Friday, November 9, 2012

Co-operation to aid automation users in process industry

In collaborating with NAMUR, a leading international user association for automation in the process industry, ISA continues to explore new partnership initiatives to help solve global industry challenges

The International Society of Automation (ISA) is tireless in exploring new collaborative initiatives designed to help industries throughout the world improve automation technology and workforce proficiency, safety, reliability and efficiency.

About ISA
ISA has developed more than 160 standards, recommended practices and technical reports.ISA standards support safer and more reliable operating environments, streamline and standardize industry processes, and improve operating performance and profitability. Many ISA standards are being adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for application overseas.

ISA training programs leverage the expertise of leading subject matter experts across a wide variety of technical fields, including: petro-chemical, energy, utility, pharmaceutical, pulp/paper, food/beverage, military/defense and manufacturing.
Executive Director and CEO Patrick Gouhin is working with representatives of NAMUR, the leading international user association of automation technology companies in the chemical process industry, to assess how ISA can support NAMUR’s core objectives, namely:
    Minimising its member companies’ costs associated with process control technology
    Increasing access to appropriate process control technology
    Improving plant safety
    Encouraging greater collaboration among its company members with other corporations and associations
“At ISA, we’re honoured that NAMUR encourages our input and seeks to create a collaborative relationship,” says Gouhin, who earlier this week attended and spoke at NAMUR’s Annual General Meeting, held 8-9 November 2012 in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (D). Pieter van der Klooster, who manages ISA’s European office, also attended the meeting. “We’re currently working to define the activities that offer the most potential for collaboration, to plan cooperative working groups, and to consider our mutual participation in events.”

In his opening remarks at the meeting, NAMUR President Wilhelm Otten highlighted the need to initiate international involvement and secure alliances with other organizations to solve many of the global challenges facing process industry.

In an increasingly linked and interdependent global economy, fostering greater communication and cooperation among industry producers, automation technology companies, industry associations, government officials, and academicians is vital in sharing best practices, promoting innovation, and weighing strategies to invigorate worldwide economic growth.

Already, Gouhin reports, ISA and NAMUR have identified five common working groups that offer immediate collaborative opportunities:
    Functional Safety Wireless Automation
    IT Security
    Selection of Field Flow Devices Alarm Management
Pat Gouhin’s involvement at NAMUR is the latest example of ISA’s growing participation in international initiatives to leverage the value of automation technology and counteract the worldwide economic slowdown. In mid-October of this year, Gouhin attended and spoke at the World Manufacturing Forum 2012, in Stuttgart (D), where he underscored the need for automated manufacturing systems and more skilled workers capable of operating them.

“While the ability to innovate will be an essential factor in determining corporate success in the 21st century, having access to a capable, well-trained automation and control workforce may be even more critical,” Gouhin indicates.

According to a recently published report on the world economy, an estimated 10 million jobs in various industries cannot be filled today due to a growing skills gap.

By establishing automation standards, and developing and certifying the technical knowledge and expertise of automation and control professionals, ISA can play a significant role in closing this skills gap, and improving economic growth throughout the world, Gouhin says.

Wireless races in Canada!

T24 Wireless Instrumentation Plays Key Role in Formula SAE Success

Wireless instrumentation technology from Mantracourt  has played an important part in the recent success of Canadian race team Formula SAE ÉTS.

The Formula SAE ÉTS team has enjoyed considerable success in several international competitions whereby they secured a number of 1st and 2nd places, against fierce competition. As a part of a sponsorship package for the 'École de Technologie Superieure' engineering team from the University of Quebec in Canada, Mantracourt has been providing wireless torque measurement instrumentation and technical support to enable drive shaft torque measurements during testing.

“The Mantracourt amplifiers are used for system characterisation, data analysis and the creation of a performance index,” said Patrick Leroux of the ÉTS team. “Mantracourt’s sensors and transmitters are helping us in our car comprehension and design, helping us to become better engineers.”

“We are very proud to be associated with the ÉTS team’s success,” said Kelly Voysey, Sales and Marketing Manager at Mantracourt. “We consider the Formula SAE a truly excellent competition for student engineers, and we are pleased to have provided the instrumentation and support that they have needed to develop their race car.”

The Formula SAE Competition is organised by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Over 90 competing university teams from all over the globe, design, build and test prototype Formula-style racing cars and compete in categories such as Design, Endurance, Fuel Economy, Acceleration, Cost & Manufacturing Analysis.

Support for USB3 Vision Standard

National Instruments has announced NI LabVIEW support for the new USB3 Vision camera standard through the NI Vision Acquisition Software driver package. The standard offers significant performance and usability improvements compared to USB 2.0 cameras and popular interfaces, such as GigE Vision, with faster bandwidth up to 400 MB/s and 4.5 W to directly power cameras. USB3 Vision cameras also offer plug-and-play functionality and ease of use through a standardised catalogue of functions.

“More than 30 machine vision vendors have participated in the standardisation of USB3 Vision,” said Eric Gross, Chair of the USB3 Vision Standardisation Committee and Senior Software Engineer at National Instruments. “USB 3.0 ports are becoming mainstream on consumer and industrial computer products and, with this new standard, users can easily adopt cutting-edge technology for a wide array of vision applications.”

René von Fintel, Product Manager from participating camera vendor Basler adds, “With the easy connections and adherence to a clear standard, USB cameras are aimed at conventional industrial applications as well as medical systems, motion analysis and microscopy.”

