Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thermometer datalogger

The RDXL4SD is a portable Thermometer & Data Logger from Omega. It has built-in analysis functions. It can accept up-to 4 thermocouples from types J, K, T, E, R and S or 2 Pt100 Ω 2-wire sensors. The data loggers have a back lit display, showing up to 4 Channels simultaneously and capable of sampling, processing and displaying measurements without being connected to a computer.

They include a real-time SD memory card data logger (1 to 16 GB capacity) built-in clock and calendar and real time data recorder. Auto sampling time can be set from 1 to 3600 seconds and the user can also log data manually. These real-time data loggers save measured temperature data, along with the time information (year, month, date, minute, second) into the SD memory card. Data can be subsequently downloaded to Excel for analysis.

Quick ship valves!

The Quick Ship programme of Emerson Process Management has now been extended to cover selected Fisher® valves, assemblies and parts. Fast delivery of replacement products and spare parts is critical to keeping any plant running at maximum efficiency and Emerson’s Quick Ship programme supplies critical products and spares on reduced lead times so that customers can minimise costly down time.

Reduced lead times for Fisher valves,
selected valve assemblies and parts
Initially launched to cover Rosemount® temperature and pressure transmitters, then extended to include Rosemount and Micro Motion® flow products, Emerson has now established a dedicated Fisher Europe Quick Ship team that will check the availability of parts and manufacturing resources to meet the customers requested lead time.

The premium Quick Ship programme offers customers a reduced lead time for Fisher valves, and a lead time of less than three days on selected valve assemblies and parts. The Quick Ship option is available on Fisher sliding stem valves up to 6”, rotary valves up to 10” and butterfly valves up to 12”.

Quick Ship orders follow a different route through order processing and on to the dedicated Quick Ship workshop and team, in order to meet the agreed delivery time. To ensure that Quick Ship orders are fulfilled within the shortest possible timescale, Emerson has made a significant investment in the resources and infrastructure at its facilities in Székesfehérvár, Hungary.

As part of the Quick Ship programme, Emerson’s new Installed Base Tool offers major customers on-line access to their installed valves based on tag and serial numbers. This allows customers to select parts for individual valves with prices and lead-times. The tool also enables 24/7 on-line ordering of parts. 

The Installed Base Tool is being further developed to allow customers to upload valve information including certificates, pictures, history, diagnostics reports and even schedule maintenance or service calls directly.

“The start-up of the Fisher Europe Quick Ship programme has already helped many customers get replacement products and parts on site quickly,” said Hans Nieuwpoort, the Fisher Europe Quick Ship Programme Director. “This programme means that more of our customers have speedy access to critical replacements – minimising plant downtime and lost revenue.”

Data acquisition and display

Equipped with a new touch screen operator interface, the Yokogawa DXAdvanced Touch is a new model series of the highly capable DXAdvanced R4 data acquisition and display stations. The pressure-sensitive touch screen gives users a faster and more efficient way to navigate the display screens and normal operating modes of the unit, and it does so with no degradation of the display quality and clarity that all DX models are known for.

An operator can quickly and easily enter batch and message text information on a full-screen touch keyboard, and readily access trend history data with the calendar search functions. For biotech, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries, the Advanced Security option delivers full compliance with FDA regulation 21CFR Part 11, enabling all models to be used in any FDA program area that must comply with the regulation. This is complimented by a multi-batch option that allows channels to be grouped and recorded to discrete batch records with independent start and stop control.

Custom display screen support and an alarm annunciator display mode using ISA sequencing is also included- the DXAdvanced Touch becomes an intelligent annunciator system with data display and recording functions.

Two model ranges are offered- DX1000T with 2-12 universal inputs, 5.5” color display; and the larger DX2000T with 4-48 universal inputs and 10.4” color display.

Open network connectivity is a hallmark feature- DXAdvanced Touch can interface with PLCs and other control products as a data source or to add graphical data display and recording functions. MODBUS RTU and TCP, EtherNet/IP and PROFIBUS DP protocols allow installation on control networks. Up to 300 optional external I/O inputs can be brought into the DX2000T to build a large recording system.

VDTs for hydraulic proportional control

Thanks to their ability to be immersed or flooded by non-corrosive and non-degrading oils often used in hydraulic systems, LVDTs from RDP Electronics are ideal for providing feedback for control valve positions.

Proportional valve control can be used to manage direction and amount of fluid flow, or pressure within a system, are particularly useful in situations where system speed must be tightly controlled and where ramping up and down is needed to avoid sudden starts or stops. They can also provide precise control in applications where hydraulic pressure must be built up steadily. Because RDP’s LVDTs have a have a high-speed response and operational suitability over a wide range of temperatures, they can usually be incorporated in many proportional control valve applications.

Connector for pluggable grounding systems

Harting's new Han® GND industrial connector series uses an innovative design that makes it possible to execute grounding systems in a pluggable design.

