Friday, January 18, 2013

Fanless embedded computer

ADLINK Technology has released the industry’s first fanless embedded computer, the MXC-6300. Equipped with 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3 processors and a QM77 chipset, the MXC-6300 solidly delivers top-of-the-line computing power and superior graphic performance over up to three high-resolution independent displays, with versatile expansion capability from three PCI/PCIe expansion slots accommodating a variety of I/O cards. The MXC-6300's combined features make it the best choice for any application requiring a compact profile, maximum computing power and graphic performance, and strong I/O capability in environmentally challenging applications, including machine vision, factory automation, maritime automation and video surveillance.

Ideal for multi-display applications requiring high-resolution graphics
3rd gen Intel® Core™ processors drive performance plus power efficiency, while taking up minimal shelf space. The ADLINK MXC-6300 doubles graphic performance with the integrated Intel® HD Graphic 4000, for front-running 3D graphic processing power with up to 40% increased performance per watt compared to designs based on the 2nd gen Intel® Core™ processors, and supports three simultaneous independent displays via two Display Ports with VGA or DVI-D. The MXC-6300 enhances high-precision imaging applications such as medical, surveillance, and industrial automation.

Application-ready platforms with three PCI/PCIe x16 expansion slots
The ADLINK MXC-6300 leads the field with the combination of high-performance computing power and three PCI/PCIe high-speed expansion slots in a compact enclosure, enabling integration of various applications. For high-resolution imaging applications, the MXC-6300’s unique design reserves sufficient space for wide PCIe x16 graphic add-on cards with fan. Additionally, the MXC-6300’s rich I/O interface, including six USB ports (4 USB 3.0 + 2 USB 2.0), 4 serial ports, 16-CH digital I/O, and 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, is 100% accessible through the front panel, making access for installation and maintenance easier and more convenient than ever before.

Rugged Design & Reliability
The ADLINK MXC-6300 improves on competing products with proven ruggedized design delivering operating shock tolerance up to 50 G, and an extended operating temperature range of -20°C to 60°C. “The MXC-6300, in addition to employing HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) scientific testing methods to provide maximum reliability and long-term availability, can reach MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of 160,000 hours for mission critical applications.” Kenny Chang, Director of ADLINK’s I/O platform product center said. “ADLINK leads performance technology-driven building blocks, allowing customers to utilize benefits faster and reach the market quickly with complete applications. As always, compatibility with ADLINK’s full spectrum of I/O cards is guaranteed by strict verification testing.”

The MXC-6300 supports multiple OS, including Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows 7 Embedded, Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded, and Linux.

Solenoid interlock with innovative operating principle


Individual coding and adjustable latching force


At first sight, Schmersal's new solenoid interlock AZM 300 is significantly different from other switchgear offered on the market. Because of the innovative interlocking system in the form of a Maltese cross, the interlock can be actuated from three sides, which provides for universal application possibilities. One and the same model can be used both on revolving door with left-hand side and right-hand side hinges and on sliding doors.

Another significant advantage of this feature is that the user does not need any additional add-on parts such as a door stop or a latching element, considering that these functions have been integrated in the interlock. This is a most desired practical feature amongst machinery and plant builders.

The AZM 300 integrates another practical function, namely the adjustable latching force, i.e. the non-safety-related interlocking function when the safety guard is unlocked. Because of this feature, the interlocking system can be smoothly adjusted to suit individual requirements.

Not only the mechanical construction of the AZM 300 is innovative; the electronics are also innovative. An integrated RFID sensor detects the identification and the coding of the actuator. This means that the user can choose three different types of coding.

In the basic version, the sensor accepts any suitable target. A second – coded – version only reacts onto an individually assigned target. The teaching procedure can be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Finally, a third variant is available, which only accepts the target that was taught upon the first activation.

In this way, the user can choose the most suitable coding variant for his application. The importance of this function in actual practice cannot be overemphasised: practical investigations and field tests show over and over again that many safety guards are being tampered with. When an individually coded solenoid interlock is used, the tampering cannot be completely excluded, though it can be at least made more difficult.

The new solenoid interlock meets the requirements of Performance Level e or Safety Integrity Level 3. It was designed, amongst other things, on the basis of specific requests formulated by customers from the packaging industry, who were looking for a universally applicable, compact solenoid interlock with coding features and adjustable latching force. Considering that there is a large overlap between the packaging and the food processing industry in the Schmersal clientele, the designers have observed the principles of the hygienic design to the greatest extent during the development of this new switchgear. Dead spaces or areas where material can deposit have been avoided and also the actuator is made up of rounded elements. In addition to that, the AZM 300 is resistant to a great deal of cleaning agents. Because of its protection class IP 69K, it is also suitable for use in hygiene-sensitive areas.

Scalable high-voltage connector

Han® HC Individual is the new Harting product family for universal contact arrangement options, allowing individually sealed 350 A contacts (to protection class IP 66) to be arranged in configurations with up to ten adjacent connections on one supporting rail.

This interface can be very easily separated thanks to a stainless steel lever system with integrated contact guide. Each individual connection can be assembled separately, and engaged and exchanged individually.

Depending on the application demands, the supporting rails can be stacked one above the other to create a high-voltage block with a variety of extension options in the vertical and horizontal planes. The current version is capable of supporting a cable range of between 25 mm² and 120 mm² with up to 350 A rated current and 3600 V rated voltage.

