Saturday, July 30, 2011

Connectors for solar aircraft

Souriau is providing power and signal electrical composite connectors for the revolutionary Solar Impulse solar powered aircraft, which completed a 26-hour non-stop flight in July 2010 and is working up to circle the earth without fuel only propelled by solar energy.

Through a partnership agreement Solar Impulse uses Souriau composite connectors to supply and monitor the 4 electrical motors powered with solar panel and high performances battery.

Manufactured at Souriau Champagné (F) facility, these connectors are made of composite material with a special metallisation in order to be the lightest possible but also to ensure the highest EMI protection performances.

The Solar Impulse aircraft flew though a full night relied solely on solar energy and produced no environmentally harmful emissions.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Acquisition to broaden software portfolio!

ABB completes acquisition of Mincom
Enterprise software business to strengthen and expand offering for natural resources, smarter grids and other asset-intensive industries

ABB has completed its acquisition of Mincom, the privately owned software company, specializing in solutions for mining and other asset-intensive industries.

The acquisition establishes ABB as the world’s leading provider of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software and services, further enhancing the Group’s position in the key growth sectors of natural resources and energy.

The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 130,000 people.

See our earlier report Acquisition to broaden software portfolio (9/5/2011).

Automation system for Russian refinery

Automation systems to drive control, environment and safety excellence at Saratov refinery

Invensys Operations Management has signed two contracts with TNK-BP, the third largest oil company in Russia and among the top 10 private oil companies in the world by production volumes.

Under the terms of the agreements, Invensys will provide comprehensive automation solutions and services to help drive control, environment and safety excellence at TNK-BP’s Saratov oil refinery in western Russia. The 7 million tonnes per year refinery markets more than 20 products, including high-quality gasoline, low-sulphur diesel, naphtha, vacuum gas oil, fuel oil and bitumen.

Invensys will supply its Foxboro® I/A Series® distributed control systems and Triconex® emergency shutdown and critical control systems, as well as Foxboro measurement, instrumentation and control devices for the refinery’s hydrofining and isomerisation units. The company will also provide project management, documentation development and other services, including engineering, delivery, installation, testing and start-up, as well as a full range of training courses for the systems, covering development, commissioning and maintenance. 

“Our main priority in the refining segment is to ensure steady growth and to meet the requirements of Russia’s latest technical regulations on sulphur content in products,”
said Alexander Romanov, general director, Saratov Oil Refinery. “These two projects will help us to minimise environmental impact, sustain and improve plant safety and maximise profits.”
“The hydrofining and isomerisation units are critical parts of the refinery’s development programme and the competence of vendors was a critical issue for refinery management. TNK-BP needed a complete enterprise control solution that offered not only technical excellence, but long-term business benefits,” said Boris Muratov, general manager, Invensys Operations Management, Russia. “Our eight-year experience with Saratov meant that we had a solid understanding of the company’s needs, and were able to offer a high-value, low-risk solution that will help TNK-BP achieve control, environment and safety excellence.”

Collagen in meat!

At-line measurement of collagen in meat

An extended range version of the InfraLab e-Series Multi-component At-Line Meat Analyser from NDC Infrared Engineering has been developed to include the measurement of collagen, as well as fat, moisture and protein. The extended range InfraLab provides a good indication of collagen levels over a 1-8% concentration range.

Measuring the amount of collagen or collagenous material present in meat is important in meeting local quality and legislative requirements. Collagen has traditionally been measured in meat samples using laboratory methods, which means that the sample has to be sent away for analysis, which slows the production process.

The InfraLab uses non-contacting multi-wavelength NIR technology for measurements of fat, moisture and protein. The new collagen measurement capability features a robust algorithm which quantifies the spectrum shifts in the NIR spectrum associated with changes in collagen content. Measurements can be made in just 10 seconds, and the analyzer can be located right next to the production line for fast turn-around of results, eliminating the delays associated with laboratory analysis.

New training videos on key OEM motion control topics

Thomson has expanded its Online Education Centre with four new technical training videos to help machine builders select and apply industrial linear actuators, square rails, round rails, ball screws, gearheads, clutches and brakes.


“Thomson is committed to helping machine builders find the ideal motion control solution for their application, and typically that means far more than simply identifying the fastest, sturdiest, most accurate or even least expensive option,” says Klaus Elsner, Marketing Communications Manager for Thomson. “Our breadth and depth of product solutions, combined with over 70 years of global application experience and robust design tools and education resources such as these new videos, enables Thomson to help OEMs identify the optimal balance of performance, life and cost that satisfies their unique application needs.”

“Industrial linear actuators vs. hydraulic systems”
highlights how utilising electric actuators instead of hydraulic systems can “green” an application while saving money and improving safety. 

“Square Rails and Round Rails” addresses the key differences between each technology, and reviews when to use each. 
“Ball Screws” delivers basic design and installation considerations for applying ball screw drives.  
“Gearheads, Wrap Springs and Friction Clutches” helps viewers see and understand the differences between friction and wrap spring clutches, brakes and gearheads.

In addition to these four-minute educational training videos, Thomson offers a range of additional free educational resources and design tools to help OEMs make informed mechanical and electromechanical motion control decisions, including:

• Live and archived webinars and technical articles on a wide array of motion control topics
• Solution Centre – an interactive knowledgebase that provides technically substantive answers to a broad range of questions on the selection, application, installation, maintenance and general use of motion components and systems
• Product Selectors – attribute-based product selection tools
• Configurable and downloadable 2D and 3D interactive models
• Linear MOTIONEERING® - application-based sizing and selection for linear motion systems, ball and lead screws, and 60 Case® LinearRace Shafting
• Micron MOTIONEERING® - application-based sizing and selection for gearheads
• EngineersCALC – a powerful and simple-to-use engineering calculator for , iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and Blackberry users

Angled connector

Angled Profinet version of Han® PushPull connector

Harting has introduced a new version of its Han® PushPull Profinet connector with an angled outgoing cable, making it suitable for use in situations where space is limited.

