Friday, August 12, 2011

Interfaces for Ethernet and USB

Harting's har-port is an addition to the company's product range that offers service interfaces for Ethernet and USB.

har-port makes control units and industrial computer interfaces accessible from the outside, which means that the new service interface is suitable for use in switchboard cabinets and control terminals. Thanks to its compact and elegant design, however, har-port is also an ideal communications interface for conference tables or high-grade workstations.

The assembly calls for just one central fastening nut in a standardised circular 22 mm panel cut-out, which is also used for all industrial control switches.

The har-port product range comprises service interfaces for 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet as well as USB 2.0 and 3.0 Type A. Accessories such as protection covers and sealing covers that protect the interface against unauthorised use and label holders that can be mounted at a later time complete the new Harting product range.

PSU for the most demanding environments

Excelsys Technologies  now offers ruggedised versions of its Xgen power supply range suitable for COTS/MIL applications and extreme industrial installations

Now available with conformal coating for protection against harsh environments, the Xgen series of power supplies has also been extensively HALT tested for resistance to shock and vibration and characterised over its extended operating temperature range.  Excelsys Xgen power supplies are available with high temperature ratings from -20ºC to +70ºC and low operating noise versions and medically approved versions are also available.

The Xgen family from Excelsys offers class leading power density of 17W/in3 and efficiency of 90% in a 1U package. With output power available from 200W-1450W the Xgen series offers a flexible power solution for many applications and sets the standard for highest performance in the smallest package size.

Excelsys very wide range of powerMods output modules allow users to create exactly the power supply required with no configuration costs and on short lead-times. Standard voltages available include 2.5V, 5.0V, 12.0V, 24.0V, 48.0V, and 24/24V. As all modules are isolated, polarity is user selectable and modules may be configured in series or parallel for higher output voltages or current.   The Excelsys Xgen series has a universal input range, 85-264VAC and over voltage protection. All possible configurations carry full safety agency approvals, UL60950, EN60950 and are CE marked.

Dermot Flynn, Director of Sales for Excelsys Technologies comments; “We continue to set the standard for high quality, high efficiency, flexible power solutions. Our Xgen configurable power supply family remains at the core of our success and is under continuous development to ensure it meets all of our customer’s requirements. Offering conformal coating now enables us to meet growing demand for applications in harsh environments including military, heavy industrial and marine. Excelsys are market leaders in the 1U power supply market and offer unparalleled operational efficiency and user convenience.”

Typical applications for the conformally coated versions of the Excelsys Xgen power supply range include vehicle and ship based communication, instrumentation and IT systems, industrial control systems and test and measurement equipment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Overcoming barriers to wireless adoption

Wireless is utilized now more than ever in control architectures. It is flexible, versatile and can be cost effective; however, concerns with the security, reliability, and capacity of wireless continue to prevent conservative end users from reaping its benefits. Are these concerns valid? This article adresses these points head-on, disentangling the misconceptions from genuine challenges, providing insight about how to overcome obstacles now and down the road with proper understanding, planning and execution.

This article comes from Prosoft Technology.
ProSoft Technology® designs industrial communication solutions that connect automation products seamlessly. ProSoft Technology is a highly diversified, customer intimate, global organization with a focus on quality and ease-of-use. Their products including in-chassis communication modules for PLC/PAC controllers, standalone protocol gateways, and a wide range of robust, field-proven wireless solutions are found in applications spanning the industrial marketplace.
Is wireless better or worse than a wired network? The answer is no; it’s different. A plethora of wireless technologies exist to suit a variety of users. Is it for every application? No. But for many, wireless can be more flexible, versatile and cost effective than wired networks. Yet, questions regarding security, reliability and capacity of wireless continue to prevent conservative end users from reaping its benefits. Can these be overcome?