All components are subjected to the vibration and shock tests specified in railway standard IEC 61 373 and are in flammability class I2/F2 of the NFF 16-101/102 standard. These performance indicators in combination with the individual arrangement options qualify this product family for railway applications involving carriage connections, traction motors and converters.

Multiplexers

Pickering Interfaces is expanding its range of solid state PXI versatile multiplexers with the introduction of the 40-683

The 40-683 is a single slot 3U PXI module providing a versatile multiplexer solution capable of supporting multiple MUX configurations that include single pole, two pole and multiple bank capabilities from a single module. Typical selectable configurations vary from a single bank 128:1 MUX to 8 banks of 8:1-2 pole MUX’s with all the MUX possibilities from a single module.

The 40-683 uses solid state relays rated to 100V with 125mA hot switch capability. This makes the module ideal for applications requiring frequent hot switching of high voltages that might result in limited operating life for mechanical relays. The switching life is unlimited while used within ratings and the operating speed is comparable with reed relay solutions. .

The 40-683 is programmatically, functionally, and pin layout equivalent to 40-612 (an Electro-mechanical relay design) and the 40-682 (solid state 40V 250mA version), allowing users to choose the most appropriate solution for their application without cabling or software changes.

International automation body has new president

Terrence G Ives

Terrence G. Ives is the 2013 Worldwide President of the International Society of Automation. He will work with ISA leaders during the year to continue moving the Society toward meeting its strategic goals.

Ives is the third member of the Ives family to serve as president of ISA. His father, the late C. Blair Ives, Jr., was president of ISA in 1994. His uncle, Robert P. Ives, served as president of ISA in 2003.

Ives is extremely well qualified to hold the office as he has held the following high-level ISA positions: Society Treasurer, Executive Board Parliamentarian, Finance Committee Chair, Investment Committee Chair, District 2 Vice President, and Philadelphia Section President and Exhibit Chairman.

He received a bachelor of science degree in industrial systems engineering from Ohio University. He is an active member of the Philadelphia chapters of the Young Presidents’ Organization and the World Presidents’ Organization.

“In today’s complex, global business environment, it is absolutely essential that industry leaders and automation and control professionals connect with one another to stay current on technical challenges and market trends, share best practices, collaborate on innovation, and exchange insights and ideas,” he says. “ISA, through its unmatched combination of standards development, education, training, certification, conferences, and networking opportunities, is uniquely positioned to help automation and control professionals advance their careers while helping manufacturers and other organizations improve operational reliability, profitability, safety and security.”

See also his article on ISA Interchange (ISA's online source of automation news and technical content): My year as the 2013 ISA President has gotten off to a truly inspiring start 

Ives is president and owner of Ives Equipment Corporation in King of Prussia, (PN USA). He is the third generation president and owner of the Ives family business, a process control manufacturing representative and stocking distributor serving the industries of eastern and central US states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Southern New Jersey and Virginia. The company founded in 1954, provides a diverse range of process control equipment, including valves, regulators, wireless products, flow products, pressure gauges, control products, level instrumentation, sanitary products, temperature instruments, analytical products, electric heat trace and bio-pharmaceutical products.

Ives also serves as a volunteer committee officer for a Philadelphia-area Boy Scout Troop, helping to direct the troop’s $500,000 capital campaign and investment portfolio.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Piston inspection system prevents engine failures


An automatic vision inspection system to read the alphanumeric product identifiers cast into pistons has been developed by Olmec-UK Ltd for an automotive engine manufacturer. The pistons must be checked immediately prior to engine testing to ensure that the correct ones are used. Starting an engine with incorrect pistons fitted results in catastrophic failure with the entire engine having to be scrapped.

Automatic reading of the alphanumeric identifiers posed a huge challenge for the vision system because the characters were never intended for machine reading. Although the characters stand raised from the background material, there is very little contrast between them and the background and this is made even worse because the material is very reflective. In addition, pistons are produced from a variety of different moulds, so there is significant variation in the quality of the characters from batch to batch.

The vision solution featured the use of 4 individual cameras, each equipped with their own ringlights to image each of the pistons simultaneously. Using red illumination optimises contrast and minimises noise in the resultant images. The system is controlled using Olmec’s VP2-CR system which features character recognition software that takes into account different fonts, quality, scale, skew and slant of the characters. The system features a simple, graphical user interface using a touch screen controller, and is also configured to allow for the different working distances that occur when different engine types are inspected.

The engines arrive at the vision inspection station on a conveyor. The conveyor is stopped and the vision system inspects all 4 pistons. If any piston fails the inspection, the process is stopped to allow an operator to make an additional visual assessment. Since the vision system has been introduced, there have been no engine failures due to fitting of incorrect pistons, saving the manufacturer a considerable amount of money.

Little pressure sensor for medical and other applications

New negative pressure sensor for medical and other applications

Omron Electronic Components Europe has added a new piezo-resistive gauge pressure sensor featuring an extended pressure range as well as low power consumption and very small size.

The new Omron 2SMPP-03 MEMS based pressure sensor is ideal for medical applications such as negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) as well as leak detection, movement control, level indicators, home appliances and industrial control instruments. It offers precise measurement between -50kPa to +50kPa, complementing the 2SMPP-02 with a 0 to 37kPa range.