The Han® PushPull connector (variant 14 according to IEC 61076-3-117) is the standard connector for industrial Profinet cabling applications where IP 65/67 protection is required, and the new version ensures compliance with the required bending radii for data lines. Field-installable 4- and 8-pin RJ45 data inserts are also available.

Han® PushPull RJ45 connectors are suitable for transmitting 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet, Category 5 (4-pin) or for transmitting 1/10 Gbit/s Ethernet, Category 6, Class EA (8-pin).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Educational scholorships in automation

Recipients of 2011 ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships announced

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has proudly announced the winners of the 2011 ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to college and university students who demonstrate outstanding potential for long-range contribution to the fields of automation, instrumentation, and control. The scholarship awards support tuition and related expenses and research activities and initiatives.

ISA awarded a total of $30,500, which was distributed among students in two- and four-year colleges and universities, and to graduate students. The recipients are:

2-year programs

Daniel Dwinell - $1,000
Francis Tuttle University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Bob and Mary Ives Endowment Fund

Heather Roberts - $1,000
Lee College, Baytown, Texas, USA
Life Members and Executive Board Endowment Funds

Nena Wilson - $1,000
Lee College, Baytown, Texas, USA
Executive Board and Daris and Gerald Wilbanks Endowment Funds

4-year programs
Michael Lopresti - $5,000
University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA
Chemical and Food and Pharmaceutical Division Scholarship Funds

Paul Aritra - $5,000
RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, India
Food and Pharmaceutical Division and Norman E. Huston Endowment Fund

Rajam Deepa Visivanathan - $2,000
NSS College of Engineering, Kerala, India
Norma E. Huston and General Education Endowment Funds

Ashley Wondergem - $2,000
Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan, USA
Norman E. Huston Endowment Fund

Robert Benson - $2,000
A&T University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
General Education Endowment Fund

Daniel Dwinell - $1,000
Francis Tuttle University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Bob and Mary Ives Endowment Fund

Joshua Alfaro - $500
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
General Education Endowment Fund

Nimesh Manoharan - $500
Kamaraguru College of Technology, Tamil Nadu, India
General Education Endowment Fund

Graduate programs

Naseeb Adnan - $2,000
University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada
Paros-Digiquartz and General Education Endowment Funds

Mahdi Sharifzadeh - $2,000
Imperial College, London, England
Paros-Digiquartz and Bob and Mary Ives Endowment Funds

Ruben Gonzalez - $1,500
University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada
Paros-Digiquartz Endowment Fund

District 3 scholarship
Guillaume Batungwanayo - $500
Portsmouth University, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

District 5 scholarship
Ashley Wondergem
Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan, USA

District 7 scholarship
Sherrie Lehman - $2,300
Lee College, Baytown, Texas, USA

District 8 scholarship
Daniel Dwinell
Francis Tuttle University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

District 9 scholarship
John Carley - $400
Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA

District 11 scholarship

Cristino Castro - $400
California State University - Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

District 12 scholarship
Alexey Tirtichny - $1,500
St. Petersburg University, St. Petersburg, Russia

These ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships are presented annually by the global Society.

Some individual Sections also award scholarships or bursuries in their local areas.

Reliable water monitoring makes money!

Analytical Technology has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1998, culminating in a record month for the business in June 2011. This spectacular achievement demonstrates the buoyancy of the current market for water monitoring instrumentation, despite the present economic recession. It is also a demonstration of the ongoing and imperative need for reliable water monitoring in the water utility industry to ensure a safe and continuous supply of water.

This year the company had its strongest first half ever and this culminated in June sales being the highest on record. A large component of the June sales, which peaked at £1.2 million for the month, can be credited to the recent contract signed by Analytical Technology with Severn Trent Water, involving the purchase of 250 Analytical Technology residual chlorine monitors in June alone. They are also supplying Yorkshire Water with more than 450 chlorine monitors and has enjoyed repeated success in recent years, providing instrumentation to other major utility companies such as United Utilities, Scottish Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water and South West Water.

Analytical Technology is a Britsih and European specialist electrochemical sensor manufacturer. The company was set up in 1998 and from then on has enjoyed increasing success. Analytical Technology provides both water and gas monitoring instrumentation, which help companies abide by strict regulations outlined by the British Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and EU Directives. Analytical Technology’s wide range of water monitors include peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, residual sulphite and several chlorine monitors, along with various toxic gas detectors. The company’s products aim to provide simpler installation, easier operation and lower cost, all combined with first class customer service. Analytical Technology now supply instrumentation to 7 out of the 10 major utility companies in Great Britain, along with many food and beverage, industrial and pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Coca Cola and Britvic.

The increasing success of Analytical Technology can largely be attributed to the high standard of customer service delivered by the company. Specialist product-specific customer training is provided at the company’s head quarters in Manchester. The extensive after-sales support also includes maintenance services and in-depth training workshops provided at customers’ premises and at councils. Analytical Technology are committed to providing superior analytical sensing systems combined with an industry leading standard of customer support, and will go the extra mile for their customers.

Dr. Michael Strahand, General Manager at Analytical Technology, comments: “Our record turnover in June 2011 is testament to matching the needs of our customers with a team excelling at service. Top class customer service is essential in this industry, where rapid response times to situations such as water treatment issues are hugely important to maintain a safe supply of water in utility, food and beverage manufacturing and pharmaceutical plants. We have invested in a successful future by providing our team with industry leading customer service training, by Gustav Käser Training International. This, combined with our first-rate instrumentation means Analytical Technology is unique and a leader in the UK market.”

