Friday, April 6, 2012

Industrial remote access!

Industrial Remote Communication: Siemens restructures industrial remote access portfolio
Megatrends such as urbanisation, globalisation, population growth and climate change are making whole new demands on politics and industry, calling for solutions which exceed the scope of classical teleservice and telecontrol systems. With a new product portfolio for mobile radio routers, Siemens is taking up this challenge, concentrating its existing remote access solutions under a new umbrella: “Industrial Remote Communication”. The changes are aimed at extending existing solutions for remote data exchange and access and developing new ones.

Whether remote accessing of distant systems, remote maintenance of components distributed across the globe or remote control of distant process stations, the application scope for solutions under the heading of teleservice and telecontrol is enormous, spanning across many different industries. “Driven by the process of increasing globalisation, but also by developments such as urbanisation and population growth, the significance of network- based technologies is on the increase”, says Hans Schmenger, Head of Product Business Development for Telecontrol at Siemens AG in Karlsruhe (D). With its new “Industrial Remote Communication” product portfolio, Siemens has concentrated its existing product offering in this field to enable the development of new remote applications.

Right from its inception, “Industrial Remote Communication” will encompass an array of existing, market tested solutions such as the Simatic-Net products, which permit data exchange or access to systems using UMTS and GPRS mobile radio networks. Solutions from Simatic TeleService, the IPC Remote Manager and the Siemens Remote Support Services also form part of the portfolio.

The benefits of these network-based solutions are many and varied: The Tele- Control Professional system, for instance, is used for telecontrol solutions in infrastructure applications such as oil and gas pipelines, water and wastewater or in the energy industry. Using what are in some cases widely differing telecommunication networks, remote monitoring points and measuring stations are linked to control centers to transmit readings and control signals.

But in production environments too, these systems can be used to ensure efficient plant monitoring and consequently energy savings, for instance through monitoring what can be very large numbers of outstations and measuring points.

Alongside these already established applications, the Siemens Industry Automation Division has also developed a number of new solutions for its new product portfolio. The high bandwidths enabled by new transmission technologies and radio standards allow the transmission of ever greater volumes of data, including even high-resolution video clips. Using these technologies, new applications are opening up in fields such as mobility technology, including video transmissions from trains, data links for automatic ticket vending machines, infotainment services and on-board internet, or proactive monitoring of vehicle technology (telemetry). Other fields of application are already in prospect for condition monitoring of wind or solar power plants and smart grid management.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chief technical officer appointed

ABB has appointed Prith Banerjee to its Executive Committee in the role of Chief Technology Officer. Banerjee, 51, will start midyear 2012 and will be based in Zurich.

He joins ABB from Hewlett Packard, where he was Senior Vice President of Research and Director of HP Labs. Prior to that, Banerjee was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as well as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Banerjee has also held senior positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at Northwestern University. In 2000, he founded AccelChip, Inc., a developer of products and services for electronic design automation that was acquired by Xilinx in 2006. He succeeds Peter Terwiesch, who became head of ABB in Germany and manager of ABB’s Central Europe region in July 2011.

“Prith is a creative and entrepreneurial researcher and executive with a wealth of experience in the business and academic worlds,” said Joe Hogan, ABB’s chief executive officer. “He is well placed to help ABB build on its heritage of technology innovation and leadership.”

Banerjee has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Discount on T&M instruments in Europe

Keithley Instruments is offering 20% off list price on a range of broad-purpose Test & Measurement instruments to its European customers. The offer is available for a limited period of time, starting with immediate effect and ending on June 30, 2012. 

The offer includes instruments from the following product families:
* Source&Measure SourceMeter Instruments (SMUs)
* Integrated Switch/Multimeter Instruments 
* A range of programmable DC Power Supplies

Fibre-optic pioneer strengthens growth support

FBGS, manufacturer of innovative Fibre Bragg Gratings using a draw tower process have appointed two new staff members to support the company’s growth into Europe and North America.

Nick Plescia and David Johnson have joined the company to help coordinate and support commercial activities in these regions.

 Nick is a fibre optic specialist and is already known to many within the industry. He is the North American sales contact for FBGS, based from his home in Montreal (CDN).

David comes from the test & measurement industry and has worked in marketing and sales roles with traditional sensor technologies in South Africa and Britain where he has been responsible for establishing routes to market and the introduction of new sensor technologies.

CEO Hugo Mertens stated “this is a particularly exciting time for our company as the unique strengths of our Draw Tower Gratings are helping our customers develop solutions for many challenging sensing applications. The appointment of new staff in these territories represents a critical milestone for the company and the technology, as we continue to respond proactively to customer enquiries the World over.”