The use of industrial connectors has been well-established in the electrical cabling of machines and systems for many years, offering the advantages of quick and error-free commissioning. Until now, however, grounding lines for potential equalisation have normally been permanently connected: a process which is relatively time-consuming and can be subject to errors.

The Harting solution is to provide a pluggable ground connection using the Han® GND. This single-pole connector in the robust IP 65 plastic housing is designed for stranded wires from 10-35 mm2, and is optionally available in crimp or axial screw termination. The latter has the advantage that the
lines can be connected without a special tool. A simple screwdriver is all it takes to achieve a quick and easy reliable connection. Extra connector mating security can be provided by the use of additional locking elements that prevent unintentional opening.

The Han® GND is based on a narrow, space-saving design with an economical plastic housing.

Multi-function USB DAQ modules

Adlink Technology has released its USB-1900 Series and USB-2401 USB DAQ modules. Equipped with built-in signal conditioning, the USB-powered Plug and Play USB DAQ modules deliver easy connection and accurate results for both portable measurement and machine automation applications. Featuring built-in signal conditioning, ADLINK USB DAQ modules enable direct measurement of most frequently applied signal sources which reduce manpower requirements and associated development costs while increasing overall accuracy.

All their USB DAQ modules feature USB power and removable screw-down terminals, for simplified device connectivity, and a multi-functional stand for fast and easy desktop, rail, or wall mounting. Additionally, a lockable USB cable secures connectivity. The modules also provide device ID setting by a rotary control for convenient identification of the active module in multiple-connection configurations.

"Adlink, having already developed and released over one hundred DAQ and DIO modules to the market, is pleased to leverage our accrued analog design expertise into the new USB DAQ modules.” Catherine Wu, Director of their Measurement and Automation Product Segment said. “Adlink USB DAQ modules provide comprehensive advantages and a cost-effective option. Our combined features make them not only ideal for users requiring portable measurement in basic research and data monitoring scenarios, but also for machine automation applications with limited space for I/O expansion.”

This collection offers the USB-1900 series, consisting of USB-1901 and USB-1902 models of 16-bit 250 kS/s DAQ modules. Also in the series is the USB-1903, with additional built-in precision current-to-voltage resistors allowing direct measurement of current signals from 0 to 20 mA. Rounding out the USB DAQ category is the USB-2401, a 24-bit four-channel simultaneous-sampling universal DAQ module supporting sampling rates up to 1.6 kS/s and a more flexible signal conditioning circuit such as voltage, current, strain, load cell, thermocouple, and RTD measurement. The line is ideally suited for easily accomplished deployment and superior accuracy when measuring temperature, stress, strain, and other factors in diverse applications.

The USB DAQ modules include ADLINK’s free U-Test utility, allowing direct operation and testing of all functions with no requirement for coding or programming. Driver support is provided for Windows 7/Vista/XP, in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and 3rd party software support accommodates LabVIEW & MATLAB.

New Sales Manager

Cobham Technical Services has appointed Dr Nigel Atkinson as Sales Manager for its Vector Fields Software product lines. He will be based at Cobham's Kidlington site in Britain, and responsible for the worldwide sales of Cobham's electromagnetic design software outside of the Americas. The product range includes the company's renowned electromagnetic design, simulation and optimisation software, Opera for the simulation of a wide range of electromagnetic applications including electric machines, magnets, and charged particle beams, plus the Concerto package for antenna, RF and microwave design.

"This is an exciting time for electromagnetic simulation software providers", states Nigel Atkinson. "In addition to our traditional markets, the renewable power and automotive sectors are undergoing rapid change - with significant growth in the development of wind farms and hybrid vehicles. These are both areas where Cobham's Opera and Concerto software tools are already helping designers shorten development time significantly. With new application-specific design environments being rolled-out as part of Cobham's new software releases in applications such as transformer design, advanced finite-element analysis techniques are now available and accessible to every level of designer. I see tremendous opportunities for growth of our business internationally, particularly in a number of the key Asian economies, as well as further potential to develop our positions in established global markets".

Nigel Atkinson brings extensive knowledge of simulation software, with in-depth technical experience in finite element modelling, including software development, as well as managerial experience in support and sales functions. Prior to joining Cobham, he was a UK Account Manager for a leading engineering simulation software company.

Nigel Atkinson holds a PhD from Bath University (GB), which was awarded for research into the electromagnetic design of MRI scanners - a design field in which Cobham's Opera software is widely used.

"We are extremely pleased to have someone of Nigel's experience join our sales team", says Dr Kevin Ward, Head of Cobham's Vector Fields Software business in Kidlington. "We believe that his technical background in finite element modelling, combined with his commercial knowledge of our potential customer base, will help us broaden our reach significantly."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Power supply enhancements

The Siemens Industry Automation Division is expanding the Sitop power supply portfolio with the PSU100D switched-mode power supply systems.