No. 1: Security
Security is the first topic to arise when discussing wireless in a plant network and the decision to deploy is often not one made in isolation. Plant engineers want to ensure uninterrupted production, and that security measures are in place to protect their process and plant floor equipment. IT engineers want to ensure that systems deployed in the plant co-exist well with networks in the rest of the organization and that nothing compromises the security of corporate information. Though different, the concerns of both the plant-floor engineer and the IT engineer are of high importance.

Today, the mechanisms are in place for industrial wireless systems to address the issues of both stakeholders. However, understanding what capabilities exist in wireless networking devices and how to utilize them for the betterment of the operation is not always appreciated. Modern encryption techniques can be utilized to avoid someone interpreting your data maliciously. Filtering and strong authentication allow only authorized devices on the network. The mechanisms that are relied upon by the US government for transferring secret information are present in today’s industrial wireless devices, and address many of the concerns of security of information, assets and reliability of processes.

So, do not view the discussion on security for a plant network as one in which IT engineers and plant engineers have competing interests. Instead, acknowledge that each has their own experiences. Plant engineers have depth of experience in 24/7 reliability and the role reliability plays when deploying automation networks. IT engineers have depth of experience in co-existence of multiple systems and network management. The two can complement each other if cooperation exists.

Getting IT Onboard?
Should you swallow the lump in your throat and engage IT from the get-go? IT has likely deployed wireless more pervasively throughout their networks and will want to incorporate their best practices, allocate frequencies to ensure coexistence with other networks, and potentially help plan which technologies will be used. If IT is not included in the process and you proceed with your system, they may want to shut you down. Lean on your industrial wireless solution provider. They should understand the needs of both departments and can bridge this gap to find a common solution. Industrial wireless solution providers also know about the constraints you have on the plant-floor, which are not evidence for the IT staff, but they will catch quickly.

Open dialogue about the security measures that can be put in place to achieve the same level of security as they are accustomed to with the wired systems. Today, with the standards that are in place, a fully provisioned wireless system can lock down the network securely and satisfy enterprise requirements. Sometimes this involves getting around red tape.

For example, heavily regulated industries like Pharmaceutical must adhere to strict data collection specifications, so the IT departments are more sensitive to security concerns. It is important to be clear on what you need and what IT will need from you in order for them to feel comfortable with your technology decision.

I’m a control guy and now I’ve brought IT in on my system. So, who owns my network in the event of a system down? How quickly can it be handled? How quickly can it be diagnosed?

This is where it may get tricky. We are control people. Relinquishing decisions about our processes is antipodal to our natures. Who controls the network often comes down to the policy that exists or is set in place. With wireless, the same rules of demarcation should apply as would with Ethernet. In some cases IT owns anything connected to Ethernet. In some cases the plant floor will own anything producing output. Sometimes IT will be involved in the decision making process and frequency allocation, but the plant has responsibility for installation and maintenance of the system. In any case, what becomes important is that the line of demarcation be established upfront and that the selected wireless technology provides the diagnostic tools to satisfy both of these stakeholders.

Troubleshooting on the plant-floor
The tools for IT and the plant floor may differ. Having the appropriate tools for each is critical to prompt resolution. In the IT world, tools are based on Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), which is supported by some industrial radios. Higher level diagnostics may include OPC level data that can be used to integrate diagnostics into the control system.

Though policy varies from one organization to another, the trend seems to follow suit of wired Ethernet on the plant floor. Whether wired or wireless, when a line goes down at two in the morning, it is the plant manager whose phone rings.

Regardless of who owns the network, it is fair to say that troubleshooting a wireless network has a different process than with a wired Ethernet system. A wireless network is not tangible, for one. You cannot hold it in your hand. It can be affected by outside contamination, which can widen the scope when trying to isolate the root cause of a problem. This is why it is essential to have proper tools in place to monitor and diagnose your system. As with every other essential component in your system, have someone clearly identified who knows how to use these tools and understands the equipment. Select a vendor that can support you throughout your implementation and down the road, with the proper tools and training, technology selection, and technical support program. With these things in place, someone who is familiar with doing the diagnostics on a wired network can also diagnose the wireless network.