The USB3 Vision standard supports easy camera connectivity to newer off-the-shelf computer products with built-in USB 3.0 ports, including the new NI PXIe-8135 embedded controller. Engineers and scientists can also take advantage of powerful image processing libraries from National Instruments with the NI Vision Development Module, which includes new 3D vision functionality, and NI Vision Builder for Automated Inspection, the stand-alone configuration software environment for machine vision applications.

Human reliability in Middle East

Human reliability software company extends Middle East support

PAS has opened an operations office in Saudi Arabia, broadening and deepening its presence in the Middle East.

The Saudi Arabia expansion will enable PAS to meet growing demand in the region and serve key clients such as Saudi Aramco and SABIC. The Saudi Arabian office will further strengthen PAS’ regional capabilities that already includes offices in Bahrain and Doha, Qatar set up to service clients such as Qatargas, Qatar Petroleum, Kuwait Oil Company, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNOP), ADGAS, Petroleum Development of Oman, and many others.

“The expansion of our presence in the Middle East is a significant milestone. Many customers seek our expertise in minimizing human error by delivering critical process information in context to plant operators, engineers, and managers in the Middle East power generation and hydrocarbon industries. We’re helping plant personnel to make the right decision in time-sensitive situations, helping them to maintain a safe and productive operation.” said Bill Dennison, PAS Vice President of EMEA.

The additional Middle East office is part of the company’s broader plans to increase its presence worldwide. PAS has operations locations in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Asia, UK and Europe.

LIMS white paper!

Autoscribe has published a white paper which looks at the common factors that contribute to risk in LIMS projects. The white paper includes examples of projects that have run into difficulties due to inadequate risk management.

Autoscribe’s founder and CEO, John Boother, explains: “There are far too many LIMS projects that have collapsed or failed to deliver the expected benefits. Frequently projects end up significantly over budget with additional non-budgeted, on-going costs such as having IT consultants on site for many months after delivery of a system, because of inadequate planning.”

“Projects of this nature are typically characterised by a changed specification from that originally described, leading to system ‘configuration’ continuing sometimes for years after original system delivery”, he continued.. “We at Autoscribe believe that the key to a successful LIMS project is a clear understanding of the potential risks and the implementation of a structured program to mitigate these risks.”

The white paper looks at the risks associated with the various stages of a LIMS project. These include: project definition; evaluation and selection of the system; implementation and rollout and support and upgrades

Activities for water treatment to be put up for sale

Siemens to focus its water business on automation technology in the future

Siemens has decided to reorganise its activities in the water business. The company will focus in the future on automation and drive solutions for the control of water applications for municipalities and industry. The Business Unit known as Siemens Water Technologies, which offers solutions for municipal and industrial water purification and wastewater treatment, is to be sold along with the corresponding service activities. "This business shows only minor synergies with our industrial portfolio, as the skills for water treatment are primarily based on chemical expertise. Instead of investing into that business, we want to gear our resources toward our core portfolio," said Siegfried Russwurm, member of the Siemens AG Managing Board and CEO of the Industry Sector. Siemens Water Technologies is active predominantly in the North American market and recently underwent a comprehensive restructuring. Strengthening Siemens' core activities is one of the five main action fields in the corporate program "Siemens 2014".

"In the future, we will concentrate our water business on solutions along our core areas of expertise in electrical engineering. These are in the automation and drive technology used to operate waterworks and sewage plants as well as sea water desalination plants," said Anton S. Huber, CEO of the Industry Automation Division at Siemens. "For the business, which is organized in the Water Technologies Business Unit, we are looking for the right buyer with a sustainable growth perspective who is willing to invest in this business and generate more synergies."

The products and services provided by Water Technologies comprise a number of different biological, chemical, and mechanical methods for the treatment of water and wastewater. The bulk of this business is geared to the standards in North America. Beyond that, the rest of the worldwide water market is highly fragmented and dominated by local solutions. The activities of the Business Unit have been put on an economically sound basis in the past 18 months and strategically geared to customers in municipalities and various industrial sectors. A large part of the portfolio is accounted for by business with municipalities with a strong regional bias toward the US and Canada, while a smaller portion comprises the treatment of process water and wastewater from industrial companies. Siemens Water Technologies also operates its own research center in Singapore, which includes a novel and extremely energy-efficient technique for electrochemical desalination of sea water. About 4,500 employees work for Siemens Water Technologies worldwide, of whom 3,000 are located in North America.

Siemens Industry Automation will continue as before to operate the business with solutions for the control, management, and instrumentation of water processes, which is part of the Industrial Automation Systems Business Unit. Essentially, these are solutions based on the Simatic PCS7 process control system and process instruments such as flow, pressure, and level meters. There is also drive technology – for pipelines, pumps, and agitators, for example – that are marketed by the Siemens Drive Technologies Division. This portfolio of products is used by municipal sewage treatment plants and waterworks and by industrial companies in such diverse sectors as automotive, mining, chemicals, electronics manufacturing, oil and gas, food production, and pharmaceuticals.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Valve controller communications

Emerson has extended the Fisher® FIELDVUE™ digital valve controller family with the addition of the FIELDVUE DVC6200p PROFIBUS PA digital positioner.

The Fisher FIELDVUE DVC6200p digital valve controller is built on Fisher’s highly successful and innovative linkage-less, non-contact sensor technology. PROFIBUS users can now experience the performance and reliability demanded in today’s process control environment.

For throttling control applications, the unit offers an Analogue Output function block, while a Digital Output function block is available for on/off applications. Utilising the best of PROFIBUS PA, the DVC6200p provides a wealth of alerts, trends, and diagnostics to allow for process visibility and control not previously available in a PROFIBUS PA digital valve controller.