The new products are single-phase devices with an attractive price/performance ratio for direct mounting on a wall. Screw installation means that a mounting rail is not necessary. The rugged, low-profile aluminum casing with IP20 degree of protection requires little space and permits mounting in different positions. The devices meet all the basic requirements for a power supply and are particularly suitable for installation in apparatus and machines, as well as for use in automation solutions with no standard rail mounting.  The wide temperature range from minus 10 to plus 70 degrees Celsius supports universal implementation even under harsh environmental conditions.

The six fan-free variants of the power supplies provide a regulated supply of 24 volts with rated output currents ranging from 2.1 to 6.25 amperes (A) and 12 volts  with 3 or 8.33 A. Another 24 V version with an output current of 12 A uses a fan for cooling purposes. For higher outputs, two devices of the same type can be connected in parallel. Single-phase connection to almost any public and industrial supply system is possible thanks to the wide-range input of 85 to 264 V AC, radio interference class B as well as certification in accordance with CE and cULus (Underwriters Laboratories certification for Canada and the USA). The output voltage can be set between 22 and 28 V using potentiometers in the 24 V variants, and between 11 and 14 V in the 12 V variant. A green LED indicates the operating status "Output voltage OK." Electronic short-circuit, overload and overvoltage protection features ensure safety in the event of a fault.

Non-radiometric density solution for tailings thickener underflow

OPTIMASS 7300 installed in tailings
thickener underflow line
A Coriolis mass flowmeter to a tailings thickener underflow line to provide a non-radiometric density solution for an Australian coal producer has been applied sucessfully by Krohne.

One of Australia largest and most established open cut coal mines in located in Central Queensland. The adjacent coal handling and preparation plant has production capacity of greater than 10 million tonnes per annum of coking coal and at current rates of production, reserves that can support the operation for a further 50 years. Reliable thickener underflow density measurement allows this facility to optimise its tailings disposal schemes to recover water, minimise tailings impoundment areas and comply with regulations over the life of the facility.

Radiometric density measurement has traditionally been employed on thickener underflow lines as they provide a non-contact solution to the high solids, high abrasion environment present in minerals processing. However the high total cost and regulatory requirements of owning these radiometric devices is becoming prohibitive in a competitive, cost and labour intensive production environment. Aside from the initial purchase price, licensing, transportation of nuclear source, documentation and administrative controls, the radiometric devices require ongoing training of on-site radiation safety officers who can perform calibration, wipe tests and ensure regulatory compliance. Add to this decommissioning and disposal costs and one can see the driver for a robust, non-radiometric density solution.

Successfully applying non-radiometric density monitoring to the underflow line gives the engineers, operators, and plants information needed to optimize the thickener for the intended duty. Krohne was selected because of their knowledge and expertise in abrasive slurry applications combined with the OPTIMASS single straight measuring tube to provide a reliable, robust solution for the underflow line.

The straight-tube OPTIMASS 7000 series Coriolis mass flowmeters have been successfully used on abrasive fluids such as slurries (minerals processing) and sand & water mixtures for over 15 years. In these applications a single straight measuring tube will always offer clear advantages over other designs with tube geometries that suffer erosion and premature failure of flow dividers and bends in the abrasive fluid stream. Other specific problems with abrasive fluids are typified by their tendency to separate out with the heavier particles falling to the bottom of the pipeline and the carrier fluid flowing above in a stratified flow. Krohne offers expertise and application guidance to highlight potential problems so they are mitigated during the design, planning and installation of the meter.

Reduced capital and operating costs, as well as reduced environmental impact have made OPTIMASS a permanent part of the thickener process.

New high-end spectrum analyser

The R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer from Rohde & Schwarz outperforms all comparable high-end instruments on the market in both RF performance and bandwidth. For the first time, developers are able to view multiple measurement applications at a glance as well as analyze signal interactions – two important features that make complex measurement tasks significantly easier.

The high-end R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer comes in three models that cover the frequency ranges 2 Hz to 8 GHz, 13 GHz or 26.5 GHz. The R&S FSW was specially designed to meet the requirements of development laboratories in the aerospace, defense and communications industries. The result is reflected in its excellent technical features.

The practical 12.1" touchscreen is the first feature that catches users' attention. The MultiView function allows users to display the results of different applications on the touchscreen at the same time, enabling them to keep track of even the most complex signal analyses and find errors more easily. An additional benefit is the elimination of time-consuming switching between measurement applications.

At 10 kHz carrier offset, the R&S FSW achieves a phase noise specification of less than
–137 dBc (1 Hz), which is up to 10 dB less than comparable instruments on the market. This is especially important for developers of RF components and complete systems for radar applications. By taking advantage of the analyzer's excellent phase noise specification, they can achieve more stable radar signals. Equipped with the R&S FSW-K6 option, the R&S FSW also supports comprehensive analysis of pulsed signals, e.g. for radar applications. Its broad analysis bandwidth of up to 160 MHz allows the R&S FSW to measure wideband, hopping and chirp signals, which makes it ready today for the requirements of tomorrow's wireless standards such as the 802.11ac. Developers can also detect spurious emissions extremely quickly with the R&S FSW thanks to its low inherent noise and its ability to rapidly analyze wide frequency ranges, even when using narrow resolution bandwidths.

