Friday, June 10, 2011

Major vote of confidence in automation certification in US.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) is to partner with The Manufacturing Institute to bring automation and control systems certifications to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System (SCS). The partnership adds ISA’s Certified Control Systems Technician® (CCST®) and Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) certification programs to the SCS offerings.
NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System
The partnership is a continuation of work begun three years ago between the Automation Federation (AF) and The Manufacturing Institute. ISA is the founding sponsor of the Automation Federation. The Manufacturing Institute participated with AF and the US Department of Labor in the development of the Automation Competency Model. AF promoted the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System as part of its work with the Piedmont Triad Partnership in North Carolina, USA. NAM is the largest US industrial trade association, and represents small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector in all 50 states.

The SCS was established by The Manufacturing Institute to develop the nation’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-capable workforce for advanced manufacturing. Among the goals of the partnership with ISA are
• to align these portable, industry-recognized credentials with educational curricula and pathways in grades K-12, and in community colleges’ and four-year colleges’ programs of study, that lead to high-wage, high-growth technical careers
• to provide information on these educational pathways that leads to advanced manufacturing or automation career pathways, to help connect students and workers to lifelong learning and advancement opportunities
• to ensure that advanced manufacturing employers and automation professionals recognize the value of these credentials in their recruitment, screening and hiring processes by recognizing, preferring or requiring portable, industry-recognized credentials

“As manufacturing leads the way to economic recovery, now is the time to expand the SCS and the educational pathways to careers in all sectors of our manufacturing economy. And, we know, automation is key to driving productivity and quality across all sectors of manufacturing,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute. “After careful consideration by the SCS Approval Committee, we were pleased to extend an invitation to ISA to join the system, with the ISA Certified Control Systems Technician and Certified Automation Professional certifications,” she continued.

Leo Staples, president of ISA, said, “I am pleased that The Manufacturing Institute has invited ISA to be a partner in building the automation workforce and expanding the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, which plays a vital role in the future of manufacturing around the world."

Fieldbus digital level controller

Provides easy access to information that enables accurate control with less downtime

Emerson Process Management's Fisher® FIELDVUE™ DLC3020f fieldbus digital level controller provides new levels of performance and information access to help users improve operations.

In addition to displacement sensor technology for measuring liquid level or the level of interface between two liquids, the DLC3020f uses the digital FOUNDATION fieldbus communication protocol to deliver diagnostics, alerts, and other information that helps users improve performance, while avoiding unexpected downtime. Digital communication also makes it easy to configure, calibrate, and test the DLC3020f using Emerson's AMS Suite software or 475 Field Communicator, and to integrate the instrument with new or existing control systems.

Guided setup and calibration leads the user through the instrument setup, process fluid selection, and calibration in an easy-to-use format. The capability to easily select and define process fluids allows on-the-fly fluid changes for batch or continuous applications without calibration, saving time and recalibration costs.

The instrument stores up to 30 logs including calibration, instrument setup, and process fluid data, that can be saved for future reference or re-use. Advanced electronics provide increased performance and reliability, and process fluid temperature can be used when needed for density compensation to maintain process-variable accuracy.

The DLC3020f is designed to directly replace pneumatic, analogue, or HART® transmitters/controllers. To provide additional flexibility, it can be mounted on a wide variety of Fisher 249 cageless and caged level sensors, as well as on other displacer type level sensors through the use of mounting adaptors

Wireless microsite launched

Yokogawa has launched a dedicated Field Wireless microsite to provide users with the latest information related to field wireless technology, applications and product solutions.

Wireless instrumentation is creating a lot of enthusiasm within industry today, full of opportunities and possibilities for new and exciting process measurement. The flexibility of wireless solutions enables less investment in infrastructure while greater process insights wireless into the plant operations, where the measurements were previously too difficult or uneconomical to implement.

"The ISA100.11a robust security mechanism provides continuously ensured safety in various system operations."

The fusion of the ISA100.11a wireless solution and wired solution open the path to another Field Digital evolution in the company's "VigilantPlant (concept of the ideal plant)"

Chinese show success and name change!

Registering significant increases in the number of exhibitors and visitors as well as the amount of display space rented, FA/PA - the Beijing-based Modern Factory/Process Automation Technology and Equipment Show - drew to a successful close on 20 May last.

142 exhibitors there presented their products and solutions for process and production automation on display space measuring 11,000 square meters - up 24 percent. Leading manufacturers appearing at the show included Hyundai, Beckhoff, Phoenix-contact, P+F, Lenze, Oriental, Delta-CIMIC, Elco, Weidmuller, Contrinex, Harting, Kuebler, Hummel, ILME, Staubili, ISaGRAF, Pepperl+Fuchs Automation, Vacon, Pentair, Woehner, 3S, Weinview, KOYO ELECTRONICS, SWITCHLAB, Igus, Degson and Dinkle.

"The great success enjoyed by this year's FA/PA reveals that this international tradeshow possesses considerable potential to expand," reported Wolfgang Pech, Senior Vice President at Deutsche Messe and Managing Director of Hannover Fairs International, adding that his company planned to utilize that potential to the fullest. 

"We took over the FA/PA show last year and will now undertake to develop it further, including a clear repositioning that includes a re-branding campaign. Effective immediately, the event will be globally marketed under its new name - `Industrial Automation Beijing' - and will expand to evolve into northern China's flagship process and production automation show. The event's new name and its expansion are a reflection of the programmatic stamp put on it by the Hannover-based 'Industrial Automation' flagship exhibition, in line with that event's other foreign offshoots. This new development underscores the dynamics of our successful foreign tradeshow strategy," Pech concluded.