A quick set-up and calibration, including performance tuning, can be performed locally in a matter of minutes. For more extensive parameterisation, leading PROFIBUS configuration tools such as Siemens PDM can be used. The DVC6200p supports enhanced device description (EDD) files that allow for quick and easy configuration.

This digital valve controller is certified to Profile 3.02 for PROFIBUS PA devices by the PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation a.V (PNO).

CSA, IEC Ex, and FM approvals are available now for the DVC6200p. Emerson’s growing portfolio of PROFIBUS-supported interoperable products includes the DeltaV™ digital automation system, AMS Suite asset management software, Fisher® control valves, Rosemount® flow, pressure, and temperature transmitters, Rosemount Analytical transmitters, and Micro Motion® Coriolis mass flowmeters

Link loadcells

New intermediate capacities now available for LCM Systems’ link load cells

By popular demand LCM Systems is offering intermediate capacities of its popular RILL and SILL Link Load cells. These new link load cells may offer a more economic solution for customers in particular applications and, importantly, these new capacities now fall in line with the ratings of industry standard shackle sizes and ratings. The series has also been extended to include load ratings from 1 tonne up to 500 tonne.

Manufactured from high tensile aluminium, both the SILL and RILL are lightweight, while the shackle holes are steel bushed to ensure they are rugged and hardwearing. Both product ranges are easy to install and can be matched to standard shackle sizes. The Self Indicating Link Load Cell has an integral display and the applied weight or force can be shown in t, kg, lb or kN, as selected by the user. A built-in alarm will also warn the operator when an applied level is met. The RILL link load cells use a license free 2.4Ghz radio and are supplied with a battery powered handheld indicator that displays the load in tonne. They can be supplied as a simple Link or LCM’s technical engineers can integrate them into more powerful radio systems.

Acquisition of test & simulation enterprise

Siemens is expanding its portfolio of industry software by acquiring LMS International NV (Leuven, B), a leading provider of test and mechatronic simulation for complex products.

"The mechatronic simulation will become more and more important for intelligent and competitive product development and production processes. With the acquisition of LMS, we are entering a leading position in this software segment as well and can significantly boost the pace and power of our clients' innovation," said Siegfried Russwurm, member of the Siemens AG Managing Board and CEO of the Industry Sector. The purchase price for LMS amounts to approximately 680 million euro. The transaction is subject to approval by regulatory authorities.

With more than 1,200 employees and revenues of around 140 million euro for the first nine months of 2012 (January 1 to September 30), LMS is a global partner to some 5,000 companies in the automotive, aerospace, and other industries. The privately held company is supporting all of the Fortune 500 automotive and aerospace manufacturers and their tier-one-suppliers with a combination of mechatronic simulation software, testing systems and engineering services. LMS offers a complete software platform to model, simulate and test vehicles, aircraft, and other complex products optimizing their acoustics, vibrations, oscillations, fatigue strength, and dynamics.

The business activities of LMS are to be integrated into the product lifecycle management (PLM) software portfolio within the Siemens Industry Automation Division. "With the acquisition of LMS, we are expanding our portfolio of industry software in an area that is critical for many customers. They will now be able to simulate, test, optimise, and produce their products in a unified, consistent data environment. This will make them faster, more efficient, more flexible and more cost-effective," explains Anton S. Huber, CEO of the Industry Automation Division.

"This acquisition is the best possible strategic option to maximize our future growth and continue the long-term success for LMS in a consolidating industry," said Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman and CEO of LMS. "Since LMS' foundation in 1980, we have reported over 30 years of continued profit and revenue growth. Our customers can continue to count on our portfolio of solutions and now also on a strong partner that offers complementary technical software, deep industry expertise and long-term stability."

PLM software, part of the Siemens industry software portfolio, is used by over 70,000 companies worldwide in automotive production, electronics manufacturing, aerospace, mechanical engineering, and other industries. Since its acquisition of UGS Corp. in 2007, Siemens has been the only provider worldwide covering the entire value-added process for product development and production with its software products. Siemens' acquisitions since the end of 2011 include Active Tecnologia em Sistemas de Automação Ltda. (pharmaceutical and biotech production), Vistagy Inc. (construction of composites), IBS AG (quality and production management), Innotec do Brasil Ltda. (integrated system management), Perfect Costing Solutions GmbH (cost management), VRcontext International S.A. (3D system visualization) and Kineo CAM (computer-aided motion software).

Camshaft inspection gauge!

An upgraded camshaft inspection gauge that permits fast change-over of different length parts and lets operators load and inspect rapidly is being introduced by ADCOLE Corporation.

The ADCOLE Model 1304 Multi-Headed Camshaft Gauge provides parts inspection with one minute cycle times, measures 3,600 data points per revolution, and can be loaded automatically by gantry or manually. Featuring four program-mable moving heads and a tailstock with 6” travel, this gage allows parts access from a touch screen, handles different length parts, and each of the heads can move to a park position for easy access.

Incorporating an accurate headstock spindle with high-resolution glass scale angle encoder systems, the ADCOLE Model 1304 Multi-Headed Camshaft Gage permits on- or off-line programming. Menu-driven, it has dual Windows 7® computers and can measure 20 different parameters including roundness (LSC, MIC, MZC), diameter (LSC, 2-point), profile, taper, crown, timing angle, velocity, acceleration, runout, and concentricity.

