are very pleased to have received this award and would urge other firms within the water industry to adopt similar recycling policies."

Thousands of cuvette tests are used every day to analyse the contents of liquids in industries such as water, wastewater, manufacturing, food, beverage and power. HACH LANGE’s recycling service helps companies comply with waste management regulations and improve environmental performance and has recently been commended at The German Sustainability Awards in the Most Sustainable Products and Supply of Services category.

Martin Small, from HACH LANGE’s Laboratory Team added: “The recycling service has proved extremely popular and we are delighted that high-profile customers are leading the way for others to follow.”

New SCADA platform

Major new features have been developed to improve productivity, reduce operating cost, and to increase the efficiency and the performance of the platform.

ELUTIONS has launched ControlMaestroTM 2010, the new version of its application and automation development software which dramatically improves efficiency and effectiveness for developers and users.

With this new version, many features have been added to ControlMaestro software in order to improve the SCADA platform performance and ergonomics. In particular, the new version provides a completely new trending module, the support of new operating systems, new data storage in Sql server, a virtualization support server mode and support of new Zigbee (IEC) allowing metering of energy consumption and equipment management in real time.
ELUTIONS has established itself as a premier provider of software and wireless communication assets. “ELUTIONS' wide range of solutions are supported by continuous investments in technology that drive operational CAPEX and OPEX savings”, declared Chris Guers, CEO ELUTIONS Europe.

Quick preview of new functionalities
The trending module has been totally redesigned by including a high-performance graphical interface, new configurable graph types, overlapping curves management, an automatic minimum and maximum calculation, the possibility of zooming with the mouse wheel, thus improving legibility significantly, module ergonomics and effectiveness.
ControlMaestro 2010 fully integrated SQL Server 2008 Express making unified data storage possible giving the new trending module a significant improvement in performance over other products in the market.

This new version is compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems (it is already compatible with Windows 2000 professional or server, Windows XP professional, Windows 2003 server, Windows Vista).

Thanks to Virtualization Support, ControlMaestro can now be installed on Virtual Servers using such as VMware tools... allowing servers rationalization for the users.

With a new wireless communication driver using the Zigbee protocol, ControlMaestro 2010 is able to retrieve in real-time all the data collected by its equipment, offering a global solution including hardware and software. This close link between hardware and software can provides energy consumption monitoring, and has been created in response to the actual building management problems.

The new product addresses some of the key concerns of developers of modern SCADA applications, namely rapid application development, portability and easy maintenance. All the necessary tools to develop a complete and powerful automation application are provided.

Availability
ControlMaestro 2010 is available starting October 8th, 2010 from the company ELUTIONS and its authorized distributors. Customers currently acquiring the product will be automatically able to benefit from this new version.

$1.5m for advanced research programme

Intel Corporation signs $1.5million advanced research programme with Tyndall National Institute

Intel Corporation has given details of a 3 year, $1.5million advanced research collaboration signed with Ireland’s leading ICT research Institute, Tyndall National Institute. The agreement is the first of a kind for Intel in Ireland and establishes a direct collaboration between Tyndall and the heart of Intel’s technology research group in the US. Intel has only one other such agreement in Europe. The agreement will provide Intel with a commercial exploitation license to technology created through the collaboration with Tyndall.

Who was John Tyndall?
John Tyndall must rank as one of Ireland’s most successful scientists and educators. He reached the pinnacle of 19th century science and counted amongst his friends and collaborators many of the best-known scientists of that century. Born in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, his early education has been likened to the “hedge school” variety, but the expert tutelage of his teacher, John Conwill, ensured he had a solid foundations in mathematics, English composition, drawing and surveying. Read more:
Intel continually raises the bar on innovation and excellence in its industry. Under the agreement Tyndall and Intel Researchers will investigate next generation materials, devices and photonics technologies that could have a profound impact on the performance and direction of future electronic devices.

Ireland's Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD welcomed the Intel-Tyndall advanced research agreement, saying it signalled an important collaboration between industry and higher education. 'The Innovation Taskforce Report called for greater collaboration between industry and academia in producing more commercially strategic and market-focused research outputs. By driving the collaboration agenda, the Government is laying a sustainable growth path based on new high-quality jobs and innovative products and services. Intel's investment shows Ireland has the high-quality research infrastructure and human capital needed to develop cutting-edge technologies for globally competitive markets. The role of Tyndall National Institute, Ireland's leading high-tech research institute, to host the research work reaffirms its reputation for aligning with the needs of indigenous and multinational firms.'

