Friday, February 28, 2014

UPS for voltage-sensitive systems!

It’s well-known that power outages or unexpected shut-downs can cause damage and incur high costs in control systems. This can be avoided by using a DC UPS. However, some systems are not only affected by power loss, but voltage fluctuations can be equally damaging. In contrast to a conventional DC UPS, the buffer voltage of the PULS UB20 DIN-rail UPS can be set between 22.5V and 26V, making the unit the unit ideally-suited for use in systems which are sensitive to voltage fluctuations and more lengthy variations in voltage.

The PULS's DIMENSION UB20, available from BEC DISTRIBUTION, is suitable for universal use with output currents up to 20A. The unit is very compact, and at only 46 mm wide, it can be used with batteries between 3.9Ah and 130Ah. This means that it’s suitable not only as short-term back-up power for controlled shut-down after a power outage, but also as an emergency power feed until the fault can be rectified.

The backup power is provided by two series-connected 12 V batteries, which are individually charged and monitored. This design approach enhances the life of the batteries and avoids the need of matched batteries when a replacement is required.


The PULS UB20 is easy- to-operate, it has extensive battery diagnostics and many protective functions are built into the unit. The output of the DC UPS is decoupled from the input - load circuits can therefore be split very simply into buffered and unbuffered branches. This means that the energy of the battery can be used very selectively.

Slimline M12 connector for gigabit Ethernet applications

Harting has added a slimline M12 connector to its har-speed product family for the 8-wire gigabit Ethernet application environment.

The new har-speed M12 slim design with crimp connection technology is significantly smaller in both diameter and length than the standard version. The external diameter has been cut back to 16.5 mm, allowing designers to achieve high integration density when the connector is used on devices such as industrial Ethernet switches. The design also has a considerably more robust housing than the standard product, being capable of resisting torques greater than 1.5 Nm.

The connector is designed to conform to IEC 61076-2-109, and meets Cat.6A and performance class EA.

Surviving system integration!

In response to marketplace demand and input from automation professionals, the International Society of Automation (ISA) has developed a new Automation Engineering Survival Training course designed to meet the needs and requirements of system integrators.

Register here!
Automation Engineering Survival Training: Integrator Version (AESTIV)
31 March 2014 – 4 April 2014
ISA Headquarters
RTP, NC, USA

Automation Engineering Survival Training: Integrator Version (AESTIV)
5-9 May 2014
Maverick Technologies
Columbia, IL US

Automation Engineering Survival Training: Integrator Version (AESTIV)
4-8 August 2014
ISA Headquarters
RTP, NC, USA
ISA Automation Engineering Survival Training: Integrator Version (AESTIV)—which will debut 31 March 2014 through 4 April 2014 at ISA headquarters in North Carolina (USA)—includes a week of highly intensive, hands-on instruction geared specifically to:
  • New automation, control system or process control engineers working for system integrators
  • Seasoned system integration engineers looking to refresh their process automation skills
  • Automation engineers in a position with a system integrator or end user
  • Automation engineers wishing to move into a career as a system integrator
ISA’s AESTIV course is an excellent complement to ISA’s well-established Automation Engineering Survival Training (AEST) course. ISA’s AEST course is geared primarily for automation engineers working in plant environments, particularly those who want to sharpen and broaden their skills and those who are new to the automation profession. Both offerings comprise the ISA Automation Engineering Survival Training Series—two comprehensive, highly intensive training “boot camp” courses that feature expert-led lecture, hands-on exercises covering practical, real-world survival skills, and a local plant tour to see first-hand, real-world implementations of the concepts learned in class.