4-wire transmitters

New 4-Wire Transmitters Offer USB-Configuration

Acromag’s new TT330 series of 4-wire process transmitters are designed to deliver maximum efficiency while maintaining optimal performance and versatility. These isolated signal conditioners support high-density mounting on DIN rails and provide a convenient USB connection to a PC for simple, precise configuration using Windows software. Several models are available to convert a variety of thermocouple, voltage or current input signal types to your choice of bipolar or unipolar ranges for proportional voltage or current output signals. Wiring terminals are front-facing and removable for easy connections and maintenance. TT330 process signal converters are DC-powered (12-32V) and support a bussed rail power option for primary or redundant power. The rugged design features -40 to 80°C operation, electrical noise immunity, and surge protection. CE and UL/cUL Class 1 Division 2 Zone 2 hazardous location approvals are pending. Prices start at $220 for single quantities.

“With the TT330 Series, Acromag combines the advantages of USB/software configuration with the great versatility afforded by new microcontrollers in an attractively priced 4-wire transmitter device. Now users can quickly set precise input/output relationships and other operating parameters for maximum performance,” explained Don Lupo, Acromag’s sales and marketing director for process products.

Each model accommodates a variety of signal types selected in the configuration software. The thermocouple model accepts eight different sensor types (J, K, T, R, S, E, B, N), as well as ±100mV inputs. A DC current input model can condition ±1mA, ±20mA, 0-20mA, or 4-20-mA input ranges, as well as ±0.5V DC and even 0-20A AC with an external toroidal sensor. There are also low-voltage (±1V, ±5V, ±10V) and high-voltage (±15V, ±75V, ±150V) DC input models. All units can convert the input to a ±10V, ±5V, 0-5V, 0-10V, ±20mA, 0-20mA, or 4-20mA output. The software also lets you precisely scale input ranges for full resolution. You can then test or calibrate input/output values in the software, too.

The USB-to-PC connection for software-driven configuration makes setting ranges and calibration easier, more accurate, and very reliable. Many competing units use DIP switches that can only offer coarse range settings, not fine adjustments. Using trim pots can allow fine tuning, but they require far more time to achieve the desirable results. With a USB port, you can digitally set the calibration gain and offset using precision D/A converters whereas DIP switches and pots can change values over time or due to temperature/shock/vibration. These changes can lead to drift and require periodic re-calibration. And once configured, the device’s settings can be archived in a file or uploaded quickly into additional units for rapid cloning in large systems. Later, a device’s USB port enables diagnostic communication using software while a unit configured with DIP dipswitches and pots cannot. Plus, USB-configured devices use fewer mechanical parts which increases long-term reliability.

All TT330 models deliver high accuracy, stability, 1500V isolation, surge suppression, noise immunity, and fast response. They also withstand 50g shock and 5g vibration to deliver dependable operation in hostile environments. Built to AS9100 aerospace and ISO 9001 certified quality control standards and backed by a 7-year warranty, you can rely on Acromag’s TT300 instruments for long-lasting superior performance, even under the toughest conditions.

Over 9000 attend automation event!

The City of Brotherly Love has become the temporary center of the manufacturing world this week as Rockwell Automation hosts its 21st annual Automation Fair event. The event opened today to more than 9,200 manufacturing business leaders, industry analysts, and technology and service providers from around the world at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The show continues tomorrow, wrapping up a week-long series of activities. Customers have access to safety- and process-focused customer events, a global media forum, technology training sessionsseminars, industry-focused forums, in-depth demonstrations, and more than 125 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and solutions from Rockwell Automation and its PartnerNetworkmember companies. Attendees are taking advantage of this collective expertise to learn about the latest innovations designed to help optimize their automation investments and achieve their business goals.
“Together with our PartnerNetwork companies, we bring customers an ecosystem of experience and expertise,” said Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “The Automation Fair event enables customers see how innovative automation technologies can improve their business profitability while optimizing their equipment, production lines, plants and enterprise.”
Process industry customers traded insights at the Process Solutions User Group on Nov. 5 and 6. More than 600 process professionals converged at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to discuss trends and challenges affecting process industries, exchange best practices, and provide valuable feedback to Rockwell Automation on new PlantPAx process automation system features, functions and offerings. Attendees heard from Nancy Youn, director, Global Strategic Alliances, VMware, as she discussed the emergence of virtualization technologies in the process industries. In addition, 29 customer speakers shared how they overcome day-to-day automation challenges using the PlantPAx system.
Process professionals weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the period before the Automation Fair event. More than 300 participants attended the live Safety Automation Forum event on Nov. 6. The user event featured speakers from best-in-class manufacturers, including Kimberly-Clark, machine builder Automatic Handling International, and Grantek Systems Integration Inc., who shared procedures that improve safety, productivity and business performance. In the keynote address, Calvin Beyer, head of manufacturing at Zurich, explained how manufacturers can improve worker safety and boost the bottom line using a risk-management strategy based on leading indicators. Attendees also learned about the latest technologies, legal considerations and regulatory standards for machinery, process and electrical safety applications from industry experts at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), IFA, and one of the world’s largest corporate law firms, Eversheds LLP. Those unable to attend the forum in person took part in the virtual event online.
Journalists and industry analysts from around the world also convened at the company’s Manufacturing Perspectives global media forum on Nov. 6. In addition to keynotes by Craig Giffi, vice chair and U.S. Leader, Consumer and Industrial Products, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP and Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation, industry experts gave their insights on the issues facing today’s smart manufacturers:
  • The reality of flexible production, with Peter Daenen, manufacturing manager, Ford South America and Frank Kulaszewicz, senior vice president, Architecture and Software, Rockwell Automation.

  • How cloud solutions can enable flexible manufacturing without compromising security, with Fran Dougherty, CTO Worldwide Incubation Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft and Blake Moret, senior vice president, Control Products and Solutions, Rockwell Automation.

