Saturday, May 5, 2012

Smart machine webcasts!

Engineers and scientists are invited to learn about technologies, techniques and tips for optimising machine monitoring, energy efficiency and smart machine design with National Instruments UK & Ireland Smart Machine Webcast Series. The three webcasts will explore how engineers can apply graphical system design techniques to maximise production quality through performance measurements; lower the energy consumption of designs; and differentiate themselves from their competition with key technologies for smart machines.

Smart Machine
Each of the three webcasts in the series will be broadcast twice each day, at 10am and 2pm, giving participants the opportunity to directly interact with presenters and fellow attendees. Webcasts will also be available on demand after the series is complete. Register here for the Smart Machine Webcasts.

The 3-part series is as follows:
Machine Monitoring: Maximise Production Quality Through Performance Measurements
Tuesday 26th June: 10am & 2pm
Manufacturing departments throughout different industry sectors are pressured to increase throughput and lower costs while increasing the quality of goods.  Although this ultimately requires better and more efficient machines, a key task for the machine industry is to provide detailed information about the process.  Frequently, classical supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) solutions mask some of the high speed, dynamic information vital for process improvement.  In this webcast, experience new technologies for machine process monitoring, learn about real-world applications and discover how to gather important information to optimise machine process and identify potential areas for improvement.

Machine Efficiency: A Practical Guide To Lower The Energy Consumption Of Your Design
Wednesday 27th June: 10am & 2pm
In the face of economic uncertainties and increasing environmental concerns, many businesses today are evaluating ways to make their operations more lean, efficient and environmentally friendly. Examining the electricity bill is a good place to start. The top consumers of electricity are typically the HVAC system and machinery, two motor-based applications. In fact, motor control is responsible for about two-thirds of the total electrical energy consumption in a typical industrial facility. The fundamental purpose of any electric motor is to convert electrical power into mechanical energy. How efficient this transfer happens depends on different technical aspects and is influenced by the control system, the drive, the motor, the mechanicals system and also the machine process. In this webcast, learn about key focus areas for lean and efficient machine design.

Smart Machines: Key Technologies To Get Ahead Of The Competition
Thursday 28th June: 10am & 2pm
Designing a high-performance machine is a challenging task; however, designing a machine that can adapt to changing conditions and the wear and tear of the machine itself is significantly more challenging. If machine builders want to achieve lights-out automation, a dream that has been around for decades, adaptive self-healing machines are an evolutionary step that needs to happen. With the proliferation of sensors, high-level design tools and powerful embedded control systems, all the necessary components and tools to build smart machines are becoming available. In this webcast, learn about new technologies for building smart machines and how to use them to optimise machine design.

Wireless adapter for explosion proof applications

MACTek® Corporation is now shipping its BULLET® WirelessHART® adapter, a universal communication device for use with both analog and HART-enabled devices, in a FM certified XP model. The XP model completes the family of MACTek WirelessHART-enabled products. The BULLET is now the only complete family of wireless adapters designed to meet all application and area classifications needs. The BULLET product family includes certified models that are General Purpose, Intrinsically Safe and Explosion Proof. They are a cost-effective solution to communicate process variables and other valuable information to the control room without wires. The BULLET WirelessHART Adapter with GP, IS and XP certifications are now available for shipment.

The BULLET enables existing wired HART field devices from any supplier to communicate with host applications by means of WirelessHART technology. The BULLET is installed permanently by wiring it directly to a standard HART® field device, or connecting it anywhere on the 4-20mA current loop. A wired HART® field device retrofitted with the BULLET communicates its analog process variable over the existing wiring to the existing DCS with no wiring change. The BULLET simultaneously communicates the digital PV and device diagnostic information over the WirelessHART network.

The BULLET can also be installed on a non-smart (analog only) device and will transmit a digital representation of the analog 4-20mA PV to the control room over the WirelessHART network which can save labor cost by eliminating operator rounds and manual recording of measurement data.

“I am pleased to announce the shipment of this exciting and innovative product in the XP certified model,” said Thomas Holmes, President of MACTek. “The fact that this device connects to existing installed HART-enabled and analog devices provides a huge benefit to users in plants as they continue to lower their operating cost by providing access to valuable information stranded in their measurement and control assets, and by making new measurements cost effective. MACTek’s demonstrated high quality and reliability is built into the BULLET so that users can have confidence when installing and using this exciting product. The certified XP BULLET joins the most complete family of WirelessHART adapters which are also HART registered.”

The unique features of the BULLET includes: 8 device multi-drop using a single BULLET, loop or line powered, area classifications for GP, IS and XP, HART registered, rugged design with internal antenna, works with analog and HART-enabled devices and more. These cost-effective features expand the use of the BULLET to many SCADA applications including the monitoring of tank farms and pipelines, rotating equipment and control valve diagnostics.

The BULLET is typically loop-powered, requiring no batteries or other power sources. Featuring MACTek’s patent-pending StepVolt technology that sets insertion voltage in steps from 1 volt to 2.5 volts, the BULLET will optimize the trade-off between available loop power and wireless communication bandwidth.

The Bullet™ maintains the high standards of reliability, quality, and ease of use demonstrated by our VIATOR® Bluetooth, USB and RS232 HART PC modems. Our entire product family is fully compliant with the HART® communication specifications and both our wireless and wired solutions have proven to be easy to use and compatible with HART-enabled devices from any vendor.

Friday, May 4, 2012

New HMI takes engineers from idea to result faster

Human machine interface technology take a giant leap forward with the launch of Beijer Electronics’ new iX 2.0 HMI software and new generation operator panels. Summed up in the market-driven concept HMI at the speed of thought, the iX HMI solution both speeds up project development and makes the application faster and more efficient to navigate.