No. 2: Capacity
How can I feel assured that a wireless system will meet my bandwidth requirements, especially down the road?

First, do your homework upfront. Know your network demands, your goals, and the environment you are dealing with. What are the distances and speeds you require? Do you need mobile worker access? Is your application indoor or outdoor? Are there reflective surfaces? Moving, rotating, vibrating machinery? Be able to articulate what traffic your network is expected to support. There are many flavors of wireless, each suited for different applications.

Second, choose your service provider carefully. Work with an industrial grade technology from a vendor that can confidently determine what you need in your specific application, and can select a scalable solution to accommodate your growth. Select vendors with a strong understanding of your equipment and your process. Look for the right combination of diagnostic tools. Some vendors provide HMI integration tools using OPC to give you a visual overlay of your network. Verify if the company offers value-add services such as path studies and site audits. These are things to look for when specifying your projects.

Some applications, however, simply cannot be supported by wireless. For example, production lines using 1000 I/O points with millisecond scan rates. Wireless technologies today cannot deal with this level of capacity.

How can I protect my network from interference if a neighboring facility installs its own wireless network?

Be conscious of what else is in place. Think of IT as an asset. Utilize their domain expertise and build a maintenance program for monitoring the health of the system. A A solid understanding of the necessary criteria can provide can provide the ability to anticipate wireless performance over time. IT can sniff the network periodically, monitor for new participants or other change in the wireless environment, measure outside interference and ensure performance is not diminished.

However, even a perfectly implemented network with a well-laid plan for isolating interference is vulnerable to the ever-changing RF environment. You cannot know if a neighbor will move in and interfere with your network, but you can take precautions or adjust you applications later to limit impact.

Several precautionary options exist. To start, it is wise to choose a solution with flexible frequencies that can be changed if needed (802.11n has 24 channels in the 5GHz band). Another effective method is the use of directional antennas to strengthen the connection between radios and to reduce sensitivity to interference. Lining up directional antennas, however—particularly at farther distances—can be difficult. Advanced installation techniques such as these are often set in place during site surveys, performed by top tier technology providers.

No. 3: Reliability
Is wireless less reliable than a wired system? The answer is no, it’s different. In the same way that a user would not run cable next to drives because of interference, wireless interference must be considered. Wireless simply requires different steps. Factors like line of sight and selection of radio, antenna and cable become important. Consider the specific performance features of these devices against your application.

In many cases, a wired system can be less reliable, particularly with moving equipment where slip-rings are used for communication. The nature of these applications subjects cable to continuous flexing, breakage or degradation over time.

Wireless has long been successful in supervising, but for control?
In many cases, yes. In manufacturing, Ethernet is now widely used in control; and where there is Ethernet, wireless often follows. Some wireless devices are sophisticated enough to act as managed switches, providing intelligent packet filtering. Some support deterministic applications, and can provide a high level of flexibility, speed, precision and predictability. In these projects it is critical that the design and technology of the system be carefully planned and executed, working closely with your distributor specialists, integrators and solution providers.

Another battle is the classic, ‘perception is reliability’ cliché. Any person with a computer and internet service has experience with wireless, generally riddled with memories of crashing routers and resetting modems. Who wants to risk this in their plant? Today, wireless products exist that are far more robust and reliable for industrial environments than traditional consumer or even enterprise level technologies. There are new techniques and testing tools available to determine when the network is approaching failure, and user interfaces to provide real-time health information. There are repeatable technology management and procedural management systems that can be put in place to increase reliability.

Many real-world wireless applications have actually improved efficiency and reliability by trading their wires for antennas. Applications with moving equipment can dramatically reduce costs, downtime, and maintenance using wireless.