Both devices share exceptionally compact external dimensions, of just 6.1 by 4.7 by 8.2mm. They offer a reduced offset voltage and span dispersions of ±4.0 mV and 3.1 mV, which makes trimming unnecessary. The low power consumption of 0.2mW associated with a drive current of just 100 micro-Amps provides significant energy savings. The specifications include a non-linearity of less than 0.8% of full-scale and a hysteresis of 0.5% of full-scale. Another outstanding feature is low temperature influence span of +/-1% and offset of +/-3% of full-scale.

Fieldbus users' event

The Fieldbus Foundation UK Marketing Committee (FFUKMC) has announced the first of its 2013 schedule of end user events – a FOUNDATION Technology Study Day to be held in London (GB) on Tuesday 26 February, 2013.

The morning session will be focused on an introduction to FOUNDATION technology. This is to be followed by lunch break with tabletop displays and additional presentations, and an afternoon session offering a more advanced programme, delegates will be able to tailor the day to suit their own requirements. Delegates may choose to attend either the morning or afternoon session or they are welcome to attend both. There is no charge to attend and the lunch and lunchtime sessions are open to all delegates.

Following registration and coffee, the morning session, from 10.00-12.00, will include an introduction to FOUNDATION technology and solutions, and an insight into the lifecycle economics of the system.

The afternoon session, from 14.00-16.00, will present a more in-depth programme of presentations and practical workshops with a focus on supporting a FOUNDATION installation through asset management; device replacement; calibration and recommended maintenance practices.

All registered attendees are invited to the complimentary lunch during which Fieldbus Foundation member companies will be available to discuss and demonstrate their FOUNDATION products and services.

Also available during the lunch break are update presentations on FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management (F-ROM) and FOUNDATION for Safety Instrumented Functions (FF-SIF).

Richard Barnes, chairman of the FFUKMC is looking forward to welcoming current or potential end users, system integrators, EPCs, and all personnel with an interest in FOUNDATION fieldbus systems or a need to gain an understanding of the technology. “The FFUKMC is trying a new approach to its end user seminars – we understand the need for differing levels of information to suit individuals in differing roles within the process automation enterprise. The study day format allows everyone to gain high quality information whether it’s at an introductory level or an advanced level.” He continued, “There will also be several opportunities throughout the day for networking with other users and potential users, as well as industry experts and suppliers of the systems, devices and components that make up a FOUNDATION system.”

• The event will be held at the Emerson Process Management office, Accurist House, 44 Baker Street, London, W1U 7AL. Delegates are invited to register their names, company, email address and session preferences with the UK Committee, email: uk_info@fieldbus.org.

Additional FOUNDATION Technology Study Days are scheduled to be held at locations in Aberdeen, Scotland, the Scottish and central belt and the north of England.

Quality in OPC!

MatrikonOPC has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 certification by the Quality Management Institute (QMI) of Toronto, Ontario.

ISO 9001 is the latest revision of the ISO Quality Management System standard recognized around the globe. QMI - SAI Global is one of the world’s largest accredited registrars, respected by the Standards Council of Canada and many other global organizations.

“MatrikonOPC has always been committed to quality. Being ISO 9001 certified and implementing an official quality management system, allows us to continually apply best practices and improve overall processes, which enables MatrikonOPC to deliver the highest quality products and services to our clients.” commented Jeff Gould, general manager, MatrikonOPC.

60 years fitting in!

Brennan Industries Inc., a leading international manufacturer of hydraulic fittings and adapters, marks its 60th anniversary this winter.

The company celebrates 60 years of superior customer support backed by an extensive inventory of high-quality hydraulic, pneumatic and instrumentation critical flow components; as well as looks forward to continuing to meet customer needs and expectations through further innovations.

“While we pause to honor the past and the friends we’ve made over the years, we are also looking ahead and embracing new technologies,” said David M. Carr, president of Brennan Industries. “Brennan is committed to serving our customers through innovations, product development and continuous quality in our service and all of our products.”

Founded by Michael Brennan in 1953, Brennan Industries started in the hydraulics industry as it was blossoming during World War II. Today, Brennan serves both the OEM and replacement parts markets with extensive product lines.

Brennan is a third-generation, family-owned company, headquartered in Solon, Ohio, but has distribution centers throughout the United States as well as in Canada and China.

“I want to thank all of our customers for their support during Brennan’s first 60 years,” said Carr. “And pledge to provide them with consistent, world-class customer care and quality products that they can depend on in the years to come.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hardening vulnerable SCADA protocols

Successful security testing results announced!

Belden has announced vulnerability testing results of the Tofino Security Appliance by Digital Bond. Presented at the SCADA Security Scientific Symposium (S4) in Miami, Digital Bond’s findings revealed that the industry’s known sophisticated cyberattacks could not compromise the Tofino firewall.

“Advanced industrial communications opened the door to outside attacks and over the past few years these attacks have greatly increased in both volume and impacts. It’s our job to ensure that organizations stay secure in a rapidly evolving industrial environment,” said Eric Byres, CTO of Belden’s Tofino Security. (see also Major acquisition strengthens war on Stuxnet and other malware Sept 2011)

Digital Bond's Reid Wightman
“The Digital Bond team, led by Reid Wightman, a researcher at IOActive (and formerly with Digital Bond), shares our goal. Their testing and results demonstrate the strength of our security solutions, but also emphasize the critical nature of continuous assessment and the immediate resolution of discrepancies.”