  • The future of mobility, security and energy, with Maciej Kranz, vice president and general manager, Connected Industries Group, Cisco and Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and CTO, Rockwell Automation.
These activities, along with the Automation Fair event, provide attendees with a week’s worth of manufacturing wisdom from Rockwell Automation and its comprehensive, global network of partners.

Data Acquisition Stations

The GX and GP data acquisition stations and GA10 software are the first members of Yokogawa’s all-new SMARTDAC+ product family that incorporates Smart User Interface, Smart Architecture, and Smart Functionality design principles.

GX and GP users can now measure more input signals, save data for longer time periods, and access that data more readily via touch display screens and an all-new real-time web browser interface.

GX and GP models begin with an all-new touch screen operator interface and fully modular and scalable I/O. The GX is a NEMA-4 rated panel-mount system, and the GP is a portable bench-top model and the functional twin of the GX. Both share the same performance specifications and standard high capacity SD flash memory data storage. Large GX20 and GP20 models feature a 12.1” touchscreen and the smaller GX10 and GP10 models feature a 5.7” touchscreen.

Only two buttons adorn the front panels- a record start/stop control and menu button. Press “Menu” and touch menus take over for all display navigation and setting functions of the units. Data is presented with the highest possible clarity on the standard trend, digital, bar graph and overview screens. Use of color is carefully chosen to call attention to important data and events.

New, proprietary resistive touch screen technology senses two touch points allowing unique swipe control and pinch in/out control for fast navigation and viewing of data displays. Trend history data can be reviewed with a swipe of the display or via a calendar search screen.

Users can quickly and easily enter descriptive batch and text message information via on-screen keyboard, an external USB keyboard or freehand on-screen with a pen stylus.

Completely new modular I/O architecture allows the user to add input channels and alarm relays in any combination and at any time, simply by purchasing the required module(s) and installing them in rear panel slots. The ten channel universal input module supports a full range of thermocouple, RTD, and DCV sensor measurements, as well as mA inputs with external shunt resistors. A sixteen-channel digital input and six-channel relay output module is also offered. GX20 and GP20 support up to 10 modules, for a rear-panel input capacity of 100 input channels. Smaller GX10 and GP10 models support up to 3 modules, for a 30 channel input capacity. The modules attach in seconds and are easily configured via the touch setting menus.

The standard Ethernet interface provides a full range of network functions that include web server, FTP file transfer, email messaging, Modbus TCP client/server connectivity and more. The sophisticated web server functions allow the user to access a multitude of real-time data displays with their web browser, including trend history. Setting changes are also browser controlled. No special software is needed to support this, simply connect with your browser as if viewing a web page.

GX and GP can send data report PDF files directly to a network printer for customers that require an automatic printed report.

New GA10 file viewing and configuration software is a free download. It supports viewing and reporting of the secure binary data files of the GX and GP, as well as configuration of all settings. The viewer has trend and numerical display modes, search and statistics functions, and text message entry. Data can be printed and converted to Excel file format for additional study. The configurator supports real-time setting changes and off-line setting file edit modes.

GX and GP readily adapt to the size and needs of a user’s measurement and recording needs. Operators see data more clearly with faster and easier navigation and data reporting.

• GX20 models are available now and GX10 and GP series models will be released for sale in January.

Tired bridges?

Research into bridge fatigue behaviour relies on RDP transducers

An important research programme to help predict the future life expectancy of masonry bridges is being conducted at the University of the West of England using load cells and LVDTs supplied by RDP Electronics.

In Britain and throughout Europe a very large proportion of the bridge stock is of masonary arch construction, built in the heyday of canal and railways era well over a century ago, when traffic movements and vehicle loading were significantly lighter than today. Predicting the projected life span and fatigue limits of these old bridges are becoming of increasing interest for bridge owners and providing material test data on the long-term behaviour of brick masonry a necessary requirement.

A research programme at the University of the West of England led by Dr Adrienn Tomor and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) studies the failure of representative examples of bricks for masonry arch bridges. Typical masonry types have been classified into three categories. The weakest category was widely used for the canals, were typically hand-made using locally sourced clay and varied widely in strength, even within the same bridge. By the time railways were constructed, industrial processes compacted the clay, leading to more consistent bricks, classified in the project as ‘medium’ strength. Finally, “strong” bricks are representative of today’s industrially manufactured bricks.

The main load bearing element of masonry arch bridges is the arch ring, in which the stresses can change significantly with the passing traffic. For areas with high stress concentration, long-term loading can lead to gradual deterioration of the material over time. Representative small-scale brick samples have been tested up to failure under compression and sheer within the test series, to help establish a relationship between stress levels and life excpectancy. Various RDP Electronics transducers are used in the test rigs, including RLU 5,000 kg load cells, GT 1000-L10 and GT2500RA-L10 LVDTs selected based on suitable precision, ease of installation and cost.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

100 year puzzle solved

Development of a DC breaker for high voltage transmission will help shape the grid of the future

ABB has made a breakthrough in the ability to interrupt direct current, solving a 100-year-old electrical engineering puzzle and paving the way for a more efficient and reliable electricity supply system.

After years of research, the company has developed the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC). It combines very fast mechanics with power electronics, and will be capable of ‘interrupting’ power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within 5milliseconds- that is thirty times faster than the blink of a human eye.

The breakthrough removes a 100-year-old barrier to the development of DC transmission grids, which will enable the efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy. DC grids will also improve grid reliability and enhance the capability of existing AC (alternating current) networks. ABB is in discussions with power utilities to identify pilot projects for the new development.