For example, Proctor & Gamble migrated to wireless specifically to improve reliability. In the plant, they replaced slip rings with a wireless network that was designed to optimize their existing EtherNet/IP network. They used an 802.11 solution on a 5GHz frequency in order to co-exist with an already saturated 2.4GHz band. They were able to meet performance requirements with determinism, experienced fewer dropped packets, had no downtime from communication errors, and ultimately received a strong buy-in from plant technicians.

Liberty Airport Systems of Ontario, Canada, designs custom runways lighting systems for commercial and government airfields. The reliability of these lighting systems is critical to facilitate aircraft movement, so downtime can translate into flights being delayed, cancelled, rerouted, or in worst case scenarios, an incursion. The primary fiber optic communication lines run underneath airfield runways, and in the event that they are damaged can shut down the entire runway. Liberty now uses wireless as the independent backup communication system for many of their installations in order to increase uptime and cut maintenance costs. In one installation, the fiber line was severed during construction, and the wireless backup system seamlessly carried on communication for a week while the fiber line was repaired.

In the end, the keys to overcoming obstacles now and down the road begin with proper understanding, planning and execution of your wireless network.

Wireless is not a “set it, forget it” solution. Audit your network. Engage with IT early on. Give them what they need to feel comfortable with the plan, and they will often help take care of the network.
With these things in place, users can enjoy the flexibility and versatility innate to wireless, and in many cases, reduce costs.

Emissions testing

TESEQ has introduced a new Line Impedance Stabilization Network (LISN) for conducted emissions testing of Grid Connected Power Conditioners (GCPC). The DC-LISN-M2-25-V1 is designed for measuring unsymmetrical disturbances on DC power ports in the frequency range from 150 kHz to 30 MHz.

Research results have shown that a typical artificial mains V-network as described in CISPR 16-1-2 cannot be used for the assessment of unsymmetrical disturbances of a photovoltaic inverter’s DC port. CDNs based on IEC/EN 61000-4-6 are typical not specified for high common-mode currents and differential mode disturbances. Additionally, they are undefined below 150 kHz.

The TESEQ DC-LISN-M2-25-V1 provides enhanced LISN performance with a common-mode impedance of 150 Ω and a differential-mode impedance of 100 Ω. Further, the DC-LISN offers defined termination impedance in the frequency range of 1 kHz to 150 kHz.

The DC-LISN-M2-25-V1 conforms to the requirements of AK 767-11-13-2010-0079 published in December 2010 by the German standard working group 767.11.13 – EMC of Grid Connected Power Conditioners – GCPC.

Leaf wetness!

MadgeTech has released the LF110, a complete data logging system that accurately measures and records leaf wetness. Not only does it record the presence of water but it logs the amount of water on the sensor. The sensor responds to environments the same way a real leaf does and can also detect when ice is present. This low cost system comes complete with a data logger, weatherproof enclosure and leaf wetness sensor.

The LF110 is ideal for plant disease forecasting, irrigation studies and monitoring frost cycles. The LF110 can record up to 32,767 readings and has software configurable memory wrap to allow for longer deployments based on weather conditions. The storage medium is non-volatile, solid state memory, providing maximum data security even if the battery becomes discharged.

An IFC200 interface cable and software is required for use with the LF110. The device can be started and stopped directly from a computer using the MadgeTech Software.

Wind portfolio

MatrikonOPC broadens wind portfolio with the OPC Server for Mitsubishi Wind Turbine

MatrikonOPC™ has released an OPC Server for Mitsubishi Wind Turbine Controllers. This OPC Server enables Mitsubishi wind turbine controllers to be easily integrated with other automation components such as HMIs, historians, and ERP systems. By facilitating secure, open connectivity between the field and the enterprise, this OPC Server plays a key role in providing visibility into wind farm operations. In turn, this gives wind farm owners and operators access to data they need to operate their wind farms more profitably.