Some of the exhibits and happenings!

Hyundai for the first time displayed their modern robots applying to automobile manufacturing. The robots all adopt the new Hi5 controller, featuring wide operation spectrum, smart movement and stable performance. As a world vanguard in mechatronics & automation and material treatment, Hyundai has successfully utilized its robot products in electric welding, arc welding, spray-paint, and transport into the production of automobile, automobile parts & components, as well as railway facilities in China. Hyundai Heavy Industries (China) president Kang Chul-ho observed that, FA/PA has evolved in these years to become one of the most influential exhibitions in China’s automation technology and equipment industry. Hyundai used this exhibition as a platform to expand its market in China and cooperate with outstanding Chinese enterprises, so as to make contributions to the automation industry in China and the world at large.

As a comprehensive automation solution provider, Delta-CIMIC has kicked off its domestic tour at the first leg of FA/PA 2011. A range of highly effective and energy-efficient products and automation integration solutions were displayed at its booth decorated with Actros, which attracted numerous professional visitors to consult and have business talks.

Weinview, Human Machine Interface (HMI) specialists, further displayed its new generation of TK series products, high-end WT series applications, systematic HMI solutions, globalized and branding marketing and operation concept.

Phoenix-Contact brought its latest wireless solution to the exhibition. Zhan Hongbo, the company’s exhibition principal in the market department told the organizer that visitors this year have increased significantly. The first day the booth received over 200 professional visitors, far exceeding their expectations, and has achieved good results. They hope more enterprises in the industry can participate in the exhibition to inspire new thoughts and ideas.

MENTOR Electronics & Technology, a loyal participant in IAS, was also among the exhibitors. The company expressed satisfaction with the organization work done by Hannover Fairs. Mathias Krostewitz, the company’s general manager said , “This is our first time to attend the FA/PA, and I think it would be of great significance for us to expand the automation market in North China. We are looking for potential customers, and meanwhile communicating with companies in the industry which we’ve just got known”.

In addition, the newly developed two display sections of this year featuring industrial service and OPC became the highlight of the show. Some 30 exhibitors showcased the latest industrial service solution along with the technological innovation and application of OPC in Ethernet, multi-network connection and XML industries. The FA/PA 2011 University Aqua Robot Competition also attracted many visitors. The intelligent biomimetic robotic fish 2/2 polo match has fully displayed the passion of younger generation towards automation, which brings boundless hopes for the future innovation and development for the industry.

Trade buyer delegations organized by International Industrial Automation,, and Vogel Media Group from 10 key application areas including automobile, petrochemical, railway transportation, electric power, new energy and electronic came to visit the show. Companies from the automation industry responded actively with fruitful visits and business talks.

A series of event running in parallel with the show, namely, The 5th Industrial Automation Technology Forum- Safety & Simplicity, ARC China Forum, Industrial Control and Electronic Design Technology Forum, Green Technology Summit, Remanufacturing Summit 2011 & Auto Parts Remanufacturing Technology Forum 2011, Informationization Development of Engineering Machinery Industry and many more, explored the topics like IT and synergistic operation management of the manufacturing industry, power control and power technology, machinery safety solutions, platform solution, energy-saving equipment design, energy efficiency assessment, green energy development, etc.. The concurrent events, widely recognized and highly concerned by professionals in all fields provided participants with highly authoritative, specialized and practical information of relevant industries.

Miniature rugged automatic video tracker

GE Intelligent Platforms has a new miniature rugged automatic video tracker, the ADEPT3000. Easily integrated using standard or custom format carrier cards, saving time, effort and cost and minimizing program risk, it has been optimized to perform real-time detection and tracking across the full range of aerospace electro-optical system applications.

Designed for the detection and surveillance of a moving object it is small (34mm x 24mm – approximately the size of a microprocessor), light weight (around six grams) and consumes minimal power (~1 watt) so that it can be deployed in highly confined spaces such as small unmanned aerial vehicles or man-portable devices, or simply integrated directly into a gimbal.

Whether integrated in air-to-ground, ground-to-ground, ground-to-air or naval electro-optical systems, the new improved algorithms at the heart of the ADEPT3000 provide effective detection and tracking. Improved ability to distinguish between an object and the background is accomplished through the use of innovative technologies such as an advanced signature-based pre-processor for rejecting clutter and an automatic tracking engine.

“Despite its small size, it is an extraordinarily capable solution with advanced algorithms and significant processing power, allowing the ADEPT3000 to take more decisions itself,” said Jamie Farmer, Business Leader, Applied Image Processing at GE Intelligent Platforms.

Determining and tracking an object at longer ranges is aided by a number of features that include improved optics, precision platform dynamics and higher resolution sensors. The ADEPT3000 natively supports standard definition analog video, and once a target has been acquired, advanced pre-processors discriminate it from heavy clutter, mist, dust and other atmospheric challenges. The resulting signal is passed to sophisticated algorithms for track path analysis, opti¬mized for specific operational scenarios.

The ADEPT3000’s advanced graphical overlays take advantage of industry standard, off-the-shelf PC development tools to reduce the learning curve and maximize productivity. Powerful color graphics rendering and compositing hardware support flexible and clear outputs.

Still using floppies...but?

