Thursday, April 21, 2011

More than a modem!

Armac launches international website for IQsafeLinkTM
“The success of IQsafeLink™ belongs to the world”, is what Armac thought after the breakthrough of IQsafeLink™ in the Netherlands and Belgium. Launching an international website, was the logical first step.

After invention and development of the first safe and intelligent system for remote control on machine and process control over internet, IQsafeLink quickly won in popularity within the Dutch speaking countries, where Armac Industrial Automation finds her basis. After being elected as Product of the Year 2010 by, an award that boosts innovative products in the field of engineering and industrial automation, the IQsafeLinkTM became a hot item. Advantages, that make the IQsafeLinkTM a unique and essential tool for remotely connecting to machines over internet are (to name a few):
• 24/7 service by specialised engineers from any place where there is internet connection (better service level than your competitor)
• more efficient facilitation of your personnel as they work from any location and less travel expenses of engineers in the (far away) field
• clear and prompt help as lingual barriers and miscommunication are minimalized
• software expert watches remote, so solutions are quicker found, so for the customer there will be less and shorter production stagnation and an increasing capacity

Armac works completely brand independent and IQsafeLinkTM can be used in almost all situations. It works with all PC control systems (incl. MS Windows!) and can use all applications, without installation of these application on the service engineers PC or laptop. There is no extra software necessary! IQsafeLinkTM is simple to implement in any installation and easy to use. And above all … where there is internet … there is connection to a machine anywhere in the world. IQsafeLinkTM is a must have for every professional, service oriented image of your machine constructing company (OEM).

Vision body has new consultant

Dr. John Haddon has been appointed as Technical Consultant for the UK Industrial Vision Association (UKIVA), following the retirement of Don Braggins. John is the founding director of Panther Vision Ltd, which joined the Association towards the end of 2009. John will be the first point of contact for anybody requesting technical advice from the Association, and will contribute articles to the trade and technical press as part of the Association’s continuing objective to raise and maintain awareness of the capabilities of vision technology in manufacturing industry.

Dr J F Haddon
John has over 27 years experience in the development and implementation of leading edge image processing and computer vision techniques and applications, and takes a keen interest in all things related to industrial vision. As an independent consultant and member of the Executive Board of the Vision and Imaging Network of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), he is ideally placed to take on this role.

He has been a visiting Professor at the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing at the University of Surrey and a Visiting Fellow at both Surrey University and the University of Exeter. He became a QinetiQ Fellow in 1999 in recognition of "Outstanding technical contributions in the field of image analyses". John has also been an active member of several international and inter-governmental research committees on behalf of the UK Government, has been a member of technical assessment teams for foreign governments and has worked with multinational businesses both in the UK and overseas. 

John has an excellent pedigree with the written word. He has produced over 100 publications and reports, has contributed to several technical books and has been a reviewer for several learned journals. 

Are you the plant of the year?

HART Communication Foundation seeks nominees for 2011 HART Plant of the Year Award

The HART® Communication Foundation is actively seeking qualified nominees for the 10th annual HART Plant of the Year Award. End users and manufacturers from all world areas are encouraged to enter their plant or customer’s plant for recognition. The HART Plant of the Year is the only international award presented to end user companies in the process automation industry to recognize the exceptional application of HART Communication technology. Nominations will be accepted through 30 June 2011. Nomination forms and details are available on the website .

“Selection of the HART Plant of the Year is based on a plant’s use of HART Communication not on the size of the installation. We are seeking a plant that has taken the capabilities of HART instruments beyond configuration and calibration,” says Ron Helson, HART Communication Foundation Executive Director. “Or, the plant that is using real-time diagnostics and process variables in HART-enabled devices integrated with control, information, asset management, or safety systems.”

Previous recipients include MOL Danube (Hungary), Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan), PDVSA Petropiar (Venezuela), StatoilHydro (Norway), Sasol Solvents (South Africa), Clariant (Germany), and DuPont (USA). A complete list of recipients and their success stories are available at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New online shop!

HardwarePT online shop now open for business

HardwarePT has developed an online shop, which brings a selection of popular industrial automation hardware products and accessories to the online world, enabling you to shop with ease for your essential brands.