Valve sizing & selection software enhanced

Fisher® Specification Manager software update adds flexibility and speed

Emerson Process Management has released an updated version of its Fisher® Specification Manager software, enhancing ease of use and adding flexibility to this widely-utilised valve selection tool.

Designed for engineers who select and specify control valves, this software package features a clear, sequential process to such tasks as building ISA specification sheets, predicting valve operating noise levels, and exporting dimensional data for Fisher and Baumann™ control valves.

Enhancements to the Fisher Valve Specification Manager software include the addition of a port diameter attribute to the trim details grid as well as updated product data and literature. The newly revised Fisher IEC valve sizing engine now includes inlet temperature for liquid sizing, while faster download and installation of software changes are now possible thanks to a new quick update feature within the Help menu.  A “What’s New” menu option allows one-click access to the latest software changes.

The Fisher Valve Specification Manager software is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems.

Throwing light on the installation!

Designed to fit their full range of enclosures with minimum effort, Rittal can provide a large range of lighting and accessories for a small wall box through to a large floor standing enclosure whatever the location.

All too often well designed professional enclosure fit outs are let down by their incorrect illumination and are sometimes difficult to maintain and service in their final resting place, due to poor lighting.

Rittal’s range of lighting has options for integrated door switches, power sockets along with wiring looms, florescent lights in a range of voltages and LED strip lights to minimise power consumption, providing a long service life. Also available is a range of inter connecting cables in various lengths enable you to daisy chain a number of lights for a full suite of enclosures bayed together.

Research to improve electrical grid planning

Outram Research is conducting a research project with ScottishPower (Energy Networks) that aims to provide new insights into the characteristics of the electricity supply grid, enabling more accurate planning of capacity and upgrades. The research project uses a new technique developed by Outram to measure fault current, the maximum current that can flow in the event of a fault.

Fault current, also known as short-circuit current, is a critical factor for network planning. Objects on the grid must be capable of withstanding the maximum fault current, and components such as breakers must have sufficient rating to isolate the fault safely, allowing the rest of the system to continue functioning.

Determining fault current is a major challenge for planners at electricity utilities as the grid becomes increasingly complex. Motors and other inductive loads can deliver energy back to the grid in the event of a fault, whilst distributed generation of power from renewable sources such as solar power means that parts of the grid may change dynamically from consuming power to supplying energy at different times of the day or week.

Geoff Murphy, lead development engineer with ScottishPower Energy Networks, commented, “With increased dynamics within the electricity network, measuring the capacity and capability of the system is vital to enable the connection of new types of generation and loads. Outram Research offer a novel and efficient way of calculating fault currents to enable us to plan and design the system more effectively and avoid unnecessary expenditure.”

Existing methods of measuring fault current are limited, and can only provide approximate values after a long period of measurement, which may last several weeks. The new patent pending technique calculates fault current accurately and quickly, monitoring parameters without affecting the network or users consuming power. Utility companies can also use the technique to determine how fault current changes over time: for example as different loads are connected and disconnected over the course of a day or week.

“We have already demonstrated the effectiveness of this new technique in the laboratory,” commented John Outram, Managing Director of Outram Research. “Our partnership with ScottishPower will allow us to assess the effectiveness and accuracy of the algorithms and Outram hardware when used to monitor current in the field.”

The research project is already underway, with results expected in the fourth quarter of 2011.

New international rep for process automation division!

To keep pace with growing markets for remote I/O and signal conditioners in Europe, Asia, and many countries around the globe, Acromag has named John Hayward of Haymac Ltd. as their new international sales representative for the process automation division. John will team up with Acromag to expand Acromag’s presence in global markets and to service the unique needs of international customers. Based in England, John brings a wealth of technical and sales experience in process control technologies and numerous industries including oil and gas, utilities, chemicals, glass/metals, factory automation, and electronics test. He will work closely with Acromag’s Marketing and Sales Director Donald Lupo to manage the international sales channels for process products and to provide direct technical support for customers around the world.

“We are excited to have secured the services of Haymac Ltd. who will apply their experience and knowledge of measurement and control technologies to expand our service outside the Americas,”
said Don Lupo. “Recently, we have seen a great increase in demand for Ethernet I/O modules and signal conditioners across Europe and Asia, as well as in emerging markets such as South Africa and the Middle East.”

John Hayward has more than 25 years of high-tech electronics industry experience and previously worked at several leading distributors and manufacturers, serving as product marketing manager, sales manager, and engineering. Earlier management positions involved selling data acquisition, test and measurement, and process instrumentation systems including sensors, PLCs, PC-based controllers and transmitters for companies such as Amplicon and Fisher-Rosemount in Britain. He holds an HNC in electrical & electronic engineering in addition to later studies in marketing, sales, and project management.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New version of control system!

Adoption of advanced field digital technology strengthens foundation for operational excellence
Yokogawa Electric Corporation has developed Release 5 of the CENTUM® VP integrated production control system, the company's flagship product and a cornerstone of the VigilantPlant® concept that aims to help customers realise the ideal plant. Developed with the aim of bringing companies operational excellence through the use of field digital technology, this latest version of CENTUM VP will be released to the market in August of this year.

With CENTUM VP Release 5 as a key platform, Yokogawa will continue to provide solutions that help customers' plants achieve operational excellence, with an eye on becoming the leading company in the industrial automation business.

Development background

Field digital technology has been introduced in many industries and is helping to increase maintenance efficiency in manufacturing plants. Yokogawa started developing field digital technology in earnest when it first released FOUNDATION™ fieldbus compliant products in 1998. The company has been the leader in defining international standards for FOUNDATION fieldbus that reduce the need for field wiring, allow the introduction of intelligent field devices, and improve the management and diagnosis of digital field devices, playing an essential role in optimising plant operations.

Advances in field digital technology have led to drastic increases in the volume and variety of field data, and Yokogawa's customers are now seeking to make better use of this resource.