Thermo-paramagnetic Oxygen analyser

Michell Instruments has released details of the XTP601, the latest addition to its range of oxygen analysers. Based on the highly stable thermo-paramagnetic sensor, the XTP601 provides fast, accurate measurements of oxygen levels in various background gases.

Capable of measuring Oxygen from 0-1% up to 0-25% and suppressed zero ranges, such as 90-100%, the analyser provides solutions for applications ranging from biogas plants to monitoring blanketing gases in oil tankers.

The XTP601 is configurable to suit specific applications and budgets with three options:
• Blind transmitter version (settings, controls and readings accessible via application software)
• Transmitter with status LEDs (settings, controls and readings accessible via application software)
• Full display analyser (settings and readings are accessible with on-screen controls or via application software)

All of these options may be rated for either safe or hazardous area use. Hazardous area classifications are available for ATEX, IEC Ex with CCSAUS pending approval.

The full display version of the XTP601 has a touch screen interface to enable easy operation without needing to remove the lid. This means that users can calibrate, change settings and interrogate the instrument in the hazardous area without the need for a ‘hot permit’. Menus allow easy access to information on oxygen concentration; analyser status; a graph showing oxygen trends over a user-defined time period; alarm history; minimum and maximum concentrations and other parameters to aid diagnosis of plant conditions.

Free software is available for the XTP601 to enable users to monitor, operate and calibrate any version of the instrument remotely via a PC or control system.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Benefits of close-coupled instrumentation for leakage control

A diverse range of flanged products aimed at eliminating potential leak paths in process instrumentation connections will be highlighted at the Global Petroleum Show (12/14 June 2012) by the Instrumentation Products Division of Parker Hannifin. In particular, the company is showing the latest additions to its extensive monoflange and Pro-Bloc ranges of block and bleed valves, including versions that comply with the Class A ultra-low-emission requirements of the international ISO 15848 standard. Also on display is a new series of flushing rings that eliminate the need for port adapters.

Parker's monoflange and Pro-Bloc valves are designed to couple instrumentation to the process lines as closely as possible, and to eliminate any use of threaded components - the valve vents can incorporate single- or two-ferrule compression type tube fittings. By combining all necessary primary and secondary valves on a single one-piece body, which mounts directly onto a process flange without use of additional fittings, both series of products reduce the number of potential leak paths substantially. They also help cut installation time and cost. A wide choice of valve configurations - including single block and bleed, and double block and bleed - provides a very flexible interconnection scheme, enabling plant engineers to match requirements very easily.

Parker goes to considerable lengths to ensure the material used for its flanged products is of the highest quality. Raw material is sourced from mills and foundries outside the Asia-Pacific region, with fully traceable records for quality audit purposes. Furthermore, each flange is forged from a single piece of grain flow controlled steel. As standard, they can be fabricated from A105 carbon steel, AF350 LF2 low temperature carbon steel, A182-F316 stainless steel and A182-F51 duplex stainless steel. Optional exotic alloy materials include super duplex, alloy 400, 6Mo and alloy 625. Parker has developed considerable production expertise in 6Mo - which is fast becoming one of the most popular materials for high integrity process applications - and is able to deliver custom valve configurations with very short lead times.

Also showing is a new series of flushing rings which employ a novel 'oversize' design to maximize flexibility. Flushing rings are normally used between a process isolation valve and the diaphragm seal of a pressure transmitter; side ports on the ring allow flushing media to be injected and ejected so that the diaphragm can be 'washed' free of deposits which affect measurement accuracy. A conventional flushing ring has a smaller diameter than the process and diaphragm seal flanges, and is simply held in place by the pressure exerted by the flange bolts. The flushing ports consequently require extension adapters to bring their valves clear of the flanges, potentially introducing additional leak paths.

Parker's flushing rings are the same diameter as the flanges, eliminating the need for flushing port adapters, and the valves can be supplied screwed or welded directly onto the ring's external face, reducing installation time and costs. Parker produces two types of flushing rings. One has through-holes for the flange bolts and is designed for use with same-size flanges on both sides. The other has a tapered internal bore and two different flange faces with captive studs, designed for fitting between flanges with different diameters. Typically, this could be used when a 2-inch process-side flange is coupled to a 3-inch transmitter-side flange, to maximise diaphragm size for improved measurement accuracy

Improving efficiency in milk processing

The North German company Hansa-Milch based in Upahl in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region took the decision to deploy Siemens technology for its milk delivery process – from the weighing system to the tank discharge points. Using RFID solutions as well as IWLAN and Simatic S7 control technology, Hansa- Milch has achieved a marked increase in efficiency across the entire milk processing work flow – from delivery through processing to product traceability.