Products are available under the following headings:
Industrial Computers, 
Remote I/O Modules,
Industrial Networks and 
Industrial Keyboards
Uninterruptable Power Supplies

E-Handbook on Nanoscale electrical measurements

 Keithley Instruments has published an informative e-handbook titled "Ensuring the Accuracy of Nanoscale Electrical Measurements."

The e-handbook is divided into several topic areas:
* Nanotech Testing Challenges
* Electrical Measurement Considerations
* Electrical Noise
* Source-Measure Instruments
* Pulsing Technologies
* Avoiding Self-Heating Problems

In addition to these topics, the e-handbook provides insights on  graphene, the single-atom-thick crystal of carbon, thought by many to be the semiconductor industry's eventual replacement for silicon. A useful glossary of low-level measurement terminology and a guide to selecting instruments suitable for nanotechnology applications are included. In addition, links to a variety of webinars, white papers, and application notes relevant to each topic area are included.

The company is helping advance the state of the art in a growing list of nanotechnology applications. Six decades of experience in designing ultra-sensitive measurement tools allow Keithley to provide university, corporate, and government labs around the world with solutions for investigating new
material and device properties. Keithley partners with organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), leading Nanotechnology Centers of Excellence, customers, and other
leading nanotechnology measurement tool vendors to create more complete nano test solutions. The insight into emerging needs provided by these working partnerships helps Keithley deliver new capabilities faster.

Ultra-fast Iinclusion analysis in steel

Thermo Fisher Scientific has a new ultra-fast method for characterizing steel cleanness by analyzing inclusions using optical emission spectroscopy (OES). The method, which uses the Thermo Scientific Spark-DAT option on the Thermo Scientific ARL 4460 Metals Analyzer, significantly enhances the capabilities of the instrument and offers a faster and more cost-effective alternative to existing methods of characterizing steel cleanness.

Inclusions can affect the properties and the quality of steel, making their control vital. The Spark-DAT option enables steel manufacturers to identify, characterize and count inclusions in only a few seconds, making it highly effective for steel production. The advanced Spark-DAT option features a unique methodology and software technology and offers a range of innovative applications for the characterization of steel cleanness. These applications include the determination of inclusion size and distribution and the quantitative analysis of total oxygen content at concentrations of 30ppm and below in killed steel samples.

The Spark-DAT option offers a range of advantages for steelmaking plants. By enabling the fast determination of steel composition, inclusion characterization and accurate total oxygen content simultaneously on a single OES instrument, initial investment costs are significantly reduced. In addition, as analysis times are almost unchanged compared to standard OES, up to 30 samples can typically be analyzed per hour. The sample and its surface preparation, as well as the instrument maintenance and consumables, are also unchanged, ensuring low operating costs.

The Spark-DAT option on the Thermo Scientific ARL 4460 Metals Analyzer considerably enhances the OES technique and increases the versatility of the spectrometer. From routine use to research, Spark-DAT provides a quick, simple and cost-effective solution for inclusion analysis in the steel industry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Best distributor for EMEA!

 Chris Godfrey, Farnell’s MRO Segment Manager (left)
& Patrice Jaunasse, Sales Director at Tektronix
Farnell has won the 2010 EMEA High Service Distributor of the Year award from Tektronix, the leading global manufacturer of test measurement and monitoring solutions. The award, presented at Tektronix’s annual executive partner meeting in Paris this week, recognises the outstanding progress that Farnell has achieved over the past 12 months with a 20% increase in sales performance and overall engagement, which outperformed 2009 levels.

Tektronix also noted the successful collaboration between the two companies on element14 – Farnell’s technology portal and eCommunity for electronic design engineers – and its support on new product introductions.

Farnell offers over 160 product lines from Tektronix’s comprehensive range that includes oscilloscopes (including the new MSO/DPO4000B Series), digital multimeters, frequency counter analyzers, power supplies and arbitrary function generators. Comprehensive technical data on all the products, coupled with the discussion forums provided by element14, helps potential users of Tektronix products select the optimum device for their application quickly and easily.