You have a machine controller with a floppy drive? The machine still functions perfectly but you're not really happy with the floppy technology anymore? 
With the Compact Flash floppy drive (CFF 011), Sigmatek offers an alternative, operating system-independent device. This allows the PC to be easily updated with the latest data storage technology. With this unit, the data from up to 99 floppy diskettes can be stored on a single Compact Flash card. The data and programs from several machines can be saved and/or loaded with a Compact Flash card.
Physically, The Compact Flash floppy drive is not different from a conventional floppy drive. Plug and Play – the exchange is simple and without installation. The CFF 011 supports all current operating systems and can be connected to any IDE controller in a PC.
It was especially designed for industrial applications and is constructed accordingly robust. The CFF 011 can be mounted horizontally as well as vertically and fits into any standard 3.5" floppy slot.

Reagent disposal!

Reagent disposal – choosing the greenest option

Where do we throw our waste?
As one of the world's largest manufacturers of instruments and reagents for water analysis, Hach Lange has a duty to create the most environmentally friendly system possible for the management of chemical waste resulting from the use of its products. Dismissing less sustainable options, the company has invested heavily in a state of the art environment centre that handles waste reagents, bottles, cuvettes and packaging from all over Europe.

Their waste management policy is based on the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. For this reason, the justifications for the investment in the Environment Centre were environmental.

Most laboratory waste is transferred to treatment facilities that handle a wide variety of hazardous materials. As such, it is not possible for such facilities to operate as efficiently as the Hach Lange plant because of the diversity of chemicals in the waste.

Some companies relinquish their responsibility for waste treatment by sending waste reagents to incinerators. Hach Lange does not support this action for environmental reasons.

Incineration generates greenhouse gas emissions and other toxic gases such as dioxins. These emissions are generated by burning materials that could have been recycled. Importantly, incineration does not miraculously remove the toxic heavy metal component of the waste; it simply converts it into liquid or solid toxic waste. A further problem with incineration is that, as a quick and easy solution, it serves as a deterrent to reuse and recycling which are by far the preferred environmental options.

Hach Lange regularly runs free workshops on water analysis, and waste management forms part of these courses. However, the company's experts are available to provide help and advice on how to dispose of waste reagents.

Environmental Centre layout

Increasing plant availability & reduces energy costs

Improved level measurement with Rosemount GWR technology increases availability of condensate receiver

Emerson’s Rosemount 5301 Guided Wave Radar with Rosemount 9901 Chamber, prior to adding insulation
3-inch diameter Rosemount 9901 Chamber after adding insulation
Emerson’s Rosemount 5301 Guided Wave Radars mounted on a Rosemount 9901 chamber for condensate receiver level control
Absolute Energy LLC has installed Emerson’s Rosemount® guided wave radar (GWR) and chamber technology to monitor the water level in a condensate receiver for a sieve dehydration process at its ethanol production facility near Lyle, Minnesota. Replacing the plant’s existing level transmitters, the new equipment has helped avoid shutdowns that can cost as much as €13,500 ($20,000) an hour in lost production and potential equipment damage costing over €135,000 ($200,000).
“Our condensate receiver levels went from being a constant headache to being hardly noticeable because the GWR is so reliable,” said Travis Rosenberg, Maintenance Manager, Absolute Energy.  “The increased reliability has helped us to lower the risk of equipment damage, increase plant availability, decrease energy and utilities costs and reduce maintenance costs.” 

The 115 million gallon per year plant identified a way of improving operations by increasing the reliability and availability of the condensate receiver tank on the steam heat exchanger. The availability of the condensate receiver is critical to continuous operation of the heat exchanger and molecular sieve dehydration process. If water levels get too high in the receiver, temperatures in the heat exchanger drop, which can cause wet ethanol to enter the molecular sieve beds. This forces the process to be shut down and the ethanol-water mixture to be reprocessed.

Previously the level measurement was performed by DP transmitters mounted on wet legs. Excursions from high vacuum to low pressure in the condenser make it challenging for DP technology to monitor the levels in the tank reliably. The pressure changes can cause the fill heights in the wet legs to vary widely, making it difficult to get a reading during startup and providing errors in accuracy of as much as 20%. Also DP technology is affected by density changes of the measured fluid, which impacts the accuracy as well.

The unreliable level measurements affected operations. When the condensate levels got too high, the upset led to a molecular sieve dehydration process shutdown – which can cost as much as €13,500 in lost production per hour. If temperatures drop in the heat exchanger and the upset occurs before the wet process stream is sent into the sieve beds, the heat exchanger has to be shut down and restarted. It then takes 20-30 minutes to get the process running at full speed, resulting in decreased throughput and increased energy costs. This type of upset occurred every other week.

If the upset occurs and the sieve beds get wet, the process shutdown lasts between 36 and 48 hours because the beds must be shut down, regenerated, and restarted. While this type of upset is not common, wet sieve bed occurrences eventually lead to extensive equipment damage that combined cost over €350,000 ($200,000).

To address these challenges, Absolute Energy replaced the DP measurement with Emerson’s Rosemount 5301 Guided Wave Radar (GWR) and a Rosemount 9901 Chamber.
This Rosemount 5301 GWR provides a highly accurate and reliable direct level measurement. The major advantage of GWR technology is that it is independent of density changes and it manages changing pressure conditions without compromising reliability.

A Rosemount 9901 self-contained chamber was installed for externally mounting the Rosemount GWR to the vessel. This arrangement enables the instrument to be isolated for routine maintenance while keeping the plant operational. Installation was very easy, as the chamber was simply mounted on the existing process connections.