Customer benefits

Control systems must be capable of handling a massive amount of field data at comfortable speeds. Yokogawa has decided to develop a new field control station (FCS) that can fully satisfy such needs in the field digital era.

CENTUM VP Release 5 will demonstrate its powerful capabilities by improving the use of plant information and reducing lifecycle costs with simplified engineering. It will also enable unified plant operations by integrating with many other systems.

Features
1. New field control station (FCS) with industry leading performance
In comparison with Yokogawa's previous FCS, the new FCS will feature four times the processing performance, twice the application storage capacity, and five times the control network throughput.

2. Unified gateway station (UGS) for better system integration

CENTUM VP Release 5 will also include a unified gateway station (UGS) that improves integration with other systems, allowing CENTUM VP to control and monitor all the systems at plants, including PLC systems. Despite the differences in such systems, all of their operation windows will have the same CENTUM VP "look and feel". Operators will now only need to learn how to use the CENTUM VP human-machine interface (HMI), making the overall system much easier to operate.
In oil and gas fields and other applications where facilities may be scattered over a very wide area, the UGS can establish a link with the small-scale systems (such as utilities) at each site as well as with Yokogawa's STARDOM network-based control system. As such, the UGS makes possible the integrated control and monitoring of an entire system comprised of both central large-scale facilities and remote facilities via the CENTUM VP human machine interface.

3. Enhanced alarm management based on ISA18.2 Standard - CAMS for HIS

Yokogawa's Consolidated Alarm Management Software for Human Interface Station (CAMS for HIS) includes new functions that have been optimised for the management of change process specified in the ISA18.2 standard's alarm management lifecycle model.

4. Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 support
Support for Microsoft's latest 64-bit Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems will be included so that customers can reduce the cost of maintaining the PCs connected to their plant networks.

Main target markets

Process control and monitoring in industries such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, chemicals, electric power, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals, foods and beverages, iron and steel, and water supply and sewage treatment

Applications
Control and monitoring of plants and production equipment

Most comprehensive user web experience!

Electronic components distributor Digi-Key Corporation offers electronic engineers and procurement professionals "the most comprehensive user experience on the World Wide Web".

“Ensuring a positive user experience is important to us,” said Mark Larson, president and COO of Digi-Key Corporation. “We can offer members of the EE community the best components in the electronics industry and provide valuable product information, design tools, and resources—all integrated and readily available on our global websites.”

One way Digi-Key informs purchasers is by providing updated New Product Highlight pages (located on Digi-Key’s supplier pages) which showcase the applications for and specific details about the best electronic components in the industry.

Also offered on Digi-Key’s global websites are Product Training Modules (PTMs)— training portals designed to offer in-depth product knowledge regarding the latest innovations. PTMs are available on Digi-Key’s supplier pages and on Digi-Key’s YouTube channel where users can also gain instant access to the latest, industry exclusive Another Geek Moment videos featuring entertaining product demonstrations.

Some of Digi-Key’s most industry-unique resources are the TechZoneSM technology zones which house articles, white papers, and application notes based on Lighting, Microcontroller, Power, Sensor, and Wireless technologies. Stemming from these online resources are the TechZoneSM Magazines which feature articles penned by top industry professionals. Lighting, Microcontroller, Sensor, and Wireless editions can be accessed as interactive online versions or in downloadable iPad/HTML5 and PDF formats.

“In a recent independent industry survey by Hearst, Digi-Key was ranked #1 for Ease of Website Navigation and Valuable Online Content Offering by industry professionals and design engineers,” said Larson. “Our success as an Internet-based distributor is measured by the high quality of our comprehensive online resources.”

Digi-Key was also ranked #1 in web categories such as Design Support, Best Online Seminars, and Best Technology Education and Training by industry professionals and design engineers in the aforementioned 2011 Hearst study

As a leading integrated Internet-based distributor, information about and inventory of millions of products is accessible to customers around the globe, with all products shipped from Digi-Key’s single, North American location. The company’s integrated business model provides product and support information online to help put engineers and procurement professionals in control as they solve tough product development challenges.

The company’s online offerings and resources include: an interactive online catalog; PTM Online…On Demand® product training modules; TechZoneSM Magazines; Another Geek Moment videos; Digi-Key toolbar; PurchasingPro for electronics buyers; TechXchange; a Mobile and Social Center; and a Reference Design Library.

Portable hygrometer for natural gas!

Portable hygrometer for field measurements at pipeline pressure in the natural gas industry

Michell Instruments have introduced an intrinsically safe version of their portable hygrometer – the MDM300 I.S – which is designed specifically for applications in natural gas processing. It is also capable of measurement at high pressures up to 350 bar, giving readings which are representative of actual process conditions. Certified to ATEX, IECEx, FM, CSA and GOST, the high-speed portable instrument provides fast spot-checks of moisture in processes.

Unlike other dew-point hygrometers, the MDM300 makes fast measurements consecutively in any direction, without a waiting time in between, allowing for many more measurements to be taken each day. In contrast traditional portable meters which respond quickly to moisture changes from dry to wet only the first time before entering a lengthy and unproductive regeneration phase before next measurement can be taken. The QRA-enhanced MDM300 I.S has a fast response time – less than 30 minutes to -60°C dew point.

It has a tough, durable design to survive in harsh industrial conditions, but equally important, the MDM300 I.S can be held and operated easily with one or two hands. The intuitive menu system and large, easy-to-press buttons enable the user to easily configure the instrument to display the parameters they require even with gloved hands.

Having reliable readings of the moisture content in natural gas is vital to protect pipelines, valves, instrumentation and other equipment from damage. Excess moisture in natural gas can cause a range of problems in the process – from corrosion in the pipeline to the formation of methane hydrates. The latter form crystalline solids that reduce flow, cause blockages and break-away fragments that may damage equipment downstream. The result is huge expense from possible ‘shut-outs’ and pipeline damage.