This OPC Server provides real-time communication to a variety of Mitsubishi Wind Turbine Controllers, enabling users to get status updates from their wind farms anytime and anywhere. This level of visibility provides operators and business analysts the right data to make the right decision at the right time.

“’Today, ‘green’ and ’efficient’ are key priorities for the power industry. With power companies striving to operate in an environmentally friendly and profitable manner, their need for open connectivity is higher than ever. The OPC Server for Mitsubishi Turbine Controllers provides secure and reliable access to wind turbine controller data, giving users the information they need to make crucial decisions in their day to day wind farm operations,” said Darek Kominek, Marketing Manager at MatrikonOPC.

Features and benefits:
· Ability to pull historical records archived on the device and display them as simple Alarms and Events
· Ability to send start and stop commands to remote Turbines
· Support for read and write commands to analog and digital points on the turbine controller

Reducing stress!

Westermo industrial Ethernet switch reduces the stress for ABB Force Measurement

ABB FM (Force Measurement) is using Westermo’s Redfox industrial Ethernet switch with its latest version of Stressometer system for measurement and control of rolling mills. The implementation of the Redfox Industrial device has helped to reduce the number of data communication products needed from six to one, simplifying the system and lowering costs.

ABB FM is a leading global supplier of control systems for rolling mills. The company’s Stressometer system, consisting of a variety of measuring and control instruments, optimises the process to produce the highest quality rolled products. When implementing a previous version of the Stressometer system, the rolling mill control network would often consist of up to six different networking devices. These included switches, routers, converters and firewalls that would invariably be supplied by different manufacturers. This could result in compatibility issues and a lack of critical networking functions such as secure VPNs and separation of networks. It also resulted in difficulties installing and maintaining these complex networks. The greater number of products needing to be configured meant it took longer to install and required a higher level of network knowledge. The need to use multiple products also contributed to a congested control cabinet, which would then need to be cooled. This leads to increased maintenance requirements as fans become worn.

The networking solution for Stressometer is now based on a single RedFox Industrial 18 port, layer 3 switch running Westermo’s WeOS operating system. The WeOS operating system has been developed to provide layer 2 and layer 3 functions, which means the RedFox Industrial device can be used as both a switch and a router. The WeOS operating system can also manage complex networking issues including advanced security. For example each port can be configured with individual firewall rules and support is provided for encrypted VPN tunnels, which means you can connect securely over the internet. These new functions provided by Redfox Industrial Are now enabling the Stressometer system to handle multiple data communication networks within the mill using a single networking device.

"We have been delivering this latest version of the Stressometer system incorporating the RedFox Industrial device since 2010 and we have had no problems at all with the data communications," says Christer Gustafsson, Data Communications Manager at ABB FM. "When we upgraded our system we wanted a more unified networking solution. The Westermo device helps achieve this by avoiding compatibility problems between products from different manufacturers. Because of this the system is now easier for us to install and maintain and costs less to deliver.”

The RedFox Industrial’s WeOS operating system enables the communication network to be subdivided into three Virtual VLANs: A protected VLAN, using an encrypted VPN tunnel that is not accessible by the client, connects all the measuring and control instruments. A second VLAN connects to the rolling mill control computer and the third connects to the mill's office network. This provides a link to the Internet and enables the system to be monitored securely from outside the industrial network.

The new network solution for the Stressometer system is delivered preconfigured and installation is as simple as plugging in a few cables. Once in place, it is virtually maintenance free. If the Stressometer system requires updates or servicing, ABB FM can simply access the protected part of the network over the Internet via the encrypted VPN tunnel. Although the system is pre-configured it is still very flexible. Should equipment be plugged in or moved Network Address Translation (NAT) rules can be applied without affecting the original configuration.

The ABB Stressometer systems are installed in tough industrial environments. Westermo’s RedFox Industrial switch has been designed specifically for such applications and will operate in environments with high levels of electromagnetic interference and in extreme temperatures of between -40 to +70degC.