A week of extensive automation engineering training for system integrators
The in-depth curriculum for ISA’s Automation Engineering Survival Training for system integrators encompasses five components:
  • Measurement and Documentation
  • Control Valves, Control Strategies, and Loop Tuning
  • Advanced Control: Operator Effectiveness & Safety Systems
  • Industrial Security & Project Management
  • Advanced Process Automation
ISA’s expert instructors will cover: 

  • Utilizing control system documentation to determine functional specifications and requirements
  • Installing and commissioning sensors, fieldbus segments, and control loops
  • Leveraging advanced control, alarm management, HMI design, and functional safety to maximize value to the client
  • Designing and segmenting control system networks with an emphasis on data transactions and network security
  • Applying the project management fundamentals and team-building and interpersonal skills required to be successful in a plant environment
  • Implementing ISA standards and best practices for procedural control and manufacturing operations management

New 8-Channel Ethernet modules provide reliable interface for analogue current or voltage inputs!

Acromag has expanded its BusWorks® XT Series of Ethernet I/O modules with XT1210 and XT1220 models that provide an 8-channel interface for analog voltage or current input signals and Ethernet/IP, Modbus/TCP, Profinet, or peer-to-peer communication. Differential inputs have superior noise rejection for reliable measurements when radio frequency or electromagnetic interference is present. Internal software helps eliminate the effects of network traffic loads for more reliable messaging. The sleek design features dual Ethernet ports, removable front-facing terminal blocks, and DIN rail power bus support. Its convenient USB-to-PC connection makes configuration fast and simple with free Windows software. Suitable for use in harsh environments, all modules operate from -40 to 70°C with high voltage isolation, surge protection, and CE approval. UL/cUL Class 1 Division 2 Zone 2 hazardous location approval is pending.

“We continue to develop the BusWorks XT Series to provide even greater versatility, adding analog input modules alongside our current line of digital I/O,” explained Don Lupo, process group sales and marketing director. “The use of differential inputs and Innovasic’s PriorityChannel™ technology greatly increase reliability by eliminating the risks of signal interference and network congestion.”

The XT1210 model accepts current inputs of 0-20mA, 4-20mA, ±20mA DC, or 0-20 amps AC with an optional toroid sensor. The XT1220 accommodates ±5V, ±10V, 0-5V, or 0-10V DC input ranges. All units run off a 12- 32V DC power source (2.8W) at the terminals or through an integrated power connector bussed along the DIN rail that can provide primary or redundant power. Several versions offers a choice of Ethernet/IP, Profinet, or Modbus TCP/IP protocols with peer-to-peer i2o® communication support. Dual 10/100 Ethernet ports allow daisy-chaining units together to simplify cabling and minimize the network switches required, reducing overall system costs.

For more dependable communication, BusWorks XT units employ Innovasic PriorityChannel technology which makes certain that critical data is received on time regardless of traffic on the network. PriorityChannel provides determinism at the device for consistent transmission of time-sensitive data with any of the Ethernet protocols.Many other features add greater flexibility and performance. High input impedance reduces loading on voltage loops. The configuration software enables use of sample averaging on a per-channel basis. For reliability, operation and diagnostic LEDs offer visual status updates and aide in trouble-shooting.

Simple wiring in the control cabinet!

Siemens has broadened its Simatic Top Connect portfolio with a range of new modules and system components for fast and safe wiring of Simatic S7-1500 and Simatic ET 200MP. In addition to connection modules for eight channels (inputs or outputs), Siemens also offers, for the first time, compact versions for 32 channels that are available for connecting sensors and actuators via one or three wires.


Thereby only one cable needs to be connected between the connection module and the S7-1500 controller instead of four for the individual 8-channel modules. In addition, the new 32-channel connection module requires less space on the mounting rail than four modules with eight inputs and outputs each. The new connection modules feature the compact design of the Simatic S7-1500, allowing space-saving installation in the control cabinet. With system cabling, users can save up to 80 percent time compared to conventional single wiring using terminal blocks.

The connection modules with eight channels are available in different versions, with disconnect terminals for manually cutting off specific plant sections, for example, or with relays and optocouplers for adapting the potential with which signals with AC voltages of 110 or 230 volts can also be connected to the controller. The 8-channel connection modules are fully compatible with the field-proven front connector modules for Simatic S7-300 and ET 200 M.