Considered one of the world’s most respected sources for control system security research, Digital Bond’s security evaluations are among the most rigorous tests in the industry.

Both the Tofino Security Appliance and its management software withstood a variety of sophisticated reverse engineering attacks. The firewall was also subjected to flooding, fragmentation and fuzzing attacks designed to determine if it could be tricked into either blocking good messages or allowing bad messages. The Tofino Security Appliance passed these tests without issue.

Testing also included attacks on Modbus communications, the world’s leading industrial protocol. “Tofino Security provides an awesome security appliance that does the best possible job with the current protocols. It did an excellent job of securing the Modbus protocol, preventing disallowed function codes from getting through,” said Wightman.

He concluded: “I would recommend the appliance to anyone in search of an industrial cyber security solution. In all, I’m quite impressed with the Tofino Security Appliance.” Wightman’s concerns were with the SCADA and IP protocols themselves - he would like to see the industry start creating standards for new, more robust protocols this year.

Byres acknowledged Wightman's concerns, "The SCADA protocols were never designed with security in mind. It will take a major effort to either fix the existing protocols or create new ones. In the meantime, Tofino’s advanced Deep Packet Inspection determines if a message is a read or a write message and drops all write messages, significantly improving the security of the technologies that industry is using today."

In addition to Modbus, Tofino Security provides Deep Packet Inspection for the widely-used OPC and Ethernet/IP protocols. It is a key reason that major automation vendors Schneider, Honeywell, Emerson, Yokogawa and Invensys/Triconex have adopted Tofino and Belden firewalls to secure their systems. As a result, many new sales of critical SIS, PLC and DCS products include a robust industrial security solution from Belden.

For those companies that want even more security, Belden products such as the Tofino Virtual Private Network modules and Hirschmann Power Mice switches with Dynamic ARP Inspection provide robust anti-spoofing and integrity features. Belden's vision is to offer a layered solution that covers all aspects of critical industrial security.

“Customers need solutions designed for long-term implementation that just work,” said Byres. “Our advanced technologies—including Deep Packet Inspection—and our comprehensive lifecycle approach to industrial security contribute to such solutions. Thank you to Digital Bond for their thorough testing of our products.” (See Digital Bond Testing Proves Tofino Hardens Vulnerable SCADA Protocols on Tofino Blog page!)

Truly handheld RF Spectrum Analysers

Aim-TTi have launched a new series of handheld RF spectrum analysers, the PSA Series II. Available in 1.3GHz and 2.7GHz versions, the new instruments are smaller, lighter and have longer battery life than other handheld RF products.

Whereas a typical “handheld” spectrum analyser weighs over 2kg (4.4lb) and is considerable wider than a hand width, the PSA Series II weighs only 560 grms (20oz) and is just 9.2cm (3.6”) wide, fitting perfectly into the hand.

Despite their small size, the analysers incorporate a 4.3” (11cm) backlit TFT colour display with touch screen. A high capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery gives more than 8 hours operation from a charge.

The PSA1302 has a frequency range of 1MHz to 1300MHz whilst the PSA2702 operates up to 2700MHz. Dynamic range is 80dB with a noise floor approaching -100dBm. Resolution bandwidth is selectable down to 15kHz. Sweep modes include continuous, single, peak hold and sweep average. Sweep parameters can be set in terms of centre plus span or start plus stop to 1kHz resolution. A zero span mode with AM or FM audio demodulation is also provided using a built-in speaker.

Dual markers are incorporated with simultaneous readout of absolute amplitude and frequency plus difference values. Markers can be scrolled manually, or set to automatically find or track peaks. Up to three traces can be displayed (Live, View and Reference) clearly differentiated by colour. Traces or complete screen images can be saved to files.

Advanced features include data logging for traces, data points or screen images. Up to 10,000 entries per file can be stored with triggering from a manual key press, internal timer, external trigger, or the limits comparator. The 1.8GB of internal memory enables many large files to be stored.

Limit lines and limit patterns can be displayed with a full limits comparator enabling audible warnings, output pulses, halting of the trace, or entries into logging files. Compensation tables for antennae or other external transducers can be created and loaded.

The instruments have a full filing system capable of storing up to 1,000 each of traces, screen images, set-ups, logging files, limit patterns or compensation tables under auto incrementing names or user-defined names. USB host and device connectors allow the connection of USB Flash drives or direct connection to a PC.

Control of the analyser is provided by finger operated soft keys created on the touch screen. These form a hierarchical menu system that gives rapid access to the menu functions. Alternatively, all functions can be operated using the hard keys alone.

The ruggedized casing incorporates rubber protection buffer and includes a bench stand and screen protector. For bench-top use, the instrument can be operated continuously from its AC charger. For portable use, the long battery life of eight hours can be further extended by selecting auto-off which turns the instrument off after a delay of 5 to 60 mins. from the last key press whilst retaining all data.

The PSA Series II will offer RF service engineers a cost effective and highly portable tool that will make it practical to a carry a spectrum analyser to areas that have traditionally been difficult to access with bench top instruments and not cost effective when using existing portable products offered by other manufacturers. This can reduce the need for a return visit when it is suspected that a spectrum analyser is required.