The fastest way from idea to application
The iX 2.0 development software minimizes the distance between the HMI idea and the fully deployable, intuitive, application. Smarter engineering tools and an improved ribbon menu set in a familiar Windows® based environment ensure substantial time gains for project developers.

User-friendly and efficient operation
An industrial HMI has never been more intuitive than the new iX HMI solution from Beijer Electronics. Implementing navigation tools used in everyday applications such as mobile devices, iX 2.0 creates new ways to interact with machines using scroll and swipe gestures. Software features such as the unique “Action menu”, which enable a multi-level menu system and fast execution of actions, and the well-known “Roller panel” both help put the most relevant information right where the operator needs it, saving screen space and enabling manual-free operation in the process. With more intuitive applications that help operators make the right decisions, operation becomes safer and productivity increases.

New ways to personalise
Companies are looking for new ways to increase business value and strengthen their brands. Beijer Electronics meets this growing market trend with the launch of the HMI software iX 2.0, offering many ways to personalize the application – even including customizing the system dialogs. A visual expression in line with the machine and company brand help machine builders and others sharpen their competitive edge. The iX software offers full HMI functionality and is ready to use as it is, but also offers the possibility to add, e.g., .NET components and create customized functionality through C# scripting since the software is based on the Microsoft® .NET Framework.

Easy distribution of information
Beijer Electronics’ operator panels can share information with each other via panel networks, regardless of size or performance, which makes it easy to share information between users and provides safer control of complex machines also over long distances. The panels can act as OPC UA server and client, enabling distribution of information between the factory floor and business or planning system, and the built-in report generator turns figures into Excel reports for saving or printing directly. As web servers, Beijer Electronics’ panels enable engineers to freely create web pages which operators and supervisors will be able to log in to from, e.g., mobile devices, thus facilitating more efficient operations.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Integrated mechatronic design

Close cooperation between B&R and EPLAN, together with a well thought-out concept ensure optimal development efficiency.

Traditionally, mechanical, electrical and software elements have been strictly separated and developed in a rigid sequence. Today, these disciplines are merging into a more integrated mechatronic approach. This not only paves the way for more efficient parallel development, but also simplifies coordination between mechanical, electrical and software engineers. This is why B&R integrates existing expert tools into the Automation Studio development platform via interfaces that ensure full transparency and functionality. Automation Studio provides all the functions needed to develop and configure an automation solution – such as those for creating control and HMI applications, linking motion control components, safety technology and much more. Expert tools are integrated via open, transparent interfaces to provide specialized functionality – such as EPLAN Electric P8 for electrical planning.

Seamless interaction facilitates parallel development
The seamless interaction between EPLAN Electric P8 and Automation Studio allows development to occur in parallel processes. "Our users can easily carry over hardware configurations and I/O mapping tables from B&R Automation Studio, reducing the time and cost of development by avoiding unnecessary input repetitions and redundant workflow," explains Rainer Burgard, key account manager at EPLAN. For the engineers involved, working with these two tools couldn't be easier. In the past, the hardware configuration had to be set up manually in the automation environment even though it already existed in its entirety in the ECAD tool. With Automation Studio and EPLAN Electric P8, engineers can generate both the hardware tree and the I/O mapping table at the push of a button. The corresponding process variables are automatically aligned and merged with existing variables directly in Automation Studio. An intelligent comparison feature provides a clear overview of which components were configured in the Automation Studio hardware tree and which B&R components are used in the electrical plan. The user can then synchronise the projects with only a few clicks of the mouse. B&R provides all the EPLAN macros needed to accommodate the various hardware components.

Synchronisation through round-trip engineering
Intelligent import and export mechanisms streamline day-to-day workflow when using multiple software tools. B&R and EPLAN go a step further, however, using round-trip engineering features to fully synchronize the electrical plan and automation project and ensure that both projects are always kept up-to-date. The advantage is clear: "Automated data exchange prevents errors that might otherwise occur in the course of interdisciplinary communication, thereby improving the quality of the end product. This contributes to reduced maintenance costs later in a system's life cycle," explains Heinz Fürnschuss, the technical manager at B&R in charge of developing the EPLAN interface. "Modifications can be made more quickly, more easily and more inexpensively since the system documentation and software are always current and synchronised."

The next generation of mechatronic tools
The fields of mechanical, electrical and software engineering are becoming intertwined in the pursuit of optimal efficiency. As a result, there is an urgent need to rethink conventional approaches to development tools. While tools of the past stood alone, with no means of communicating with each other but through simple import/export functions, future generations will interact transparently across open interfaces using intelligent synchronization mechanisms. This is the key step for machine manufacturers toward mastering interdisciplinary development and significantly reducing time and costs.

In the fields of electrical design and automation, B&R and EPLAN have set an impressive example of how two development tools can work together harmoniously – something made possible by a well thought-out concept and close cooperation between the two companies.

Redundant, hot-swap and front-access capabilities added to PXI platform!

The NI PXIe-1066DC chassis builds on PXI’s superior system lifetime and flexibility, making it ideal for deployed, mission-critical applications.

National Instruments has introduced the PXIe-1066DC 18-slot chassis, which adds high-availability features to the PXI Express platform to maximise system uptime. These features improve the system-level mean time before failure (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR) of PXI systems in many demanding, mission-critical test, measurement and control applications. The chassis adds critical component redundancy and remote monitoring to the uptime-focused capabilities of existing NI PXI instrumentation.

“The NI PXIe-1066DC chassis builds on the long-standing leadership of the PXI standard for mission-critical projects,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, R&D Fellow at National Instruments and former Vice President of Systems technology at IBM. “This new chassis illustrates NI’s continued commitment to superior reliability, availability, serviceability and manageability when system uptime is paramount.”

