Friday, August 31, 2012

ASIC supply chain provider

DELTA Microelectronics has been selected by Rohde & Schwarz as its ASIC supply chain provider. Rohde & Schwarz benefits from DELTA’s package development, testing, tapeout and full turnkey services.

The two companies have been cooperating for over two years, with DELTA tailoring its ASIC offering and processes to match Rohde & Schwarz requirements. “This is a great example of the flexibility of DELTA’s turnkey services,” said Sharon Akler, Sales Manager at DELTA. “Companies like Rohde & Schwarz, whose ASIC Design Team wants to remain focused on their core competencies, can rely on DELTA to manage the entire ASIC supply chain with the best quality and efficiency available.”

“Quality was the main consideration for us when we looked for a turnkey ASIC supply chain partner” said Gerhard Kahmen, head of R&D Mixed-Signal IC at Rohde & Schwarz. "DELTA impressed us with both its comprehensive test offering and its thorough processes for managing the entire ASIC supply chain.”

DELTA’s supply chain service adapts to each customer’s unique needs and volumes, and consists of wafer procurement and probing, packaging, component testing, storage and distribution of ICs. DELTA operates one of the largest commercial microelectronics testing facilities in Europe, and its supply chain management consists of quality control measures to guarantee the most predictable, low risk path to market-ready silicon.

Safety Relay Module

Provides easy way to add alarm contacts to safety processes without special installation

The SRM Safety Relay Module is a versatile relay repeater module launched by Moore Industries that has been certified by exida for single use in Safety Instrumented Systems up to SIL 2. The SRM is part of the company's FS Functional Ssfety Series and accepts single contact closure inputs from logic solver trip outputs including their STA Safety Trip Alarm and the SPA2 Programmable Limit Alarm Trip. With three contacts per alarm input, the SRM allows for the addition of alarm contacts to safety processes without special installation or configuration.

Unlike many other interposing relays, the SRM is a Force Guided Relay, avoiding the possibility of having contacts become stuck in both Normally Open (NO) and Normally Closed (NC) positions at the same time and avoids potential problems caused by issues such as welded contacts. The SRM is built using a safety-related relay with forcibly-guided contacts, which are monitored and mechanically linked to the same armature as the output contacts.

The SRM has been developed following the IEC 61508 standard and offers a high level of availability for safety-critical applications and for use as a component part of Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS). While most safety relays are in a plastic case, the SRM in housed in a durable and rugged “universal” aluminum DIN case that can be mounted on either a 32mm G-type or 35mm Top-Hat DIN-rail.

A major design consideration of the SRM is its ease of use. It features a front-panel visual diagnostics, with three LED indicator lights reflecting the current Input, Output and power status. It can also be installed in an SIS with minimal wiring.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wireless US level

Vydas International Marketing has released the new Massa M3 and M3is Wireless Ultrasonic Level Sensors for tank level and precision distance measurement.

Manufactured by Massa Products Corporation, the M3 Zigbee enabled ultrasonic sensor design provides low cost non-contact ultrasonic distance measurement primarily for remote tank liquid level monitoring. The M3 wireless ultrasonic sensor is also available with IS Certification for Class 1 Division 1   (All Groups) Hazardous Locations.

Applications for this sensor include, liquid level control, mechanical positioning, roll diameter measurement, web loop/break monitoring, asset tracking, remote monitoring, automatic filling operation, automatic packaging, bulk level control, paper and plastic film processing and many others.

The M3 wireless ultrasonic sensors stand out because of their affordability and reliability. The sensor transmits narrow beam sound pulses, processes return echoes, and produces several outputs. The measurement output is then transmitted by low power Zigbee radio to a 'gateway' and the information is presented to the user via LAN, cellular, or web portal.

Operating on internal batteries with a typical life span of 3-5 years, the M3 family of sensors has a detection range of 4 inches foot to 30 feet. The distance measurement is transmitted via Digi International Xbee radios and gateway. The M3 sensor contains advance on board diagnostics as well as many user adjustable output settings including measurement sampling rate, radio transmission rate, averaging of multiple distance measurements as well as reporting battery voltage, temperature and other parameters.

