Saturday, January 8, 2011

Linear motion control system powers ultra-fast action of biotech lab automation breakthrough

An advanced linear motion system is behind the groundbreaking performance of Singer Instruments' innovative biotech laboratory robot for pinning arrays of cells - the RoToR.

RoToR is managed by a compact
real-time controller from Baldor called
NextMove ESB-2.
This benchtop automation is revolutionising genetic, genome and cancer research by being able to manipulate over 200,000 yeast or bacteria cell samples per hour. This unprecedented speed - up to an order of magnitude faster than previous lab automation - is changing the way that many biotech labs work. One of Singer's robots often now typically services several laboratories, with users just booking short time slots on it for replicating, mating, re-arraying or backing up yeast or bacteria libraries.

RoToR is managed by a compact real-time controller from Baldor called NextMove ESB-2. This module controls the three axes of motion that perform RoToR's point-to-point pinning action, as well as a sample handling axis, interfacing to the machine's Windows-based graphical user interface, and all the I/O channels required.

Singer Instruments chose NextMove ESB-2 because it incorporated all the real-time stepper and servo motion and machine control facilities they needed, and more - giving them flexibility to expand and evolve the RoToR design in the future.

Baldor provided Singer Instruments with the complete machine control package, comprising the NextMove controller with its built-in I/O - plus some expansion I/O to handle the large number of sensors and pneumatic actuators on this sophisticated robot - a linear servo motor and drive, and three integrated stepper motor and drive modules. The controller takes care of all the machine and motion control tasks, under the direction of a Windows user interface, which is interfaced via ActiveX commands.

The major movements that the machine makes are point-to-point transfers from source to destination plates along a linear servo motor axis that spans the width of the machine. This axis carries a two-axis stepper motor head that controls the pinning action. The combined X-Y-Z movement can also stir the samples using a sophisticated helical motion - an action used particularly when manipulating samples to or from liquid wells. There is also another stepper motor axis that controls the loading mechanism for the pin pads. Other movements, such as the pick up and disposal of pinheads at the start and end of operations, are controlled by simple pneumatic grippers and rotators. A key to the machine's throughput is the use of Singer's unique high-density sample plates and matching plastic pinhead arrays, which allow manipulation of as many as 6144 cell samples in a single stage.

Singer's original intention was to use a closed-loop pneumatic drive for the main transverse axis, but this did not have either the positioning resolution or the speed desired, and was relatively noisy as well - a significant disadvantage in a lab environment. They started looking at linear motors instead. Baldor made this design choice easy by agreeing to produce a special version of a brushless linear servo motor with some mechanical modifications to the linear track that allows it to be supported at the ends alone - rather than along its length. This allows the linear motor's forcer to become an X-axis gantry that carries the additional Y and Z axes. The Y and Z axes are based on Baldor's DSMS family of ultra-compact micro-stepping motors with onboard drive electronics. The linear motor - from Baldor's LMCF series - is another novel product with a special magnet design that minimises the cogging effect to ensure extremely smooth operation.

After the key hardware decisions had been taken, developing the motion control software was made very easy by Baldor's Mint language and its development environment. This language provided ready-to-use high-level commands for the required movements, making it very simple to get the machine running in the development lab - a task that was achieved in just a few days. Commands that saved valuable time for Singer Instruments ranged from basic movements such as S-ramp profiles - which are used extensively on the linear motion axis to optimise movement speeds between source and destination plates - to one called HELIX which provides the developers with the helical stirring action that is employed when manipulating samples in liquid wells. As the machine has a Windows user interface developed using Visual C# and Windows Presentation Foundation, Singer Instruments also made use of Baldor's ActiveX interface library, which is provided without cost as part of the development tool suite.

"NextMove has given us a platform for controlling our machine that is both economic and easy to apply," says Trevor Clarke, Singer Instruments' Technical Director. "The simplicity of development is very helpful for us, as RoToR has been the most sophisticated instrument that we have ever produced."

"The NextMove controller provides a very economic control platform for small machines such as these," adds Neil Moss of Baldor. "It provides all the control features required for the major motion axes - four in this case - plus the capability of handling several more axes for system expansion, and built-in I/O - keeping the bill-of-material costs very low. NextMove ESB-2 operates standalone, or in conjunction with a PC host, providing great versatility of application for the laboratory and small machines sector."

Acquisition maximises power, oil and gas industries

Predictive diagnostics and analytics solution company broadens GE’s software capabilities used to maximize the performance of critical equipment in Power Generation and Oil & Gas industries.

GE Intelligent Platforms today announced that it has completed the acquisition of SmartSignal, a privately-held, analytics software company based in Lisle, (IL US). SmartSignal specialises in providing Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics solutions to the Power Generation, Oil & Gas and other industrial sectors. SmartSignal is a leading provider of predictive diagnostic software and monitoring services used to anticipate, prevent, and avoid equipment failure. The company has more than 40 product and technology patents, and has won more than 25 awards for product excellence.