The real portability of the MDM300 I.S allows for spot checks of moisture to be made at any point in the process – which means that points of moisture ingress can be identified quickly and easily before the damage is caused.

ZigBEE RF4CE USB stick!

RF4CE reference design for plug-and-play USB stick allows cost-efficient RF4CE implementation

RF4CE USB stick
RF4CE mentioned here refers to the ZigBee RF4CE industry standard. Both ZigBee and ZigBee RF4CE are trademarks of the ZigBee Alliance.
GreenPeak Technologies has announced the first reference design for an RF4CE USB stick for the integration of RF4CE technology in PC’s and home entertainment applications like set-top boxes, TV’s and media players.

The RF4CE USB stick reference design enables a quick RF4CE USB stick implementation with minimal efforts. The stick design allows for an easy upgrade of PC’s, set-top boxes, TVs and other home entertainment applications to accept RF4CE commands from an RF4CE remote control or RF4CE wireless keyboard. The RF4CE USB stick is very compact, allowing small USB stick designs.

GreenPeak's ready-to-go reference design includes both hardware and software tools required for a quick time to market. This includes the software stacks for ZRD (ZigBee Remote Control profile) and ZID (ZigBee Input Device which is a HID (human interface device) -compatible profile). Certification guidelines and tools are provided to ensure an efficient RF4CE and USB certification process. GreenPeak’s patented radio architecture makes it very robust against Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interference.

"There are two big challenges with controlling home entertainment consumer devices. One is that things don't interoperate well and the other is that you generally have to be in the same room as most of the devices you are trying to control," said Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst for the Enderle Group.  "The brilliance of ZigBee RF4CE is that it aggressively addresses both problems because it can be added to any existing USB capable device and the remote uses the ZigBee network to provide location independent control".
 

According to Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak: “This RF4CE USB stick approach offers the optimal combination of cost-efficiency, ease of integration and performance. OEM’s can use the USB stick for an RF4CE product launch or for test marketing purposes. Our reference design will help prototyping and will allow a quick time to market. As RF4CE is continually gaining market momentum, the USB stick approach will allow further adaption for various applications and consumer electronics products that have previously been restricted by volumes.”

COTS rugged systems

GE Intelligent Platforms has expanded the company’s range of COTS Rugged Systems. With growing pressure on prime contractors and integrators to reduce risk, costs and time-to-market, these preconfigured and pre-tested systems provide the flexibility of in-house development with the proven availability, cost-effectiveness, reliability and roadmap of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions. They are designed for deployment in demanding control appli­cations such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), manned aircraft, helicopters, over- and underwater research vessels, ground vehicles, and locomotives.

GE now offers an extensive range of pre-validated, application-ready COTS Rugged Systems, having previously announced 2-slot and 3-slot rugged CompactPCI® systems featuring Intel® processor technology and 2-slot and 3-slot PowerPC™-based rugged CompactPCI systems. Further introductions are planned throughout the year.

The newly-announced 4-slot systems, which give greater configuration flexibility to the COTS Rugged Systems product line, utilize conduction-cooled boards and are housed in a rugged convection-cooled chassis. The systems are available with processors from either Intel or Freescale™. Optimum customer choice is provided through the availability of no fewer than 25 standard configurations; additional configurations can be readily made available according to customer requirements. These systems undergo standard qualification tests - such as MIL-STD-810 and 704 - to allow customer projects to more rapidly achieve a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL).

“In a difficult economy, and in the face of significant budget cuts, our customers are looking to minimize development time and cost and to eliminate program risk to the maximum extent possible,” said Paul Scanlon, General Manager, Military & Aerospace Systems, GE Intelligent Platforms. “Our COTS rugged systems allow our customers to shorten lead-times, minimize expensive NRE, and lessen their risk associated with attempting to integrate piece parts from multiple sources.”

GE’s COTS Rugged Systems have been integrated and tested, and a Board Support Packages (BSP) and drivers can be provided to ease application integration and reduce software development time.

A broad range of I/O capability can be configured, including Ethernet, USB, serial, MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, DAC, ADC, discrete, VGA and CANbus. A 64GByte SSD SATA storage device is also optionally available.

Certification for IEC 61850 driver

COPA-DATA has received another accreditation for its zenon hmi/SCADA software: the zenon Client Driver, developed in-house to meet the IEC 61850 energy technology standard, has been certified by KEMA.

Tested Interoperability
In order for an automation system such as zenon to be able to communicate with different protocols and standards when being used in substation systems, users need a corresponding driver. For this reason, the COPA-DATA development team developed the zenon IEC 61850 Client Driver in 2006 to enable the exchange of data using the international standard IEC 61850. After comprehensive tests, the zenon Client Driver has now been certified by the international testing and certification company KEMA. This certification confirms smooth communication with this standard and seamless interoperability with all available servers within a zenon substation project.

Certification ensures competitive advantage
Jürgen Resch, Energy Industry Manager at COPA-DATA, stresses the importance of this certification: “The zenon IEC 61850 Client Driver has already been successfully integrated into energy projects. However, the certification of the driver is now often required in tenders in the field of substation automation. Only a few companies in the world are currently able to offer this certification. This makes it all the better for us; the fact that we can also meet this criterion now. Confirmation from an independent testing body such as KEMA guarantees us significant competitive advantage and underscores our role as a pioneer in substation automation.”

Avoiding pipe fractures

Monitoring to avoid pipe fractures from oscillations
          
Oscillations in pipework that could lead to fatigue fractures and subsequent serious plant problems can be monitored by LVDTs to check for early indications of excessive movement.

On large sites, such as in the processing and petrochemical industries, or in power stations, the motion of structures can set up oscillations in the pipework around various parts of the plant. Pipework oscillations are undesirable because they can cause fatiguing in the pipework and additional stressing on other components in the plant that can lead to fracturing. These pipes may be carrying hot and dangerous liquids or chemicals. Very often oscillations are as a result of the feed through rate, or the process rate in the plant where a certain loading or flow rate through the plant may create a situation which causes a particular section of pipework to begin to oscillate.