The network also allows users to remotely program their sensors and read ranges for quick integration into their remote monitoring application. Other features of the M3 ultrasonic sensor include: chemically resistant Kynar housing with 2" NPS fitting for mounting, built-in temperature compensation, diagnostic and monitoring outputs.

Design, configuration and virtual assembly of control cabinets & busbar connections

Fig 1
System configuration 3 pole Rittal Flat
PLS busbar system including Rittal
system accessories
Switchgear is used virtually everywhere that electricity flows. The new "Copper" add-on module for EPLAN Pro Panel Professional allows free design, configuration and virtual assembly of control cabinets and the necessary busbar systems. With EPLAN Pro Panel "Copper", information from the "Rittal Power Engineering" planning tool, which is software used for the configuration and design of low-voltage switchgear systems, can, for example, be utilised to fit the necessary Rittal system components into a virtual 3D model.

The comprehensive new engineering solution begins with the design of the switchgear systems. With EPLAN Pro Panel "Copper", users can simply transfer the results of the design process into the EPLAN overall project to allow further virtual setup and assembly of the control cabinet. The "Copper" module allows planning of various components, including switchgear systems, based on the Ri4Power solution from Rittal or the RiLine60 modular busbar system and the TS 8 control cabinet. Any busbar and the associated connecting elements can be individually designed and assembled virtually.

Intuitive construction of copper wires
Fig 2
Virtual bending of busbars in 3D
Easily constructed circuit breakers
with connection points 
The casing and accessories, equipment such as mains switches and circuit breakers, and copper rails required are collated within EPLAN from an online component library and put together to form a virtual prototype of the control cabinet. Where the busbar technology stops, users can design copper rails and connection elements freely within the 3D assembly structure and, where necessary, bend and adapt them as necessary. Design and production-related information, such as bending radii or company-specific bending rules, is utilised directly during the busbar design process and when processing components for the drawing. An individual shape library helps keep numbers of variants down while at the same time, the level of standardisation for production and assembly increases. The innovative EPLAN e-Touch Technology allows copper wires to be fitted intuitively. In brief: The prototype of the switchgear system is in place long before the first components have actually been ordered, produced or fitted.

Detecting potential problems early
Fig 3
Main switch with connection kit including
manufacturing information for machining of
the busbars
Drill holes, recesses and punch holes can be defined for all kinds of connections for copper parts in the 3D assembly design - either as a norm-based drilling template or by placing them individually. The information required to produce and process the components is provided from EPLAN for manual production or to control NC-based bending, drilling or stamping machines. Appropriate test runs on the system and the built-in anti-collision systems allow the whole virtual prototype of the switchgear to be checked. Engineers can detect potential problems as early as possible within the product development process. This prevents last minute corrections at the production and assembly stage, which could delay delivery. However, if a change does need to be made, the system automatically updates all dependent components, parts lists, reports and production drawings. Users save time, costs and materials on an ongoing basis.

Equipment procurement made simple
Fig 4
EPLAN Pro Panel Professional Copper
3D assembly design, busbar construction,
automatic generation of production
drawings and export of order information
A range of reports for equipment ordering and coordination accelerates the whole process. The system generates reports for material ordering, cutting lists and valuable production and assembly documents. The specific integration into the product development environment ensures that the data for equipment procurement, order preparation and coordination, production and fitting is used. In brief: A consistent workflow, which provides system operators with "as built" documentation in accordance with the machinery directive.

How good is your gas?

New transportable hydrocarbon dew-point analyser makes investigations of natural gas quality easier to perform

In response to requests from customers, Michell Instruments has developed a transportable version of its market-leading hydrocarbon dew-point analyser. The key function of this version will be to enable engineers to provide a fast response for investigations into the quality of natural gas, wherever it is needed.

The Transportable Condumax II measures hydrocarbon and water dew-point (key indicators of the quality of natural gas) in the same way and to the same accuracy as the on-line version. The analyser is fitted into a robust transport case with rudimentary sampling system suitable for performing supervised measurement sequences.

As Michell’s technical consultant, Andy Benton, explains, ‘The Transportable Condumax II provides a totally flexible analyser package for investigations into natural gas quality – which means that it could be employed anywhere in the natural gas supply chain, from processing plants through to pipeline transmission, and by large users such as electricity generation companies. So it’s important that the system can be loaded into and out of a pick-up truck by two engineers, who will be able to operate and analyse the results on site.’ This ease of use reduces the reaction time of test measurements as well as the cost.