“The acquisition of SmartSignal shows our commitment to continue investing in GE Intelligent Platforms’ Software & Services business, and will serve as an important catalyst to rapidly expand the capabilities of our Operational Intelligence platform,” said Maryrose Sylvester, President & CEO for GE Intelligent Platforms. “SmartSignal is a recognized leader and innovator with technology that detects looming equipment problems early and with confidence. This acquisition complements GE’s existing capabilities in diagnostics and equipment analytics, and gives us the ability to cover a much wider range of asset types and equipment manufacturers for our customers. ”
“With GE’s commitment to solving difficult challenges in today’s business environment,” said Jim Gagnard, President & CEO of SmartSignal, “we believe our solution can help provide a holistic approach to Operational Intelligence across many industries no matter what type of equipment the customer is trying to manage.”
SmartSignal detects and identifies abnormal equipment behavior and provides exception-based notifications of developing problems along with diagnoses and prioritizations. Its solutions are device-agnostic and are found on equipment from GE, Siemens, Rolls Royce, Alstom, Flowserve, Waukesha, Byron Jackson, Cooper-Bessemer, and others.
“The integration of SmartSignal’s proven monitoring and diagnostic technologies will play a significant role in delivering on GE Intelligent Platforms’ vision of providing comprehensive Operational Intelligence solutions to customers,” said Erik Udstuen, Vice President of Software & Services for GE Intelligent Platforms. “It is a proven Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics solution that aligns nicely with the Proficy® architecture to help customers address availability and efficiency challenges in a robust way. The SmartSignal team also brings tremendous domain expertise in predictive diagnostics that aligns very well with GE’s key vertical industries.”
Proficy is an example of how GE’s $4 billion-a-year software and solutions services businesses are helping customers improve productivity.

“Monster” flow calibration rig for China

ABB has successfully completed Shanghai Institute of Measurement and Test Technology (SIMT) approval of its large flow calibration rig at its instrumentation factory in Shanghai (CN).  SIMT is accepted by key international standards bodies, such as UKAS, NIST, DKD, NVLAP and NATA, as a mutually recognized calibration certification in accordance with the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), enabling flowmeters to be used globally. ABB has four sets of flow calibration facilities at its Shanghai plant and all are now certified by SIMT.  .

The flow rig complex is one of the largest in the world based on its constant flow capability. It can calibrate diameters from DN15 (1/2 inch) up to DN2400 (96 inches), pumps a constant flow of up to 12,000m3/h or 52,836gpm. 

In making the announcement, Peter Bradley, Plant Operations Manager, explained; “Now this certification is completed, all our calibration rigs ensure that products tested will comply with major international standards. We are already building, calibrating and shipping large diameter electromagnetic flowmeters for use in water projects throughout Asia, Europe and also North America.”

Built to the same ISO standards as ABB’s existing flow calibration rigs, the rig features a ‘carousel’ design and enables up to three flowmeters to be calibrated simultaneously. The calibration process itself is fully automatic, with specially developed software used to run the process and collect the calibration data.  The new rig incorporates both a master meter and a weigh scale as reference devices. These devices provide a known value against which to compare flowmeter measurement performance. By calibrating the master meter against the weigh scale, it will also be possible for the rig operators to ensure the continued accuracy of the rig.

“The completion of this approval further enhances our flowmeter manufacturing and calibration capabilities in Asia,”
says Josef Guth, Head of ABB’s Flow Measurement Business. “Our four calibration

Intuitive user interface - " intuitive as smartphones!"

In pursuing its development strategy for mechatronic products, Weiss GmbH is placing more emphasis on the intuitive operation and easy configuration of its components and systems. As a leading supplier of rotary indexing tables and automation components for many years, Weiss  regards this decision as a logical extension of its commitment to product development in the recent decades.

In the past the company has devoted considerable effort to meeting global requirements for automation, developing solutions that offer high yield efficiency combined with high versatility and reusability to allow them to be quickly and easily reconfigured for new product versions without long setup or conversion times. This objective was attained by the interdisciplinary integration of the company’s expertise in various processes and capabilities. The merger of these different disciplines – mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and information technology – has led to the development of products featuring extremely high performance combined with complexity and sophistication.

“Right from the start, we focussed on developing intelligent components, with products that can properly handle one-off lots while at the same time offering ease of use for operators lacking interdisciplinary skills and easy integration into operational processes. With regard to a self-explanatory, intuitive operator interface for a complex technology, we more or less took our cue from smartphones”, according to Uwe Weiß, managing partner of the company.