RDP Electronics' LVDTs are designed and manufactured, for accuracy and reliability and have been used extensively to monitor movement in pipework. LVDTs are also available in versions well suited to locations where the pipes are hot and even for use in situations where pipes are carrying corrosive or radioactive substances.

Mission critical wireless comms!

Partnership  to enhance connectivity for mission critical wireless solutions

MatrikonOPC™ has announced that CalAmp Corp. is the newest member to join its Global Partner Network. CalAmp will integrate MatrikonOPC’s full range of OPC servers into its mission critical wireless solutions.  CalAmp provides fixed and mobile connectivity for mission critical communications using licensed, spread spectrum and cellular technology from narrowband to broadband speeds. With MatrikonOPC’s secure and reliable OPC servers, the CalAmp product will effectively expand its secure connectivity to large SCADA networks.

CalAmp specialises in ruggedized wireless solutions from narrowband to broadband, using licensed, spread spectrum and cellular technology to support fixed and mobile connectivity for mission critical communications. They also offer world-class pre and post sales support to make planning, implementation, and maintenance of your wireless network easier with long-lasting results. At CalAmp, our mission is your success.
CalAmp solutions make distributed architecture designs possible, which allow extensive network flexibility with pass-through control, instantaneous reads, visual network status in the HMI, driver-level analysis of protocol data, and monitoring from anywhere in the network.  CalAmp makes efficient use of bandwidth and proactive system maintenance possible. By standardising on MatrikonOPC for its OPC data connectivity solutions, CalAmp will be able to provide its customers with world-class connectivity and support.

"SCADA solutions face many challenges, such as accessing remote devices, unreliable connections, managing those devices, and ensuring the integrity of the remote data. By choosing MatrikonOPC technology, CalAmp enhances its secure networking solutions to best serve its customers’ needs,” said Drew Brydon, vendor partner program manager-MatrikonOPC.

“We realize improving security and efficiency of data collection are critical for the Smart Grid vision,”
said Rick Nozel, senior vice president of sales and marketing for CalAmp's wireless networks business. “By leveraging MatrikonOPC’s secure and reliable solutions, we are able to provide the tools that power and utility companies need to easily manage all of the devices in their system, and to push network intelligence to the edge."

New integrated comms protocols for IR sensors

High-performance IR thermometers now compatible with Modbus and Profibus protocols

Raytek® has enhanced its MI3 Series infrared temperature measurement sensors with new integrated network communication options. The Raytek MI3 sensors are now compatible with the Modbus and Profibus network protocols, allowing them to be used in a wide range of applications requiring digital communication for field devices. The updated thermometers now offer a low-cost, multi-channel noncontact temperature measurement solution with network communications capability.
The Raytek MI3 Series represents a new generation of performance and innovation in noncontact temperature monitoring for Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) applications and manufacturing processes. These high-performance IR sensors reduce energy costs by allowing tighter process control and more efficient process heating. Improved control performance usually results in less product variation, higher product quality and increased throughput.
Designed to deliver industry-leading performance and flexibility at the lowest installed cost per measurement point, the Raytek MI3 Series sensors combine a rugged IP65 (NEMA 4) stainless steel sensing head with a separate communication module. They include a broad choice of sensing head temperature ranges and spectral responses, a standard USB 2.0 digital interface for easy sensor set-up and configuration, a fully programmable electronics platform, and response times as fast as 20 mS. The sensors' innovative multiple sensing head interface supports up to eight individually addressable heads per communication box.
These sensors offer a choice of scalable 0/4 to 20 mA and 0 to 5/10 VDC analog outputs, or Type J, K, R or S thermocouple outputs, as well as an optional RS485 network interface — thus, enabling seamless integration into existing control equipment or OEM systems.
Standard USB 2.0 communication facilitates sensor configuration and is valuable for troubleshooting when the device is installed in hostile locations. Additionally, this capability saves maintenance time and minimizes technician exposure to hazardous environments. Robust field calibration software also allows on-site calibration of sensors, which further reduces service time and expense.
Thanks to precision, high-resolution silicon optics, the Raytek MI3 sensors provide a range of optical resolutions (2:1, 10:1 or 22:1) at a very attractive price. For high-volume OEM applications, the sensing heads allow a direct digital interface to the host machine controller.
The MI3 has a multitude of communication options for multichannel IR temperature measurements – a solution for every application. All sensor-operating parameters are easily accessed and configured through the standard user interface with large backlit LCD display, or with the powerful Raytek DataTemp® multidrop software via the USB 2.0 digital interface.
The MI3's user-programmable, isolated alarm output is an easy way to achieve alarm and control redundancy or provide simple on/off control capabilities. Its optically isolated relay allows for local alarm capability, eliminating the need for separate limit switches or alarms.
Other standard MI3 features include: adjustable emissivity, transmissivity, peak hold, valley hold and signal averaging; and configurable inputs for emissivity control, ambient background compensation and trigger/hold input.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Power control strategy for team’s hybrid vehicle wins!

National Instruments Technology Helps Virginia Tech Win EcoCAR Competition
Virginia Tech recently was named the overall winner of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a three-year collegiate vehicle engineering competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors (GM). The Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) designed and built an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) that uses E85 (ethanol) and achieves fuel efficiency of 81.9 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent. With National Instruments reconfigurable software and hardware, the team used a graphical system design approach to design, prototype, validate and deploy a control strategy for the vehicle’s hybrid components.
Watch out for new developements from National Instruments at NI Week 1st August 2011 as forecast in our story, Fostering discovery and innovation, last week.
To interface with and control the vehicle, the team chose NI CompactRIO, which acted as a hybrid vehicle supervisory controller that balanced power distribution between the vehicle’s combustion and electric systems. They programmed the controller with NI LabVIEW system design software, which also served as the runtime environment for the main driver display in the vehicle. The LabVIEW Statechart Module was used to create a high-level state machine control architecture for splitting torque between the hybrid components. Before deploying their control strategy to hardware, the team used NI VeriStand real-time testing software and NI PXI to create a hardware-in-the-loop simulation and validation system that evaluated the vehicle’s fuel and electric energy consumption and tested safety features.