With the changeover to Siemens Industry Automation Division technology, Hansa- Milch has achieved a significant increase in the efficiency of its milk supply operations. By extending the scope of acquisition data, for instance, the new technology permits specific differentiation of milk types, whether certified organic or freedom foods categories through to specially protected regions of origin. Since the modernization was completed, Hansa-Milch has relied on industrial WLAN, RFID and Simatic-S7 control technology from the point of milk delivery through to dispatch. The central element is an ingenious weighing system in operation as the trucks arrive and depart.

The new system has allowed Hansa-Milch (a subsidiary of the German-Danish- Swedish corporation Arla Foods), to optimise its work processes and reduce the workload for all those involved, from truck drivers and gatekeepers to production employees. The seamless electronic verification chain generated to ensure product traceability allows Hansa-Milch to now respond to suppliers’ questions quickly and to a high standard of quality.

New members' news!

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) tells us that NOFFZ Computer Technology, Toenisvorst, Germany, recently became CSIA Certified. Avanceon, Exton, Pa., U.S., and Sage Automation, Melrose Park, South Australia, Australia, recently became recertified as CSIA Certified members.

CSIA Annual Conference in Scottsdale AZ USA
In other membership news, the following control system integrators recently joined the association as associate members:
• Advansys (Pty) Ltd., Johannesburg, South Africa
• ATSys, Parkside, South Australia, Australia
• Infamation Technologies Group, LLC, Jacksonville, Fla., U.S.
• IPACT, Valparaiso, Ind., U.S.
• NNE Pharmaplan, Morrisville, N.C., U.S.
• SCAP, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
• Southlake Automation, Inc., Merrillville, Ind., U.S.
• Systems Anywhere, North Riding, South Africa

New participating members include:
• Descom Industrial Process S.A.C., Jesus Maria, Lima, Peru
• Electrical Engineering Consultants, P.C., Aurora, Ill., U.S.
• NexCtrl Inc., Wyomissing, Pa., U.S.

New partner members are:
• EXELE, East Rochester, N.Y., U.S.
• HMS Industrial Networks, Inc., Chicago, Ill., U.S.
• Panduit, Tinley Park, Ill., U.S.
• Progea USA, LLC, Appleton, Wis., U.S.
• Schmersal Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y., U.S.
• WEG Electric Corp., Duluth, Ga., U.S.
• Wohner USA, LLC, Portsmouth, N.H., U.S.

To become a CSIA Certified member, a member company must pass an intensive audit process with stringent performance standards categories in nine categories: general management, financial management, project management, quality management, technical management, human resources management and marketing, business development and sales management.

Certified members are re-audited every three years and recertified if they meet current performance standards. The certification criteria is spelled out in CSIA’s Best Practices and Benchmarks, the accepted roadmap for system integrators committed to delivering the level of quality, performance and long-term support their customers expect.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Operational excellence as industries seek to streamline plant operations

Advanced software applications digitise production processes to automate steps for critical consistency and increased reliability with lower risk and cost

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of Work Process Management (WPM) solutions to digitise and streamline production operations—addressing the critical need to reduce process variations that lead to increased errors, risks and costs. From work instructions for common tasks to corrective action during out-of-spec events and emergencies, these solutions integrate automated and manual work processes across system and departmental boundaries, enabling dynamic decision making for reliable, repeatable process execution.

Work Process Management solutions include GE’s ground-breaking Proficy® Workflow and solutions based on that product including Proficy for eSOP, Proficy SCADA Alarm Response Management and Proficy Production Corrective Action. In addition, the company is integrating industry specific Workflow-based solutions into the Proficy portfolio.

“Optimising operations requires a work process management system to define, model and coordinate each organization’s production workflows and resources,” said Matt Wells, General Manager, Work Process Management Solutions. “A Work Process Management system digitises procedures to guide operators, track actions for reporting, and align business and plant processes for rapid response to normal and unusual events. Proficy Workflow applications drive proper notification and action by triggering corrective workflows and tasks through integrated real-time transactions.”

“The global economic downturn is driving the need to reduce costs and waste – do more with less,” said Erik Udstuen, Software & Services Vice President for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Aging workforces drive employee attrition and new, inexperienced operators have a higher potential for errors. There are now more stringent regulations across industries where companies need documentation to support their claims of compliance. That’s where the Proficy solutions come in. Proficy is the platform that delivers results to improve operations.”