A typical application for the Transportable Condumax II would be investigations into the performance of hydrocarbon reduction processing by natural gas producers. The analyzer can be brought into operation quickly at any point in the process to help resolve issues.

Gas pipeline transmission operators usually have on-line hydrocarbon dew-point analyzers installed at the entry and delivery points of their pipeline network, however, the Transportable Condumax II allows for checks of quality to be made at any point within the pipeline.

Electricity generating companies that operate gas turbines need to be sure of the superheat margin between the dew point and delivery temperature of the fuel gas to avoid damage caused by liquid condensate in the gas, as well as avoiding environmental levies on emissions. The Transportable Condumax II enables checks of the hydrocarbon and water dew point of the natural gas entering the fuel gas system.

The Transportable Condumax II is certified for use in hazardous areas around the world, including ATEX, IECEx, CSA and GOST, with specific local certification available.

• Michell Instruments are marketed in Ireland by Instrument Technology!

Fighting sunlight!

I suppose one could argue that this isn't strictly speaking automation but the number of times I have been unable to read screens in and out of the plant environment because of sunshine or glare makes this is something that interests me. I hope it will interest you too!

Ginsbury have announced the availability of two new 15” Landmark high brightness, sunlight readable TFT LCD modules. The 15.6” LMG226B-156XW01 and the 15.0” LMG241-150X02TL deliver very high levels of screen luminance resulting in exceptional picture sharpness and clarity in high brightness environments.

The LMG226B-156XW01 is a sunlight readable LCD module with a VHB (very high brightness) LED backlight. The LED backlight enables a maximum screen brightness of 1,800cd/m². At this brightness the power consumption of the backlight is 29watts. Typical contrast ratio is specified as 500:1.

The 15.6” display module has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels with a viewing angle of greater than ±80° in both horizontal and vertical directions. The module has mechanical outline dimensions of 363.8mm (w) x 215.9mm (h) x 14.3mm (d).

The LMG241-150X02TL is a 15.0”, 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, sunlight readable display with a VHB LED backlight in a side mount package of less than 12mm maximum thickness. At the maximum backlight power of 18.5watts, the LMG241-150X02TL delivers a brightness of 1,500cd/m² and a contrast ratio 800:1.

Paul Constable, Product Manager, Ginsbury said, “Standard colour TFT LCDs are often unable to provide sufficient luminance for viewing under bright, outdoor environments and the result is poor image quality. Landmark LCD display modules are high performance products designed specifically for use under high ambient light conditions. The high brightness LED backlights employed by Landmark ensure the display image is easily readable even under direct sunlight.”

The half brightness lifetime of the VHB backlight in the LMG226B-156XW0 and LMG241-150X02TL modules are rated at 50,000 hours. The half brightness lifetime is the number of operating hours before the backlight luminance drops down to 50% of its initial value. Landmark high brightness backlights are engineered to provide the largest possible dimming range. For applications in low lighting environments, the screen brightness can be reduced to less than 5cd/m² using an LED backlight controller with PWM (pulse width modulation) dimming control.

Both modules feature an anti-glare hard coating (3H) treatment on the front surface of the display and an operating temperature range of 0°C to 50°C.

The Landmark 15.0” and 15.6” display modules are ideal for high brightness environments and outdoor applications such as digital signage, outdoor kiosks, marine, medical, mobile and industrial. The Landmark LMG226B-156XW01 and LMG241-150X02TL are available from Ginsbury immediately.

Secure cabling!

The Harting Ha-VIS preLink® interconnection technology forms the heart of a secure cabling system that can be deployed in IT centres as well as industrial machinery and plant automation systems.

The key to the integrity and versatility of the Ha-VIS preLink® system is the fact that cabling components are always assembled according to the same principle, with the terminal block crimped onto the data cable and a choice of mating faces available for snap-in assembly.

Several mating face variants are available including RJ45, M12 D-coded and M12 X-coded versions. This cabling system ensures extremely fast and completely safe installation of the cabling to achieve an operationally dependable and high-performance network infrastructure. The design is inherently future-proof for compatibility with Cat.6A/transmission class EA for 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The Ha-VIS preLink® product range is undergoing constant development and extension, and forthcoming developments include terminal boxes for industrial and outdoor use, an industrial outlet, and new intelligent patch-panel connectivity solutions.