The improved control of levels in the condensate receiver means this measurement point is no longer a maintenance headache. As a result, Absolute Energy has increased plant availability, decreased energy and utilities costs, reduced maintenance costs, and lowered the risk of equipment damage.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unique bioprocessing training facility opened!

Seán Sherlock, TD, Ireland's Minister for Research & Innovation (part of the Department of Jobs Enterprise & Innovation) has officially opened the new €57million National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT).

Joe Sherlock opening NIBRT
(Pic: Owen Bonner, Emerson Ireland)
The state of the art facility will support the biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland by educating and training highly skilled staff and by conducting ground-breaking research in collaboration with industry. 

The new facility represents a major strategic investment in the bioprocessing industry in Ireland and is an innovative collaboration between four leading Higher Education Institutes – University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Institute of Technology, Sligo and Dublin City University and supported by the Irish Government and IDA Ireland.

The NIBRT facility is unique as it is the only bioprocessing training facility in the world that so closely replicates an industrial bioprocessing environment. This allows trainees the opportunity to learn and practice complex technical bioprocessing procedures and to enhance their skills using the most modern equipment and facilities available anywhere.

Officiating at the opening, Minister Sherlock said:  “The pharmaceutical industry plays a critical role in the economic well-being of Ireland and the new NIBRT facility sets Ireland apart as a world class location for these companies”.  He added: “This is a far-sighted investment by the Government and IDA Ireland, to underpin the development of the pharmaceutical industry by supporting the collaboration with the founding Higher Education Institutes to establish NIBRT. Ireland will undoubtedly reap the benefits in the long run both in terms of high value job creation and in attracting further foreign direct investment from the industry to our shores”.

“This new facility will play a vital role in training personnel for the bioprocessing industry in Ireland”, said Mr. Joe Harford, Chairperson of NIBRT. “The availability of such excellent research facilities and highly skilled staff will also support IDA Ireland as it seeks to attract further biopharmaceutical companies to establish operations here. Our ability to successfully integrate ground-breaking research with world class training and education makes NIBRT globally unique”.

Professor Ian Marison, Interim Director of NIBRT, stated: “We are offering trainees and students an incredible learning experience. NIBRT will help to position Ireland as a global centre of excellence in bioprocessing. Our trainees will be the future leaders in an industry which plays such an important role in the Irish economy. Our aim is also to work with industry to identify the key issues affecting the biopharma industry today and to put together expert teams of scientists to solve these problems”.

CEO, IDA Ireland, Mr Barry O’Leary said: “Ireland has a long, successful track-record of attracting significant pharmaceutical investment from multinationals. We have now established Ireland as the second largest Development and Manufacturing (D&M) location in the world for Biopharmaceuticals, after the US. Global leaders in the Biopharmaceuticals  sector that have already undertaken significant investments in Ireland include Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Genzyme (Sanofi), Lilly, Centocor (Johnson & Johnson), Allergan and Mylan. The establishment of NIBRT will further improve Ireland’s value proposition in attracting further Biopharmaceutical investment to Ireland.”

Ireland is a key location for the Life Sciences industry, with 9 of the top 10 global companies based here. The sector employs over 47,000 staff between indigenous and multinational companies in the areas of Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Medical Devices and Diagnostics. Exports last year were in excess of €46 billion - 42% of total exports from Ireland.

The 6,500 sq metres NIBRT facility is purpose-built to provide a world class training environment and was designed in conjunction with leading industry experts to resemble a modern bioprocessing plant.

The staff in NIBRT includes expert lecturers and trainers and world respected research teams headed by leading Principal Investigators (PIs). An example is Professor Pauline Rudd, who recently transferred her team from the Glycobiology Institute, Oxford University, to NIBRT. Professor Rudd is leading important research in the area of glycosylation changes which play a crucial role in the production of advanced biopharmaceuticals and which is also important in disease, particularly cancer and autoimmunity.

Epic gold!

Plessey Semiconductors wins Best of Sensors Expo award for its EPIC sensor technology 
Sensor technology detects changes in electric field, in contact, at a distance, through clothing and even through walls

Plessey Semiconductors was awarded a Gold Award at the “Best of Sensors Expo” ceremony at Sensors Expo for its Electric Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) sensor technology.  The entries were judged on the basis of potential impact, application, distinctiveness, timeliness and availability. 

"The nominations demonstrated exceptional innovation, integration and ease of use," said Melanie Martella, Executive Editor of Sensors Magazine, who presented the awards.

16 element array for EPIC
The EPIC sensor is a completely new area of sensor technology that measures changes in an electric field in a similar way to a magnetometer detecting changes in a magnetic field.  The EPIC sensor, which requires no physical or resistive contact to make measurements, will enable innovative new products to be made such as medical scanners that are simply held close to a patient’s chest to obtain a detailed ECG reading or devices that can ‘see’ through walls.  The sensor can be integrated on a chip with other features such as data converters, digital signal processing and wireless communications capability.

Michael LeGoff, Plessey Semiconductors’ MD, said, “We are delighted that EPIC technology is being recognised as a truly innovative technology that can be used to create genuinely novel and ingenious products.”

The technology works at normal room temperatures and functions as an ultra high, input impedance sensor that acts as a highly stable, extremely sensitive, contactless digital voltmeter to measure tiny changes in the electric field down to milliVolts.  Most places on Earth have a vertical electric field of about 100 Volts per metre.  The human body is mostly water and this interacts with the electric field.  EPIC technology is so sensitive that it can detect these changes at a distance and even through a solid wall.  Thus, for example, in a fire situation, it could be possible to determine if there any people in a smoke filled room before opening the door.