The company developed its own application software, dubbed ‘WAS’ for ‘Weiss Application Software’, to provide an elegant solution to the requirements for the human–machine interface – an intelligent, Windows-based user interface for generating and configuring motion control programs for all Weiss user-programmable products. In a manner of speaking, the engineering effort normally necessary for integration has already been provided by the software.

WAS is especially beneficial for small and medium-size manufacturers of special-purpose machinery, who up to now have been compelled to outsource the development of control programs due to the absence of in-house expertise in this complex subject. WAS makes it easy for them to set up Weiss’ automation components themselves, either by entering paths, angles and ramps directly or by using the handy teach-in mode. WAS also supports large-scale users of Weiss components by helping them to reduce programming effort and thereby reduce the life cycle cost (LCC) of the system. Weiss’s user-programmable components drastically reduce the engineering effort necessary for initial configuration or reconfiguration to only 1 to 2 man-days.

Weiss’ product philosophy and commitment to ease of use also support firms that wish to satisfy the needs of their customers with regard to flexibility and output without being forced to maintain multidisciplinary expertise in house for this purpose. It also protect these firms against unforeseen costs during the integration of Weiss components into their systems.

High-sensitivity absolute pressure transducers

Meggitt Sensing Systems has introduced the Endevco® model 8530C series, a family of high-sensitivity piezoresistive absolute pressure transducers, offering high output and a non-linearity of 1% at 3x over-range in a highly compact (3.86 mm face diameter) package. The unique design and performance characteristics of this series make them ideal for use in hydraulic and pneumatic pressure measurements, automotive airbag testing and transmission testing applications.

Offered in ranges of 15, 50 and 100 psia with 225 mV full scale output and high resonant frequencies of 180 kHz (15 psia), 320 kHz (50 psia) and 500 kHz (100 psia), the Endevco® model 8530C series features an active four-arm strain gage bridge, diffused into a sculpted silicon diaphragm, for maximum sensitivity and wideband frequency response. The volume behind the diaphragm is both evacuated and glass sealed to provide an absolute pressure reference. The transducers also feature integral temperature compensation, providing stable performance over a temperature range of -18°C to +93°C (0°F to +200°F). Units are supplied with an integral cable, with custom lengths available upon request. A 10-32 UNF-2A mounting thread is standard, with an integral four-pin connector available with the “M37” option.

Endevco® model 8530C series transducers are rugged to 20,000 g shock and offer an industry best-in-class minimum 4X burst pressure, with non-linearity, non-repeatability and pressure hysteresis errors of less than 0.50% FSO for all ranges, making it one of the industry’s most accurate pressure transducer series. Recommended accessories include the model 136 three-channel signal conditioner, model 4430A signal conditioner, or model 4990A (Oasis).

Power alert for enhanced NFPA70E, OSHA compliance

The Diversified Electronics division of Marsh Bellofram Corporation has announced the global market introduction of the UPA-130S series. This newest addition to the popular Marsh Bellofram UPA-130 series, the “S” model, is designed to provide solid-on LED lighting and alert capabilities for those monitoring applications requiring enhanced NFPA70E and OSHA safety compliance, instead of the flashing LED’s found on the standard model.

The UPA-130S series is designed to reduce the risk of electric arc flash by pre-verifying the electrical isolation from outside of a control panel before its re-verification with a meter. The series operates over a standard range of 40 to 750 VAC (30 to 1000 VDC) line-to-line or ground-to-ground, is phase insensitive and offers high surge immunity protection. When hardwired to the load side of a circuit breaker or main disconnects, the UPA-130S series detects stored hazardous AC and DC voltage in any individual phase. After disconnecting power to an enclosure, electricians can pre-verify voltage isolation while an enclosure door is still safely closed.  The compact, UPA-130S series offers a potted construction with six-foot leads and is designed to fit a 30mm knockout. Its design includes redundant circuitry and the incorporation of long-life display panel LEDs for extended use, with components housed in NEMA 4X, 12 and 13 electrical enclosures.

The UPA-130S series is a reliable safety tool for pre-verification of the presence or absence of residual electrical power or charges, or as a zero energy indicator, both before or during mechanical lock out/tag out (LOTO) procedures.  It is particularly ideal for use in government project applications, which are typically characterized by more stringent requirements for solid LED lighting, to avoid triggering certain medical conditions that can result from visual exposure to rapidly flashing lights. The UPA-130S series is also ideal for use in applications such as circuit breaker disconnects, as well as with NFPA 70e Category III and IV high energy panels; or as an added electrical safety tool on other types of frequently accessed electrical panels.

In addition to its hazardous area certifications, the UPA-130 is also compliant to CATIII and CATIV standards, and is CE marked and UL-approved in both the US and Canada.