Product Features
• Redundant hot-swappable DC power supplies and fans facilitate maximum system uptime
• Front-accessible power supply and fan tray provide flexibility in position-restrictive applications
• Ethernet port gives engineers remote in-band chassis health monitoring capabilities for advanced system management

Collaboration in water & waste event

WEF and ISA Collaborate on 2012 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium and WEFTEC 2012

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Society of Automation (ISA) are teaming up to co-promote the 2012 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls (WWAC) Symposium. Now in its seventh year, the symposium offers a unique opportunity for automation professionals from the water and wastewater sector to come together to share ideas. As a technical co-sponsor of the 2012 WWAC Symposium, WEF is helping ensure that the symposium continues to meet the needs of automation professionals who work in the wastewater sector. For the first time, discounted pricing is available to both WEF and ISA members; underscoring the mutual benefit for both associations.

Barry Liner, director of the WEF Water Science & Engineering Center based out of the Washington, DC area, adds “The collaboration between WEF’s Automation and Info Tech Committee and ISA’s Water and Wastewater Industries Division (WWID) will strengthen an already well-established ISA WWAC Symposium and bring specialized content to the WEF’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) to enhance knowledge transfer across the entire water sector.”

Taking place 7-9 August in Orlando (FL USA), the 2012 ISA WWAC Symposium is a three-day event that focuses on the challenges associated with automation and instrumentation in the water and wastewater sectors. It features two full days of technical speakers/presentations, a tour of a local water treatment plant, a general reception, networking events, a poster session and a supplier showcase. This highly focused symposium has a long tradition as an event that caters to the needs of automation professionals in the water and wastewater sectors.

“Automation plays an important role in the effective control of wastewater collection, treatment and reclamation systems,” says ISA Executive Director & CEO Pat Gouhin. “ISA has a wealth of expertise and resources in all areas of automation and we are pleased to share this with members of WEF. Through the new-found partnership between WEF and ISA, we are able to bring together professionals from both associations to focus on effectively leveraging wastewater and automation technologies.”

“This type of collaboration aligns with WEF’s new Strategic Direction, connecting water professionals to leverage knowledge and promote innovation,” adds WEF Automation and Info Tech Committee Chair Tom DeLaura. “I am very much looking forward to leading WEF’s technical co-sponsorship of the 2012 WWAC Symposium. It has been a pleasure to be part of the team that brought ISA and WEF together for this symposium, as well as on several other initiatives.”

One of these initiatives is to promote greater involvement of ISA’s automation and instrumentation expertise within WEF’s annual wastewater show WEFTEC. Later this fall, after the WWAC Symposium, the WEFTEC 2012 conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, will be hosting a special session entitled “The Best of the 2012 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium” where select speakers from the 2012 WWAC Symposium will be invited to present their talks.

At this year’s WWAC Symposium, invited guest speaker and WEF Automation and Info Tech Chair, Tom DeLaura, will give a presentation about automation technology trends in the wastewater sector. DeLaura, vice president of Eramosa Engineering International Inc., is a long-time member of both ISA and WEF and has a career in the wastewater sector that spans over 38 years. He has written and presented on numerous topics of interest to the water and wastewater industry; he has received several awards from the industry for his dedication and service.

The 2012 ISA WWAC Symposium will feature over 25 technical presentations on a wide variety of automation, cybersecurity, instrumentation, plant optimization and system integration topics. Two major themes this year are creating high performance human machine interfaces (HMIs) to improve operational effectiveness and developing effective SCADA/automation cybersecurity best practices. The symposium continues with its traditional strength of sharing new ideas and lessons learned from recent plant upgrades and new-builds.

“ISA’s WWAC Symposium is targeted at professionals involved with automation, instrumentation and automated control systems in the water and wastewater sectors. Attendees typically range from plant operators, facility owners, maintenance and technical personnel to engineers, programmers and system integrators,” says General Symposium Chair Graham Nasby of Eramosa Engineering Inc., who was the driving force behind the newly signed agreement between WEF and ISA. “We are delighted to welcome the WEF onboard as a technical co-sponsor for the 2012 WWAC Symposium.”

"Teachingless" robotics projects...

In the case of conventional industrial robot systems, operators must write robot-language programs for each robot task by using hand-held "teach pendant" or off-line robot programming software. This process is long, tedious and requires technical experts in robot programming. Moreover, as each new robot motion needs a human action, the use of robots is restricted to repetitive tasks which need to be executed thousands of times. No variation around the recorded motion is allowed.

Performing numerous different tasks with the same flexible robot is becoming possible with "teachingless" solutions; opening new fields of use where programming the robot was economically not viable.

“Coupling hardware sensors to our automatic path planner software creates the bridge between virtual and real environments; robot motion is computed in the virtual representation of the real world and executed in this later without programming” says Laurent Maniscalco, Kineo CAM’s CEO; “as of today five of our customers have already or are currently developing teachingless robotic systems in the following fields: programming-less structural steel welding in North America, electronic assembly in Japan, automated part sorting in Germany or aircraft structure assembly control in France”.

Kineo CAM proposes a set of libraries to make industrial robots more autonomous, flexible and easy-to-use, extending the use of industrial robots to non-robotic experts for flexible tasks.

The software component named KineoWorks™ can be used offline within a dedicated system that will automatically compute the robot program before sending it to the shop floor. The automation of the programming permits quick reconfigurations of the robotic cell in a flexible manufacturing paradigm.

It can also be used online. Embedded on the system controlling the robot and coupled with a perception system (LIDAR, Structured light 3D scanner, computer vision...) and/or a Digital Mockup, it can automatically plan collision-free motion, control its execution, react to unexpected obstacles (moving object, worker, obstructed obstacle) and re-plan a detour on-the-fly. This is what we call reactive path planning:

A preliminary scanning of the environment allows planning an initial trajectory. Once the robot starts to execute the motion, KineoWorks™ continues to analyze the captured data as it comes in order to anticipate potential collisions. A continuous process tries to keep the obstacles away by deforming the trajectory. When the deformation fails, a new path planning is launched on-the-fly in parallel and without interrupting the ongoing motion.