“ABB has written a new chapter in the history of electrical engineering,” said Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB. “This historical breakthrough will make it possible to build the grid of the future. Overlay DC grids will be able to interconnect countries and continents, balance loads and reinforce the existing AC transmission networks. “

The Hybrid HVDC breaker development has been a flagship research project for ABB, which invests over $1 billion annually in R&D activities. The breadth of ABB’s portfolio and unique combination of in-house manufacturing capability for power semiconductors, converters and high voltage cables (key components of HVDC systems) were distinct advantages in the new development.

HVDC technology is needed to facilitate the long distance transfer of power from hydropower plants, the integration of offshore wind power, the development of visionary solar projects, and the interconnection of different power networks. ABB pioneered HVDC nearly 60 years ago and continues to be a technology driver and market leader with many innovations and developments. With over 70 HVDC projects, ABB accounts for around half the global installed base, representing an installed capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts (MW).

Deployment of HVDC has led to an increasing number of point-to-point connections in different parts of the world. The logical next step is to connect the lines and optimize the network. ABB is already working on the construction of multi-terminal systems and the latest DC breaker innovation is a major step in the evolution of HVDC grids. In parallel to the new hybrid breaker development, ABB has an established HVDC grid simulation center developing solutions for future DC overlay grid operations.

Acquisition strengthens manufacturing automation software

Aegis has concluded the acquisition of diplan GmbH in Germany and diplan Asia based in Shanghai with operations in Singapore. This exciting combination of companies establishes what they are calling “Aegis 2.0” as the industry leader in manufacturing automation software with regard to product scope, technology, regional presence and customer base.

Aegis’ Manufacturing Operations Software has always offered the best and most complete solution from new product introduction through shop floor execution, traceability and analytics. diplan’s highly-evolved warehouse, materials control, and optimization and scheduling solution advances the Aegis’ MOS offering to a level of capability never before offered in our industry. The two companies represent a rare combination of complementary technologies, synergy of people, geographical locations and service infrastructures worldwide.

“diplan brought the electronics assembly market extraordinary software technologies a decade ahead of others. Their talented organization built strong distribution in Germany and Asia, and earned a large and enthusiastic installed base.” commented Aegis CEO Jason Spera. “We are truly excited to welcome our new colleagues to Aegis and look forward to bringing unprecedented software capability to the worldwide market as one company.”

Geographically, diplan greatly accelerates Aegis’ expansion into Europe and Asia. Their established strength in both markets immediately gives Aegis 2.0 a strong operational coverage of these regions. This fits perfectly with Aegis’ dominant presence in North America, where they have the overwhelming leading market share, and their established UK, Scandinavia and Benelux presence. diplan also has strength in South America. The acquisition significantly increases Aegis’ staff worldwide. The merged customer bases, particularly multinational customers, will enjoy follow-the-sun support. German-speaking nations will be properly serviced in their native language and the newly expanded Mandarin-speaking organization will better support Chinese customers.

Aegis 2.0 synergistically combines the success, innovation, unique skill and people of diplan with those of Aegis to generate maximally increased value. Accordingly, diplan’s founders, Dr Friedrich Nolting and Dr Schlüter, are becoming Directors of Aegis Europe and Aegis Asia. They are also joining a Management Council alongside Aegis’ CEO, Jason Spera and CTO, John Walls. The visionaries who created diplan’s success will bring that value to Aegis 2.0’s executive management.

“As founders of diplan, Dr. Schlüter and I wanted to ensure our staff and our products expand and prosper going into the future. We found we share a common vision and approach with the leadership of Aegis. We look forward to becoming part of Aegis’ executive staff and bringing diplan’s people, products and spirit of innovation to the Aegis group.”, commented Dr. Friedrich Nolting on the acquisition.

The innovation and scope of this new technology, together with Aegis 2.0’s truly global sales and service coverage, confirms the company’s position as the industry’s leading manufacturing automation software supplier.

Control systems for Saudi Arabia

Yokogawa Saudi Arabia has been selected as the process control system supplier for the Rabigh II project in which Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical have invested.

Yokogawa will supply its flagship products, the CENTUM VP production control system and the ProSafe-RS safety instrumented system for the Petrochemical Complex. This is an indication that Yokogawa’s business partners acknowledge its success in the Rabigh I project and have full confidence in Yokogawa’s capabilities. With phases I and II combined, this is the largest project for which Yokogawa has been selected in the Middle East.

Since the foundation of Yokogawa Saudi Arabia in 2006, Yokogawa has strengthened its engineering capabilities in the Kingdom through the course of several major projects. Yokogawa’s success in these projects has earned the customer’s confidence in its local project execution capabilities, leading to the decision for the Rabigh II project to be fully executed in Saudi Arabia, at the company facilities in Dhahran Techno-Valley. The execution of this project in the Kingdom follows Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical’s guidance on the maximisation of Saudi Arabian content.

Yokogawa Electric Corporation, following through on its commitment to its customers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has doubled the size of its facilities in the Dhahran Techno-Valley. In addition to engineering and project execution capabilities, the new facility allows Yokogawa to manufacture specific elements of the control system and strengthen their research and development activities.

Multi-application ultrasonics

Level control in a water tank is one of the classic applications for ultrasonic sensors. A sensor in a M30 sleeve can measure heights of four or six meters without any problems. If the pump is controlled by means of a PLC, sensor installation is limited to mounting and wiring the sensor to the controller. The measured value is transmitted via IO-Link or analog output and processed further in the controller.