WPM digitises and streamlines production and can integrate business and production processes across systems and departments for reliable, repeatable process execution. With Proficy for eSOP, companies can easily document processes, transfer knowledge and drive critical consistency and predictability into the plant. It allows for digitisation of manual and automated processes with one tool across the entire facility – from plant operators and maintenance teams to field crews and leadership.

“Work Process Management can also drive real-time asset management, bridging Operations and Maintenance teams and linking SCADA and CMMS,” said Wells. “With real-time asset management, organisations can reduce maintenance costs and improve uptime.”

With GE’s eSOP solution, companies can achieve real-time, condition-based asset management. When an out-of-spec event takes place in the SCADA, eSOP can trigger a work process to interface with the CMMS system, secure a work order number, send specific instructions including GIS location information to an operator, and facilitate the corrective action to remediate a problem. eSOP can then close out the work order with the CMMS, whether plant or GIS centric, and record the actions taken for historical records. Companies can reduce the need for operators making scheduled rounds and device readings – and automate the process of moving from condition detected to creating work requests and the right corrective action. That means less downtime, maintenance, risk – and lower costs.


“Work Process Management is the next step in the Operational Excellence journey,” said Udstuen. “Repeatable, consistent operations are the ultimate goals for manufacturers today. With Proficy, you can achieve the right actions at the right time, every day – from common tasks to critical emergencies and close the loop on industrial operations to minimise errors and risk, reduce waste, and ensure compliance.”

Modbus RS-485 multi-drop support

Control Technology Corp has added Modbus RS-485 multi-drop support as a standard feature to its Model 5300 Automation Controller. The 5300 supports RS-485 in master or slave configurations; the 5300 can also fill master and slave roles concurrently for two or more connected networks (see diagram).

Users can run a different protocol off of each port on the Model 5300, with TCP, RS-485 and RS-232 all supported, serving as a bridge between different protocols.

"Modbus remains a time tested and immensely popular standard," said Tom Schermerhorn, CTC President. "The Model 5300 provides maximum flexibility because it supports Modbus on multiple protocols within the same physical network."

Modbus is easy to set up and supports unique poll rates for slave devices. Modbus is available now. See also CTC's Modbus Corner!

Profile for motor starters

CiA (CAN in Automation) has released the CiA 442 CANopen profile for IEC 61915-2 compatible motor starters. The IEC standard specifies a bus-independent profile for motor starters, soft starters, and motor management starters. The CiA profile is functional compatible and adds just the mapping to the CANopen application layer (CiA 301). In particular, it specifies the format of the commands and status information as well as the PDO parameters.

The motor (soft) starter continuously controls the three-phase motor’s voltage supply during the start-up phase. They limit the torque. This way, the motor is adjusted to the machine’s load behavior. Mechanical operating equipment is accelerated in a gentle manner.

The benefit of the bus-independent, international standardized profile is that the user saves its software investment, if suppliers or network technologies are changed. The finite state machine is standardized as well as the functional behavior. Of course, the mapping to messages depends on the used network. The CANopen profile pre-defines all PDOs as event-triggered. Synchronous transmission is optionally possible.

Antennas for Europe

LPRS has been appointed by Arronna Antennas as the exclusive distributor in Europe for their comprehensive range of antennas.

Established in 2007 Arronna manufactures a wide variety of OEM and ODM antennas including; LTE, WIMAX, WiFi, 3G, DECT, WLAN, CDMA, GPRS, CMMB, DMB, GSM and DVB-T types.

John Sharples LPRS and Hanson Zhu of Arronna
Signing the agreement at CeBit 2012 John Sharples, Managing Director of LPRS comments; “We are very pleased to have been chosen by Arronna to sell their antennas exclusively across Europe. Our long experience of selling our own easyRadio wireless modules internationally gives Arronna access to a well-established and highly motivated European sales channel. Arronna have recently introduced a number of new products for high growth applications, such as WIMAX, which will be of great interest to our customers."

In addition to the Arronna antenna range and its own easyRadio Advanced (eRA) wireless modules the LPRS product range now includes, narrow band long range wireless modules from CDP, the IQRF range of wireless networking components, the IQVC range of visual control panels together with antenna, wireless key fobs and a wide range of sensor products.

New entity established for displays

Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics (KOE) has been formed to continue the design, development and manufacture of market leading TFT LCD display modules previously established by Hitachi.

The creation of Japan Display Inc has seen the integration of the display businesses of Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba to create the world’s largest manufacturer of small to medium sized LCD modules. This business merger has resulted in the formation of Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics who will focus on the development and production of high quality, high performance TFT display modules for industrial and high reliability applications.