Thanks to reactive and fast path planning, the robot can autonomously move in an unknown environment. In particular a project funded by the French government uses KineoWorks™ embedded into a UGV to explore unknown or “not well known” installations, such as a plant damaged by a natural disaster like an earthquake.

Simple interface between printed circuit boards and high-current connectors

Han-Fast® Lock from Harting is a new circuit-board connection technology that allows the company's Han® range of high-current connectors to be connected directly to printed circuit boards with ease and flexibility and without the need for additional components.

The Han-Fast® Lock circuit-board connector is a compact, easy-to-handle interface that can handle currents up to 60 A and requires only one contact point to make the connection. Conductor lines are through-plated, and are each provided with a drill hole and supporting point.

Han-Fast® Lock is supported by a range of pre-assembled system solutions. For example, a Han® Q 4/2 connector with pre-connected litz multi-stranded wires and circuit board contact can be supplied as a pre-tested system for direct connection to the circuit board.

Litz wire is a type of cable that is designed to reduce the skin-effect and proximity-effect losses in conductors at frequencies up to about 1 MHz. It consists of many thin wire strands, individually insulated and twisted or woven together, following one of several carefully prescribed patterns that equalise the proportion of the overall length over which each strand is at the outside of the conductor. The term "litz wire" originates from the German term Litzendraht, meaning braided, stranded or woven wire.

Litz wires measuring up to 10 mm² can be used with the Han-Fast® Lock contact. The pre-assembled contact is fitted to the prepared circuit board and the pin provided is engaged to lock the circuit board. The system is extremely easy to use and the assembly time is comparable to that for any commercially available snap connector.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Practical Project Manageemnt

A new technical publication, Practical Project Management: Learning to Manage the Professional, Second Edition, by Gerald W. Cockrell has appeared in the ISA stable of publications.

Practical Project Management: Learning to Manage the Professional, Second Edition, goes beyond the scope of a simple how-to book. It defines each unique phase of a project and then provides practical knowledge in areas such as budget and cost estimates, contracts, negotiating, team building, scheduling and choosing project management software. In addition, the book provides sample forms, contracts and bids for industrial projects.

In today’s economy, organisations need to perform faster, better and cheaper. Projects have to conform to ever-tightening schedules and budgets. Because the second edition focuses specifically on techniques proven to be effective in industry, it is the ideal reference for both new and experienced project managers.

The second edition updates some of the newer concepts, including SCRUM Project Management. This methodology offers new techniques that may be used with automation-related projects.

Gerald W. Cockrell, a former Prseident of ISA, is a professor emeritus at Indiana State University and an internationally recognized leader in the development and delivery of distance process control and automation programs. He has served as project manager on numerous projects in the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries and in educational institutions.

Data centre environmental wireless temperature sensor

Unique Daisy Chain Design Enhances Measurement Flexibility and Reduces TCO

Wireless Sensors has expanded the SensiNet Rack Sentry family of environmental monitors with the introduction of the Multi Sense wireless temperature sensor. The all new Multi Sense is designed specifically to help data center operators increase efficiency while maintaining adequate cooling for the increasingly dense power loadings from today's servers and network equipment. The new design was driven by the requirements of ASHRAE's TC9.9 (2011 Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments) which establish "IT equipment air inlets as the common measurement point for temperature and humidity compliance". The Rack Sentry Multi Sense allows placement of sensors where they are needed with the flexibility of wireless operation allowing reconfiguration as needs change.

The requirement for measurements at three points on the rack (low, middle and high) is easily accommodated within the tightest budgets with the Multi Sense's unique "daisy chained" sensor design leveraging a common wireless transmitter with three, field configurable digital sensors connected to the wireless node by industry standard Cat 5 connecting cable of any length. Simply place the sensors where required, snap the CAT 5 cable in place and the SensiNet system takes care of the rest.

"We really pay attention to feedback from our customers" says Wireless Sensors CEO Paul Richards "and this feedback has been directly incorporated into this newest design. Our customers challenged us to design a system that provided granularity, reliability, low installed cost and the flexibility to meet their needs today and in the future. The Multi Sense addition to our industry leading SensiNet Rack Sentry product really brings this requirement to life. This is truly a plug and play system and even allows a customer to reconfigure in the field to support adds, moves and changes. Sensors can be added, deleted or moved in the field by simply plugging them in with Cat 5 patch cables".

The SensiNet Rack Sentry family also includes other measurements such as humidity, insertion temperature probes for duct and chilled water temperatures, contact closures and analog signals. The systems operates as a standalone system or delivers data through a rich suite of communication protocols including Modbus TCP, OPC, ODBC, SNMP and others.

Emissions testing

High precision chilled mirror hygrometers improve the quality of emissions testing

Emissions testing is an important environmental requirement in the design and production of internal combustion engines. The evaluation of engine emissions during engine design under indoor-related conditions and over defined timescales requires the use of climate-controlled emission testing systems such as emission test chambers and cells.

During an emission test, the control of the stability of ambient conditions plays an important role for the outcome of the test. Among other values such as temperature or pressure, the relative humidity has to be measured to comply with the defined test standards such as the EPA standards.

The Michell high precision range of cooled mirror hygrometers are the most precise instruments currently available on the market to help to meet requirements for relative humidity measurement from any of the leading environmental control authorities. With accuracies of 0.1°C dp, and based on the fundamental measurement principle which has no inherent drift, the new chilled mirror hygrometer S8000 Remote combines flexibility with outstanding accuracy exceeding the requirements dictated in the emissions control legislation.