The appropriate system cabling can be selected in accordance with the respective input or output modules simply and quickly in the TIA Selection Tool.

The 200 MHz Vector signal transceiver!

National Instruments has announced the NI PXIe-5646R vector signal transceiver with 200 MHz of RF bandwidth, making it ideal for testing the latest wireless standards such as IEEE 802.11ac, 160 MHz WLAN and LTE Advanced. Engineers can use the open software design of the vector signal transceiver to develop channel emulation systems, radio prototyping, custom real-time signal processing for spectrum analysis and many other applications.

NI vector signal transceivers combine a vector signal analyser with a vector signal generator and a user-programmable FPGA for real-time signal processing and control. Customers have seen 10X to 100X improvements in test time in applications such as power servoing in power amplifier test by taking advantage of the speed, deterministic processing and inherent parallel architecture of the FPGA. Built on the NI LabVIEW RIO architecture, the vector signal transceiver combines programming flexibility and the latest RF hardware to revolutionise mobile technologies test. The NI PXIe-5646R offers 200 MHz of complex bandwidth via a sample rate of 250 MS/s, which is greater than eight times the data rate for the standard LTE radio frame. This makes the vector signal transceiver ideally suited for the latest design and test techniques such as digital predistortion and envelope tracking.

The NI PXIe-5646R is powered by LabVIEW system design software and provides the ideal platform to simplify modern design and test challenges. 

Cellular 4G communication & monitoring system for remote locations!

B&B Electronics has provided Quatro Electronics with a high-reliability Cellular 4G communication and monitoring system for the oversight of equipment in remote locations.
Founded in 1996, Quatro Electronics have been trusted to protect, manage and monitor remote and vulnerable sites globally offering their customers total reassurance and confidence that their valuable assets are safe and providing a robust and cost effective alternative to manned guards.

The development of a new product, The Quatro SmartTower, a unique solution for deploying the Britains most powerful video verified alarm technology designed specifically for remote site protection, required B&B Electronics to provide a new communications solution to ensure the remote tower’s transmissions were always on, to signal remote alarm conditions, provide monitoring and notification services to the control centre and offer access to the latest high speed cellular infrastructures. The B&B communication system also enabled self-monitoring of The Quatro SmartTower itself as an asset that needed to be tracked.

Working alongside their British Channel Partner, Adey Electronics, B&B was involved from the initial network design in order to provide a reliable and robust Cellular 4G platform as the core of the Quatro SmartTower communication system. The key to the system is the recently launched LR77 B&B Conel cellular router which provides Dual SIM 4G capability ensuring “always on connectivity”. Utilising the built in Global Positioning System (GPS) in the LR77 Router allowed B&B Electronics to provide Quatro with both asset tracking and real-time date/time stamping of images generated by the remote cameras and sent to the control centre.

The Quatro SmartTower is a totally IP based communications system which uses IP cameras and wireless passive detectors. By providing bespoke user modules specifically designed and written to integrate with the LR77 B&B Electronics were able to provide a high level of bi-directional automation in the field, enabling the Quatro SmartTowers to perform specific actions (e.g. directing a camera to a specific location on site), power-management and to provide crucial alarm messages to the remote control centre.

As streaming live video and CCTV images is bandwidth dependant it was essential that Quatro would be able to take advantage of the latest 4G/LTE capabilities. Basing the system around the LR77 Router exceeded the required communications requirements in both functionality and its capability to operate in remote outdoor locations. Integrating R-See-Net management software provided by B&B Electronics they Quatro are also able to manage and monitor the communications, traffic and functionality of the devices from remote monitoring stations, invaluable in the growth of deployment of the towers both in Europe and the USA.