The KOE Europe Team!
In Europe, a new re-branded and re-structured organisation, KOE Europe will replace Hitachi’s Display Products Group (DPG). KOE Europe will supply and support a wide range of standard passive STN and colour TFT displays from 3.5” to 21.3” offering high quality, cost effective display solutions. Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics will also offer a highly flexible approach to producing bespoke, custom STN display solutions.

Mark Stanley, General Manager, KOE Europe, explained “The legacy of Hitachi will enable KOE Europe to enter the European market as a strong and confident, premium brand display supplier. KOE Europe will support a large, established European customer base through an existing distribution sales channel and regional sales teams. To maximize support for the European market, KOE Europe aims to ensure a balanced mix of design focused distribution partners working alongside our direct OEM sales force.”

Raymond Sun, Sales and Marketing Group Manager, Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics commented “Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics inherits an established industrial LCD heritage from Japanese manufacturer Hitachi. With continued investment in research and development our aim is to ensure that newly founded Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics remains at the forefront of evolving LCD technology. It remains essential that we continue to develop and produce displays that our global customers demand.”

Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics has an established design and manufacturing facilities in Taiwan. In house design, production and procurement of key components such as LCD glass, colour filters, LCD drivers and backlights, enables Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics to provide an extensive range of optimised and rugged display solutions. Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics plans to increase its product portfolio to capture a greater market share in both TFT and custom STN displays. Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics will maintain the renowned Japanese dedication for the design and manufacture of high quality products.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Short-range radio device manfacturer MD honoured!

John Sharples, Managing Director of LPRS has been named as the Business Person of the Year in the West Oxfordshire Business Awards (GB). The category, sponsored by Strategic Mentors, also included nominations of a business communications company and a renewable energy system provider.

Thomas Rodger (Strategic Mentors) &
John Sharples (LPRS) 
Recently visited by David Cameron (British Prime Minister) to see for himself how a small hi-tech manufacturer operates, LPRS are currently enjoying a period of business growth and technology innovation. Considered an excellent example of a “micro-business” LPRS is partnering with local Universities and Government initiatives to maximise their potential for growth.

John Sharples comments; “It was a great surprise and honour to even be nominated for this award, much less win it. It is heartening to see enterprise in the electronics industry recognised and rewarded. Small exporting technology companies don’t often make it on to the radar of the wider world.”

In a surprise visit to the awards David Cameron addressed the nominees and reminded them that the region (West Oxfordshire) has no large employers and relies on ingenious small businesses. He continued that the small businesses present were great role models of business enterprise and encouraged those present to go into schools and talk to young people about what business is all about and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.

LPRS manufactures the highly successful easyRadio Advanced (eRA) wireless modules and the full LPRS product range now includes, narrow band long range wireless modules from CDP, the IQRF range of wireless networking components, the IQVC range of visual control panels together with antenna, wireless key fobs and a wide range of sensor products.

Open house for birthday!

Stemmer Imaging UK is opening its doors on June 12th 2012 for a series of machine vision seminars, master classes, discussions and live demonstrations. Entitled ‘ Machine Vision, “Your Day”’ this unique event will allow visitors to ‘mix and match’ from all the activities taking place for the optimum machine vision ‘experience’!

Stemmer's newly refurbished and expanded premises
Mark Williamson, Director – Corporate Market Development at Stemmer, said: “2012 sees Stemmer Imaging celebrating 25 years as Europe’s leading supplier of core vision technology and at the same time we in the UK can boast 15 years in the vision industry. By opening up our new facilities in Tongham, Surrey for its first event of this kind, we are inviting visitors to learn about the latest machine vision technologies and share in the celebrations. They can meet both suppliers and developers in an informal environment and see the latest technologies in action”.

The flexible format for the day will include four individual ‘tracks’ of presentations; sessions with developers; master classes for Common Vision Blox (Stemmer’s world class machine vision development environment) and live demonstrations including USB3, linescan technology and smart vision systems & solutions. In this way, visitors can plan exactly what they want to see and when they want to see it.

The event also provides the chance to learn about new data transmission interfaces such as USB3, Coaxpress and Cameralink HS; meet with the world’s leading manufacturers such as DALSA, AVT, IDS, SONY, LMI and Microbus, as well as the opportunity for personal meetings with STEMMER and supplier staff. There will also be a wide range of mini exhibition stands, exhibiting the most up to date machine vision technology available.

“If the opportunity to see one of most comprehensive collections of machine vision technology and meet with an impressive range of machine vision experts under one roof wasn’t enough, all attendees will also be entered into a draw for an iPad 3”, concluded Williamson.

A full programme for the day will evolve over the next few weeks so it would be a good idea to keep an eye on their website!