The customer can use the instrument as a reference for other RH sensors used to control the relative humidity of the engine test cell or use it as a primary measurement and control device in the emission testing system.

With almost 40 years of experience in cooled mirror technology built into every single Michell Instruments hygrometer the company has been helping numerous car and combustion engine manufacturers to push the boundaries and exceed the requirements of the environmental legislation.
Every instrument is delivered fully calibrated, traceable to National Standards - they maintain direct traceability to NPL (London, UK) and NIST (Washington DC, USA) through their UKAS accredited Humidity Calibration Laboratory. This satisfies the most stringent of quality system requirements and gives ultimate confidence in the measurement being made.

• Michell products are marketed in Ireland by Instrument Technology.

Outdoor enclosures

To overcome the problems associated with the need to design, source and build outdoor enclosures to order, Rittal has a range of CS basic aluminium enclosures available from stock and ready for immediate use.

Specifically designed to house sophisticated communica-tions and electronics equipment in outdoor environments and to protect the internal components against outdoor influences such as temperature variations and penetra-ting rain. Rittal CS enclosures are ideal to use in applications such as telecommunications, traffic guidan-ce and signalling through to gas, water and the electricity supply industry where the installed equipment is either passive or has minimal heat loss.

Available in a range of standard sizes with either single or double doors, all Rittal’s CS enclosures are of a solid construction with an open base suitable for immediate mounting on a standard plinth, including an integral rain canopy and inbuilt ventilation. Internal mounting, based on accessories from Rittal’s market leading TS 8 range, allows an extensive range of configurations to be quickly and simply achieved for the perfect solution.

Rated to IP55 when equipped with optional gland plates, Rittal’s CS outdoor enclosures include a 3-point high security locking system, internal hinges and include concealed eyebolts for crane transportation of a fully fitted unit.

WiFi access point for industrial M2M applications

Airborne embedded WiFi connectivity technology acquired from Quatech enables self-sufficient communications hubs for rugged M2M networks

B&B Electronics has launched its first 802.11 b/g* WiFi access point to provide M2M equipment with wireless networking capabilities.

This industrial-grade wireless access point is the first fruit of B&B’s October 2011 acquisition of Quatech, whose Airborne™ wireless networking devices feature WiFi connectivity technology to network-enable industrial M2M devices. B&B Electronics’ Airborne 802.11 b/g access point appears in two forms. An embeddable module (APMG-Q551) allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to WiFi-enable their own products so they can either serve as M2M wireless communications hubs or tie into existing wireless networks. An external Ethernet access point (APXG-Q5420) provides the same functionality in a stand-alone box, and adds serial device server capability as well.

B&B's Airborne Access Point technology allows the access-point-equipped device, whether it’s the external APXG or an OEM’s device fitted with the APMG, to become the center of its own self-sufficient Wi-Fi network. It can thus communicate with other Wi-Fi enabled devices, including laptops, tablets and handhelds using Android, iOS, or Windows.

As an example, an embedded APMG can turn an isolated piece of equipment in a service vehicle into a wireless gateway. The newly-created local WiFi network around the service vehicle enables multiple handhelds and tablets to talk to each other, can provide access to other equipment with embedded WiFi capability in the vehicle and can provide access to the Internet via cellular modem.

The external APXG access point is equipped with a typical Ethernet port, plus two serial ports that are not generally found on wireless access points. With Ethernet, WiFi and two serial ports all in one box, the APXG provides more port configuration and connectivity tools than other access points on the market. It can be configured as a router or network bridge. Its serial interfaces support RS232/422/485 legacy devices, and both ports can be used simultaneously. With the ability to connect and route between any of its ports, the APXG can serve as an access point (handling up to eight simultaneous client connections) or as a bridge (tying WiFi devices into Ethernet networks), while simultaneously serving as a serial device server (bridging serial devices into either wired or wireless LANs.)

Both the APMG and APXG units can switch easily from access point to client mode through either web or command line interfaces. In client mode the devices provide WPA2-Enterprise Class Extensible Authentication Protocols (EAP) with support for authentication Certificates. Advanced security including WEP, WPA (TKIP), WPA2 (AES – FIPS 197), WPA2 Enterprise, 802.11i and 802.1x (EAP) are standard. The units include support for EAP-TLS, EAP-TTLS, PEAP, EAP-FAST and LEAP with AES-CCMP supported in the hardware, and a fully-functional DHCP server to provide unique addresses for each authenticated client.

Built for industrial conditions, both Airborne access points are rated for an extended operating temperature range (-20°C to +85°C). The external APXG supports wide-range input power (5 to 36 VDC) and features a rugged metal enclosure, panel and DIN rail mounting tabs, and a terminal block and a barrel jack power connection.

* b/g stands for a type of signal protocol standard governing bandwidth and data speed. It operates in the 2.4GHz ISM band on a 20MHz with variable data rate per stream. It uses DSSS and OFDM modulation. Approximate indoor range = 35-38 meters, and 140 meters outdoors

Water meter test

British water companies as well as process customers can now benefit from the expanding flow meter testing facilities at Stream Measurement.

Stream Measurement Ltd have recently acquired the water meter test capability from Itron Metering Solutions – ensuring one of the most extensive meter testing facilities in Britain.

Designed for the production of water meters the additional rigs utilise water as the test medium and comprise a high volume rig capable of testing 45 small water meters at one time, whilst the larger test rig can check meters upto 8” in size.

Ideal for verifying water utility meters to MID or BS5728 and operated under Stream’s ISO9000 quality assurance program, the rigs provide full calibration traceability back to UKAS.

As part of the acquisition, in addition to supporting their own customers, Stream will operate the meter test service for Itron in support of their Utility customers.