The R&S FSW is the perfect instrument for developers of wireless communications base stations and components. They especially appreciate the analyzer's broad 160 MHz demodulation bandwidth and multi-standard radio analysis function: The combination of these two features in a single instrument makes it possible for the first time to simultaneously measure multiple mobile radio and wireless standards at different frequencies. Users can easily spot signal interaction among the standards.

Josef Wolf, Director of the Spectrum Analysis, Network Analysis and EMC Subdivision at Rohde & Schwarz, points out: "These measurements are essential for multi-standard base stations of the future. That is why we have integrated the multi-standard radio analyzer into the R&S FSW. This feature, combined with the large touchscreen display, provides functionality that is unique on the market. The optimum analyzer for tomorrow's developments is now available today."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Unified automation for buildings

ISA launches new standards committee on building automation

Fairgreen House in Galway (IRL)
The International Society of Automation (ISA) has extended its standards reach with the creation of a committee on building automation. ISA111, Unified Automation for Buildings, will development standards and guidelines to communicate the necessary information to enable building subsystems to be managed and to interact so that an individual building, a local collection of buildings such as a campus, or a geographically diverse collection of buildings appear to a user to be a single, coordinated, cohesive building automation system.

The committee will define the terminology, concepts, characteristics of automating building subsystems, and building automation architectural models necessary to unify the management of the variety of building automation subsystems. Direct communication between or among the variety of building subsystems without building management system involvement will also be considered and defined as appropriate.

ISA111 will not detail how any individual building subsystem works or is automated, but rather will address how the variety of subsystems can be monitored, managed, and interact in a cohesive and unified manner to ensure the safety and security of personnel, buildings and building automation systems, and to meet building functional and business case needs. “This committee has drawn great interest from across the global automation community,” stated Jacob Jackson of Assurity Design Group, who will serve as co-chair of ISA111. “This ranges from major manufacturing companies and vendors, to architect/engineering firms and integrators, all the way to government building authorities. We have also had strong interest from key organizations such as the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and InfoComm International.”

The launching of ISA111 follows the establishment earlier this year of an ISA Building Automation Systems Technical Interest Group. This group, similar to other ISA special-interest divisions and interest groups, brings together building automation professionals within the larger automation community for events, information exchange, and networking. The group will provide resources and support for the new ISA111.

Much of the work of ISA111 will be conducted via web meetings. However, the committee will hold an inaugural meeting on 17 October 2011, 2:30–5:15 p.m., in Mobile, Alabama, in conjunction with ISA Automation Week 2011.

Long life pH sensor available

Rugged Rosemount® Analytical RB Sensor resists poisoning in scrubber applications
Emerson Process Management has added a new rugged pH sensor line to the company’s popular pH product families. The new Rosemount® Analytical Model RB Sensor is designed for optimum sensor life in demanding scrubber applications.

pH sensors are most vulnerable to failure due to poisoning of the reference junction. The new RB sensor features a proprietary multi-junction that hinders reference poisoning. This design is particularly successful against the aggressive sulphides found in scrubbers. The unique multi-junction reference chamber of the RB extends survivability. In addition, the sensor is built of chemically resistant Kynar adding to its long life.

“Now, our customers have an exceptional range of long-life pH sensors from which to choose,” said Linda Meyers, senior product manager. “Our PERpH-X™ line of sensors allows extended operation in high heat and pressure. The popular TUpH™ family resists coating in applications with high suspended solids. And now the RB fits nicely into the line when chemical resistance is the primary challenge.”

Instead of replacing the entire sensor, the Model RB Sensor can be simply reassembled inside its titanium sheath high-pressure body, reducing costs for replacement and shipping.

The sensor allows for optional installation methods including in-line, submerged or ball-valve insertion.

Secure PCB connection

Souriau’s secure PCB connection for hostile environments, its 8D Double Flange (38999 Series III) enables the panel fixing to be separated from the PCB connection. This is an elegant, robust, high-performance solution for connecting up PCBs in boxes whilst retaining all the flexibility of a standard interface.

The first flange of the 8D Double Flange is fixed to the panel using a jam nut mounting system, and the second flange is there to hold the printed circuit board in position. This separation between the two means that shocks and vibrations are not transmitted to the contacts, ensuring greater robustness.

The company can supply MIL-STD-1560 layouts in all sizes (from 9 to 25). The contacts have no shoulder, which means it is also possible to solder them to boards of varying thickness by reflow or wave soldering.