Portable NDT instruments

Expanding its non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques and complementing its existing array of advanced instruments, Keighley Laboratories has invested in a portable conductivity meter, which measures the electrical conductivity of non-ferrous metals employing the eddy current method, and a pocket instrument for convenient and fast coating thickness measurement, using magnetic induction and eddy current technologies. Both measuring techniques are applicable to the aerospace, automotive, petrochemical, engineering, heat treatment and other fields and complement the specialist NDT services the company already offers to industry clients.

Through its Technical Services division, Keighley Labs covers many of the mainstream NDT methods, notably magnetic particle crack detection, dye penetrant testing, ultrasonic flaw detection, magnetic permeability, positive material identification, residual magnetism and ferrite determination, as well as radiography on a sub-contract basis. Its highly skilled and experienced NDT technicians are qualified to at least PCN Level 2 in several disciplines and are able to define and implement tests that detect and analyse material flaws that might otherwise give rise to critical component failure or quality control issues, either working in the laboratory or at the customer site. Many methods are covered by the company’s UKAS accreditation, for testing at customer premises.

The electrical conductivity of a metal depends on various factors, such as chemical composition, the stress state of its microstructure and mechanical properties, so can be used for sorting metals and checking proper heat treatment, as well as identifying how well a metal conducts electrical current for anodising and other processes. The company’s new instrument will measure the electrical conductivity of non-ferrous metals, such as aluminium alloys, copper and even stainless steels, using the eddy current method in accordance with DIN EN 2004-1 and ASTM E 1004 standards and determining conductivity of materials under paint or synthetic coatings up to 500µm thick.

Employed both in-house and for external clients, it will enable Keighley Labs to monitor the hardness and strength of heat treated materials like aluminium alloys and inspect for any heat damage. The same instrument will also be used for scrap metal sorting at customer sites, determining the purity of non-ferrous metals and verifying the homogeneity of alloys, as well as for the inspection of finished goods. It will even detect counterfeit coins.

The other NDT technique, for measuring the precise thickness of such applied coatings as paint, powder coatings, plastics and plated finishes, is equally important for ensuring compliance with thickness specifications, preventing defective coatings and subsequent corrosion, maintaining product quality and controlling production costs. The company’s newly-acquired pocket instrument will provide for non-destructive measurement of the total thickness of coatings up to 2000µm thick, applied to ferrous and non-ferrous materials. It will automatically recognise the underlying material, such as steel or aluminium, and select the appropriate one of two test methods, which are eddy current and magnetic induction in accordance with ISO 2178, ASTM D7091 and ISO 2300 standards.

With an on-board memory for up to 1000 readings, it will allow Keighley Labs technicians to measure paint, lacquer or plastic coatings on a whole range of metals, anodised coatings on aluminium components, electro-plated zinc, chromium and copper finishes, and sputtered thin-film deposition.

As with all advanced NDT techniques, a considerable degree of operator skill and experience is required to apply these test methods properly, obtain the maximum amount of information, then interpret the results and provide feedback for the client. With the newly-acquired instruments, this process will be aided by the capacity to download results directly from the portable devices to the NDT department’s computers, for error-free data transfer and subsequent analysis and report generation.

Air-to-air heat exchangers

Air-to-air heat exchangers provide a simple, stand-alone, low maintenance and energy efficient means of cooling electrical enclosures. The effectiveness of this type of cooling product is fundamentally dependent upon the ambient air temperature and the required internal air temperature; not only must the former be lower than the latter but the available cooling output varies with the difference between them.

Rittal’s Air-to-air heat exchangers have only two moving parts, an internal fan and an external fan, which draw air through separate circuits of a heat exchanger, ensuring that the ambient air, which may be aggressive, or any debris or contaminants present in it, are not permitted ingress into the enclosure. Fans fitted in the Rittal air-to-air heat exchanger are maintenance-free.
Maintenance is limited to cleaning between the lamellae of the aluminium heat exchanger, which may be re-moved both quickly and easily. Debris and coarse dust particles or oil vapour may be removed from the ambient air prior to the heat exchanger using either a polyure-thane (PU) foam filter mat or a metallic filter mat respectively.