“The members of the HEVT come from a variety of engineering backgrounds and concentrations, and it was critical for us to have an easy-to-use platform that could be used by everyone and from start to finish,” said Jesse Alley, graduate advisor for the Virginia Tech HEVT. “National Instruments software and hardware streamlined our vehicle development, allowing us to rapidly develop a sophisticated hybrid control strategy that ultimately helped us win EcoCAR.”

Sixteen North American universities participated in EcoCAR and re-engineered GM-donated vehicles to minimize fuel consumption and emissions while maintaining utility, safety and performance. The competition culminated in a trip to the GM Proving Ground in Milford, Mich., where the teams put their vehicles through a series of safety and technical tests. In addition to winning the overall competition, Virginia Tech won awards for Shortest 60-0 MPH Braking Distance, Best AVL Drive Quality, Best Dynamic Consumer Acceptability and Best Fuel Consumption. The team also received the National Instruments Most Innovative Use of Graphical System Design award. National Instruments is a platinum sponsor of EcoCAR.

“We must continue to eliminate any obstacles to hands-on, project-based learning if we truly want to return to an era of experimentation within academia,”
said Ray Almgren, vice president of product marketing for core platforms at National Instruments. “The EcoCAR competition does just that, and through the hard work and determination of the Virginia Tech team and the enabling power of National Instruments technology, experimentation resulted in innovation that has the power to transform the future of transportation.”

National Instruments supports numerous academic initiatives, including EcoCAR, to help students get real-world engineering experience while in school so that they are prepared for careers in industry. National Instruments equips today’s students for their roles as tomorrow’s innovators who are responsible for addressing the engineering grand challenges, which include improving urban infrastructure, making solar energy more economical and engineering better medicines. Many students have used the experience gained through the EcoCAR competition to secure automotive industry careers to work on sustainable mobility efforts.

PID control design

A training course on "Introduction to PID Control Design" on 23rd - 24th August 2011 is scheduled for Scotland's second city, Glasgow.

This 2-days course, organised by Industrial Systems & Control (ISC),  is aimed at engineers, new graduates and those interested in understanding a PID control design. The course starts with basic knowledge of control design in terms of understanding a linear system through computer-aids analysis to sophisticated approach in terms of designing of an effective PID controller for the system.

This course provides an insight to PID controller such as its limitation and also presents various methods that can overcome such implementation issues. An alternative frequency control design, namely Lead-lag compensator is illustrated and its performance is compared against PID controller. Generally, this course provides an overview of PID control techniques and gives general guidelines for analysis and tuning of a PID controller.

Aircraft welding testing

Three Keighley Laboratories staff approved As CAA Weld Specimen Supervisors

Keith Blower
Mathew Mellor
Peter Hanson
The Metallurgical & Laboratory Services division of Keighley Laboratories has achieved the unusual distinction of having three of its senior employees approved by the British Civil Aviation Authority as Weld Specimen Supervisors. Keith Blower, Matthew Mellor and Peter Hanson have all been officially recognised as approved signatories for the purpose of witnessing and certifying aircraft-related welding of test specimens, as defined in the authoritative BCAR (British Civil Airworthiness Requirements) Chapter A8-10 on the approval of welders.

The procedures outlined in Chapter A8-10 are applicable to those who weld metallic parts that are essential to the airworthiness of an aircraft, where the achievement of a sound metal-to-metal joint depends largely on the competency of the operator. For welders not employed by a CAA approved organisation, test samples must be prepared under the supervision of a person authorised as a signatory, then submitted to a CAA approved test house for examination. Keighley Labs' newly-approved signatories can now undertake weld invigilations at the customer's premises, then the samples can be examined and certificated at its CAA recognised test house, providing a critical one-stop service.

The company's three Weld Specimen Supervisors are highly qualified specialists with many years' combined experience. 
Keith Blower of Steeton is the firm's Technical Director, with specific responsibility for the Problem & Failure Investigation department. 
Matthew Mellor of Oakworth is the Test House Manager, who also runs the firm's high tech metallurgical laboratory. 
While Peter Hanson of Denholme is the company's Senior Investigation Metallurgist, who specialises in failure and fracture investigations. All three are also linked to Keighley Labs' weld procedures consultancy, which provides welder qualification approvals to European, US and international standards.

"This important CAA approval came about following a number of enquiries from customers, as to whether we could witness weld testing on behalf of the CAA," says Matthew Mellor. "We spoke to the authority when they next visited our test house and the region's Assistant Surveyor subsequently issued us with a letter of approval. It's quite a distinctive accolade, since I don't know of any other technical laboratory that has the same status."

This latest accreditation is of particular interest to manufacturers who carry out welding on aircraft or weld parts for aircraft, that don't have CAA approval; in addition to earlier customer enquiries, the company already has interest from as far afield as Ireland. A member of the Northwest Aerospace Alliance with a long history of working with aerospace primes and their suppliers. Keighley Labs' Metallurgical & Laboratory Services division is also UKAS accredited and operates to international aerospace standards.

Monday, July 25, 2011

CAN connect into industrial networks

New gateway from HMS enables CAN-devices to connect to industrial networks

The Anybus® Communicator CAN™ is a new protocol converter from HMS Industrial Networks. The gateway enables communication between any industrial device with a CAN interface and industrial networks such as Profibus, Profinet, DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT or CANopen.