A zinc-nickel protective coating is offered as standard. In addition to being RoHS compliant, it also has the advantage of offering high resistance to salt spray, and keeping ensuring good continuity of electrical contact at the same time.

This means that the ground can be optimally connected to the PCB, helping provide better EMI protection between the connector and the upper side of the PCB.
This will be particularly valuable in the case of a multi-layer PCB with external metallisation.

Finally, Souriau can offer its customers a complete 3D CAD (Step) modelling package, to help system engineers achieve accurate sizing of their boxes.

Perfect match in Brazil extends industrial software offering

Siemens is extending its industrial software portfolio through the acquisition of Active SA, Santo André, in Brazil, supplier of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) software, principally applied to the pharmaceutical and bioengineering industries. This takeover enables Industry Automation, a Division of the Siemens Industry Sector, to further develop its leading global position in the industrial software market. Both parties agreed not to disclose the purchase price for Active SA.

Founded in 1995 and operating chiefly in Brazil and Mexico with a staff of around 50 employees, Active is one of the leading MES providers of pharmaceutical and bioengineering software in Latin America. The company claims that around half the medicinal drugs manufactured in Brazil are produced using MES solutions from Active. Following the takeover, the company is set to become part of the Industrial Automation Systems Business Unit, whose CEO Eckard Eberle commented: "Active's operations constitute a perfect match with the Siemens industry software portfolio. Active is firmly established in the market, boasts outstanding expertise in production processes and for over fifteen years has been a recognized partner and preferred software supplier to many renowned companies."

"We will maintain our successful course. Our customers can continue to rely on our excellent products and solutions while, under the Siemens umbrella, having a strong partner to provide investment security," said the two managing directors and previous owners of Active, Marcio Moretti and Rodrigo Alvarez.

In recent years, the Division has acquired a number of leading industrial software providers in their respective fields including UGS in USA (2007), Innotec in Germany (2008), and Elan Software Systems in France (2009).

Concentrated communications

The updated NET Concentrator System® (NCS) from Moore Industries provides users with increased options for communications. With the addition of the new EMM Interface Module, the process control and distributed I/O network now comes standard with an Ethernet (MODBUS/TCP) port and dual, independent MODBUS RTU (RS-485) ports. One or both of the MODBUS RTU ports can be configured as MODBUS master ports, allowing the NCS to poll other MODBUS RTU slaves with the network polling functions of a typical MODBUS master.

Previously, the NCS could only act as a MODBUS slave. The update allows the NCS to be used as either a single or dual MODBUS master, allowing it to provide simultaneous Ethernet and dual MODBUS RTU master/slave communications.

The company has also streamlined the configuration process with the latest update to the NCS. Users can now view, select and set operating parameters within minutes for both Ethernet and the dual MODBUS parameters through the Internet Explorer Web browser or their free Intelligent PC Configuration Software.

The NCS provides a real-time signal gateway between the field or factory floor and control strategies. It is designed to work in demanding industrial applications and settings, including the harshest temperature settings. Its ambient temperature range of -40°C to +85°C (-40°F to +185°F) allows it to be installed in conditions beyond the capabilities of comparable systems. In addition, its 20-bit input and 18-bit output resolution matches or exceeds the accuracy of the most precise process transmitters on the market, easily surpassing the specifications claimed by other I/O systems.

Multi-channel signal conditioning

Modular instrumentation system is suitable for input from many transducer types

Thanks to design modularity and the capability to be connected to several different transducer types, the Modular 600 system from RDP Electronics is widely used in universities and research establishments.

The Modular 600 is a fully featured microprocessor instrumentation system, which also incorporates configurable analogue outputs. Its modular design concept, provides complete flexibility and expandability, accepting inputs from up to 164 channels in either free standing or rack form. It can be tailored to measure several engineering parameters including displacement, pressure, load/force, strain, torque and vibration. There is a family of signal conditioning modules suitable for LVDTs, load cells and strain gauges for pre-amplifying transducers before they are connected to logging equipment such as A & D cards.. It is straightforward to add or remove modules by simply unplugging them from the front panel and making the necessary switch changes. A key element in the Modular 600 system is the 650 digital I/O and data storage module that provides a real-time LED display of any selected channel in the system and also acts as a data hub into which a PC can be connected. Serial data can be sent via RS232, RS422 or RS485.

TFT display module

LED backlight provides user brightness control

Hitachi Europe, Display Products Group (DPG) has announced the introduction of a new compact 8.0" wide aspect ratio TFT display module. The new TX20D28VM2BAB has a display resolution of 800 x 480 pixels (WVGA), an integrated LVDS data interface and delivers excellent optical performance.

The new transmissive display continues Hitachi’s integration of robust high brightness LED backlights in medium size TFT display modules. The white LED backlight helps to provide excellent image uniformity and delivers a brightness of 550nits with a half brightness lifetime of 40K hours. A contrast ratio of 600:1 ensures display images are clear and bright.