Chris Godfrey, Farnell’s MRO Segment Manager at Farnell said: “The award from Tektronix is a testament to our high service distribution standards and our truly multi-channel approach. We continue to support our customers with not only the latest and best new technologies from our suppliers but also add value with our unique eCommunity, element14, where design engineers around the world collaborate and share best-practice.”

“This award represents a major landmark in the relationship between Tektronix and Farnell,” said Patrice Jaunasse, Sales Director at Tektronix. “Farnell have demonstrated a real multi-channel approach in taking our products to market effectively, and have also successfully expanded their portfolio to include our new mid-range oscilloscopes, which requires them to provide more in-depth technical advice to customers.  We are delighted to present this award to Farnell, in recognition of this achievement.”

DMM for hazardous areas

Easy to use Digital Multimeter allows safe testing of bonding conductors in hazardous areas 

Newson Gale has introduced a new multi-function portable meter to enable engineers and technicians to test bonding and continuity in hazardous areas, in addition to other electrical data collection. The meter (order code ISDMM) is particularly useful for carrying out periodic tests of grounding (earthing) and bonding connectors and conductors, either on permanently bonded equipment or temporary devices such as grounding clamps, cables and reels. The unit is also suitable for testing conductive or semi-conductive hose assemblies used for transfer of flammable or combustible products where it is essential to achieve continuity over the complete hose length, including end-fittings.

In addition to bonding/continuity (resistance), the ISDMM offers several other metering options, including Voltage, Current, Capacitance, and Temperature.

The easy to use unit comes complete with 9V battery, test probes and rugged carry case, and optional extras include a hand-rewind extension reel (30 mtrs / 100ft) and heavy duty crocodile test clips.

The ISDMM is approved according to IECEX (World) and ATEX (European) hazardous area standards and is suitable for use in flammable gas/vapour and combustible dust atmospheres. The unit may be used in outdoor or indoor locations, is water and dust tight (IP67 / NEMA 6) and has a maximum operational temperature rating of 50 deg C (122 deg F).

The ISDMM forms part of the Cen-Stat range of static grounding and bonding equipment available from Newson Gale. For more information contact your local office or in-country distributor.

E-learning thermography!

Fluke has an e-learning programme specifically designed for the use of thermography in building diagnostics. The programme can be purchased online or is free of charge to purchasers of a new Fluke Thermal Imaging Camera designed for building diagnostics. The programme consists of 13 training modules, valued at £300 (ca€345) Fluke TiR and TiS thermal imagers are supplied with a voucher which can be used online to activate the course. The training content has been developed in association with experienced building diagnostic thermographers at Fluke’s training partner, Infrared Building Solutions.

In order to enable customers to make the fastest start into the world of infrared thermal imaging of buildings, Fluke is now offering purchasers of buildings diagnostic cameras an exciting and unique way of learning how to use their new camera for a range of applications. Leak tracing? Energy assessments? Roof surveys? Plumbing and heating diagnostics? All these and more are covered in this new e-learning programme. Purchasers of a Fluke TiS camera or one from the range of TiR cameras from a Fluke authorised distributor will be provided with a voucher which enables them to log immediately into an easy-to-use, on-line training system as soon as they open the camera case. This allows them to start working effectively straight away.

Once logged in, purchasers can benefit from the series of 13 training modules. The different modules will take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour maximum. Each module can be taken whenever and wherever it is convenient, and a key advantage is that users can study at their own pace. In total, if users choose to take all the modules, the programme runs for approximately four and a half hours. All modules are practically focused on how to be safe, effective and efficient in the real world of building diagnostics. In addition to covering a full range of applications such as those mentioned above, subjects ranging from “Marketing Infrared Thermography and Getting a Return on Investment” to “Standards and Regulations” and “Software and Report Writing” are covered, helping the Fluke camera buyer to grow his or her business as well as capture and interpret high quality images.

For those users that want the full hands-on training experience, Fluke is offering a number of one day training courses in thermography for building applications

Marketing of wireless standard

Founder and CEO of  GreenPeak Technologies, Cees Links, has been named as the Marketing Chair of ZigBee RF4CE. As Marketing Chair, Mr. Links is responsible for developing and coordinating the worldwide market acceptance of the ZigBee RF4CE wireless standards into set-top boxes, remote controls, television sets and other consumer electronics and home entertainment systems.