Speaking at the announcement Mike Mayberry, (Director Components Research, VP Technology and Manufacturing Group) at Intel said “Intel and Tyndall have been working closely together for some time on a range of different technologies. This new agreement forms a direct relationship with Intel’s internal research group in Portland. Through their publications and technology, Tyndall researchers have demonstrated their ability to innovate and invent technologies that can advance the frontiers of semiconductor technology. We at Intel are excited to enter into this advanced research agreement with Tyndall and look forward to a productive collaboration with the team here

Tyndall CEO, Professor Roger Whatmore said, “This collaborative research program with Intel provides direct industry and market guidance to our research programs, helping to ensure that what we deliver is manufacturable, relevant and of benefit to society. We are delighted that this program includes the Junctionless Transistor device invented at Tyndall by Professor Jean-Pierre Colinge, as well as photonic and advanced interconnect technologies. The interactions with the engineers and scientists within Intel, the world’s leading semiconductor company, will enable us to advance our technologies to the marketplace much more rapidly than we could possibly do on our own. “

“This agreement with Intel, is a direct result of the investments over the past 10 years by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), which has attracted leading scientists and built word-class research facilities in Ireland. Now, more than ever, it is essential that the government maintains its investment in R&D if Institutes such as Tyndall are to continue to be key attractors for foreign direct investment” said Professor Whatmore.

Barry O’Leary, IDA CEO said, ‘The decision by Intel to further build on its collaboratory relationship with the Tyndall Institute is evidence of the strength of Ireland’s Research and Development landscape. This exciting partnership brings the Research and Development already carried out between Intel and Tyndall one step closer to commercial realisation. Research and Development plays a vital role in Ireland’s Foreign Direct Investment and further embeds existing jobs here. I look forward to supporting Intel and Tyndall as they continue to work together in the development of next generation technologies that will potentially impact the direction of future electronic devices.’

GPGPU-based digital signal processing applications

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the latest addition to the AXISLib product family. AXISLib-GPU is a high performance library of optimized math and DSP functions that supports rapid development of the growing number of multiprocessing applications taking advantage of the power of GPGPU (general purpose processing on a graphics processing unit) technology and, specifically, the growing range of rugged, NVIDIA® CUDA™-enabled platforms from GE. AXISLib-GPU complements the existing AXISLib family that comprises AXISLib for Power Architecture™-based systems and the recently-announced AXISLib-x86 for systems based on Intel® processors.

Concurrently, GE Intelligent Platforms is also announcing the 6U OpenVPX CUDA Starter Kit, a complete solution designed to enable the simple acquisition of a complete hardware/software environment for CUDA-based application development.

“AXISLib-GPU provides significant help to our customers in fully exploiting the massive potential of GPGPU technology for demanding digital signal processing applications, offering the highest levels of math and DSP performance,” said Rob McKeel, Vice President, Military & Aerospace Embedded Computing at GE Intelligent Platforms. “Even better, it can help them substantially reduce development time, and thus shorten their time to market. This combination of leading hardware technology and advanced software technology will deliver our customers the sustainable competitive advantage they are looking for.”

AXISLib-GPU supports the development (and, ultimately, speeds the deployment) of high performance DSP and multiprocessing applications on GE’s NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPGPU platforms such as the IPN250, NPN240 and GRA111. Typical applications include radar, sonar, image processing, signals intelligence and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance). It is a set of signal- and vector processing libraries providing over 500 high performance digital signal processing and vector mathematical functions optimized for NVIDIA’s manycore GPUs and created to help developers maximize system and application performance. AXISLib-GPU features standard APIs for code portability, supporting not only current platforms but also future technology upgrades: this, together with GE’s leadership in long term program support, ensures maximum return on investment and minimum cost of ownership.

AXISLib-GPU can operate in a standalone mode or as an integral software module within the AXIS Advanced Multiprocessor Integrated Software environment which includes an integrated graphical user interface, AXISView, providing task level programming for algorithm development and system visualization. The AXISFlow module provides a high performance interprocessor communication library for high throughput, low latency data movement across multiple fabrics (PCI Express™, Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Serial RapidIO® and so on): this permits easy scaling from one to many CPU nodes across a single board, multiple boards in a single chassis and multiple system chassis.

OPC Firewall shipping

Earlier this month we reported on Byres Security's Tofino OPC Enforcer, a rather revolutionary firewall technology. This is now available and shipping. This new module is designed specifically to secure industrial systems using OPC Classic.

OPC Classic (i.e. all OPC variations other than OPC-UA) is the world’s most widely used industrial integration protocol. Unfortunately, it is also famous for being very difficult to secure.