Ideal for applications in high brightness environments where the lifetime of the backlight is not a critical requirement, the user has direct access to the LED backlight driving circuit. By driving the LEDs with a current of 20mA, a higher brightness of 900nits can be achieved. This will however reduce the half brightness lifetime of the backlight to typically 20K hours.

Commenting Mark Stephenson, Product Manager for Hitachi Display Products Group said “Excellent image uniformity and high colour saturation make the new TX20D28 display module ideal for applications such as in industrial user interfaces, domotics, marine navigation and media entertainment systems” He continued, “The 15:9 wide aspect ratio format of the TX20D28 is increasingly popular, allowing graphical user interfaces to be designed for many different application environments while the LVDS interface aids ease of integration with single board computers.”

The TX20D28VM2BAB display module features compact dimensions of 189mm (w) x 120mm (h) x 7.5mm (d) and weighs 170g. A 20-pin LVDS data interface supports a colour palette of up to 262k colours. The display module will operate safely and reliably at temperatures between -20°C and +70°C.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

High speed measurement option for precision power analyser

A new high-speed data-capture option has been introduced for the Yokogawa WT1800 precision power analyser.

The new /HS option from Yokogawa, provides fast, accurate measurements of power parameters such as voltage, current, power, torque, speed and mechanical power with millisecond response. This allows it to capture numeric data on the change of status during one rotation of a motor when the motor is started, when the rotation speed changes, or when the load condition varies.

This new function takes advantage of the WT1800's sampling frequency (up to 2 MS/s) and its unique ability to carry out calculations on measured parameters in real-time.

The new high-speed data-capturing function can measure 3-phase voltage/current/power and torque/rotation speed/mechanical power every 5 ms (when external synchronisation is off) or every 1-100 ms (depending on the clock signal frequency) if external synchronisation is on.
It transmits a block of data every second to an internal or external memory or to a PC using a communications interface. Every second, the WT1800 updates its displays with the previous one second of data.

The average characteristic is set using the cutoff frequency of the high-speed filter for measured data during the 5 ms or 1-100 ms period. The cutoff frequency can be varied from 1 Hz to 1 kHz in 1 Hz steps. Wiring configurations include single phase for DC input, 3-phase 4-wire and 3-phase 3-wire (3V/3A).

The new firmware will also support German and Chinese menus and messages.

Major target markets for the WT1800 with the high-speed option include motor and inverter evaluation in the automotive and aerospace sectors as well as alternative energy and power conditioning applications.

Semiconductor software upgraded

Keithley Instruments has introduced an upgrade to its popular Keithley Test Environment (KTE) semiconductor test software. KTE Version 5.3 is designed for use with their S530 Parametric Test Systems, the company's fastest, most cost-effective line of process control monitoring solutions to date.

KTE is a powerful test development and execution software platform that has served hundreds of semiconductor fabs worldwide with their previous-generation parametric test systems. Now, Keithley's S530 test systems can leverage the same industry-proven software platform, providing flexible test plan development and high speed test execution for even the most demanding production environments. Users of existing Keithley S400 and S600 Series parametric testers especially benefit from KTE Version 5.3 on the S530 because existing measurement routines can easily be ported to the S530, and identical test plans can be shared between existing testers and new S530 systems.

Extending the KTE test development and execution environment to S530 systems brings together the advantages of Keithley's three decades of field experience in parametric test code development with the fastest, most advanced system hardware available in the market. S530 instrumentation provides the speed and wide measurement range that parametric test applications like process control monitoring demand.

Keithley is committed to supporting its parametric test customers by providing new test systems that are highly compatible with its earlier systems. This commitment to maintaining software compatibility ensures a smoother migration path and protects fabs' test software investment when adding newer, faster testers to their test floors. For new Keithley parametric test customers, this commitment to system software continuity means they can be confident their test systems are based on industry-proven software.

For customers already using earlier versions of KTE, KTE V5.3 speeds and simplifies integrating S530 test systems into their test floors:

The same test recipes and test plans can be used for all Keithley automated parametric test systems, which not only shortens the learning curve for test engineers and operators working with multiple systems but offers a smooth migration path to protect the fab's test development investment when adding new high speed systems to the test floor or replacing older ones.

Users can continue working with the familiar user libraries they've developed for earlier Keithley systems over the years after recompiling and rebuilding them for use with the S530. Typically, only minimal debugging is required.

KTE V5.3 simplifies creating new user access point (UAP) source code for conditional test sequencing and customizing the flow of the S530's system operation. UAP source code developed for earlier systems is applicable to S530 systems with minimal adjustments.

The tools within KTE provide identical functionality for all Keithley parametric test platforms.