Other engineers working on the bench will appreciate the low cost of the products enabling them to justify the purchase of an RF spectrum analyser for tasks where the cost would have been previously been difficult to justify.

"The sixth dimension sensor!"

Honeywell has introduced its Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), 6-D Motion Variant, 6DF Series, designed to provide motion, position, and navigational sensing from a durable single device over six degrees of freedom.

The six degrees of freedom is achieved by using MEMS (microelectromechanical system) technology to sense translational movement in three perpendicular axes (surge, heave, sway) and rotational movement about three perpendicular axes (roll, pitch, yaw). Because the movement and rotation along the three axes are independent of each other, such motion is said to have “six degrees of freedom”.

The 6DF Series IMU measures the motion of the equipment onto which it is attached and delivers the data to the equipment’s control module using an industry-standard CAN SAE J1939 communications protocol. This capability allows the equipment operator to focus on other functions, enabling more precise control than can be achieved by using only the human eye, thus increasing safety, stability, and productivity.

“Honeywell’s 6DF Series’ aluminum packaging, sealing, corrosion-resistance, and chemical compatibility provide industry-leading durability from harsh environments,” said Ted Tomita, senior global product marketing manager for Honeywell Sensing and Control. “Additionally, Honeywell has integrated the IMU with the algorithms, calibration, and environmental testing required for effective operation, easing integration and reducing total cost for the end customer.”

The new Series provides three key benefits:

1) Highly accurate 6-D rotation and acceleration outputs: Provides industry-leading accuracy due to durable packaging, industry-leading stability, temperature compensation, software filtering and design, and automotive-grade industry-leading Six Sigma testing requirements.

2) Industry-leading durability: Aluminum housing protects the device from damage due to harsh environments; corrosion-resistance minimizes susceptibility to deterioration often experienced in salt water environments; compatibility with diesel fuel, hydraulic oil, gas/ethylene glycol, brake fluids, urea, liquid lime, NPK fertilizer, ammonia hydroxide, and alkaline degreasers enhances durability; IP67 and 69k ratings provide resistance to weather; wide operating temperature range withstands most thermal extremes, preventing package breakage; EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) and EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) ratings protect the device from environmental radio frequencies.

3) Ease of integration: SAEJ19 - 39 CAN 29 bit identifier communication output—the standard for the transportation industry—allows more data to be transmitted than an RS-485 output; IP67 and IP69k ratings minimize the customer having to design weather resistant packaging around the IMU, allowing for a wide range of use in the application; wide voltage range (7 V to 32 V) minimizes the need for a voltage converter; Deutsch connector, common for the transportation industry, simplifies the customer’s supply chain and reduces design complexity; chemical compatibility minimizes the OEM having to expose the device to the substances.

Potential applications:

• Transportation
* Applications: tractors, harvesters, loaders, graders, bulldozers
* Motion type: stability, rollover prevention/detection, grading/harvesting

• Industrial
* Applications: mining conveyors, robotics, shaker tables
* Motion type: stability, rollover prevention/detection

• Non-ITAR aerospace/military
* Applications: ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles
* Motion type: stability, rollover prevention/detection

FTIR for hire!

FTIR gas analysers have become popular in a wide variety of gas detection and monitoring applications because of their ability to measure almost any gas. However, the cost of this equipment can exceed the budgets of those that could benefit from this sophisticated technology, so Quantitech has established a small range of FTIR gas analysers that are available for hire.

Typical applications for FTIR gas analysis include industrial emissions monitoring, occupational safety surveys, engine exhaust testing, process monitoring, leak detection, emergency response, chemical spill and fire investigations, breathing gas analysis and many others.

FTIR
An FTIR spectrometer obtains infrared spectra by first collecting an ‘interferogram’ of a sample signal with an interferometer, which measures all infrared frequencies simultaneously to produce a spectrum.

Sample identification is possible because chemical functional groups absorb light at specific frequencies. In addition, through calibration of the spectrometer, it is possible to determine the intensity of the absorption (relative to the component concentration).

The Gasmet library of reference spectra consists of reference files of gas spectra measured to-date with different Gasmet gas analysers. The library contains hundreds of spectra and each reference spectrum contains both quantitative and qualitative information about the component. This means that users are able to analyse samples retrospectively if a new parameter becomes of interest.

High levels of accuracy and low levels of maintenance are achieved as a result of continuous calibration with a He-Ne laser, which provides a stable wavenumber scale. In addition, high spectral signal to noise ratio and high wavenumber precision are characteristic of the FTIR method. This yields high analytical sensitivity, accuracy and precision.

Emissions monitoring
Able to monitor multiple gases simultaneously even in emissions that are hot, corrosive and high in moisture, the Gasmet FTIR analyser is ideal for a wide variety of emissions monitoring applications. Quantitech's Dr Andrew Hobson says "The DX4000 is popular for renting because of its portability and flexibility; it has the same capability as a rack mounted CEMS, but provides users with the ability to measure almost any gas at multiple sites, so it can be used to verify fixed CEMS, and for research and investigative work."