The Tofino OPC Enforcer radically changes the OPC security landscape because:
  • It is the first ever industrial firewall for managing OPC traffic. Unlike other firewalls, this product inspects, tracks and secures every connection made by an OPC application, opening only the exact TCP port required for a connection between an OPC client and server.
  • It is implemented without requiring any changes to the control system. The Tofino hardware is simply installed into the live network and configured using a drag and drop editor to select permitted clients and servers. Once installed, network security is assured, with all OPC traffic managed behind the scenes.
They have also published an OPC Feature Page, which is a hub of information on OPC and security, and includes a link to download a new White Paper titled “Securing Your OPC Classic Control System” written by me and Thomas J. Burke, the President of the OPC Foundation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Universal connectivity

MatrMatrikonOPC™ has released the OPC Universal Connectivity Server, which allows vendors and OEMS to provide secure connectivity to every major control system and application on the market. With native support for multi-protocol data connectivity, platform independence and enforced OPC security, vendors can now easily provide open connectivity and enable their products to openly communicate across the plant and the enterprise with systems like ERP software, HMIs, historians, and MES.

“The ability to effectively share data in diverse control environments is key to any control vendor’s success,” said Seán Leonard, Matrikon’s vice president of OPC products. “The Universal Connectivity Server specifically addresses this by providing secure data-connectivity in a plug-in format to DCS or PLC suites in one package. This ensures vendors have the connectivity their systems need without disrupting the development focus in their primary business—a strategic advantage in today’s highly competitive environment.”

With advanced plug-in technology, vendors can add new protocols to the Universal Connectivity Server in just a few steps, making it possible to expand their solutions’ connectivity options as needed.

The server offers several features including:
  • One OPC server for different communication protocols: Modbus, Siemens PLC, Allen Bradley, GE Fanuc PLCs and many others
  • Full support for OPC interfaces (DA, A&E, HDA and Security)
  • High-speed data calculation using an advanced calculation engine
  • Fully redundant application with configuration options
  • Hierarchical and structural levels of OPC security configuration and permissions

Compact package data recorder/controller

New data recorder/controller offers unprecedented capabilities in a compact package

Invensys Operations Management has formally introduced its Eurotherm nanodac™ recorder/controller. At just 92 millimetres high and wide and 90 millimetres deep, the nanodac recorder/controller combines powerful graphical recording capabilities with versatile control, communications and reporting to help customers achieve control and productivity excellence.

The instrument can be utilised as a stand-alone device or as a connected component of the company’s InFusion™ Enterprise Control System. It interfaces directly with the Wonderware® Historian and System Platform software, thereby providing a unique combination of secure, hardware-based local data acquisition and storage, along with powerful information, analysis and reporting software. The nanodac recorder/controller provides 50 megabytes of flash memory for data storage, as well as an on-screen help system and remote viewing functionality, which allows plant-floor operators and supervisors to monitor and discuss the health of their process from virtually anywhere, using a smart phone. In the event of any communications failures between the nanodac controller and the system software, data continues to be stored within the nanodac recorder, and store & forward software functionality ensures that all data is automatically recovered.

“With diverse and robust capabilities in a small box, including large amounts of flash memory to which all the process data is continually logged, the Eurotherm® nanodac recorder/controller offers multiple archive strategies that ensure critical process data can always be found and restored, driving control excellence for our customers,” said Bob Postlethwaite, global marketing director, Invensys Operations Management. “Additionally, with its remote viewing capability, users of the nanodac recorder/controller can instantly browse, capture and send historical data and screen shots via e-mail using smart phones or computers, further driving down costs and improving efficiency for productivity excellence. We look forward to displaying and demonstrating the unique capabilities of the Eurotherm nanodac recorder/controller at our OpsManage’10 events in the coming months.”

Both the product itself and its remote viewer application support several languages, including English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The Eurotherm nanodac recorder/controller also allows numerical and bar graph runtime views, monitors channel alarms and can browse the instrument’s historical data, which can be stored in either a comma-separated value (CSV) file or in a secure, check-summed format to protect data integrity. Additional capabilities of the nanodac recorder/controller include:
  • Meets many exacting standards for measurement, including Nadcap for Aerospace compliance and 21CFR Part11 for Pharmaceutical Electronic Records;
  • Produces tamperproof files that can be retained in long-term archive as the primary manufacturing record source for later recall;
  • Has multiple universal inputs coupled with high-density recording and dual PID control loops, making it both affordable and cost effective.
The Eurotherm nanodac recorder/controller will be available for public demonstration for the first time during OpsManage’10, a series of international events focused on supporting customer’s Operations Excellence initiatives.

Smallest strain sensor with highest resolution

With the strain sensor DSRT, Baumer offers a sensor for indirect force measurement which can be used in the packaging industry, engineering, wind energy plants and many other industrial applications. The DSRT is the smallest strain sensor with the highest resolution (0.01 µε) available on the market. It is offered with measuring ranges from 0…100 µε up to 0…750 µε (micro strain: µm/m).