The first EPIC product, the PS25150, is an ultra high impedance, solid state ECG (electrocardiograph) sensor for applications such as non-critical patient monitoring, emergency response diagnostics, sports and health products and will be sampling in September 2011.  It can be used as a dry contact ECG sensor without the need for potentially dangerous low impedance circuits across the heart.  Key to this is that EPIC detects the voltage change in muscles and nerves without electrical contact so there is no need to have electrodes on or in the body to detect current changes. The resolution available is as good as or better than conventional wet electrodes.  The device uses active feedback techniques to both lower the effective input capacitance of the sensing element (Cin) and boost the input resistance (Rin).  These techniques are used to realise a sensor with a frequency response suitable for both diagnostic and monitoring ECG applications.  The total voltage gain of the system is a function of both the input coupling capacitance (variable) and the internal sensor configuration.

Details of other awardees at the Event! 
• The 2012 event: June 6-7, 2012 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, (IL US)

T & M e-guide!

Keithley Instruments has published an informative e-guide titled "Cost-effective, high performance sourcing and measurement solutions." A free copy is downloadable upon request.

The e-guide offers a wide variety of application notes and tutorial information on using Source-Measure Units (SMU) in applications such as high power, high brightness LED test, solar cell characterization, and high resistance measurements. SMUs combine the capabilities of a number of instruments, including DC voltage and current sources and a digitalmultimeter (DMM). Other models add pulse generator  and measurement capabilities. A convenient selector guide helps readers identify the most appropriate SMUs for their applications. The e-guide also provides a detailed overview of the features and advantages of each of Keithley's Source-Measure Unit (SMU) families, including links to data sheets, application notes, application briefs, and online demos:

*    Model 2651A High Power System SourceMeter(r) instrument
*    Series 2600A System SourceMeter instruments
*    Series 2400 SourceMeter instruments
*    Model 6430 Sub-Femtoamp Remote SourceMeter instrument
*    Model 237 High Voltage Source-Measure Unit

Digital video analyser

National Instruments has a new NI Digital Video Analyzer, which automates a wide range of tests for the latest HDMI sources such as set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players and DVD players. The analyzer features configuration-based test steps that automate measurements of HDMI features including 3-D video, HDMI 1.4 protocol and picture quality analysis. With hardware based on the NI PXI Express platform and software designed for multicore computing, engineers can use the NI Digital Video Analyzer to achieve high-performance, high-precision measurements of HDMI content in a fraction of the time required by traditional video test solutions.

“The new NI Digital Video Analyzer and NI Picture Quality Analysis software address the growing demand for test solutions that identify perceived audio and video quality of HDMI content,” said Steve Warntjes, director of modular instruments research and development at National Instruments. “These tools deliver reliable measurements for HDMI-enabled multimedia devices and eliminate the challenges associated with manual operator inspection.”

The NI Digital Video Analyzer combines with NI Picture Quality Analysis software to precisely measure streaming audio and video quality and eliminate challenges inherent with subjective operator inspection. Using the system’s variety of measurements, engineers can analyze streaming video for defects such as macroblocking, stuck frames and audio drops, which single-frame static image analysis cannot detect. Engineers also can use the system to conduct higher performance measurements of total picture quality with pixel-to-pixel reference tests such as peak signal-to-noise ratio and structural similarity.

The NI Digital Video Analyzer also supports HDMI protocol tests including InfoFrames, consumer electronics control (CEC) messaging, extended display identification data (EDID) emulation and hot plug detect (HPD) events. Such capability makes it possible for the NI Digital Video Analyzer to simulate an LCD or HDTV and better guarantee interoperability with other HDMI-enabled devices.

With its NI PXI Express architecture, the analyzer incorporates solutions for multiple HDMI measurements into a single compact solution. The instrument includes the NI PXIe-6545 200 MHz high-speed digital I/O module, the NI PXI-2172 deserializer and decryption module and the NI PXI-7813R reconfigurable I/O FPGA module, all of which integrate with the NI Video Measurement Suite and NI Picture Quality Analysis software to offer engineers a fully integrated solution for automated testing of HDMI sources.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Global standardisation of manufacturing Ops software

Kitron, Scandinavia’s leading Electronics Manufacturing Services provider, has purchased an enterprise license of Aegis’ Manufacturing Operations Software (MOS) to be deployed globally across facilities in Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Germany, China and USA.

Kitron will use Aegis MOS worldwide for quality management, product/material tracking, paperless work instruction and new product introductions.. Kitron will leverage Aegis’ standards-based data acquisition technology – xLink™ – to gather real-time data from their production/test equipment, and will bridge the entire solution to their existing ERP system using Aegis’ application programming interface (API), xTend™

As a provider of high quality, mission-critical assemblies for the Telecom, Defense, Medical and a variety of other sectors, Kitron demanded a solution that would accelerate NPI, ensure tighter process control, continuously improve quality, and provide a detailed record of the entire manufacturing process, all the way down to the component level. Only Aegis was able to provide this granular level of traceability and rich reporting functionality in a singular system.

“Kitron conducted a thorough multi-vendor evaluation, and we are very pleased that they have selected Aegis based on our system functionality, core technology, and superior return-on-investment”, commented Daniel Walls, Managing Director of Aegis Europe. “They are committed as an organization at all management levels to leverage the full capabilities of our software, and we are excited to have them as a customer. We are proud to be part of their increasingly successful operation.”