John Robertson General Manager of Quatro Electronics, comments, “Together, B&B Europe and Adey Electronics have provided us with a high level of technical support and flexible customer service for our remote security management services. They have provided market-leading equipment, helped with the software development, networking and communications to ensure the final solution exactly met our requirements.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

First software defined availability platform!

SolutionsPT, in conjunction with partner Stratus Technologies Inc, has announced the launch of everRun® Enterprise, a next-generation software solution which represents a breakthrough in virtualisation technology.

Available from February 28th 2014, the comprehensive solution, which represents the latest addition to the Stratus portfolio, combines the best of Stratus’ high-availability software solutions with enhanced features such as disaster recovery and application monitoring to ensure business continuity.

Robert Dinsmore, High Availability Product Manager at SolutionsPT, said: “The new release combines Marathon’s EverRun and Stratus’s own Avance technology – meaning you get 99.999% availability from a software platform that can be used with commodity x86 servers. This brings true fault tolerance to a much greater user base since it allows businesses to stay in line with their current IT hardware policy, whilst delivering a higher level of availability than most cluster based alternatives. It does all of this in a simplified package that does not require additional shared storage.”

“This launch signals a change in strategy for Stratus,” said Nigel Dessau, Chief Marketing Officer at Stratus Technologies. “We are broadening our focus on fault tolerance – which ensures the highest levels of availability – beyond hardware, to virtual workloads on commodity servers. In effect, we are bringing mainframe-like levels of availability to Intel-based servers.”

everRun Enterprise unifies the ease of use, monitoring, management and service capabilities of the Avance® high-availability software with the fault-tolerant engine of previous generations of everRun. Additionally, the entire solution now leverages the open source Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor. The result of this new architecture is a higher performance software platform that supports a wider range of operating system guest workloads.

“This is significant since some customers have resisted migrating business-critical applications to virtualised architectures due to a lack of reliable, enterprise-grade availability in today’s hypervisors,” said Jason Andersen, Senior Director of Product Management at Stratus Technologies. “We also see a very similar requirement in private clouds. This technology will be the basis of our cloud strategy as well.”

everRun Enterprise is designed to keep Windows® and Linux™ applications up and running continuously without changes to applications or in-flight data loss. It is compatible with a wide range of platforms, is easy to implement and includes centralised management tools for an all-encompassing view of the entire stack – from bare metal to the applications. The software runs on industry-standard Intel-based x86 servers without the need for specialised IT skills. Unlike other availability solutions, everRun Enterprise prevents downtime from occurring rather than merely recovering from it – a difference that can have a significant impact on revenues, costs and customer satisfaction.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Certified Intel® Industrial Solutions System Consolidation Platform!

Collaboration underscores promotion to Premier membership in Intel®Intelligent Systems Alliance

ADLINK Technology has announced its Matrix MXE-5301 fanless, embedded computer as the first hardware platform to be certified for the Intel® Industrial Solutions System Consolidation series. The MXE-5301 supports a wide temperature range and offers a fanless and cable-free design, making it uniquely suited for industrial applications. Intel’s industrial workload consolidation platform with the MXE-5301 enables the combination of several applications—or workloads—and their respective host operating systems into a single computing solution. What were once multiple, separate systems can now be combined into just one platform using advanced hypervisor technology that allows host operating systems to coexist. For the customer, workload consolidation reduces the number of individual devices, allowing a single, smaller footprint and lowered system and environmental complexity.

“ADLINK has a long history in industrial automation design. It’s exciting to be able to showcase modern software tools and demonstrate how the market will benefit,” said Roy Wan, GM, Measurement and Automation at ADLINK Technology. “We look forward to continuing our work with Intel on this -leading effort to build industry-specific application ready platforms.”

“Increasing reliability and reducing complexity on the factory floor are critical needs for industrial automation,” explained Jim Robinson, general manager Segments and Broad Market, Internet of Things Solutions Group at Intel. “Consolidating heterogeneous workloads using hypervisor technology relies on a capable and reliable hardware foundation. The collaboration with ADLINK allows us to introduce deployment-ready platforms that can handle those computing challenges.”