"We have tried many different industrial data communication products from different suppliers, but none have been good enough for our demanding requirements. The new solution, incorporating the Westermo device, works very well and requires very little technical support,"
concludes Gustafsson.

CAE options

CAE innovations and new options for consistent engineering, that save both time and money, are particularly valued in periods of economic upturn by companies in every industry. EPLAN 2.0 has many new features such as extended reports and parts management, flexible terminal design, new check functions and individual revision management. In maintenance and servicing the new PDF/A format guarantees long-term access to cross-discipline project documentation.

Individual pages can now be controlled in the revision process through the page filter as required by the respective project phase. At the same time certain types of pages, such as cover sheets, tables of contents and revision directories, can be excluded generally from completion. A clearer structure is provided in the process by using colours and symbol forms for different identifications. All project participants recognise, at a glance, whether project information has been added, modified or deleted.

EPLAN forms can be created dynamically so that different types of items can be reported in a common form. This form reacts to the corresponding item properties by using special partial tables for reporting, displaying suitable product graphics or special symbols and, for example, highlights safety-relevant items through a different colour. The resultant reports not only ensure that the required overview of the project data is available in the engineering phase, but also makes the decisive information available in a compressed but well structured form available for all the downstream project phases.

In accordance with the ISO 19005-1 the new PDF/A format is a standard for the long-term archiving of electronic documents. In particular this reliable archiving also provides added value in light of the requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC that requires a complete documentation for at least 10 years. At the same time PDF/A supports paperless workflow and thus simplifies the complexity of large projects.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Process control on track!

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has just announced the offerings of its Advanced Process Control Techniques Track at ISA Automation Week 2011 scheduled for  Mobile, (AL US, 17-20 October 2011). The Advanced Process Control Techniques Track offers in-depth sessions focused on techniques and applications of advanced control, including classical advanced applications (ratio, override), model predictive control, methods for diagnosing control system health, applications for optimizing process performance and more.

The Advanced Process Control Techniques Track session titles include:
“ISA’s expanded annual conference offers an extraordinary opportunity for automation and control professionals to learn from the best in the field. Industry’s brightest professionals across all functions will meet to share their expertise and experiences. This track will give attendees the in-depth knowledge of process control techniques and applications that will bring them up-to-date on the latest technical information and how they can apply it on the job,” said ISA Automation Week 2011 Program Chair, Greg McMillan, of Emerson Process Management.

Valves for Shell!

Multi-year Enterprise Framework Agreement includes Bettis™ and EIM actuators and related services

Shell and Emerson Process Management have signed a five-year Enterprise Framework Agreement that makes Emerson the single-source supplier of on/off valve actuators to Shell and its affiliates.

Under the agreement, Emerson will provide products from its broad portfolio of valve automation technologies, including Bettis™ pneumatic and hydraulic actuators and EIM electric and electro-hydraulic actuators. In addition to new actuators for both new and existing facilities, Emerson will also provide ongoing support of Shell’s previously installed actuators.

The relationship builds on an existing agreement under which Emerson serves as a Main Automation Contractor for Shell capital projects. Shell also recently selected Emerson as a global strategic supplier of pressure, temperature and flow field instruments.

“We appreciate Shell’s confidence in our ability to help them reach their automation and business goals,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “We welcome the opportunity to strengthen that confidence – and our relationship – through the new Enterprise Framework Agreement.”  

Real-time control, simple interoperability and high performance

PACSystems ® with integrated real-time PROFINET makes no compromises on performance or reliability for distributed applications

GE Intelligent Platforms has launched PACSystems® with integrated real-time PROFINET, a global open protocol over standard Ethernet. This new product combines open standards into a solution that creates significant value in reliability, connectivity and performance. PACSystems with PROFINET provides flexible deployment that minimizes hardware and configuration issues, improves application uptime with minimal cost and satisfies user demand for high performance, distributed systems.