Discounted analysers

Discounted analysers on offer at Quantitech

Quantitech is offering customers a rare opportunity to purchase fully serviced ex-rental and demonstration environmental monitoring equipment at heavily discounted prices.

Advanced instrumentation including the Bernath 3006 Portable FID Gas Analyser, Horiba PG250 Portable Gas Emissions Analyser and Gasmet DX 4000 FTIR Gas Analyser is now available with a three month warranty.

The equipment is available at up to 60% discount from the current selling price.

Explaining the reason for this rare purchasing opportunity, Jim Monaghan from the Milton Keynes (GB) based company said: “We have a stock rotation policy to ensure that our demo and rental instruments are kept up to date, and this occasionally results in an opportunity to buy leading instruments at heavily discounted prices.

“The equipment is fully serviced and in excellent working condition, and is available on a first-come/first-served basis.”

CAN modules

NI C Series Module makes portable CAN-based measurement and logging systems possible

National Instruments has announced the NI 9862 C Series high-speed controller area network (CAN) module, the newest addition to the NI-XNET family of high-performance interfaces designed to communicate with embedded networks. The module expands the NI-XNET family to the NI CompactDAQ and CompactRIO hardware platforms and introduces CAN support to NI CompactDAQ. The NI 9862 provides sustained transfer rates up to 1 Mbit/s and includes similar advantages of other NI-XNET PCI and PXI interfaces including hardware-accelerated messaging, onboard frame processing and communication with 100 percent bus loads without dropped frames.

The NI CompactDAQ platform provides portable CAN communication with the availability of 4- and 8-slot USB or Ethernet chassis. NI CompactDAQ is compatible with more than 50 other NI C Series I/O modules, and the NI 9862 high-speed CAN module can be synchronized with other I/O modules in the same chassis. The modular nature of NI CompactDAQ, combined with its seamless integration with NI LabVIEW graphical programming software, increases ease of use and facilitates a faster time-to-measurement solution.

CAN is recognized as the standard in-vehicle automotive network and used in a variety of other industries including public transportation, avionics, farm/forest machinery, medical devices, military systems and industrial automation. Using the new module, engineers can develop applications including the following:
· In-vehicle networks monitoring and logging
· Portable ECU calibration
· In-vehicle diagnostics (monitoring and logging)
· Device validation with synchronized DAQ

The NI-XNET family offers a common programming interface for multiple automotive networks such as CAN, LIN and FlexRay. With NI-XNET interfaces, engineers can develop applications for prototyping, simulating and testing these networks faster and more easily in LabVIEW and LabVIEW Real-Time software as well as ANSI C/C++. The interfaces combine the performance and flexibility of low-level microcontroller interfaces with the speed and power of Windows and LabVIEW Real-Time OS development. They also can be easily integrated into desktop real-time PCs and real-time PXI systems. The NI-XNET CAN interfaces include integrated database support for importing, editing and using frames and signals from FIBEX, .DBC and .NCD files. In addition, the CAN module also includes intuitive software tools and APIs to accelerate development efforts, and the same code can be used across PXI, PCI, NI CompactDAQ (USB and Ethernet) and CompactRIO hardware systems for additional time savings. This advantage makes it possible for engineers to standardize their CAN applications for a variety of settings and application areas.

Engineers also can use the module with the CompactRIO platform and conduct rapid prototyping more easily using a common programming interface comparable to other NI-XNET CAN interfaces such as PCI and PXI. Additionally, the module has a native, built-in functionality for common CAN communication applications in NI VeriStand, an out-of-the-box software solution for configuring real-time testing applications such as hardware-in-the-loop testing and test cell applications

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Modernisation of specialty chemicals plant

AkzoNobel Functional Chemicals is modernising its production facility in Herkenbosch (NL) using Emerson Process Management’s DeltaV™ digital automation system Version 11. The plant manufactures specialty chemicals.
The entire scope of this project includes modernizing the process control of 7,000 I/O by replacing outdated PLCs. The first phase of the project includes 600 I/O for batch–related processes to ensure S88 compliance, along with 250 I/O devoted to Emerson's DeltaV SIS™ process safety system for plant-wide safety management.

The “built for purpose” functionality of the DeltaV system takes advantage of the open standards of commercially available products (such as switches) and then adds functionality that allows the components to function like other parts of the system with plug-and-play capability and full lifecycle support. The integrated batch functionality and safety system further improves the safety and reliability of the plant.

AkzoNobel worked jointly with Emerson Process Management to modernize the plant, which was built in the 1950s and currently runs on a PLC-based control system.

“The DeltaV system will help AkzoNobel in Herkenbosch to meet tomorrow's manufacturing needs today. This integrated control and safety system will run our plant with an improved reliability from a process automation perspective,” says Andreas Neumann, director of the Herkenbosch site.
Neumann adds, “The main driver for this investment is to replace the outdated PLC’s together with Emerson. Emerson is the strategic partner for process automation within AkzoNobel,”

Handheld thermometer

Isothermal Technology Ltd (Isotech) has introduced a new handheld thermometer.

After launching the bench mounting milliK Precision Thermometer Isotech are now launching a handheld thermometer, the TTI-10.

When used with Isotech Semi Standard Platinum Resistance Thermometers accuracies of 0.02°C are achievable over the range from -80°C to 200°C, with a resolution of 0.001°C.

The high precision makes the instrument particularly suitable as a portable reference thermometer to use alongside Isotech temperature calibrators such as the Fast-Cal, Isocal-6 and Dry Block ranges. It is also suited for high accuracy measurements in industrial and scientific applications.