Delivering greater performance per watt in embedded computers

SBC624 6U OpenVPX single board computer is first of five

GE Intelligent Platforms SBC624 6U OpenVPX
single board computer featuring 2nd Generation
Intel® Core™ i7 processor
GE Intelligent Platforms has announced that it will be utilising the exciting performance characteristics of 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors – formerly codenamed ‘Sandy Bridge’ - in a series of new products to be announced in the coming months. The first product to be announced is the SBC624, a 6U OpenVPX single board computer featuring a range of processor options including a quad core Intel Core i7 processor running at up to 2.1GHz that is ideal for applications like signal processing in intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance and radar/sonar. 3U VPX, 6U VME and 6U CompactPCI® single board computers will also be announced in the near future, together with a multiprocessor platform based on the new Intel® processors.

The SBC624 complements and succeeds the SBC620 and SB622, based respectively on the Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor and Intel® Core™ i7 processor, and provides an optimum upgrade path/technology insertion opportunity for existing customers in line with GE’s long term commitment to maximizing the value of customer investments. It delivers greater performance than its predecessors, but within the same power envelope, making it ideal for SWaP-constrained environments such as manned and unmanned vehicles. Inclusion of the 2nd generation Intel Core i7 processor with its superior graphics and vector processing capabilities enables the SBC624 to address mil/aero applications beyond command/control such as signal processing, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and radar/sonar. The SBC624 is available in five build versions from benign to fully rugged, making it able to provide a cost-effective solution in environments from air-cooled to extremely harsh.

“Our customers will not only benefit from the outstanding performance that these new products will deliver for increasingly demanding applications,” said Rob McKeel, President, Military & Aerospace, GE Intelligent Platforms, “they will also benefit from the extensive GE ecosystem of supporting 6U VPX hardware and software that enables them to more easily single-source complete, integrated systems, and from GE’s industry-leading experience in the long term program support that is necessary for most military and aerospace programs."

“The second generation Intel Core i7 processors bring unprecedented performance to demanding embedded computing applications with their high throughput, sophisticated graphics capability, and integrated Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel AVX) technology,” said Matt Langman, director of product marketing, Intel Embedded Computing Division. “The graphics and media capabilities in the 2nd generation Intel Core i7 processors enable manufacturers like GE to develop advanced platform solutions for industrial automation, communications, and military/aerospace applications."

The SBC624 also benefits from the Intel Core i7 processor’s support of PCI Express® Gen2 technology with a full 16-lane port, providing even greater bandwidth for on-board and off-board connectivity and enabling the high bandwidths required by today’s applications. In particular this high performance PCI Express interface makes the SBC624 an ideal host card to drive GE’s CUDA-enabled GPGPU board, the NPN240. Configuration flexibility of the SBC624 is maximized via two PMC sites and two XMC sites, while I/O includes 2 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet, four RS232 ports, VGA, two DVI/HDMI ports, seven USB 2.0 ports and two SATA interfaces. It is supported by a broad range of software including the AXIS Advanced Multiprocessor Integrated Software environment that shortens development times, reduces project cost and accelerates time to market. Operating system support is provided for Windows®, Linux® and VxWorks®.

Miniature high-frequency piezoelectric accelerometer is best seller

Meggitt Sensing Systems, a Meggitt group division, has announced that the Endevco® model 2222C was the company’s top-selling piezoelectric accelerometer of 2010.

With a sensitivity of 1.4 pC/g and frequency range of 1 to 10k Hz (±1 dB), the high-impedance model 2222C is designed for general purpose vibration measurements of small structures or objects, such as those typically encountered with scale models, circuit boards and disk drives. The sensor’s overall weight of 0.14 gram (not including cable) effectively minimizes mass loading concerns, with a shock limit that is two times that of any other accelerometer of its size and type on the market. The model 2222C is a self-generating, adhesive mounted device that requires no external power source for operation. Units are ground isolated from the sensor mounting surface. A specially designed low-noise coaxial cable and sensor installation/removal tool are supplied for error-free operation.

Recommended accessories for use with the Endevco® model 2222C include the model 2961 triaxial mounting block, model 133 three-channel signal conditioner, model 2775B signal conditioner and model 2771C-XX inline charge converter. Due to the sensor’s versatility and performance characteristics, it is ideal for any shock and vibration monitoring applications within non-harsh conditions, including general purpose in-house laboratory testing; drop testing and vibration monitoring of portable electronics; flight vehicle or UAV vibration monitoring; and automotive component durability testing.

The Endevco® model 2222C is accompanied by a comprehensive five-year product warranty and is available at specially discounted pricing as part of the Endevco® competitive trade-in (CTi) program.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dual 600 W power supply offers outputs of 80 V and 50 A

The new QPX600D from Aim-TTi is a dual-output 1.2 kW power supply using the company’s latest PowerFlex+ regulation technology to provide up to 80 V or up to 50 A on each 600 W output.