The DX4000 is typically set up to measure H2O, CO2, CO, NO, NO2, N2O, SO2, NH3, CH4, HCl, HF and a variety of different VOC´s, but additional gases can be added without any hardware changes. Easy-to-use Calcmet™ software is supplied with the analyser and results can be displayed in ppm, mg/Nm3 or Vol-%. All measurement data and spectra can be stored for later analysis.

The Gasmet FTIR analyser is MCERTS approved for nine of the most important parameters. However, with such a vast array of measurable parameters possible, existing users are also able to take measurements that help improve process control.

Ambient/workplace monitoring
The new Gasmet DX4040 portable FTIR multi-gas analyser is also available for hire from Quantitech. This unit contains exactly the same analyser as the other Gasmet FTIR instruments, but is housed in a backpack and communicates wirelessly with a PDA.

The PDA enables users to measure up to 25 (user defined) gases simultaneously, but the DX4040 can also operate with a laptop or PC to analyse spectra for thousands of gases. This means that the technology can be employed for the investigation of unknown gases.

Quantitech’s Dr Andrew Hobson is available to offer help and advice on the use of FTIR gas analysis and is responsible for configuring each rented analyser to best meet users’ needs.

In-pipe monitors - "Quantum leap!"

Intellitect Water has launched a new version of its ground breaking in-pipe water quality monitor, the Intellisonde. Tagged the ‘IV2’, “The new instrument represents a quantum leap in performance,” says Director John Howell.

The IV2 provides two major advances: firstly, calibration is now embedded in every individual sonde at the time of manufacture, which substantially reduces the time and resources required for field calibration during installation. Secondly, a new advanced chlorine sensor has been developed for greater accuracy and faster response times.

The embedded calibration is multi-point to ensure high levels of accuracy, and can be quickly and easily checked in the field. This is a major benefit because the original Intellisondes had to be calibrated in the field for all parameters as part of the installation process. In contrast, the IV2 will provide accurate data as soon as it is installed. Once the IV2 sondes have been installed correctly, no further calibration is necessary during the entire working life of the sensors.

IV2 sondes are also able to transmit data via GPRS to a web server that publishes data to a password-protected website.

Summarising the advantages of the IV2 John Howell says “Almost every aspect of the Intellisonde has been improved, making it easier to use, more accurate and even more reliable.”

Noncontact temperature measurement system

Noncontact temperature measurement system for continuous equipment condition monitoring

Raytek® has introduced the Raytek Equipment Monitoring System with DataTemp® Multidrop software, a noncontact temperature measurement system that provides round-the-clock condition monitoring of actively powered components or operating machinery in support of predictive and preventive maintenance programs.

A temperature rise or spike on the surface of equipment can be a leading indicator of a problem. The Raytek Equipment Monitoring System acts as an early warning device for critical assets, including switchgear and electrical cabinets, electrical motors, pumps, furnace controls and heating elements, giving operators alarmed notice of thermal issues as they begin to occur, as well as recording data for trend analysis to support predictive maintenance programs. Early detection of heat-related faults and failures, along with maintenance performed as needed and not when estimated, result in reduced maintenance costs and less waste from unexpected downtime. Temperature is displayed on the system's LCD control module and/or remotely through PC-based, Windows 7® compatible DataTemp Multidrop software.

The system is "plug and play" (i.e., automatic head detection), consisting of a control box with circuit breaker, power supply and controller; connection box with cable; and sensors with adjustable mounting apparatus. It utilizes the field-proven technology of the Raytek Compact Series MI3 sensor. Small in size, the system fits in hard-to-reach or enclosed locations and monitors temperature ranges of -40°C to 600°C (1112°F). The control box and sensors are IP65 (NEMA 4) rated to ensure long life in harsh environments.

Developed with personnel safety in mind, this solution allows temperatures to be read from a safe location by anyone on active systems without additional equipment or special training. Users can manually program audible alarm settings through the integrated push button panel located on the control module or easily communicate remotely from a central location via RS-485 serial interface and DataTemp software. For full factory or machine control, an ASCII protocol allows the system to communicate with an internal control network.

The DataTemp Multidrop software provides simultaneous viewing of multiple points and can be set to monitor up to 32 systems, providing the ability to see the temperature of, and set early warning alarms on a total of 256 individual monitor points. These early alarms provide the time needed for further investigation or maintenance by qualified personnel. The software allows operators to easily record and store data for trend analysis; remotely adjust sensor parameters; customize screen views; change sensor from reading object temperature to ambient; change emissivity; and turn filters on/off to scale the range, graph or average.

Unique test oscilloscope

First handheld oscilloscope to achieve 500 MHz at 5 Giga-samples-per-second sample rate

Fluke has introduced the Fluke® 190 Series II 500 MHz ScopeMeter® Test Tool, the first to achieve a 500MHz at 5GS/s real-time sample rate in a handheld, sealed, rugged, oscilloscope, without compromising on safety rating, ruggedness or battery operating time. Now professional electronic troubleshooters have a high-performance oscilloscope with the bandwidth and resolution to capture virtually any signal while in the field.

The two-channel Fluke 190-502 model is the latest in the190 Series II ScopeMeters which offers bandwidths of 60, 100, 200, and now 500MHz. High-tech electronics in today’s medical, communications, navigation and military devices routinely operate at high speeds requiring higher bandwidth. Correct display of waveforms with high frequency content such as clock pulses requires a bandwidth of at least five times the clock rate of the system under test. The 5GS/s, or 200 pico seconds, sample rate of the Fluke 190-502 provides greater accuracy and clarity of shape and amplitude of unknown waveform phenomena like transients, induced noise and ringing or reflections.