With stand-alone solutions, a few additional steps are required to parameterise the sensor. Empty or full threshold, hysteresis value for activating the pump, and possibly an averaging system for providing a more accurate measured value during filling, can be adjusted easily using parameterisation software. Interfering objects such as a ladder can effectively be suppressed by reducing the sound cone width. Intuitive parameterisation software allows you to adapt the sensor to specific tasks.

Alternatively, there are simple tasks that ultrasonic sensors can perform with great reliability. One example is the detection of PCBs in a mounting machine. The sensor has the task of accurately detecting the edge of an approaching PCB. Recesses in the PCB and different colored, shiny surfaces do not pose a problem for small ultrasonic sensors in F77 miniature design. The flat projection cone of the sensor ignores recesses and reliably detects the edge. Simply teaching in the position of the PCB is sufficient to configure the sensor for the relevant task.

Two decades of intensive development at Pepperl+Fuchs have transformed ultrasonic technology into a technology that is easy to use in many applications. Ultrasonic sensors can be adapted precisely to specific tasks and conditions using intuitive parameterising tools. In order for simple, cost-effective ultrasonic sensors to reliably fulfill the tasks assigned to them, only their operating distance has to be taught in.

Replacing the vibrating fork

Baumer's new CleverLevel LBFS/LFFS series level switch is a true all-rounder that offers numerous advantages and is more than just an alternative to traditional vibrating fork technology.

The CleverLevel can be used for nearly all media, such as liquids and granulates, but also electrostatic media. And it is also unaffected by adhesive substances or foams that could cause other technologies to have switching errors. For users, this not only means the utmost reliability, but also a wide variety of level measurement options.

Baumer has utilised frequency deviation technology in the CleverLevel. This method capitalises on the fact that every material, regardless of its consistency, has a dielectric constant specific to that medium, and therefore a particular permeability for electrical fields. Innovation is not only evident in the technology, but also in the fact that the level switch is cost-effective and efficient to use. This product works with 90 percent of all typical media without any additional parameterisation. The switching status at the switch itself is indicated with bright blue LEDs that have 360 degree visibility.

These features enable the CleverLevel series to be utilized in a wide variety of ways, which makes it particularly advantageous for the user since this level switch is capable of solving various tasks in the industrial and hygiene sectors. The CleverLevel can reliably detect fill levels in tanks or pipes with precision and a response time of less than 100 ms, thereby, for example, preventing pumps from running dry. It is also capable of differentiating various media. For example, the same device can be used to differentiate between water and oil, or, for example, detect any cleaning agent residue in liquid food products.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Training seminar in Cork & Manchester

The FDT Group will hold an FDT® technology training seminar on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 in Cork (IRL) and on Thursday 13 December 2012 in Manchester (GB).

This seminar will focus on the underlying terminology and technology of the FDT standard (IEC 62453) showcasing its value for commissioning, operating, diagnosing, troubleshooting, and maintaining networked process and factory automation applications. The event features keynote presentations by industry experts as well as live interoperability demonstrations by sponsoring companies including CodeWrights, Pepperl+Fuchs, Rotork, Schneider Electric, VEGA and Yokogawa. A wide variety of process and factory automation applications deployed on various automation networks will be showcased in the live demonstration area.

Engineers, instrument technicians, maintenance technicians, and network specialists wishing to learn more about the underlying technology, operation, benefits, and availability of FDT enabled DCS, PLC, and asset management systems are encouraged to attend. The seminar is offered at no charge but advanced registration is requested. The event begins at 9:30 and will conclude by 17:00.

A complimentary lunch will be served.

Immediately following the seminar, attendees are invited to attend a visit of the Jameson’s distillery in Middleton (Cork) or the Manchester United Stadium.

Components for Austria and central Europe

congatec has announced its cooperation with Ineltro Halmer Electronics GmbH, headquartered in Vienna (A). Ineltro has a long and successful track record of distributing electronic components in the Austrian market. Effective immediately, the company will now offer the complete range of congatec products in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Southern Europe.

"Ineltro has many key contacts in the electronic market in Austria and Eastern Europe, which will help us gain new clients from a wide range of markets. At the same time, Ineltro possesses the necessary specialist know-how to be able to support these clients and their respective applications. With Ineltro we have found a reliable partner, who is as interested in a long term partnership as we are," explains congatec CEO Gerhard Edi.

Wolfgang Martinschitz, Ineltro's managing director, adds: "The congatec product range complements our existing portfolio with products that offer a high degree of integration, enabling our clients to further increase their competitiveness. Our corporate structure enables us to work flexibly and efficiently, and our service and application engineers guarantee a high level of technical competence. We are expecting great synergies and already see concrete possibilities for increasing congatec AG's visibility."

More computing power for mission critical applications

The cPCI-6520, a 6U single-slot CompactPCI® (cPCI) processor blade designed for mission critical applications such as robust computer makers, and intelligent system integrators has been launched by Adlink Technology. With its 22nm 3rd generation quad- and dual-core Intel® Core™ i7 and Mobile Intel® QM77 Express Chipset with dual channel DDR3-1333/1600 ECC memory up to 16GB capacity, the cPCI-6520 delivers tremendous computing power, massive I/O and memory capacity, and flexible connectivity for robust computing applications requiring server class performance. The cPCI-6520 is a performance computing solution with enhanced management features such as PICMG 2.9 compliant IPMI, remote management based on Intel® vPro™ technology and optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for security management. Wide temperature range support is available up to -40°C to 85°C (operating).