In addition to the current collaboration on the workload consolidation program, ADLINK is also proud to announce its promotion by Intel to Premier Member in the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. From modular components to market-ready systems, Intel and the 250+ global member companies of the Alliance provide the performance, connectivity, manageability, and security developers need to create smart, connected systems. Close collaboration with Intel and each other enables Alliance members to innovate with the latest technologies, helping developers deliver first-in-market solutions. "It's a great honor for ADLINK to achieve the Premier level through more than a decade of successful cooperation with Intel. We have demonstrated successful global business growth strategies and have led the market with vertical applications based on Intel® embedded architecture,” said Jim Liu, CEO of ADLINK Technology, Inc. “This level of alliance gives us more and better opportunities to collaborate with Intel on new and emerging technologies, and better serve our customers and partners with advanced platforms."

System integrators to meet!

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) is inviting all control system integrators and industry partners to its 2014 Executive Conference, April 23 – 26, in San Diego (CA USA)

Keynote speakers include Alan Beaulieu, president of the Institute for Trend Research, who will give a preview of the economic developments affecting control system integrators, and Robert Tucker, president, The Innovation Resource Consulting Group, author of the bestselling book, Driving Growth Through Innovation.

Additionally, 20 educational sessions feature experts and members speaking on a wide range of topics chosen to help registrants improve their independent control system integration businesses. Also planned is an industry expo with 60 companies showcasing new products and applications.

The 2014 Executive Conference is expected to draw more than 400 control system integrators and their associates from the United States, Canada, Latin America and abroad, making it the premier event for control system integrators.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Miniature, half-pitch light-guides!

Multitron has announced the availability of a new range of MENTOR miniature light-guides with radiating surfaces of 2mm diameter and a grid dimension of 2.54mm. Compared with conventional 5.08mm grid light-guides, these new miniaturised versions allow twice the number of display elements within the same physical width. This offers design engineers a whole new range of possibilities, particularly when space is restricted.

These new miniature light-guide modules are available in 150 standard variants including both horizontal and vertical radiating types, and single or multi-row modules. A number of different lengths are available as standard and special lengths can be provided at low MOQs due to clever tool inserts. Some versions are panel-mounted thus avoiding the need to drill holes in the PCB. Diffused and clear light-guide options are offered and customised, coloured modules are also available; these show the LED display colour when the LED is switched off.

Despite their small radiating surface diameter of 2mm, with a relatively close side-by-side design, the miniature light-guides have been specially developed to prevent glare affecting neighbouring guide elements. This has been achieved by an in-house product creation process which starts with virtual development, and continues via simulation and prototype manufacture, all the way through to the final production stage.

This new range of light-guides extends MENTOR’S multi-category portfolio by adding over 150 new miniature light-guides. In total, MENTOR offers 452 variations of standard light guides, 209 of which are immediately available from stock with low MOQs. Other product categories in which MENTOR excel include diverse opto components, capacitive keypads, knobs, handles and illuminated switching.

As well as standard products, MENTOR has highly advanced and innovative competencies in the design and in-house manufacture of custom light guides and optics for a wide variety of applications. They are first-tier suppliers to many major automotive and lighting companies.

Targeting the booming upstream oil & gas industries!

The enhanced version of the FCN-RTU (field control node remote terminal unit) low-power autonomous controller for the STARDOM(TM) network-based control system has been announced by Yokogawa. This new version of the FCN-RTU has been developed to meet the requirements of customers in the high-growth upstream oil & gas industries.

Development background
Until recently, gas wells were drilled at multiple sites spread out over a wide area, and each individual well head had its own controller for monitoring and control. With the advent of unconventional horizontal gas drilling techniques, multiple wells can now be drilled from a single well pad, enabling a reduction in the number of controllers needed to monitor and control the well heads. For such applications, the controllers need to be able to handle more input/output (I/O) signals. Also, as wells are often drilled in remote locations where temperatures can be extreme, these controllers must be ruggedly built to withstand those conditions. The new version of the STARDOM(TM) FCN-RTU has been developed to address these challenges.