As true flow meter experts Stream have for many years offered a range of onsite and return to factory calibration services to their customers – the new rigs expand this offering and enable Stream to offer ‘benefit of scale’ prices to their existing and prospective process and energy customers.

Stream are able to provide a complete range of calibration services with test fluids including water, oil and air – and with over 80 years of flow meter expertise they are the ideal service partner for your flow meter supply and support requirements.

Creating energy management systems

Learn to create energy management systems that reduce power usage and water consumption.

InduSoft is to hold a free webinar on how to create energy management systems on May 9, 2012.

Joining the seminar will be a speaker from Noble Conservation Solutions to offer real world experience on how to best implement energy management systems (EMS). Noble is an engineering and consulting firm that provides products and services to reduce energy consumption and optimize processes in sustainable and environmentally responsible ways that deliver bottom-line savings.

InduSoft will provide examples of how its Web Studio SCADA software has helped its customers achieve impressive savings from implementing an EMS. The webinar will cover the example of a large agribusiness firm that reduced power consumption in a range from 30 to 70 percent, depending on the time of day and weather conditions. In addition, it has reduced water requirements by as much as 90 percent is some processes.

Tom Ellingson, general manager EMS division & vice president of business development from Noble Conversation Solutions will talk about how to develop integrated energy efficiency solutions in various areas including electrical (lighting, motors, refrigerants), mechanical (HVAC, boilers), water (indoor, landscape), roofing, energy management controls, indoor air quality, lean process improvement, equipment and more.

InduSoft Web Studio SCADA software includes all the tools needed to build with an EMS solutions with energy management dashboards for SCADA applications. The webinar will also include:

• Tips and tricks for incorporating energy management dashboards into SCADA/HMI applications
• Examples of case studies and applications that have implemented EMS functionality.
• A live Q&A session

The webinar is one hour long and will be held twice on Wednesday, May 9, at 8:00 am CST and again at 3:00 pm CST.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Temperature in flourmills

Temperature monitoring in flour milling with an infrared temp sensor

Calex has designed a temperature monitoring and alarming system for a leading flour milling company to help prevent fires and explosions.

Grain passes through rollers that grind it into flour. The roller separation is finely adjusted; if they are too close together, excessive heat is generated by friction, which can cause the roller temperature to become critically high. The flour dust can then ignite, causing a fire or a devastating explosion. As well as the safety risk, this can lead to costly downtime.

Calex has worked closely with this customer to specify a system of 120 PyroBus infrared temperature sensors monitoring 60 machines in the milling room. The pyrometers are connected via an RS485 network to a PC running CalexSCADA software for temperature indication, alarming and data logging.

The system was selected for the customer's safety programme as part of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).

Two PyroBus sensors (model PB21) are aimed at the milling surface of one roller in each machine. Monitoring both ends of the roller helps ensure a hazardous temperature at only one end is properly caught.

The sensors are connected in four groups, in a daisy-chain arrangement using junction boxes. Each group has its own power supply and is connected to an isolated RS485 repeater, so a power fault or surge in one group will not affect the rest of the network. All four groups are connected to a PC via an RS485/RS232 converter.

Four alarm relay output modules are provided for each group, to trigger alarms for warning and critical temperatures. One relay output is triggered by any alarm; this may be connected to a control room beacon and/or a text-message notification system.

The CalexSCADA software displays the measured temperature and alarm state of all 120 sensors at once. The user can view detailed information and temperature history graphs for each pair of sensors. The software also logs measured temperature, sensor temperature and alarm state at 5-minute intervals to the PC hard disk.

Application tips
As the sensors may be positioned very close to the roller surface, the wide 2:1 field of view of the lowest-cost model PB21 gives good results.

To help keep the lens clean and ensure maximum accuracy, an air purge collar is used with each sensor. This customer has designed a special mounting to fit the internal thread at the opening of the air purge.

Aiding engineering for the renewable energy market.

National Instruments has announced that it will renew its Green Engineering Grant programme in 2012. In the last two years, the programme has provided assistance to more than 40 companies developing next-generation control and measurement solutions in the renewable energy market. The programme helps small companies and research groups around the world with up to  €30,000 (£25,000)  in software and training for graphical system design tools and techniques.

“The NI Green Engineering Grant programme is helping clean-tech startups get the training and graphical system design tools they need to accelerate the crossover to the era when clean energy is cheaper and more abundant than fossil fuels,” said Brian MacCleery, Principal Product Manager for Clean Energy Technology at National Instruments. “National Instruments is proud to work with leading green engineering innovators like Xtreme Power, whose utility scale energy storage technology can make it possible to get a greater percentage of our power from intermittent, renewable sources.”

“Thanks to NI hardware and LabVIEW system design software, we were able to use a single integrated development environment for everything from FPGA and real-time targets to user interface and diagnostic PCs,” said Richard Jennings, Software Engineering Manager at Xtreme Power. “The NI graphical system design approach helped us focus on our application instead of getting bogged down in low-level syntax and implementation details.”

Grants are designed for companies or groups planning to use LabVIEW system design software and reconfigurable I/O (RIO) hardware to rapidly develop and commercialise their green technologies. The grant awards engineers and scientists developing systems that could make a significant contribution toward a clean energy future. It assists the creation of innovative solutions that can address today’s complex renewable energy and electrical power challenges associated with the advancement of smart-grid, energy storage, electric vehicles and grid-tied power electronics control systems.

Previous grant recipients case studies may be found here!

The deadline for grant applications is November 1, 2012, and grants will be distributed by January 2013.