Since Rittal’s air-to-air heat exchangers require only an electrical supply and energy consumption is limited to that of two fans, the energy efficiency of this cooling solution is greater than that of alternatives that utilise refrigerant.

Rittal’s air-to-air heat exchangers are available as either roof-mounted or wall-mounted variants and for internal or external use. There is a product suitable for most applications should the ambient air temperature and the required internal air temperature permit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Manufacturer-Independent device operation for #PAuto going stateside

PACTware™ on the Road Again

This October, PACTware experts will be travelling to the US to broaden the scope and awareness of PACTware. The seminars will focus on the benefits of PACTware, the group will showcase how the frame application will enhance device operation through the entire life cycle of a device.

The Roadshow is making two stops:
• Houston, TX; Oct. 17, 2012
• New Orleans, LA; Oct. 22, 2012

The half day events will kick off with an overview of the technology, followed by user-oriented, vendor neutral workshops focusing on operation and maintenance benefits including:
• Showcasing how configuration of a device is made easier,
• Illustrating how advanced diagnostics enhances predictive maintenance and troubleshooting – while at the same time- increasing productivity and making life of a plant engineer a little easier.
• Network with their peers and PACTware experts at table tops showcasing the latest equipment available from leading manufacturers.

A multi-vendor demo wall will be on display, featuring numerous application examples, showing first-hand how device access can be considerably facilitated and accelerated by using a single tool for all networks and field devices communicating via HART, PROFIBUS and FOUNDATION Fieldbus.
Lunch will be included with the complementary registration.

The events are sponsored by the leading manufacturers in the industry including; Bopp & Reuther, CodeWrights, ICS, Invensys Foxboro Eckardt, KROHNE, Pepperl+Fuchs, Trebing & Himstedt and VEGA exhibiting their FDT based devices on table tops. The Roadshow is supported by the FDT Group and Softing (providing its FF link master).

Broadcasting vibration safely!

CSI 9420 Wireless Vibration Transmitter is now approved for ATEX Zone 0 and Class I, Div 1 areas

Emerson Process Management has expanded the application of its CSI 9420 Wireless Vibration Transmitter with intrinsic safety ratings to European, US and Canadian standards. With ATEX Zone 0 and Class I, Div 1 ratings, the CSI 9420 can now be installed directly in hazardous areas such as chemical, petrochemical, and off-shore facilities as well as other explosion-classified environments.

The CSI 9420 connects quickly, easily and economically to any machine. The safety ratings, which are in addition to existing hazardous area ratings to the IECEx and Brazilian standards, further extend the benefit of wireless technology to new areas of the plant. The CSI 9420 provides key insights into the condition of pumps, fans and other assets located in hazardous areas, without the expense of running cables. 

"Our focus is to help our users make better, more informed decisions about their key production assets," said Ron Martin, Vice President/General Manager of Emerson’s Asset Optimization and Lifecycle Care business. "The strength of our wireless technologies, married with our machinery health expertise, gives users the ability to get information that leads to timely, accurate decisions - decisions that can have a profound impact on the availability and performance of their facility."

Reliable Power-over-Ethernet networks on the train!

EN 50155 approved managed Power-over-Ethernet switches provide highly reliable communications networks.

To meet the growing demand for communication networks on-board railway rolling stock, Westermo has introduced two compact and rugged Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches that support video, LCDs and wireless LAN access points. The new devices further enhance Westermo’s innovative IP Train concept, which delivers a complete Ethernet switch and routing solution to provide a robust network infrastructure for the creation of intelligent trains.

The Viper-112-P8 and Viper-212-P8 twelve-port (8 PoE and 4 standard Ethernet) managed switches, support the IEEE 802.3at `plug-and-play' PoE communications standard. PoE enables both power and data to be transmitted on a single multi-core cable, reducing overall wiring and enabling faster installation. The Viper switches deliver up to 66W of power across their 8 PoE ports. The Viper isolates the input DC voltage from the connected devices to protect them from power surges. Power distribution is managed with ports `tuned’ to maximise distribution efficiency.