Whereas a conventional power-supply unit has a fixed current limit giving a power capability that decreases directly in proportion with the output voltage, the PowerFlex+ design of the QPX600D enables higher currents to be generated at lower voltages within an overall power limit envelope.

Each output can provide more than six times the current of a conventional supply of the same maximum voltage and power. Examples of voltage/current combinations include 80 V/7.5 A, 60 V/10 A, 40 V/15 A, 28 V/20 A, 18 V/30 A and 10 V/50 A.

The QPX600D can be operated as two entirely independent and isolated power supplies, each with its own comprehensive graphic LCD display. Alternatively, multiple isolated tracking modes are available, including some intended for series and parallel operation with metering of total voltage or total current, respectively. This enables up to 160 V or 100 A to be provided when required.

The two outputs can be switched on or off either independently or synchronously. Synchronous switching of the outputs is of increasing importance for circuitry which can ‘lock up’ or even be damaged if one voltage rail is present without the other.

The front-panel control system allows settings to be made using direct numeric entry, or via a spin wheel. Setting resolution is 1 mV or 10 mA, and a number of non-volatile settings stores are provided.

Two versions of the product are available: one with analogue remote control only, and another with analogue and digital interfaces including USB, RS232, GPIB and LAN (Ethernet). The LAN interface is compliant with LXI class C (LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation).

The QPX600D is suitable for benchtop or rack-mounted applications. It has built-in tilt feet and a 3U high rack-mount kit is available.

Module for high-channel-count dynamic signal acquisition

New PXI Express Module features AC/DC coupling for multiple types of physical measurements

National Instruments has announced the NI PXIe-449x devices, the most flexible high-channel-count dynamic signal acquisition (DSA) modules NI has to offer. The modules provide AC/DC coupling both for sensor measurements with a microphone or accelerometer and voltage measurements from a tachometer or device under test, making it possible for engineers to use a single device for all their sound and vibration acquisition needs.

“We need scalable data acquisition hardware and software that yields accurate data efficiently,” said Michael James, vice president at Blue Ridge Research and Consulting. “Leveraging LabVIEW with the NI PXIe-449x DSA module fulfilled our needs by enabling us to customize our applications and perform real-time monitoring.”

The NI PXIe-449x modules feature a choice of 8 or 16 channels with 24-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) per channel and 113 dB dynamic range. The large dynamic range minimizes the noise floor, making it easy to detect even the smallest vibration and acoustic signals. The NI PXIe-449x modules also provide software-selectable gains that help engineers configure gain on each channel for the best signal-to-noise ratio possible.

With the NI PXIe-449x modules, engineers can easily synchronize physical measurements of any type and correlate real-time events. The modules sync effortlessly with the NI SC Express family of data acquisition modules, which provide signal conditioning and connectivity ideal for temperature, strain and high-voltage acquisition. The ability to combine the modules makes the PXI platform ideal for structural test, design validation and other dynamic tests.

The NI PXIe-449x devices are also compatible with the NI Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite, an interactive software for quickly acquiring, analyzing and logging acoustic and vibration measurements. The suite includes the NI Sound and Vibration Assistant and NI LabVIEW analysis VIs. High-level, ready-to-run applications for performing nondestructive tests are included.

Enclosures for electric cars!

Charging station with car
Building on their extensive experience in providing weatherproof enclosures for a wide range of applications around the globe, Rittal has developed some prototypes for the emerging market of charging stations for electric vehicles.

These products are intended as discussion points for development of specific models. A modular approach enables a number of assembly solutions which include pavement standing versions and wall mounted indoor models for use in multi-storey car parks.

With the need for protection from the weather and vandalism, the twin-walled enclosures have been designed to incorporate crash guards, plug-point illumination, accommodating single or three phase power, touch screen display, built-in readers for credit and debit cards and a GSM/GPRS modem for remote monitoring and transfer of consumption data.

As with all Rittal outdoor enclosures, the “Car Charger” will be available in aluminium or stainless steel, or a combination of both, and can include a nano-coating for the final finish to facilitate easy wash-down cleaning of the inevitable graffiti.

Other options being considered by Rittal are the integration of pedestrian pathway lighting and barrier control.

First fixed configuration firewall for Modbus TCP!

Honeywell is expanding its use of Tofino technology with the release of its third Byres Security/MTL Instruments product – the Honeywell Modbus Read-only Firewall. Designed to secure any Safety Integrated Systems (SIS) used in industrial processes, the firewall detects and blocks any network messages that might change data, programs or settings in critical systems. The new security appliance provides an additional layer of protection against unwanted and harmful network traffic, thereby increasing network security, reliability and performance.