These products are marketed in Ireland by Howard Instrumentation.

Event examines advances in process control

Yokogawa sponsors major process control event in Britain

Yokogawa is sponsoring the ninth in the triennial series of Advances in Process Control (APC 9) event, to be held in York (GB), from the 19th to 20th September 2011.

This event, organised by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, will bring together academics, operating companies and suppliers from across the process industries, to discuss developments in best practices and technology for process control. Keynote addresses will be given by Charlie Cutler and Walt Boyes, both of whom are legends in the automation industry.

In addition, there will be presentations on a wide range of topics including procedural automation, abnormal situation management, cyber security, advanced control support practices and new control techniques in oil production, gas pipelines and combustion.

Making control music in Italy!

ABB is presenting a wide range of products and systems including several new technologies at the POWERGEN Europe conference and exhibition in Milan (I) this week.

One of the highlights is the European launch of the Symphony™ Plus total plant automation system for the power generation and water sectors. This is the latest generation of ABB’s highly successful Symphony family of control systems, with more than 6,000 existing installations, representing one of the largest installed bases of distributed control systems (DCS) in the world.

Symphony Plus is a flexible and scalable platform, designed to serve a wide range of plant configurations and applications from small and server-less installations to large multi-system, multiserverarchitectures. It supports the seamless integration of field devices, process and turbine
automation systems, electrical and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) solutions as well as optimization and maintenance systems. Symphony Plus provides users with a secure, reliable control environment and built-in security features that prevent unauthorized system access.

Three of the many products in the Symphony Plus portfolio that ABB is presenting at the event are Machinery Condition Monitoring MCM800, Analyst™ and S+ Turbine. MCM800 provides a complete set of functions for the condition monitoring, protection and diagnosis of rotating machinery - in a single module. Analyst is a graphical diagnostic tool that presents historical data of rotating machinery in an intuitive way, enabling users to quickly recognize significant patterns and trends. When combined, the powerful MCM800 hardware and intelligent Analyst software reduces and even eliminates costly machine failures. S+Turbine is a solution for turbines of all types, sizes and manufacturing origin, comprising a series of fully integrated specialty modules for turbine protection, valve positioning, generator auto synchronization and condition monitoring. It offers unmatched flexibility, scalability, processing power and communication speed.

In the renewable energy space, ABB is showcasing its comprehensive portfolio of high-efficiency solutions for hydro and solar power plants. This encompasses turnkey solutions for photovoltaic and concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, including the innovative ‘linear fresnel’ technology from Novatec Solar, a company in which ABB recently acquired a significant stake.

ABB is also showcasing a suite of products and services for assuring the availability, reliability and security of critical infrastructure like power plants and energy management systems. This is part of the Industrial Defender portfolio, a company with whom ABB has a global strategic partnership.

Presentations available

K-TEK part of the ABB Group, has made available their content from the technical conference at ABB
Automation & Power World 2011 in Orlando (FL US). The 2011 event included more than 500 hours of workshops, presentations, and hands-on training. K-TEK delivered the following technology tutorials and case
histories, which are now available for download at no charge:
MagWave Level

"Feedwater Heater Control: Bringing Efficiency to a New Level," by Kevin Hambrice, Global Factory Sales and Marketing Manager - Level,
"Level Sensing in Harsh Environments with Guided-Wave Radar," by Charles Richard, Radar Product Manager.
"Using a Laser Level Transmitter to Improve Plant Productivity at a WoodBoard Manufacturer," by Kevin Hambrice, Global Factory Sales and Marketing Manager - Level

Now part of the Measurement Products Business Unit within ABB's Process Automation Division, K-TEK also exhibited at the conference. They demonstrated their products for level and volumetric measurements of liquids and bulk solids in the conference's Measurement Products booth, including:

LM80, low cost, high accuracy laser level and distance transmitters that feature a unique, all digital design
MT5000 Series of guided wave radar transmitters certified for use in SIL2/3 (Safety Integrity Levels 2 and 3) applications
MagWave™, dual chamber level measurement system designed to provide independent, redundant measurements
KM26, the industry-standard magnetic level gauge with 3⁄4" extruded outlets
LS Series of magnetically coupled level switches with hermetically-sealed cam action mechanism and one-step switchpoint adjust for more reliable measurements and zero maintenance
KSONIK MICRO, compact, low cost, ultrasonic level transmitter/switch; features Variable GAP technology that allows the instrument to work even in the presence of dust, vapor, or foam.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Energy meter with detachable display designed for retro-fit

Kits comprising a compact energy meter and three split-core current sensors offer the simplest route to add energy metering in existing installations

Carlo Gavazzi has introduced a new version of its innovative EM21-72 compact energy meter, which is designed specifically for retro-fit applications. EM21-72R is an innovative and cost-effective energy meter with a detachable display, which can be mounted either on a panel with just 72x72mm footprint, or on a DIN-rail in only four modules. No further adaptors or external accessories are required: current measurements are carried out via external miniature current sensors, included with the meter.

Current sensors use a split core technology, so no wiring modifications are needed and there is no need to disconnect cables during installation. The CTs are available in 3 different ranges: 90A with 10mm hole diameter; 150A, hole diameter 16mm; and 250A, hole diameter 24mm.

As a result, the kit offers the simplest and easiest way to introduce an energy measuring system in older buildings and existing installations, without modifying or disconnecting any wiring. Installation is faster and simpler, thanks to the meter’s self-power supply, automatic phase detection with wrong-phase-sequence warning, and fast application-oriented programming procedure.