PACSystems with PROFINET is made for businesses moving from centralized control systems to Ethernet based distributed structures. A high speed network with the ability to drop large amounts of I/O without compromising performance, PACSystems with PROFINET can operate in high-noise areas and cover large distances in real time with an elegant redundancy capability to maximize uptime.

“Companies today value solutions that control critical infrastructure and manufacturing operations at the highest levels of performance,” said Bernie Anger, Vice President, Control & Communication Systems for GE Intelligent Platforms. “The new PACSystems with PROFINET helps our customers increase production uptime, increase asset performance and improve their reliability.”

“The automation industry has been working for a long time to provide real-time control over standard Ethernet for performance and infrastructure simplification,”
said Connie Chick, Global Product General Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms’ Controls. “To obtain vast adoption of Ethernet as a control network, we need to make the connected devices act and look like local IO -- taking out the network complexity for setup, making it incredibly easy to use everywhere without compromising performance. PACSystems is all about taking open standards and making them better for targeted applications.”

“I am particularly excited by this news from GE,” said Michael Bryant, PI North America Chairman. “GE has been working to integrate PROFINET across its products, systems and solutions because it's an open protocol developed by global players. This means a global presence backed up by local knowledge. Additionally, PROFINET provides higher performance and better access to real time plant floor data taking the worry out of volume, latency and throughput."

Utilizing PROFINET combined with PACSystems, GE is providing all of the benefits of an Ethernet system without the complexity. Name-based configuration enables solutions in just minutes. Built-in switches with a choice of copper or fiber cable types for direct connection means that no extra hardware is needed for connectivity, allowing long distances between I/O nodes and increased reliability. The adoption of MRP (media redundancy protocol) in a ring topology allows customers to take nodes offline for maintenance without ever shutting the application. In the event of a wire cut, the system redirects traffic in as low as one millisecond without disrupting I/O. PACSystems is known for its outstanding high availability offering and the PROFINET extensions add significantly to that capability.

“Multi-disciplined automation platforms require real-time, open standards-based connectivity not only to devices on the plant floor, but also to production management systems that share data and information throughout the enterprise,”
according to Craig Resnick, Research Director, ARC Advisory Group. “PACSystems with integrated PROFINET appears to fulfil this market requirement by providing a plug-n-play solution to deploy real-time industrial Ethernet-based communications at all levels of the manufacturing enterprise, utilizing TCP/IP along with open IT standards.”

“PACSystems with PROFINET sets a new standard for integration of open systems, providing the user clear benefits now and easier migration to new technology in the future,”
concluded Chick. “Our goal is to make customers more productive instantly by simplifying and eliminating unnecessary work.”

Load cell ideal for testing applications

Low Profile, High Accuracy Compression Load Cell Ideal for Testing Applications

In response to engineers who have requested a low profile, high accuracy, button compression load cell for testing applications, LCM Systems is pleased to announce the availability of the CDIT-3 series. Also suitable for a wide range of general engineering and weighing applications, these new load cells have been developed for use in situations where space is limited.

Manufactured in fully-welded stainless steel, the corrosion resistant load cells are available with ranges covering 0-100kg to 0-200te. Unlike similar products on the market, the CDIT-3 sensors are highly accurate, offering an accuracy of <  0.02%.   Environmentally sealed to IP68, they are also ideal for harsh industrial environments. Accessories include a mounting plate, load cap and complete weighing assemblies for ranges up to 30te and the load cap versions.

The load cells can be supplied individually or busy engineering departments can speak to LCM Systems’ technical department and have complete systems designed and delivered, saving both time and money.

Wide range RF signal generator has microhertz resolution

SRS (Stanford Research Systems) has introduced a DC to 4 GHz signal generator that uses a unique and innovative architecture to deliver frequency resolution down to 1 µHz.