Honeywell products that use Tofino technology
• NEW - Honeywell Modbus Read-only Firewall
• OneWireless Firewall
• Honeywell Modbus TCP Firewall
Safety Instrumented Systems, such as Honeywell’s Safety Manager™, are the last line of defense against accidents in hazardous industrial processes such as oil refining and energy generation. They monitor the process continuously and automatically shut down the plant in a safe manner if they detect anomalous conditions. Their importance to the safety and reliability of the operations and staff of the entire facility means it is essential that SIS are secure from all threats, both accidental and malicious.

This is unique in the industry as it is the first fixed configuration firewall to use Tofino’s “deep packet inspection” technology against the popular SCADA protocol, Modbus TCP. This technology scans every network message, only allowing a very limited set of valid Modbus “Read-only” commands through to the safety system. These are safe commands that cannot be used by malware to change the functionality of the safety system. The firewall’s fixed rule sets remove the possibility of tampering or mis-configuration and significantly reduces the effort required by the plant to maintain the firewall.

This new product is Plug-n-Protect™ and pre-configured so that the firewall is simply installed into live networks between the safety system and other control systems. There is no configuration needed. Unlike IT-style firewalls that require highly-trained staff for installation, it can be used by facilities that need a solution that works instantly once it is connected to the network.

The Honeywell Modbus Read-only Firewall is not just for Honeywell safety systems. It can be used with any safety system product connected to Honeywell Experion systems via the Modbus TCP protocol. To date, Honeywell has tested and confirmed the firewall with three major vendor’s SIS products.

“We are delighted that Honeywell continues to expand its relationship with us, showing that Tofino technology is effective for Honeywell customers, and that there are multiple applications for Tofino within Honeywell’s product lines,” said Joann Byres, CEO of Byres Security Inc.

“Honeywell is a true industry leader in its focus on security for critical systems.” remarked Eric Byres, CTO of Byres Security Inc. “The fact that Honeywell has tested this product for other vendor’s safety systems shows that they want a solution that works for the entire industry.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Competence in health safety and environment recognised

METCO Services is recertified for Health and Safety and Environment and achieves a score of 8.2 for Competence and Training

METCO Services, part of Emerson Process Management, has been successfully recertified by First Point Assessment (FPAL) in the categories of Health and Safety and Environment. The company raised its scores in both categories achieving 8.1 for Health and Safety and 7.0 for Environment. The company was also assessed for the first time for Competence and Training and achieved a score of 8.2 in this category. This is rated as ‘Excellent’ by FPAL.

Achieving FPAL Verify status reduces risk for oil and gas industry purchasers by providing an enhanced level of supplier assurance. It also saves them time and money by giving access to shared on-line supplier assessment reports and improvement plans which are specifically focussed on the oil and gas industry. Tender processes are streamlined by giving on-line access to reliable generic pre-qualification Health,Safety and Environmental supplier data.

Commenting on the success, Gerry Inglis, Operations Director, METCO Services Ltd. said, “The Competence and Training section was included in the audit for the first time this year and we are delighted to achieve a score of 8.2 in this category. As METCO is a service-based company, the competency of our technicians and engineers is vital to ensuring that METCO consistently delivers a high quality service to our customers.”

FPAL manages the oil and gas supply chain database for Britain and The Netherlands. It is a key tool used by purchasers in the oil and gas industry to identify and select current and potential suppliers when awarding contracts or purchase orders.

Missing link for control, monitoring, and interfacing

DNF Controls has released the AnyWhere Interface Box (AIB), a compact single-box "missing link" solution that provides eight opto-isolated GPI inputs, eight relay contact closure GPO outputs, one RS422/RS232 serial port, and one 10 BaseT Ethernet port. Designed for applications in A/V, industrial, radio, and television broadcasting market segments, the AIB supports GPI-to-GPO(s), GPI-to-serial, GPI-to-Ethernet, and GPI-to-SNMP control; serial-to-GPO, Ethernet-to-GPO, and SNMP-to-GPO monitoring; and serial-to-Ethernet and serial-to-SNMP conversions; all of which are user-configurable.

The AIB makes it cost-effective for users to address their unique and specific needs, whether by establishing interoperability between incompatible systems or extending the functionality of existing systems that would otherwise require costly custom programming or interfacing.

"Unlike any other single solution available, the AIB allows users to bridge systems and achieve that key bit of functionality they require — without performing any programming whatsoever," said Dan Fogel, DNF Controls' CTO. "It's a simple but powerful solution that can be easily and quickly configured and deployed where and as needed."

Easily managed by technical and nontechnical users alike, the AIB provides users with a Web browser-based configuration user interface featuring a series of drop-down menus and fill-in-the-box entries that make it easy to map an event input (GPI, serial, Ethernet, SNMP) to one or more action outputs (GPO, serial, Ethernet, SNMP). The configuration is saved in non-volatile storage in the AIB and can be saved to and restored from a PC.