Marine approval for valves

Complete range of Fisher valves and digital valve controllers is certified for offshore oil and gas applications

Fisher® FIELDVUE™ DVC6200f
Digital Valve Controller 
Emerson Process Management’s complete range of Fisher® valves and FIELDVUE™ digital valve controllers has received Lloyd’s Register’s Marine Type Approval for process control applications within the offshore oil and gas production industry. This Marine Type Approval ensures that Fisher products can be installed in critical duties on ships, mobile offshore units and floating structures moored at a fixed point such as drilling rigs or platforms.

Lloyd’s Register is an impartial certification service that provides third-party verification of a product’s conformance to specific standards or specifications and to the use of appropriate, quality manufacturing systems. According to Ken Kleemeier, Industry Business Development Manager at Emerson, there is growing international awareness of the importance of third-party certification such as Lloyd’s Register, particularly in the oil and gas industry.

"Offshore oil and gas operators are very focused on equipment safety and integrity," he stated. "This focus extends to material sourcing, procurement and manufacturing activities, with the objective being that all equipment utilised in offshore vessels and installations meets rigorous industry operating and safety standards." Kleemeier went on to say, "Emerson is the first manufacturer to have a complete line of control valves and digital valve controllers Marine Type Approved by Lloyd’s Register."

Control valves and related instruments are typically installed in areas affecting the safe operation of the ship and its topside processing units. These applications are referred to as "classed duties," and the valves must be Type Approved for this service.

Prior to granting certification to the Fisher products, Lloyd’s Register personnel reviewed Fisher product designs to validate compliance with industry codes and standards. They also witnessed and reviewed documented product performance tests that confirmed the integrity and functional performance of the Fisher designs in production.

In addition to product Type Approval, multiple Emerson Fisher manufacturing sites met inspection and test requirements for Lloyd’s manufacturing approval.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pneumatic swivel....

A new guided pneumatic swivel module for manufacturing automation that provides a versatile rotating drive solution for larger and difficult loads has been launched by Festo.

The new DSM-HD swivel module combines a high performance semi-rotary vane drive with a precision heavy duty bearing to rotate larger loads through adjustable angles up to 270 degrees - accurately and without any need for additional bearings or guidance systems.

They have also simplified application matching. When selecting a swivel module and deciding how to mount it, machine designers need to evaluate a number of application-specific factors. These include the axial and radial forces acting on the module, the torque required to start the load moving, the mass moment of inertia (which is particularly critical for the stops and cushioning of rotating masses), and the required end-position accuracy. It can be hard to visualise or estimate mass moment of inertia and time-consuming to calculate manually, so Festo has developed a handy software program to help designers tackle this task quickly and easily. Available free of charge, the inertia calculation software can be downloaded from the engineering tools support portal on Festo's website.

Capable of generating significant torque output from a standard (1.5 to 10 bar) compressed air supply, Festo's DSM-HD swivel module can accommodate high axial and radial forces, as well as higher moments of inertia, making it ideal for demanding applications with large or offset loads. The module is especially suitable for use in fully- or semi-automatic manufacturing handling and assembly automation, where additional force might be applied to its flange during the operational cycle. Typically, this could be after the module has swivelled a workpiece holder into position on an insertion machine.

For applications flexibility, the company offers a choice of six DSM-HD swivel modules, spanning 12 to 63 frame sizes and with significantly higher load capability than alternative products, enabling a smaller module to be selected with significant space- and cost-saving benefits. All six modules have a compact form factor to facilitate machine integration - the 25 frame size model measures just 83 x 83 x 99 mm, for example.

The DSM-HD swivel modules feature a caged precision ball bearing race on their periphery, which is preloaded to eliminate backlash and maximise rigidity. The bearing system is designed specifically to maintain running accuracy when subjected to high thrust and cantilevered forces; radial and axial eccentricity are both held to less than 0.02 mm on the 12, 16 and 25 frame size modules, and to less than 0.04 mm on the larger modules, under maximum load conditions.

The semi-rotary vane drive in the DSM-HD employs the same proven technology as Festo's successful DSM series swivel modules. A novel design of the rotary vane chamber seal maximises power output and efficiency by reducing air leakage to an absolute minimum. The design also ensures that the actuator has a smooth, uniform speed characteristic throughout its range of movement, even when operating near its upper or lower pressure limit. A dual vane version of the drive is available for applications that demand very high torque output.

Unlike many swivel modules on the market, which only offer fixed angular displacement, Festo's DSM-HD modules are freely adjustable, and the swivel angle can be as much as 270 degrees, depending upon the particular model and the type of end-position cushioning that is employed. Setting the start and stop angles is extremely easy; the two end-position cushioning mounts are simply clamped at the desired positions in a circular slot on the rear face of the module, and finely adjusted using an Allen key.

Users can choose between hydraulic shock absorbers for maximum energy absorption or adjustable elastomer cushioning for fast cycle times - both types can be used to secure a very high end-position repetition accuracy of better than 0.1 degrees. DSM-HD swivel modules are also available without end stops, for users who wish to implement these functions externally. The vane drive's stop lever incorporates a magnet, enabling users to implement end-position sensing simply by fitting Festo SMx proximity switches in alignment slots on the cushioning mounts.

The DSM-HD is designed to be easier to integrate than comparable swivel modules. The shaft of the vane drive is hollow, allowing electrical cables or air tubes to be routed through the body of the drive, for controlling attachments such as clamp or gripper units. Both the flange and the module body incorporate threaded mounting holes and use centering rings for quicker and more accurate alignment. For extra versatility the body has mounting holes on three sides, as well as on its front and rear faces, providing a very flexible mounting arrangement that allows the module to be fitted securely in any desired orientation.

Festo's swivel and rotary actuators provide a versatile tool in designers' armouries for the development of multi-axis handling units, with standardised interfaces to the company's electric and pneumatic linear slide units, and to its extensive range of mechanical and vacuum end effectors.