Cees Links
"Getting Cees Links as a member of our team is a real coup," said Mr. Bob Heile, Chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. "There are few in the electronics industry who have the experience we need to evangelize our standards and drive their adoption into the consumer electronics market."

"ZigBee RF4CE is the specification created especially to control consumer electronics products," explains Cees. "Currently being rolled out worldwide, ZigBee RF4CE is a real step forward for entertainment control. No more wires, no more infrared, no more point and shoot thanks to more sophisticated home entertainment devices."

Recognized as a pioneer of the wireless data industry, Cees Links is a visionary leader dedicated to bringing together the world of mobile computing and continuous networking. Under his responsibility, the first wireless LANs were developed which ultimately became Wi-Fi, the ubiquitous household technology now integrated into the most of the world's notebooks, mobile computing devices, and smart phones. Cees has been involved in the establishment of the IEEE 802.11 standardization committee and the Wi-Fi Alliance. He was also instrumental in helping to establish the IEEE 802.15 standardization committee that is the base for all ZigBee specifications and standards.

Cees created the right vision for wireless LANs and saw it through to a complete success for Wi-Fi. He will do the same to make ZigBee RF4CE equally successful.

High-speed PCI express digitizer

AdlinkTechnology has released the PCIe-9842, their PCI Express digitizer providing an impressive 200 MS/s sampling rate of 14 bits of data across one channel. The PCIe-9842 is specifically designed for applications such as light detection and ranging (LIDAR) tests, optical fiber tests, and radar signal acquisition. Its 100 MHz bandwidth analog input is designed to receive ±1V high-speed signals with 50 Ω impedance. With this simplified front-end design and highly stable onboard reference, the PCIe-9842 provides not only high-accuracy measurement results but also delivers high-dynamic performance.

For applications that require data to be acquired and transferred in real-time, the PCIe-9842 is designed on the PCI Express x4 bus interface to provide adequate bandwidth for real-time transfers. As the signal is converted from analog to digital, the data will be transferred directly and continuously at a sustained 400 MB/s rate to the host system memory. End-users will further benefit from a typical dynamic performance that includes a 11.3 effective number of bits (ENOBs) and a 70 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) with an input frequency of a 10 MHz sine wave.

“The benefits of PCIe-9842’s exceptional dynamic characteristics will be especially evident in radar signal acquisition, high-speed RF spectrum monitoring, and optical signal detection applications,” stated Catherine Wu, Product Director at ADLINK. “We designed the PCIe-9842 as a cost and feature optimized solution to provide our customers with an ideal digitizer solution.”

Adlink not only provides legacy drivers for users to develop using Microsoft C++ and Visual Basic, but also a task-oriented driver (DAQPilot) to accelerate the development cycle. Express VIs and Polymorphic Vis for the PCIe-9842 also provide a quick and simple way to operate the digitizer in LabVIEW®.

Monday, April 18, 2011

At automotive show

Pickering Interfaces has continued to regularly release new products in both the LXI and the PXI platforms tackling the problems faced by our users in the Automotive industry. For the Automotive Testing Expo show in Stuttgart (D) in May this year they are exhibiting amongst others the following solutions/products on their stand (1969, Hall 1).

BIRST Modules (Built-In Relay Self Test) for PXI/LXI Applications
Verification and diagnosis of complex switching operation in a test system has always been an issue. For this reason, Pickering Interfaces has developed a new, first range of modules introducing built in self-test to selected models of their PXI and LXI switching modules. This feature is called Pickering Interfaces BIRST, Built in Relay Self Test

The BIRST tool allows the user to very easily check relay operation in a switching solution without the aid of external test equipment.. BIRST will identify any relay failures in the switch module and is capable of detecting relays with deteriorating contacts which may indicate they are in the process of failing. To conduct a test the user simply disconnects the switching module from the UUT and runs the supplied application program. No supporting test equipment is needed; the test simply runs and identifies the position of any defective or suspect relays within the module. They will show various PXI and LXI products with BIRST at the event.