The AIB can be powered by power over Ethernet (POE) or an optional 12-W external power supply. The box itself measures just 8.25 by 4.125 by 1.5 inches.

"Typically, when customers choose a piece of equipment, it does 90 percent of what they want,"
added Fogel. "Businesses make this compromise because the last 10 percent of desired functionality is just too expensive. The AIB, however, can supply that last 10 percent at a very appealing price point, and that's real money saved. What's more, the user benefits through greater efficiency and fewer errors."

Operational excellence journey in cosmetics

GE Intelligent Platforms's Proficy® Software platform has been chosen by Kao Brands of Cincinnati (OH US) for a complex batch execution system in primary operations across its many consumer products. The company is looking toward improved quality, decreased cycle time in the process and implementation, increased versatility, testing and reduced commissioning time for its production lines.
A Kao Brands product
Kao Brands, a global manufacturer of premium beauty brands including Jergens, Ban, Biore, Curel, Guhl and John Freida, prides itself on innovation and quality. Therefore, when the company added new equipment or implemented different procedures, they realized that they needed a system that was both agile and secure to allow optimizing the manufacturing of many different recipes on the same equipment.
Over the last seven years, Kao has expanded its operations globally, particularly in Europe and Australia. In March 2009, new equipment was added to accommodate the additional needed capacity. This increase in sales had necessitated using outside contractors to fulfill product commitment. The company saw value in cost savings and quality improvement while protecting the confidentiality of recipes by bringing that manufacturing capacity back to the plant. Kao produces many different products and SKUs on the same equipment and packages those products on the same lines.
“This was a logistical problem,” said Andy Pickens, Engineering Manager for Kao Brands’ Cincinnati plant. “With three major production areas – making, storage and packaging – producing many products with the same equipment and having to validate cleanings between products, results in a complicated system. We needed to continue to provide high quality products but with more agility to address the increased capacity requirements.”
Kao’s control system is complex and its PLC platform was driving the operation. Many operations are interconnected and if a change in one system was made through the PLC, due to sequencing, it could have an adverse effect on another operation down the line. The team thought that, due to the rate that things change, they needed a solution that would allow them to develop PLC code once and not have to change it with each tweak to the process. Kao implemented Proficy Batch, a powerful and feature-rich solution used to increase product quality, consistency and efficiency, and Proficy Historian to capture high-resolution process data enabling true process visibility.
The Proficy solution was implemented on the new equipment and now the team is implementing on all equipment. “We now change recipes more quickly and more reliably,” said Pickens. “Changes that used to take days to implement are now taking hours instead.”
Kao isn’t stopping there, according to Pickens. The company would like to use the data collected by the Proficy Software solution for process improvement. “We are working to optimize what is a good time for each step of every product we make,” he said. “We would like to see what the impact any manufacturing bottlenecks have on the schedule made by the production team, and adjust our schedule dynamically to compensate.”
“Kao Brands is a great example of how companies achieve efficiencies by laying a solid foundation of reliability and predictability,” said Erik Udstuen, Vice President of Software & Services for GE Intelligent Platforms. Operational excellence starts with visibility into operations, moves to efficiency, reliability and then, by standardizing work processes, improving planning and execution across the company results in a sustainable competitive advantage for the company in the marketplace.”

Humidity and temperature data logger

The RHTemp101A is one of MadgeTech’s newest data loggers. It is part of a new series of low cost, state-of-the-art data logging devices. MadgeTech has taken the lead in offering the most advanced, low cost, battery powered data loggers in the world today.
The RHTemp101A offers a 10 year battery life, a 1 second reading rate, a multiple start/stop function, ultra-high speed download capability, 500,000 reading storage capacity, optional memory wrap, precision RTD sensing element, battery life indicator, optional password protection,
programmable high-low alarms and more.  Their research has shown hat the RHTemp101A is second to no other data logger when it comes to price and performance.

Using the MadgeTech Software, starting, stopping and downloading from the RHTemp101A is simple and easy. Graphical, tabular and summary data is provided for analysis and data can be viewed in °C, °F, K,°R, %RH, mg/ml water vapor concentration and dew point. The data can also be automatically exported to Excel® for further calculations.

As the leader in low power data logger technology, MadgeTech continuously improves its products and develops solutions to meet ever-changing challenges. The RHTemp101A was designed with our customers in mind. MadgeTech offers free firmware upgrades for the life of the product so that data loggers already deployed in the field can grow with new technological developments. Units do not need to be returned to the factory for upgrades. The user can do this automatically from any PC.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Motor stock in US & Europe catalogued!

Baldor has published a new edition of its renowned 501 catalogue, detailing all the electric motor products that are held in stock by the company in the USA - all of which are also available on quick turnaround in Europe. The list - and the catalogue - are exceptionally comprehensive. Running to more than 600 pages, the latest edition covers literally thousands of Baldor Reliance motors and virtually every application area for rotary motion.