The  cPCI-6520 Series offers oustanding processing and graphics performance for applications requiring reliable, scalable CompactPCI® products with the latest quad-core CPU, 2D/3D graphics engine with multiple displays. Three independent display functionality is provided via two dual-mode DisplayPorts and DVI/VGA graphics interfaces. The DisplayPort interface supports single-link DVI or HDMI with a passive adapter cable and analog VGA output via an active adapter cable. When coupled with a ADLINK XMC-G460 graphics module installed in the XMC site or an ADLINK cPCI-R6700 Rear Transition Module, the cPCI-6520 Series supports up to four independent displays.

On-card connectivity includes two front panel GbE egress ports, three USB 3.0 ports, bootable CompactFlash socket, on board 7-pin SATA 6Gb/s connector for external storage device and SATA 6Gb/s direct connector for an onboard 2.5” drive to provide flexible storage capabilities. The cPCI-6520 also provides a PMC/XMC expansion site supporting 64-bit 133MHz PCI modules or PCI Express x8 XMC modules. Rear I/O storage interface includes up to three SATA ports with RAID 0/1/5/10 support and up to eight SAS ports supporting hardware RAID by the cPCI-R6200 RTM.

The cPCI-6520 Series can operate in a system slot as a master or in a peripheral slot as a standalone blade for high density computing applications. The cPCI-6520 provides dual channel DDR3-1333/1600 with ECC up to 16GB with one channel soldered onboard up to 8GB and one channel socket up to 8GB. The flexible memory design ensures that the cPCI-6520 is a reliable platform for ruggedized applications. The cPCI-6520 is also validated for reliability in extended temperature conditions ranging from -20°C to 70°C. Select SKUs can support extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to 85°C with optional conformal coating.

Compatible operating systems for the cPCI-6520 include Windows XP, Windows 7, Fedora 16, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2 and VxWorks 6.9.

PSU catalogue

Excelsys Technologies has published its new Xgen configurable power supply catalogue. Running to 56 pages the new catalogue brings together for the very first time the full range of the Exclesys Xgen datasheets into a single document.

Dermot Flynn, European Sales Director, comments, “We expect our new catalogue will become the system designers' power supply selection guide of choice. It includes the latest new product releases, updated product specifications and introduces a range of new configuration options.“

The new Xgen catalogue contains a wealth of technical and configuration support including an easy to use product selector, mechanical drawings, signals and control implementation information, power ratings, safety and EMI information.

App for thermographers

To celebrate the recent launch of the FLIR Tools Mobile App, Ashtead Technology will be giving away a free Apple iPad 2 with every FLIR thermal camera purchase (E-series and above) invoiced before 31st December 2012.

The new app allows users to remotely control their thermal camera by importing, analysing, managing, and sharing thermal images whilst connected wirelessly to FLIR's new T620, T640, and E-Series (E40, E50, and E60) cameras. This creates the opportunity for users to monitor from a distance and see what the camera is seeing as it happens. Additionally, users could use the app to incorporate images into professional reports, and then send them from the field to colleagues by email.

Ashtead Technology stocks a wide range of the latest thermal imaging cameras from FLIR so that customers can choose the best instrument for every job, covering applications as diverse as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, energy efficiency, leak detection, tank level monitoring, gas detection and research.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cooler sensitive equipment

Rittal’s thermoelectric cooler is a compact cooling solution that utilises Peltier technology to transfer heat away from temperature sensitive equipment.

With a width of 125mm, height of 400mm, depth of 155mm and a mass of only 3kg, it is ideally suited to command panels, even those that are supported using arm systems. The unit can be mounted either externally or internally, the latter resulting in a depth of only 55mm outside the enclosure.

Peltier technology needs no refrigerant or chilled water to function; an electrical power supply is all that is required to provide a nominal cooling output of 100W. With models that accept either an AC or a 24V DC supply, the former in a wide range between 100V and 230V, there is a Rittal thermoelectric product for most applications.

Another advantage of Rittal’s thermoelectric unit is its functionality extends beyond cooling. The units are capable of providing heating, should it be necessary, with a heat output of 100W. Multiple units may be connected together to provide nominally up to 500W of cooling and heating using a master/slave adaptor.

Rittal’s thermoelectric cooling unit is supplied complete with a USB cable and software so that the temperatures at which cooling and heating commence and those at which alarms are raised may be easily set.

Software defined radio module for 5G wireless research


National Instruments has commercially released the NI 5791 RF transceiver adapter module for NI FlexRIO, which is currently being used in multiple cutting-edge research projects on 5G technologies. The module forms a powerful SDR solution when paired with an FlexRIO FPGA module for real-time, user-designed processing. Through triggering mechanisms provided by the PXI platform, users can synchronise eight or more transceivers for MIMO and beamforming configurations. The NI 5791 comes with extensive FPGA digital signal processing (DSP) libraries and example architectures for common signal processing applications.

The combination of the FlexRIO FPGA module and the new 5791 is based on the same software technology developed for the world’s first vector signal transceiver (VST). This single-software framework using LabVIEW system design software enables faster prototyping in physical layer design applications. NI’s complete graphical system design solution provides a unified design flow for engineers and researchers working on wireless technologies to implement algorithms in FPGA hardware and on multicore processors without target-specific knowledge such as HDL or multithreaded programming. The NI 5791 adapter module is the latest addition to the NI SDR platform that includes the NI USRP™ (Universal Software Radio Peripheral), as well as instrumentation-grade, PXI-based software-designed instruments.
“The NI 5791 delivers superior RF performance needed to develop wide bandwidth software defined radios,” said James Kimery, Director of RF/communications Lead User Programs at National Instruments. “The combination of the NI 5791, NI FlexRIO and LabVIEW enables researchers investigating leading wireless technologies to rapidly prototype and innovate faster.”