The rugged Fluke 190 Series II ScopeMeter® test tools include innovative functions like ScopeRecord™, TrendPlot™, advanced triggering and automatic measurement functions you would expect to find in high performance oscilloscopes. The 190 Series II safety rating according to IEC 61010 standard is 1000 V CAT III/ 600 V CAT IV, making it possible to safely measure from mV to 1000 V.

Interoperability test kit

Latest enhancements focus on control-in-the-field and ease of replacement with fieldbus devices

The Fieldbus Foundation has released its H1 Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) 6.1.0. This powerful tool tests the functionality of an H1 (31.25 kbit/s) fieldbus device and its conformity with the FOUNDATION™ function block and transducer block specifications. Version 6.1.0 includes new features to enhance device intelligence, improve consistency in instrument configuration, and simplify replacement of field devices from different automation suppliers.

The H1 ITK consists of a test engine, communication stack and function block interface card. An excellent tool for troubleshooting and debugging FOUNDATION fieldbus instruments, it includes all hardware and software required to ensure complete device interoperability. By using the H1 ITK, suppliers can run tests identical to those used by the Fieldbus Foundation before submitting their product for registration.

H1 ITK 6.1.0 builds on the extensive library of FOUNDATION fieldbus block test cases, offering a series of standardized function blocks and transducer blocks that enable increased test coverage for device developers. This includes test cases for new blocks that were previously unavailable, such as flow totalizer, analog alarm, control selector and output splitter, which support expanded device applications for control-in-the-field (CIF). A new flow transducer block is intended to simplify device integration within FOUNDATION fieldbus networks. In addition, the release provides updated test cases for existing blocks, including flow, pressure, temperature, analog positioner, and discrete positioner.

New H1 ITK test cases are focused on backwards compatibility among FOUNDATION fieldbus devices. This enhancement supports device replacement automation and enables the test kit to verify consistent behavior between device and host implementations in fieldbus-based control systems. Automation of device replacement allows the configuration in an existing field device to be restored in a newer version of that instrument without manual intervention. This "plug and play" solution ensures features are consistent between different generations of devices without reengineering the host configuration or changing any other element of the H1 network other than the new instrument.

The use of common transducer blocks also improves interoperability and simplifies device replacement by enabling a minimum level of configuration across all types of instruments. This results in greater predictability in fieldbus implementation, while reducing integration risks.

The technology enhancements with H1 ITK 6.1.0 will help increase the intelligence of smart field devices, unlocking complex control logic functionality that previously resided at the Distributed Control System (DCS) level and allowing it to be moved to more-capable field instruments. This functionality makes it easier to implement CIF strategies, enabling plants to become smarter and more autonomous. Embedded control functionality in FOUNDATION devices is one of the key enablers for achieving high availability control and a stepping-stone towards single-loop integrity.

With control at the device level, process automation functions are truly distributed and there is no single point of failure in the control system above the H1 (field device) level. If there is a malfunction in the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and a loss of visibility into the process, controllers, or any other component in the system and the control loop, including intelligent field devices, actuators and positioners, and the network, remain unaffected.

The H1 ITK 6.1.0 is available to members holding active maintenance agreements and for new purchases.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Automated test in 2013!

National Instruments has just released its Automated Test Outlook 2013 highlighting the company’s research into the latest test and measurement technologies and methodologies. The report examines trends affecting industries such as aerospace and defence, automotive, consumer electronics, semiconductor, telecommunications and transportation. Engineers and managers can use the report to take advantage of the latest strategies and best practices for optimising any test organisation.

Automated Test Outlook 2013 covers the following trends:
    Test Economics: New investment models force test departments to rethink the way they measure success.
    Big Analogue Data: Industry leaders leverage IT infrastructures and analytic tools to make faster decisions on test data.
    Software-Centric Ecosystems: Open, software-centric ecosystems greatly impact the value derived from automated test systems.
    Test Software Quality: Engineers use software development best practices to ensure test system reliability for complex systems.
    Moore’s Law Meets RF: New technology and instrumentation platforms drive up performance and drive down the cost of RF test equipment.

The Automated Test Outlook is based on input from academic and industry research, user forums and surveys, business intelligence and customer advisory board reviews. With this data as its foundation, the report delivers a broad representation of the next generation of trends for meeting the business and technical challenges in test and measurement.

Light barrier shines

SmartReflect by Baumer, the light barrier without reflector, keeps on wowing the market. The innovative sensors were recognised with the “New Product Innovation Award” by the Frost & Sullivan analyst after a qualified research of the light barriers market.

Award ceremony for the New Product Innovation Award for the SmartReflect light barrier (from left): Christian Adolph (Head of Group Marketing Baumer), Dr. Oliver Vietze (CEO Baumer) and Noel Anderson ( Vice President - Growth Partnership Services - Europe, Israel and Africa , Frost & Sullivan)
SmartReflect by Baumer brings numerous benefits for industrial customers and is a proof of how technological innovations can significantly improve productivity in manufacturing, stated Frost & Sullivan.