The single- and three-phase motors that are stocked by Baldor span a very wide power range of 0.18 to 1,200 kW and cover an exceptionally broad spectrum of application types - including general purpose, premium efficiency, severe duty and explosion proof, washdown, DC, vector and brake - together with a large number of application-specific types such as pump, HVAC and farm duty.

Given Baldor's American heritage, it is hardly surprising that as well as motors with IEC frames, the catalogue details a vast number of motors with NEMA type frames. Many of the company's three-phase NEMA motors are already available - in both Europe and the USA - in versions that comply with the USA's Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which became mandatory on December 19, 2010. This legislation enforces higher energy standards for virtually every three-phase motor with a power rating from 0.75 to 375 kW; Baldor is consequently making EISA-compliant motors available to all automation builders serving the North American market.

Three new chips for RF4CE market

GreenPeak Technologies has just launched three new chips, allowing the development of robust and low cost ZigBee RF4CE remote control applications for TV’s and set-top boxes, addressing an overall one billion unit annual market.

The three devices all have full RF4CE functionality with ZRC embedded, targeting specific product applications:
• GP520: front-panel controller for set-top box with SPI/TWI interface
• GP530: front-panel controller for TV with UART interface
• GP540: complete, low-cost “remote control on a chip” including embedded keyboard scanner and full IR functionality

All devices are optimized for low cost, ease of integration and allow fast time-to-market by only requiring a simple configuration step to achieve a complete RF4CE ZRC-compliant end product.

“Bringing the complete RF4CE functionality for each application into a single device makes low cost and reliable RF remote controls a reality,” said Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. “This new series of RF4CE chips brings the cost of the total solution down and makes the choice for RF remote controls even easier. GreenPeak provides a streamlined one-stop-shop offering for RF4CE chips. The integration of advanced RF4CE configurability provides simplicity of integration bringing the development and integration time down to virtually zero.”

GreenPeak’s unique ultra low power and synchronization optimized for remote controls enables single coin cell battery operation for ten years or more. It also enables advanced thin remote control designs not requiring a battery lid and it implements find-me and push functionality.

GreenPeak also takes Wi-Fi coexistence one step further. The GreenPeak RF4CE chips offer an additional 30dB (1000x) better interference robustness against Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other RF signals, which is the result of a superior radio design with antenna diversity technology. This patented technology uses two separate antennas to avoid the typical in-door wave cancellation, essential when more TVs and set-top boxes will be equipped with Wi-Fi internet connections.

Much better than IR (infra-red) based remote controls, RF remote controls provide two-way high-speed communication and do not require line of sight as the radio signal transmits through cabinets, obstacles, walls and floors. A ZigBee RF4CE remote control system (compliant with the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, operating in the 2.4GHz global frequency band) is faster, more reliable, includes richer, bi-directional communication and provides a greater range compared to traditional IR remote controls.

Contract for pre-assembled instrumentation enclosures for Canadian offshore gas.

Intertec is to supply pre-assembled electrically heated instrumentation enclosures for the Deep Panuke offshore gas project. The contract was awarded to Intertec by the specialist offshore oil and gas engineering company Single Buoy Moorings Inc. (SBM).

Highly insulated and freeze-protected enclosures
from Intertec will protect field instrumentation
on the Deep Panuke offshore gas project.
Intertec is supplying more than 160 of its Diabox 87 instrumentation enclosures, equipped with tubing, valves and process transmitters to SBM's specification. Each enclosure is fitted with a CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved 100 watt Intertec Multitherm explosion-proof heater and sealed thermostat, factory preset to freeze protection up to 30 degrees Celsius. The enclosures are constructed from glassfibre reinforced polyester (GRP), and are insulated internally with polyurethane foam to minimise heat loss. The GRP material that Intertec uses for the outer shells of this enclosure style offers superb strength, weight and corrosion resistance advantages for the harsh operating conditions that will be encountered in this offshore project off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.

According to Patrick Van Winckel, Intertec's Project Coordinator in Germany, "SBM chose Intertec as an enclosure supplier primarily on technical merit and our flexibility in producing custom products. However, another important factor is Intertec's ability to operate globally - this particular project calls for extensive international business collaboration."
All negotiations were handled by SBM's engineering office and Intertec's sales personnel in Malaysia, with reference to SBM's engineering offices in Monaco, France and Intertec's offices in Sarnia, Ontario.

At SBM's request, Intertec will produce and integrate the enclosures at its facilities in Neustadt, Germany, in order that they can be equipped with process transmitters produced by a German supplier. Prior to shipment of the units to the platform manufacturer in the United Arab Emirates, the units will be CSA certified in Germany.

The Deep Panuke offshore gas field is located in the Atlantic, approximately 250 km southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.