KTE for the S530 is designed to run on a Linux operating system on a standard industrial PC to ensure long-term stability and ease of maintenance. The software has been optimized for speed and extended reliability in high throughput production test environments. S530 systems running KTE V5.3 can address all the DC I-V and C-V measurements required in process control monitoring, process reliability monitoring, and device characterization. They are optimized for use in production parametric test environments that must accommodate a broad mix of products or wherever wide application flexibility and fast test plan development are

Monday, September 19, 2011

New range of 6GHz PXI solutions

Pickering Interfaces is expanding its range of 3U PXI RF/Microwave solutions with the introduction of 4 new solutions with frequency coverage to 6GHz.

• The 40-880 is a 10MHz to 6GHz solid state SPDT switch available as dual, quad, hex and octal configurations.

• The 40-881 is a 10MHz to 6GHz solid state SP6T available as a single or dual version.

• The 40-882 is a 10MHz to 6GHz solid state SP4T switch available in single, dual, triple or quad configurations.

The 6GHz switch solutions occupy one, two or three 3U PXI slots depending on the configuration.

The 41-182 is a 10MHz to 6GHz solid state programmable attenuator available in single, dual or triple configurations, each attenuator having an attenuation range of 0 to 31.75dB in 0.25dB steps.

All the new 6GHz solutions have been designed to have consistent RF performance with low VSWR and high switch isolation through the use of high levels of RF screening and SMA connection solutions.. Each product uses solid state switches to ensure a very long service life when used within their rating. All switches include automatic termination of unused paths to reduce VSWR effects in connecting cables.

The 6GHz solutions are an excellent alternative to the use of electromechanical relay or microwave switch based designs. The designs provide a higher frequency alternative to electromechanical relay designs and a higher density, lower cost alternative to microwave switch designs, while offering faster operation and longer life.

All the new designs can be supported by any PXI compliant 3U PXI chassis and are supported by Pickering Interfaces Modular LXI chassis for applications requiring Ethernet based control.

HMI – build versus buy...

Any manufacturer of complex machines or vehicles that include HMIs must face a crucial decision: should you build your own human-machine interfaces or should you buy these vital components ready-made or customized from an outside source?

The build versus buy decision is both important and complex, involving many tough questions.

Is developing the necessary hardware and software in-house the most cost-effective solution? Is such an engineering project consistent with your core competencies? Do your engineers have the time to develop these devices in house? Have you calculated the opportunity costs involved? Will a commercially available product line provide the features and operating reliability you require at a return on investment (ROI) you can afford?

A closer look
To help you solve the build versus buy dilemma, let us take a closer look at what is involved in designing, building, testing and maintaining a human machine interface system by outlining a typical product development cycle.

Begin by making an honest assessment of your engineering capabilities. Given your company’s core competencies and priorities as well as the opportunity costs involved. Is the design of a human-machine interface terminal the best use of precious engineering resources?

Design Phase
The first consideration in the engineering design phase is whether your engineers have the experience to design and build complex human-machine interface.

Next, consider that many aspects of electrical and mechanical design are highly specific, if not unique, to the requirements and constraints of the industrial environment. To mount components so they can withstand vibration and shock for example, or to seal displays and keypads from liquids, dust and other environmental hazards is highly specialized knowledge that most engineering design teams struggle to master. Developing those skills from scratch is a costly and time-consuming effort.

Finally, do not discount the complexity of software development for even a simple human-machine interface. Today, most displays provide graphical feedback to the human operator and intuitive navigational elements with a three-dimentional “look and feel”. The demands of programming in a graphical environment are many times more complex than programming for character-only displays.

It is important to prototype early and often in the design phase of a new product. Assess your company’s ability to develop mechanical prototypes quickly and cost effectively. Do your engineers have access to a 3D printer, for example, or will they have to send CAD files to an outside service?

How will your engineering team address the issues of testing both the hardware and software components? Does your team have the capability to design and build test fixtures and write the testing software? Also, fixtures and software must be created prior to the final assembly of a product. Does your company have the equipment to perform environmental tests?

How many iterations of a design will your product development schedule allow? There are many potential failure points in the design and manufacture of a human-machine interface. Multiple re-designs and prototypes can use up critical weeks of development time. Yet most complex engineering projects require from three to six prototype stages to fully optimize the final product.

Final Testing and Certification
The final testing and certification could be a demanding discipline. Depending on the environment in which the machine will be used, HMIs may have to be tested for operation over for example extreme temperature ranges, as well as for thermal shock as devices are taken instantaneously from one temperature extreme to another. They may have to meet humidity requirements or be tested for sealing against immersion or high volume liquid spray. They may need to meet vibration and shock tests, and they must withstand electrostatic discharge and electromagnetic interference.

These tests are expensive and time consuming. Many of the environmental tests cannot be performed without specialized equipment and must be performed in a special laboratory. Regulatory certifications can take weeks or even months to schedule and pass.

Release to Manufacturing
The final release to manufacturing involves the generation of many types of documentation, including manufacturing documents, assembly drawings and flow diagrams. Repair manuals are required for service technicians and operator manuals for end users. The documentation task alone for an HMI involves many man hours of coordinated work, as well as a documentation tracking and updating system. Is your company ready to take on this task?