New Battery Simulator
They have also expanded the range of our customer focused PXI instrumentation modules with the introduction of the 41-752 Battery Simulator. The 41-752 is an addition to Pickering’s family of battery simulators

The recently introduced 41-752 is used by automotive customers to test battery management systems for electric vehicles.

Developed in association with DMC, a systems integrator based in Chicago, the 41-752 is a 6 cell battery simulator that provides up to 300mA of current from each cell. The output voltage from each cell is fully adjustable up to 7V and each cell includes its own sense lines to improve regulation performance. Each cell can be configured to operate as a current sink in a battery charging circuit of up to 100mA. Cells and modules can be series connected to emulate the battery stacks being used in new generation electric vehicles. More than 100 cells can stacked in series in a single Pickering Interfaces PXI or Modular LXI Chassis to allow the testing of high voltage battery management systems. The independently controlled channels allow the cells to be set to different output voltages to simulate different charge and capacity states. A safety interlock system can be used to ensure that voltage generation is inhibited when the cables are disconnected from the front panel. Outputs are made available on high voltage D Type connectors permitting the generation of voltages of up to 750V.

Fault Insertion Modules and Chassis
The company has a broad number of PXI modules specifically designed to support fault simulation applications.

The 40-192 is a 6 channel fault insertion switch with two fault busses capable of hot switching signals up to 10A and 200V. The 40-191 uses the same architecture but is capable of switching signals of 30A, 40V and handling surge currents in excess of 120A with no lifetime degradation. Each module is capable of simulating the most common faults found in a system - open circuits and shorts circuits to one of two fault connections. The fast switching speeds ensure the modules can be used to simulate transient fault conditions.

Fault simulation is widely used in the process of testing controllers that are required to respond to sensor readings. These include engine management systems, transmission controllers and suspension systems. These systems are often safety critical, so it is essential to check their response to common sensor errors - such as short circuits, open circuits and damaged sensors - to ensure they do not cause unwanted reaction by the control system. A critical example might include the inadvertent shut down of an engine in response to a single sensor failure. Using Pickering Interfaces range of PXI fault insertion products users can develop automated methods of testing controllers, allowing more thorough and reproducible testing to be performed at the design and upgrade phase of controller development.

High voltage controller & manager! (including video)

Linear Technology Corporation introduces the LTC4000, a high voltage controller and power manager that converts virtually any externally compensated DC/DC power supply into a full-featured battery charger. The LTC4000 is capable of driving typical DC/DC converter topologies, including buck, boost, buck-boost, SEPIC and flyback. The device offers precision input and charge current regulation and operates across a wide 3V to 60V input and output voltage range, compatible with a variety of different input voltage sources, battery stacks and chemistries. Typical applications include high power battery charger systems, high performance portable instruments, battery back-up systems, industrial battery-equipped devices and notebook/subnotebook computers.

The LTC4000 features an intelligent PowerPath topology that preferentially provides power to the system load when input power is limited. The LTC4000 controls external PFETs to provide low loss reverse current protection, efficient charging and discharging of the battery and instant-on operation to ensure that system power is available at plug-in even with a dead or deeply discharged battery External sense resistors and precision sensing enable accurate currents at high efficiency, allowing the LTC4000 to work with converters that span the power range from milliwatts to kilowatts.

The LTC4000’s full-featured controller charges a variety of battery chemistries including lithium-ion/polymer/phosphate, sealed lead acid (SLA), and nickel-based. The device also provides charge status indicators through its FLT and CHRG pins. Other features of the battery charger include: ±0.2% programmable float voltage, selectable timer or C/X current termination, temperature-qualified charging using an NTC thermistor, automatic recharge, C/10 trickle charge for deeply discharged cells and bad battery detection.

The LTC4000 is housed in a low profile (0.75mm) 28-pin 4mm x 5mm QFN package and a 28-lead SSOP package.

Below is a film of a pdf presentation providing further information on the product!

Significent potential savings..