The Anybus Communicator CAN is designed to exchange data between a subnetwork, running CAN, and a higher level network (Fieldbus or Ethernet). This allows automation devices, even those with slower CAN communication, to be integrated into high-speed fieldbus/Ethernet networks without any restrictions to the upper network.

Instant connectivity for many device types
Today, there is a multitude of proprietary CAN protocols for different devices such as drives, sensors, actuators, human machine interfaces, barcode readers, RFID readers, weighscales etc. The Anybus Communicator enables communication between these devices and higher-level industrial networks such as Profibus, Profinet, DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT or CANopen.

“We have worked a lot with the user experience on this Communicator module,” comments Martin Falkman, Product Line Manager, Gateways at HMS. “The configuration is easily done using the Anybus Configuration Manager which means that users can quickly build a communication protocol in a graphical interface without any programming at all. This is very valuable for system integrators wishing to quickly and easily connect CAN-enabled devices to higher-level networks.”

Dual port Ethernet switch technology
For most Ethernet versions of the Communicator CAN, HMS has included a dual-port switch which enables daisy chaining and eliminates the need for external switches.

The gateway has a fast throughput delay of no more than 5 milliseconds and comes with a 3-year guarantee.

Unique stroke lengths allowed

Thomson long length linear units with ball screws provide precision, power and speed up to 12m stroke

Thomson  has been offering its customers linear units in various designs for many years. Belt- and screw-driven systems are available to suit requirements, guided on linear slide bearings, rolls or balls. Belt-driven systems with stroke lengths of up to 12 metres as standard are already available. Special designs with longer stroke lengths can also be requested. Belt-driven units are preferable in applications such as packaging and handling, that require high throughput, fast cycle times and a minimum amount of maintenance. With specially protected designs in S1 or S2 stainless steel, these solutions can be used in harsh, wet operating environments such as abattoirs and dairies or in food and paper processing.

Linear units with ball screws – slide- or ball-guided – are superior to belt driven units thanks to particularly high thrust and payloads coupled with high adjustment accuracy and system rigidity. Even the standard stroke lengths of these systems go up to 11 metres. Customer-specific special solutions with considerably longer stroke lengths are also possible. Niklas Sjostrom from Thomson Linear says, “Thomson is one of very few global manufacturers who can deliver these kinds of stroke lengths as standard product offering. We also understand the value of the high degree of flexibility we provide to our customers when they come to us with special requirements. This gives us a definite advantage over our competitors.”

The screw support assembly developed and patented by Thomson is one of the factors pushing Thomson ahead of the competition. The advanced design makes it possible to use spindles with extended stroke lengths, while still being able to apply maximum motor speed without the risk of twisting or bending the spindle. This is something normally only offered by systems with considerably shorter stroke lengths. Thomson offers a high-performance support system that has proved its worth with linear units in a wide array of applications from pick & place systems to machine handling. The support system guarantees accurate and smooth operation, even over extremely long adjustment tracks.

Like belt driven units, these solutions can also be used in harsh environments, as the system is hermetically sealed against infiltrating dirt and dust and the optional S1 stainless steel design makes it possible to operate when exposed to humidity and moisture, without worrying about corrosion of the components. The user also benefits from the extremely low maintenance required, as the central lubricating system works with a single lubrication point.

For customer-specific solutions, Thomson provides a high degree of flexibility when it comes to finding the best possible solution, even for difficult requirements and operating conditions. A precise specification is initially developed in close cooperation with the customer, then the potential system designs are considered in terms of their advantages and disadvantages.

Supporting maintenance strategies at power plant

Integrated asset management helps ensure efficient work practices and inform business decisions

EDF Energy has selected Emerson Process Management’s AMS Suite predictive maintenance software to help optimise maintenance practices at its new Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station at West Burton in Britain. AMS Suite will help the plant's managers quickly access integrated asset health information from multiple data sources, view real-time analyses and reports, and develop management strategies to improve plant performance.

The West Burton plant places significant focus on compliance with governmental regulations and the safety of plant personnel and assets such as instruments and process equipment. “AMS Suite supports our programmes to meet safety requirements,” said Jason Bryant, Control and Instrumentation Team Leader. “With real-time analytics and reporting, we will have new levels of insight into asset performance to enable regulatory compliance as we drive continuous improvement.”

With AMS Suite: Asset Performance Management, based on Meridium’s APM software, EDF maintenance and reliability managers will receive integrated, real-time information to ensure maintenance resources are focused on the most critical areas for the greatest business return. Integration of asset data with the plant’s SAP system will also show the impact of asset health on the facility’s profitability.

“The combination of the EDF Energy Asset Management Specialists and Emerson service experts working together to develop detailed work processes for streamlined maintenance practices, and the use of real time data and plant diagnostics, will move West Burton CCGT towards world class maintenance practices,” said Darren Ramshaw, Engineering and Maintenance Manager. “In addition, overall key performance indicators will track maintenance efficiency, safety and performance goals.”

“AMS Suite APM will enable EDF Energy to reduce the information complexity faced by management, enabling proactive, strategic, and more holistic asset management,”
said Ron Martin, Vice President and General Manager of Emerson’s Asset Optimization business. “EDF is another example of how Emerson’s asset management technologies and services are helping companies drive plant reliability and performance.”

Comprising three 430MW CCGT units, the new 1300MW plant will stand next to EDF Energy's existing 2000MW coal-fired power station. Emerson’s PlantWeb™ digital plant architecture, including the Ovation™ expert control system and intelligent field devices, will monitor and control the heat-recovery steam generators and balance-of-plant processes. The Ovation system will also interface to the turbine control system and perform data acquisition, including sequences of events. Once completed, the CCGT unit will supply enough power for around 1.5 million homes. The power station will be ready for commercial operation later this year.