A technique known as rational approximation frequency synthesis enables the new instrument to deliver ultra-high frequency resolution, excellent phase noise, and versatile modulation capabilities at a fraction of the cost of competing designs.

The SG384 offers a wide variety of modulation capabilities including amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), phase modulation (ØM) and pulse modulation. There is an internal modulation source as well as an external modulation input. The internal modulation source produces sine, ramp, saw, square and noise waveforms. An external modulation signal may be applied to the rear-panel modulation input.

The generator comes with an oven-controlled crystal oscillator (OCXO) timebase. The timebase uses a third-overtone stress-compensated 10 MHz resonator in a thermostatically controlled oven. The timebase provides very high stability of 0.002 ppm low phase noise and very low aging. An optional rubidium oscillator may be added to reduce frequency aging still further and to improve temperature stability.

Optional I/Q inputs allow I and Q baseband signals to modulate carriers from 400 MHz to 4.05 GHz. This option also allows the I/Q modulator to be driven by an internal noise generator with adjustable amplitude and bandwidth. Rear-panel outputs allow the noise source to be viewed or used for other purposes.

Remote operation of the generator is supported with GPIB, RS-232 and Ethernet interfaces. All instrument functions can be controlled and read over any of the interfaces. Up to nine complete instrument configurations can be saved in non-volatile memory.

The SG384 is available in Britain through TTid (Thurlby Thandar instrument distribution) who represent all engineering test and measurement products from SRS.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DIN Temp sensors

M12 micro DIN enabled temperature sensors.

OMEGA’s M12 Thermocouple and Pt100 sensors have been designed for ease of installation and maintenance. Termination is achieved through a polarised M12 connector with a hand-tightened knurled nut completely eliminating wiring errors and, as no tools are required, downtime for a sensor change is drastically reduced.

Previously the only options available for cold end termination were traditional in-line plastic connectors or conventional terminal head arrangements where a more permanent, robust installation was required. Those were often supplied with vague IP ratings and a variety of electrical connections requiring additional thread adaptors and termination glands to complete the system.

This new range of M12 sensors overcomes all those difficulties. Having a vibration resistant construction, low probe mass and an ingress protection rating of IP67 they are ideally suited to a broad application range. Typical users include industrial, hygienic, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and research laboratories where process conditions such as outdoor, wet, high humidity, wash-down situations and other challenging environments exist.

They are available off-the-shelf with either a stainless steel or Inconel sheath in both 3mm and 6mm diameter with standard lengths of 200, 500, 750, 1000 and 1500mm. The range is further enhanced by a variety of process fittings including BSP, NPT and metric mounting threads, as well as Tri-clamp flanges for hygienic and vacuum applications.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finds root cause of upsets automatically

ExperTune’s PlantTriage software now automatically finds the root cause of process upsets.  The latest advance, “Root Cause Finder™”, automates the in-depth analysis that was previously performed by an experienced engineer.
The new technology works by evaluating correlations between instrument readings throughout an entire manufacturing facility.  Upsets that start in one part of the plant are reflected in the data patterns from other parts of the plant.  By evaluating the correlations between these patterns, and the time-shift from one to the other, PlantTriage is able to determine the most likely sources of process variation.
George Buckbee, Vice President of ExperTune, comments “Process plants can be very complex, and root cause can be difficult to find.  Our clients have been able to uncover the root cause of many difficult problems, often within minutes.  This is a real ‘needle in a haystack’ type of tool.”
Using advanced mathematical techniques, the Root Cause Finder™ works without requiring any process models or other prior knowledge of the process. 
Root Cause Finder™ results are displayed graphically, at the top of PlantTriage’s “Process Interaction Map”.  This display also shows other affected process areas.  The color-coded results show the extent and the time-lag of the cause.
John Gerry, President and Founder of ExperTune, adds “Our clients have seen literally millions of dollars in savings from people using PlantTriage Interaction Analysis.  With Root Cause Finder™, the average plant engineer can look like a genius.”