Study confirms significant potential savings through PROFIenergy

A study by the Institute for Automation & Industrial IT, (Koeln University of Applied Sciences, D), confirms potential savings of 50% or more during idle phases as a result of PROFIenergy. Up to now hardly any empirical values and only limited comprehensive data were available on the relationship between energy consumption and operating modes, especially with regard to idle times. Measurements taken as part of the study were intended to provide clarity and actual figures.

Initial analyses and measurements were completed on production lines at the Daimler factory in Sindelfingen and the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles factory in Hannover. The behavior of the overall plant and its components were analysed with respect to load curve, load distribution, and pause durations, among other things. In addition, the influence of operating modes on energy consumption was analyzed, and pauses were analyzed with respect to frequency and duration. In addition to planned pauses and idle times, unplanned pauses were also recorded and their relevance determined. With up to 15 different measuring points, it was possible to record typical load curves in the plant from the main incoming supply to individual consumers and to determine characteristic values.

Specific examples taken from the measured results indicate the energy savings potential realized by using PROFIenergy. In some production areas, the potential savings were in excess of 50%. During the analysis it became clear that unplanned pauses, amounting to about 60%, can also be utilized, because even short pauses of 3 to 5 minutes are relevant for use of PROFIenergy. These pauses represent significant savings potential that can be exploited with clever use of PROFIenergy to signficantly reduce energy consumption.

The first PROFIenergy pilot applications are currently undergoing testing at multiple user sites.

Beam sensors

New through beam sensors fit narrow aluminium door frames

Carlo Gavazzi Automation has expanded its family of pedestrian door and entrance sensors with the introduction of a new slim line device. The PD70 sensor measures just 11.5 x 11.5 x 70mm, making it suitable for installation in narrow aluminium door profiles as well as pass gates, turnstiles and other applications where space is limited.

Designed in accordance with the latest standards for Europe and North America, the PD70 complies with regulations such as EN12978, EN12445, EN12453 and UL325. Its high efficiency aspheric lens geometry increases sensing distance to 12m, and provides s a wide +/- 5 degree detection angle that nevertheless meets ESPE-2 industry norms.

Sensitive components in the receiver are covered by a metal shield, which not only ensures high EMC immunity, but also functions as the aperture for the received beam.

Sensor and emitter are powered by a 10-30V DC supply. The 100mA receiver output is available with NPN or PNP transistors, and with either make (NO) or break (NC) switching. A separate test input (mute) on emitter allows fast verification of the sensing functions, typically required to be carried out daily.

Solid polycarbonate construction, together with IP67 protection against dust and water ingress, extends the applications from entrance safety and control, out to industrial doors and retail checkout counters.
Mounting holes are provided for self-cutting 2.9x10mm or M3 through-hole screws, so the PD70 can be installed as a replacement for existing popular door sensors, whether in retrofits or new builds. A double sided tape is supplied to simplify the installation of the sensor fixing screw.

Dry pressure gauge for severe vibration environments

Highly resistant to vibrations even without using a dampening fluid
Baumer’s industrial pressure gauge MEX5 is specially designed for use in corrosive atmospheres and fluids. The gauge with its diameter of 100 mm comes with a special dashpot that makes it highly resistant to vibration, doing away with the necessity of using a dampening liquid. The normal measuring range is -1…0 to 0…1600 bar at gauge working temperatures of -20…70°C, with possible media temperatures as high as 200°C. The MEX5 is mainly intended for process industries such as the chemical, petro-chemical, energy, or gas industries. Thanks to its Lloyd’s Register, ATEX, and GOST approvals, it can also be used for measuring the pressure in tanks on ships.

The MEX5 has a stainless-steel sensing element and fully welded process connection. The gauge boasts an accuracy class of 1 according to European norm EN 837-1 and conforms to Pressure Directive PED 97/23/CE.

The sealed stainless-steel case of the MEX5 can be filled with a dampening fluid. Available options include water-glycerin and silicon. The special dashpot available for the MEX5 series provides an alternative dampening method and can, in certain cases, replace the dampening fluid. The mechanical dampening achieved by the dashpot amounts to  ±1.6% of the measured pressure for the ranges 0…1 bar,  0…1.6 bar, and 0…2.5 bar. For pressures > 2.5 bar, the dashpot achieves a mechanical dampening effect of ±1%.