Specifically designed to meet the full requirements of the on-board rail vehicle market, the Viper switches deliver improved levels of reliability and simplified network design, installation and maintenance. On-board rolling stock applications present one of the toughest environments for any electronic device. The Viper series is designed and manufactured to exceed the EN 50155 on-board railway standard for electronic equipment, which encompasses not only EMC requirements, but also shock, vibration, extended temperature range and humidity. The switches have also been designed to achieve the highest mean time between failures of up to 448 000 hours (MIL-C217F2), ensuring the extremely long-term and reliable field operation that is expected within the railway industry.

The Viper switches’ WeOS operating system provides an extensive suite of IP networking standards allowing resilient and flexible networks to be created. The operating system is able to detect any rail car position changes, rotations and additions, and then compensate for such changes in the network without any manual reconfiguration. To ease installation and maintenance, Viper switches and any connecting devices can be configured with identical IP addresses in each carriage. This simplifies the overall IP plan and standardises configurations.

The Viper-212-P8 switch offers additional routing capability to enable the connection of subnets and improved overall network performance. The WeOS operating system is also able to balance data traffic on the network to maintain maximum throughput and stability. The introduction of increased traffic from new cameras or video stream will therefore not affect the stability of the entire network. In the event of any link or hardware failure Westermo’s unique FRNT technology is able to re-configure a large network in 20ms.

The Viper incorporates M12 connectors integrated into the housing to reduce size and further protect against vibration. With an ultra-robust design, sealed to IP65 and vibration resistant to military standards, these units are ideal for situations where mechanical stress, moisture, condensation, dirt or continuous vibrations (such as those produced by an engine) could adversely affect the function of standard switches. A unique Gore-Tex® membrane is used to prevent condensation build up from normal climatic day/night cycling. The Viper is also very compact and ultra-thin, enabling installation within the confined spaces of railcar panels.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Advanced CNC solution accelerates NASCAR wheel production

An advanced NUM CNC retrofit of a spin forming lathe is providing a platform for substantial gains in manufacturing efficiency for the NASCAR wheel supplier, Aero Race Wheels, Inc. Productivity improvements include faster batch changeovers, tighter process control and automated program generation for new parts.
Many of the cars in NASCAR events race on high performance wheels manufactured by Aero Race Wheels.
Aero Race Wheels is the leading supplier of premier steel racing wheels for NASCAR events. Founded in 1995, the company has grown to become the US's largest manufacturer of steel racing car wheels. The company's facility in Iowa produces hundreds of race wheels every day, which are used by a broad cross-section of the racing community. Drivers participating in IMCA and WISSOTA events use Aero Race Wheels' products, and more Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Series races have been won on the company's 59 Series NASCAR wheels than all other brands combined.

Aero Race Wheels utilises spin forming techniques to produce its high performance racing wheels. The process involves rotating a cylindrical steel work piece and a forming tool at high speed while exerting localised pressure using a roller, causing the metal to flow over the tool. The technique is ideal for manufacturing axially symmetric parts such as wheel rims. It creates a very strong, seamless component from a single piece of material, with little or no scrap.

Jennifer Jo Cobb
NASCAR’s highest finishing female driver.
See her at this years Automation Week,
Orlando 25/26 Sept 2012
The shape forming operations are performed on a 20-year-old Autospin metal spinning lathe. This machine has two sets of pressure rollers - one at the front of the work piece, the other at its rear - which enable both sides of the wheel rims to be formed without manual intervention. Each set of rollers has two motion control axes, X and Z, driven by four hydraulic cylinders, plus the motor-driven lathe spindle.

Given that the seasoned Autospin lathe is vital to its manufacturing operations, Aero was becoming concerned about its reliability. Although supporting the machine's mechanics was not problematic, obtaining replacement parts for the original motion control system had become nearly impossible.

Further, the original control was at best rudimentary. It had limited functionality and could only be programmed using a point-by-point data entry table that made it difficult to visualise and modify machine motion, demanding extensive operator training. And because the system could only store programs for a few types of wheel, production changeover was often time-consuming - typically taking up to three to four hours or more - severely impacting the economics of the company's small batch oriented production processes. To improve this situation, Aero turned to a machine re-builder which specialises in machine upgrade solutions for the spinning market.