Top trends influencing the automated test industry

The biennial Automated Test Summit, hosted by National Instruments returns to the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at Madejski Stadium in Reading (GB) on Thursday 21st June 2012. Featuring technical training, demonstrations, industry experts, product developers and system integrators, this free, full-day conference and exhibition gives attendees the opportunity to learn more about the top trends currently influencing the automated test industry.

Through technical presentations, attendees will explore the latest technologies for virtual and synthetic instrumentation, including new hardware technologies for RF and wireless; real-time and hardware-in-the-loop test; and the benefits of a flexible, software-defined approach to automated test.   

Presentations from industry experts include Fernando Solorzano, Automation Hardware Test Engineer from BSkyB, who will talk about the system he has implemented to test BSkyB’s set-top boxes. Using National Instruments PXI-based modular instruments and open software, such as NI LabVIEW, NI TestStand, NI Audio Master and the NI Video Measurements Suite, he has dramatically reduced the test time by a factor of three, from man days to only a few hours. This also provides the flexibility to concurrently test multiple set-top boxes.

In his Keynote presentation, Luke Schreier, National Instruments Senior Group Manager for Automated Test, will highlight each of the 5 trends in the 2012 Automated Test Outlook, a comprehensive view of key technologies and methodologies that are impacting the test and measurement industry.

The Summit offers a choice of 10 hours of hands-on sessions, giving attendees the chance to experience RF systems on PXI and build an automated test system with PXI and NI TestStand.  The accompanying exhibition is to showcase 11 systems integrators and sensors manufacturers, providing an excellent networking opportunity. 

RF Connectors

Intelliconnect  offers one of the widest ranges of connectors available to designers. Standard connectors include; N,C,TNC, 7/16, SMA, SMB, MCX, Triax, 3.5mm, 2.92mm, 2.4mm, 1.85mm millimetre-wave (“mmwave”) products and Triax and Quadrax types. Intelliconnect can also provide waterproof versions, to IP68 when connectors are unmated, of all of their products if required and fast turnaround custom designs.

Roy Philips, Managing Director of Intelliconnect, believes their success is a direct result of keeping their product design and manufacture in Britain. "Some of the advantages of keeping all of our processes in the UK are self-evident and much appreciated by our customers." He says “we are on the same time zone as all of Europe, speak the “common language” of technology and hold extensive stock in our UK facility.”

Other benefits may not always be factored into customer’s design programmes; availability of Intelliconnect’s engineering support for customer visits and support. Competitive pricing with low or no freight costs, which continue to rise on imported components. Fast, flexible and reliable delivery times from local stock, proven to be 97.8% in Britain in 2011, short manufacturing lead-times and lower inventory costs with Kanban and JIT available. A low carbon footprint is maintained as all components are sourced locally.

Philips continues. “Having all of our processes in the UK gives us an agility which our customers appreciate. We have a transparent and accessible supply chain with no “middle men” and can maintain the highest quality, demonstrated by zero customer returns in the UK in 2011. We are proud that our products are beautifully engineered and British”.

Typical applications for Intelliconnect RF connectors include medical, telecoms, satcoms, military, aerospace, space, general microwave communications, rail traction, oil and gas and marine. Intelliconnect also manufacture the market leading Pisces range of waterproof RF connectors, coaxial adaptors to facilitate inter-series connection and gender change etc. dust-caps and offer value added services including custom cable assemblies.

In the event that customers are unable to find a suitable standard connector for their application Intelliconnect are happy to provide custom designed solutions with low NRE and very short lead-times, typically 7 weeks from design acceptance.

Hydrogen monitoring improves Syngas efficiency

Syngas (synthesis gas) is manufactured from feedstocks containing carbon, such as coal, heavy oil, natural gas or biomass, to produce a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The production process involves a number of phases that start with gasification of the feedstock, and efficiency is greatly improved when hydrogen levels are monitored using a new sensor technology that is able to measure continuously without interference from other gases.

Syngas is used in the production of synthetic petroleum, lubricants, fuels for internal combustion engines and as an intermediate in the production of other chemicals.

The gasification phase requires very high temperatures, depending on feedstock and process, which are obtained from an external heat source or by partial oxidation of part of the feedstock to release heat. A purification process then removes impurities such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane, sulphur compounds, tar and ash. After which, the proportion of hydrogen and carbon monoxide is adjusted depending on the intended use of the syngas.

Continuous hydrogen measurement provides an opportunity for real-time control of the production process by enabling the operator to make adjustments to ensure maximum efficiency. For example, water may be added to increase levels of hydrogen, or water might be removed to increase the carbon monoxide level. As a result, the operator is able to produce a final product with the correct ratio and to then check that this has been achieved. In the absence of hydrogen measurement, the end product ratio can only be an estimation.

Quantitech has supplied innovative H₂scan hydrogen-specific analysers to the British market for the last four years. These analysers employ a solid-state hydrogen specific technology based on palladium/nickel alloy that requires no sample gas, reference cell or routine calibration. The sensing material is inherently specific to hydrogen and has the capability to operate in a variety of multi-component and varying-component gas compositions, including tolerance to % levels of hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide. Custom conditioning and calibration in contaminant gas streams along with a very precise on-board temperature control loop provides high accuracy and long-term stability. The analysers are also adaptable to conventional or NeSSI type sample systems.

Summarising, Quantitech’s Managing Director Keith Golding says: “The H₂scan technology removes guesswork from the syngas production process and adds new levels of efficiency to an established process, ensuring that the process is able to respond quickly to variables. This is a further example of the many applications in which hydrogen-specific gas measurement has delivered tremendous benefits. Other examples include health and safety, and process control applications such as oil and gas, nuclear power/waste, lead acid battery monitoring, chlorine manufacture, chrome plating, research, semiconductor and electronics manufacture, abatement exhausts, transformer oil, fuel cell technologies and hydrogen production.”