To provide a ready-to-install package for all retro-fit requirements, the EM21-72R is available in three ranges covering currents up to 250A. Seven sets of three variables can be selected for display, providing for active and reactive energy measurement or a complete set of variables. Options include: system variables such as W, var, PF, Hz and phase-sequence; single-phase variables including A, VLL, VLN, PF; TRMS measurements of distorted sine waves; and energy measurements (total kWh and kvarh).

As standard, a pulse output provides fast and easy data transmission to PCs and PLCs for full load control, whilst all electrical parameters of the installation can sent via the optional RS-485 port for integration with BMS (Building Management Systems) and other standard acquisition-monitoring systems.

Instantaneous variables are displayed as 3 x 3 digits, with energy meter readings to 6+1 digit resolution. Accuracy is ±0.5% RDG (V, A), and the meter is rated Class B according to EN50470-3 (class 1 of EN62053-21), Class 2 (kvarh) according to EN62053-23. Operating temperature range is from -25°C to +55°C and the front panel offers IP50 protection against dust and water ingress.

RF & medical connectors

New website for waterproof RF and medical connectors

Intelliconnect have gone live with a new website which supports their extensive product range, custom design capabilities and growing worldwide sales.

Intelliconnect manufacture a wide range of standard and custom RF connectors, suitable for industrial, medical, MIL and aerospace, marine, oil and gas and general microwave markets.

“Intelliconnect has grown rapidly during the last eight years.” Claims Roy Phillips, Managing Director. “And we have established a reputation for being able to offer very attractive lead times, exceptional customer service and competitive pricing for high volume requirements. Opening our own design facility in USA has added to our success and we needed to provide our customers with a more user-friendly and comprehensive web site to provide better information on our standard products and custom design capabilities”

In addition to standard coaxial and triaxial types, Intelliconnect are happy to offer their fast turnaround custom design service for non-standard connector requirements. With no NRE costs to customers and low minimum order quantities, Intelliconnect custom designed RF connectors offer an ideal solution for specialised applications.

Phillips continues. "Our success is due to our wide range of products and ability to produce custom connectors quickly. Manufacturing in the UK gives us great flexibility and control of our costs, allowing us to provide our customers with no-compromise connector solutions at a very competitive price.”
The new website provides precise navigation to all products and accessories, resources for design engineers to find out more about connector and cable specifications, connector frequency response and the effects of pressure on connector function. Also provided are links to Intelliconnect sales offices and authorised distributors and a number of options for contacting the company to discuss connector requirements.

In addition to the market leading Pisces range of waterproof RF connectors, (sealed to IP67 or IP68), Intelliconnect offer coaxial, triaxial and multi-pin connectors, coaxial adaptors to facilitate inter-series connection and gender change etc. dust-caps, custom designed connectors and custom cable assemblies.

All Intelliconnect RF connectors are designed in accordance with the relevant connector Mil standard and have an operating temperature range of -65°C to +165°C.        

Typical applications for Intelliconnect waterproof RF connectors include, personal locator beacons, test equipment, medical, rail traction and general microwave communications.

Industrial vision pioneer passes

It is with great sadness that the UK Industrial Vision Association announces the death of former director Don Braggins, at the age of 70, following the diagnosis an inoperable brain tumour in October 2010. Don was a very popular and highly regarded figure in the world of industrial vision and made an outstanding contribution to the UKIVA.

Don Braggins RIP
Don’s ‘Machine Vision Consultancy’ was one of the founder members of the Association in 1992 and then in 1995 he took over its administration. This was a role he continued, as well as providing technical support, for the following 14 years, before overseeing the transition of the Association into a Special Interest Group of the Processing & Packaging Machinery Association (PPMA) in 2009. He continued as a consultant to the Association until December 2010.

In addition to the role he played for the Association, Don was active in many other areas of vision. He was elected a Fellow of SPIE in 1990. He was a member of the jury for the annual ‘Innovation’ prize at the Vision exhibition in Stuttgart from 2000 - 2009, and served on the Executive Committee of the European Machine Vision Association for six years.

Don was passionate about spreading the word on the uses of vision industry – the prime objective of the UKIVA, and he authored numerous articles on the subject. In addition, from 2005 to 2009 he acted as Associate Editor for Machine Vision for the peer-reviewed SPIE journal, Optical Engineering. There is no doubt that the high regard that the world of vision holds for Don has helped the UKIVA become the force that it is today and he will be sorely missed. He leaves a wife, 2 children and 5 grandchildren.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

High current connector

High-current connector for simple assembly in rail applications

The new Harting Han® 24 HPR EasyCon is a high-current connector designed as an optimum solution to the demanding requirements of motor drive applications in the railway industry.

The new connector offers simple, swift and certain assembly to respond to the growing trend in the rail technology sector towards pluggable motor applications.

The Han® 24 HPR EasyCon is based on the size 24 B Han® HPR series housings, but differs in essentially comprising a two-piece surface-mounted housing and hood. Dividing the housing into an assembly cover and a housing body results in an 'open' system which considerably simplifies the assembly while offering substantial advantages - particularly for shielded cables.

The new connector allows a secure - and above all visible - assembly of the cable's shield braid thanks to a newly developed cable clamp. Harting's Han® HC Modular 350 high-current contacts are used to handle the actual power transmission.

The Han® 24 HPR EasyCon offers a robust and compact design with ample space for wiring: a key requirement in the rail sector. It provides customers with secure, convenient and swift connection of the contacts and shielding, resulting in reduced time and costs for the installation process.