The machine re-builder performed a comprehensive mechanical and electrical rebuild of the lathe. For the critical CNC element of the refurbishment, it chose to retrofit a high-end solution from NUM, primarily because unique application-specific software developed by NUM's US facility helped overcome all limitations of the lathe's existing control system. The software is a tailored version of the NUMspinform control package for spin forming applications. The retrofit also includes a NUM FS151 operator's panel, a custom HMI programming interface and a customised machine panel.

Prior to the Aero Race Wheels application, the NUMSpinform interface employed a teaching method of programming where the operator begins by copying the shape of the forming tool, or mandrel, and specifying the desired wall thickness of the part; the CNC system then calculates a two-dimensional safety zone to prevent any roller-tool collision. Next, the operator spin forms the new part by controlling the X and Z axes of the roller manually via a joystick, while the CNC system records the motion paths. Before it is saved as the final production program, the recorded spinning cycle can easily be optimised by modifying the roller path in the X or Z axis - on the fly - using a calibrated hand-wheel.

In the case of Aero Race Wheels' 4-axis Autospin lathe, the preferred programming approach is to teach the mandrel safety zone, but to then draw the spinning cycle as a series of spline curves using an on-screen drafting tool. This drawing approach is now also part of the NUMSpinform solution. It has many benefits for a spinner, including a reduction in direct exposure to the machine elements, which increases safety, and a simplified learning curve for operators who do not have the years and years of spinning feel, required for the teach-in process.

NUMSpinform also accommodates offline program generation. Users can choose to create their own tooling files with the software's graphical drawing facilities, or import them from a design automation source such as AutoCAD, and then program a spin cycle using simple mouse-driven point-and-click techniques. As soon as the design is ready, all defined geometry can be converted into a production program with a single click of a button and exported to the lathe's CNC system to produce a trial part. The user is no longer bound by file storage issues to limit the number of spin cycles in the library, as the NUM system provides a local drive as well as access to a network drive.

The NUMSpinform package accommodates either a simple two axis spinning lathe or a four axis machine as in the case of Aero Race Wheels. Aero's machine slides can be programmed and operated as independent paths or in a method where the operator programs one X1/Z1 slide and the other X2/Z2 slide simply follows in a mirrored mode.

According to Marv Dailey, Design/Process Engineer, of Aero Race Wheels, "Our business demands very flexible manufacturing - we manufacture mainly in small quantities and we need to switch between batches as quickly as possible, as well as being able to trial new designs. The service provided by NUM and our machine re-builder partner has been exemplary, giving us a combination of precision mechanics and state-of-the-art metal spinning programming and control. Product changeover typically now takes less than 20 minutes, and the semi-automated method of generating and optimising spin cycle programs has significantly reduced development and operator training times. Offline programming also frees up time on this critical production machine, further boosting productivity."

Steven Schilling, General Manager of NUM Corporation, points out that application-specific software is central to NUM's business strategy. "Upgraded CNC software is often the most important element of a successful machine rebuilding project, and we have been very pleased with the outcome of this project, which resulted from the very close liaison between NUM's, the system integrator's and Aero's engineering teams."

Monday, August 27, 2012

New DC mA clamp-on process meter

Yokogawa Corporation has released another high quality and well-engineered product, the CL420 Clamp-on Process Meter. The CL420 will safely measure 0-120 mA DC process control signals without breaking the loop. Typical application examples include distributed control systems, programmable logic controllers, pressure and temperature transmitters, and loop powered isolators and indicators.

Outstanding features of the Yokogawa CL420 include:
0.2% Accuracy and 0.01 mA Resolution from 0-20 mA DC
• mA Measurement and % of Span for 4-20 mA
• Dual LCD Numeric Display.
• LED Torch Light
• Data Hold Function
• 6mm Clamp Diameter
• Analog Output Available

The unit is complementary to our existing portfolio of calibrators, such as the CA11 Loop Calibrator, CA71 and CA150 Multifunction Calibrators, and the CA450 Process Meter. The analog output can be used as an input to the XL120 data logger, TY500/700 Multimeters, or chart recorders.

Standard accessories provided with the CL420 are a carrying case, 4 AA batteries, and an instruction manual. Optional accessories include analog output cables with banana plugs or screw terminals. It also has a 1 year warranty.