Sustaining Engineering
Once a human machine interface is incorporated into your product, the issues of maintenance, repair or replacement are major cost factors that must be planned for up front. If you source a terminal from a third party, product maintenance and repair will be covered by warranty, so no internal engineering effort is required on your part. In addition, when an HMI that you design requires an upgrade or becomes obsolete, your engineers will be responsible for the redesign.

Product Management
One of the hardest costs to calculate is opportunity cost. If you commit engineering resources to the development of a non-core competency human-machine interface, what other more important or more lucrative projects may be affected by this decision?

Risk factors must be honestly assessed by the product managers. These run the gamut from the risk of losing key members of an in-house design team to the need to change a crucial specification, such as screen size, in the middle of product development. Risks are also involved in the availability of component parts, particularly if you need them in low quantities. Once the product is in production, there are also the additional costs of ongoing maintenance and support.

The Bottom Line
Industry experts agree that the build versus buy question in any manufacturing industry finally comes down to a handful of key questions. Three questions are crucial to consider: time to market, risk assessment and cost analysis. All three are subject to the overriding question of core competency and opportunity costs.

If designing and building reliable terminals for your company’s line of products is not a core competency of your business, then the fastest, safest and most cost-effective course is to partner with a reputable manufacturer of human machine interfaces.

Hydrogen analysers for high CO & H2S conditions

Quantitech has launched two new hydrogen analysers from H2scan which can uniquely operate in high levels of Carbon Monoxide (up to 20%) and Hydrogen Sulphide (up to 10%).

Commenting on the market potential for these new sensors, Quantitech MD Keith Golding says: "Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) are common contaminants in the Oil and Gas sector, so the ability to measure hydrogen at such high levels of contamination will be a major advantage to this sector, particularly in work with Syngas."

There are two versions of the new hydrogen analysers; the HY-OPTIMA™ 740 is suitable for process applications not requiring explosion-proof certification, and the 1740 is IS-rated for hazardous locations. Both offer real-time indication, accurate hydrogen monitoring within multi-component and varying-component gas compositions, and do not require a reference gas.

These new models build on the H2scan range of highly accurate and reliable hydrogen specific analysers that are proving extremely popular in the field. For example, Steve Bernardin, Analyser Engineer at BP Cherry Point says, “We’ve used H2scan’s analysers for over a year in challenging, contaminated settings and are extremely happy with their performance. The expansion of the HY-OPTIMA line is extremely beneficial to the process, refinery, and petrochemical industries."

Test kits free in Britain!

Fluke is offering free electrical test kits and software worth around £500 to customers in Britain purchasing either a Fluke 1654B Multifunction Installation Tester or a Fluke 6500 PAT Tester at the same time as a Fluke 411D Laser Distance Meter. These are just two of the special offers, available until 31st December 2011, shown on the Fluke web site . To claim the free kit the customer simply downloads the offer voucher from the website and returns it completed to Fluke with proof of purchase.

The extended memory Fluke 1654B Multifunction Installation Tester is designed for high productivity testing and verification of virtually all electrical wiring installations in domestic, commercial and industrial applications to meet the latest BS7671 IEE 17th Edition wiring regulations, while offering smooth DC-sensitive RCD type B testing and milliohm resolution for loop and line testing. The rugged, easy-to-use, all-in-one Fluke 6500 PAT Tester features all the required tests necessary to comply with the most recent revisions to the IET Code of Practice and conforms to safety standard EN61010, while offering ‘one touch’ operation and fast throughput. The Fluke 411D is a professional-grade laser distance measuring tool that is fast and easy to use. While offering the most advanced measuring technology with a button positioned for one-handed measurements, addition, subtraction and area can all be simply computed on the large display. It measures distances up to 30m, with 3mm accuracy, using a 2-line display.

The free kits comprise either a true-rms Fluke 365 AC/DC Clamp Meter with a small, thin detachable jaw or a Fluke 117 Electricians Digital Multimeter (DMM) with non-contact voltage detection. The kit also includes either Fluke DMS 0100/INST software for 1654B installation testing results, offering easy-to-use administration and reporting in compliance with BS7671 IEE 17th Edition Wiring regulations and providing printing of test reports compatible with a range of standard certificate requirements including NICEIC and IET, or, for 6500 PAT testing results, Fluke DMS 0702/PAT software which enables test results to be printed quickly and easily by UUT or as a listing, with an export function for listings in text or Excel format. In addition, the free kit includes a 2AC VoltAlert™ that indicates the presence of AC voltage through insulation, and a set of Fluke TL175 TwistGuard™ Test Leads, the only test leads on the market with adjustable length test tips for use in changing measurement situations, meeting new electrical safety requirements to reduce tip exposure while providing the versatility needed for most measurements.