The strain sensor is suitable for all static and dynamic applications and can be used wherever strains are expected, e. g. for process control in presses and punching machines, for monitoring blade deflection in wind energy plants, or for sheet metal forming applications in the packaging technology. The indirect force measurement enables the control and traceable documentation of forces in the process. It also guarantees the repeatability of the individual processes, thus ensuring consistent quality.

The DSRT is available with the measuring ranges ±100, ±250, ±500, and ±750 µε. It has an integrated low-noise bridge amplifier with an analogue signal path and a high cut-off frequency (1 kHz). The available output signals are analogue current or voltage signals (4…20 mA, ±10 VDC, mV/V) and a CANopen interface. The sensor offers high reliability, long-term stability, overload protection, and repeatability. The device conforms to protection class IP67.

Since the strain sensor is screwed on to the strain-stressed parts of the machine, it offers many advantages compared to glued strain gauges (SG): it is reusable, can be mounted much faster and easier, is replaceable without recalibration, and offers very high application security. Low mechanical setting and warming up enable a fast start-up. Compared to force sensors, the DSRT allows cost-efficient measurement especially of high forces. The device is 80 mm long, 26 mm wide, and 17 mm high.

In-vehicle communication

The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) promulgates the IEC 61375 series train communication networks (TCN).


Besides other communication technologies, CANopen has been selected as in-vehicle or train consist network (IEC 61375-3-3). This standard specifies additions to the generic CANopen application layer standard (EN 50325-4).


This is based on the CAN data link layer as specified in ISO 11898-1. CAN was originally developed for car in-vehicle networking. Nowadays, more than 600 millions of CAN chips are used per year.


CANopen might be called a hidden technology, because it is mainly used in embedded control applications. Typical examples are diesel engine or door or lightning control systems. CANopen is used especially in local and urban trains, in metros and trams. But increasingly it is used also in sub-systems for long-distance and cargo trains. In particular, the robustness of the CAN physical layer, the reliability of the CAN data link layer, the flexibility of the CANopen application layer, and the high-level interoperability of the CANopen profiles makes this technology so suitable for rail vehicle applications. Members of the CAN in Automation (CiA) nonprofit association develop dedicated CANopen profiles for trains. Several sets of profiles have been released, e.g. for diesel engine systems (CiA 423 series).

Validated for Wi-Fi

Anritsu's MT8860C WLAN Test Set is now validated as part of the overall test system for Wi-Fi CWG (Converged Wireless Group) Certification Testing. The decision taken by the Wi-Fi Alliance means that the MT8860C can be used by any top-tier independent laboratory that has been authorized by the CTIA and Wi-Fi Alliance to perform RF performance evaluation of Wi-Fi Mobile Converged Devices. The testing, which is mandatory for any Wi-Fi mobile converged device for the North American market, provides network operators and handset vendors with a consistent method of evaluating and comparing the RF performance of devices that incorporate both Wi-Fi and cellular technologies.

Testing is performed according to the "Test Plan for RF Performance Evaluation of Wi-Fi® Mobile Converged Devices," as a new firmware version (11.2) has been released for the MT8860C that supports the test methodology defined. The test plan includes a comprehensive set of over-the-air (OTA) measurements that are taken in a 360° environment to create "real-world" conditions. Total Radiated Power (TRP) measurements provide information about the reach of the Wi-Fi signal sent by a converged device, while Total Isotropic Sensitivity (TIS) measurements indicate how well a converged device is able to detect an incoming Wi-Fi signal.

OTA measurements require specialized test systems. As part of the MT8860C validation process, a joint development program was established between Anritsu and ETS-Lindgren. As part of the program, ETS-Lindgren developed a new MT8860C instrument driver for use with its EMQuestTM EMQ-100 Data Acquisition and Analysis Software. This software not only controls the measurement equipment (MT8860C), but is capable of positioning the antenna relative to the converged device under test and post processing the measurement data to produce the required 2-D and 3-D antenna patterns.

Validation was achieved after the MT8860C had successfully passed a set of acceptance tests defined by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Based on these tests, the Wi-Fi Alliance concluded that the MT8860C performance is within the required measurement uncertainty for conducted Tx, Rx, and OTA TRP, TIS tests. In addition, the Wi-Fi Alliance was able to confirm that the linearity of the MT8860C is well behaved across all the UNII bands and provides consistent measurement results for 802.11a converged devices.

New man in Ireland

Thomas Hannon became the principal representative for Alfa Laval in Ireland as from September 1st 2010.

In his new role, he is the company’s principal contact for, Heat exchangers and other heat transfer equipment, Decanter centrifuges, High speed centrifugal separators, and, Refrigeration components including unit coolers and brazed heat exchangers

He is based in Kells, Co.Meath. He has a degree in Chemistry and, prior to joining Alfa Laval, worked in engineering sales for companies such as Busch Vacuum Pumps and the Jones Oil Company.