“Baumer has developed an innovative SmartReflect for diverse industrial environments to address the need for a robust light barrier solution, which would not have the disadvantages of conventional sensors available in the market.” noted Emil Lazarski, Research Analyst Frost & Sullivan.

With the SmartReflect light barriers, the light beam - in contrast to a retro-reflective or through beam sensor - is set up between the sensor and a machine part, for example. An object interrupts the light beam and triggers the sensor. The only condition is that there must be a background, for example any machine part, in the sensing distance of the sensor. In this way the separate reflector becomes superfluous and a common weak point is rectified. Special SmartReflect variants can use the same principle to detect transparent objects like bottles, trays or even foils.

Frost & Sullivan also underlined the aspects of cost efficiency provided by the SmartReflect sensors: “This product is capable of enabling a very high ROI (return of investment) due to savings in maintenance costs,” stated Lazarski. “As there is no need to replace reflectors, downtime is reduced and productivity is improved. SmartReflect not only ensures substantial reduction in operating costs, but also cost savings due to easier installation, commissioning and alignment.”

Dr. Oliver Vietze, CEO of Baumer Group, expressed his appreciation for the award: “It is Baumer’s commitment to be innovation driver on the sensor market, and the award is giving impressive proof of our endeavors."

An innovation is only as good as rated by the customers for its additional product benefit. This time again, the force behind SmartReflect were the customers. The initial spark for SmartReflect came from the food & beverage industry where demanding hygienic standards caused many problems to the reflector of conventional solutions. “ We listened carefully and worked on a novel approach ” noted Vietze. “This is how SmartReflect was born, the light barrier without separate reflector. Thanks to measurable product benefits, our SmartReflect sensors are experiencing greatest interest also in many other application fields in the handling and packaging industry as well as logistics”.

Flow signal converter!

A new signal converter for electromagnetic flowmeters has been introduced by Krohne. Developed for the growing water markets worldwide, IFC 050 is designed to fit in any basic water or wastewater application.

IFC 050 can be combined with OPTIFLUX and WATERFLUX series of electromagnetic flow sensors. Together with OPTIFLUX 1000, 2000 and WATERFLUX 3000 sensors, it can be used for raw water, potable water, wastewater and seawater, e.g. in water harvesting and purifications plants, sewage or desalination plants. In addition, its features match metering or leak detection in water distribution networks, agriculture or utility applications such as as sprinkler/ irrigation, cooling or fire-fighting systems.

To suit the requirements of these applications, IFC 050 outputs reach from 4...20 mA HART, an active pulse output for driving e.g. an electromechanical counter up to an RS485 Modbus output for communication with microcontrollers and PLC`s. As an option, the signal converter can be equipped with all three outputs.

IFC 050 features a sturdy and robust construction: the shockproof aluminum housing is finished with a protective double-layer paint that withstands salty atmospheres. Its electronics have an extra coating against condensed moisture for use in e.g. in tropical areas. For convenient operation, IFC 050 can be ordered as wall-mounted or compact version. As an alternative to the display version, the blind version is the option for applications where the menu needs to be approached only once a time and a permanent display is not required.

New heat treatment facility

Construction work is now underway on Keighley Laboratories’ new heat treatment processes building, at its West Yorkshire headquarters (GB). After a detailed topographical survey, site clearance and levelling, the steelwork is now being erected and the building is due for completion in February, with the mechanical and electrical (M&E) services scheduled for completion by next summer.

Representing a total capital investment in excess of £1 million, the purpose-built unit will house furnaces, controls and ancillary equipment for new and complimentary processes, augmenting Keighley Labs’ existing array of heat treatment services.

MD Debbie Mellor in site excavator
“We are effectively in the first stage of moving forward again as a company, by making a sizeable investment in new facilities and positioning ourselves with some of the best resources in the industry,” says Keighley Labs MD, Debbie Mellor, who took time out from her busy schedule to be pictured at the controls of a site excavator. “In this new building, we shall have modern furnace equipment and the most sophisticated process controls, enabling us to regulate precisely the parameters to suit clients’ exact specifications. We shall offer a service that is second-to-none, from a single site at the heart of the engineering and aviation supply industry.”

Adjacent to the existing induction hardening department and now sharing a common despatch yard, the new 5,000sq ft building is being clad in the same grey-blue coated steel wall and roofing sheets. Before construction could commence, 2H Architecture, supervised the initial enabling contract, which involved demolishing the previous maintenance building.

“Given the heat output from the furnaces, we have taken these thermal installation requirements into account when designing the building envelope,” says 2H co-founder Brenden Harrison. “We are working to current building regulations for walls, flooring and roof plus 20%, to ensure optimum energy efficiency for the new building and reduce running costs.”

The interior will accommodate the heat treatment furnaces, programmable controllers, degreasing equipment and post-process wash units, with a main side entrance to suit the proposed workflow.

Keighley Labs anticipates that the markets that will be served by these new processes will include products such as gears, crankshafts, valve parts, camshafts, cylinders, railway braking systems, pump components and pipeline fittings. Full-time positions will be created by the new heat treatment facility, together with several apprenticeship opportunities, adding to an existing headcount of 65 personnel.

The site architects are 2H Architecture of Leeds, the main contractor is Triton Construction of Liversedge and the M&E services are being provided by Dualtec of Keighley.