Product features
1. Increased number of I/O modules
The enhanced FCN-RTU can now accommodate eight I/O modules, up from the previous three, and can thus handle up to 256 input/output signals. This is well within the requirements of the latest unconventional natural gas well monitoring and control applications.

2. Improved environmental resistance
An additional ten STARDOM FCN-RTU I/O modules are now rated for use in temperatures ranging from -20°C to +70°C. These enhanced components are thus well suited for use in the very cold or hot weather conditions that can be encountered at natural gas drilling sites.

3. Support for 64-bit Windows 7
ASTMAC VDS, the STARDOM supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) package, as well as all related software, now supports the 64-bit version of Windows 7. All engineering, monitoring, and control functions can be performed on computers running 64-bit Windows 7.

Integration breakthrough offers 6 instruments in 1 oscilloscope.

The MDO3000 Series of Mixed Domain Oscilloscopes has been released by Tektronix . The ultimate integrated oscilloscope that includes a spectrum analyser, logic analyser, protocol analyser, arbitrary function generator and digital voltmeter, the MDO3000 clears the design bench of costly, specialised equipment and provides the tools needed to test and debug virtually any embedded design. In addition, Tektronix has developed the MDO3000 to be completely customisable enabling customers to select the functionality and performance needed now - and later.

With the complexity of modern embedded designs coupled with the growth of wireless, it has become increasingly costly to give designers all the tools they need for efficient debug and troubleshooting. The MDO3000 fundamentally changes the rules by offering the functionality of six independent instruments without the significant cost of separate instruments.

“The case for integrated, multi-instrument oscilloscopes is extremely compelling on multiple levels,” said Dave Farrell, general manager, Mainstream Oscilloscopes at Tektronix. “In addition to cost savings, the MDO3000 saves space on the engineer’s bench, improves usability with the same basic controls for multiple instruments and ensures engineers always have access to all the instruments they need. There’s no need to track down a spectrum analyser or function generator when it’s already built into your scope.”

Integrated spectrum analyser!
Recent research shows over 25% of oscilloscope users now use a spectrum analyser multiple times per week1, and over 40% of embedded design projects include some form of wireless capability2. As the world’s only oscilloscope with a built-in spectrum analyser, the MDO3000 Series is uniquely positioned to address this paradigm shift for today’s designers. Now engineers can access both time domain and frequency domain analysis in a single instrument. When compared to both standalone oscilloscopes and basic spectrum analysers in this class, the MDO3000 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope provides best-in-class performance and features, providing the convenience of a single instrument without performance trade-offs.

Fully upgradeable platform
With the MDO3000 Series, engineers can start with the minimum performance and functional levels they need to accomplish the project at hand with the knowledge that their test platform can be upgraded in the field without delay. Performance upgrades include analog bandwidth of the oscilloscope and input frequency of the spectrum analyser. Functional upgrades include the addition of digital channels, protocol analysis, arbitrary function generation or digital voltmeter measurements.

Six Instruments, One Oscilloscope, Infinite Versatility
The MDO3000 Series oscilloscopes feature 2 or 4 analog input channels with bandwidth ranging from 100 MHs to 1 GHs, 16 digital channels (optional) and one RF input channel matching the bandwidth of the oscilloscope (9 kHs up to analog bandwidth). The RF input frequency on any model can be extended to 3 GHs.

Based on the MSO/DPO3000 Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Series, the MDO3000 provides industry leading debug functionality. With the new FastAcq feature, the MDO3000 oscilloscopes offer a more than 280,000 waveforms per second capture rate displayed on a vibrant digital phosphor display for easily finding infrequent anomalies in a signal. More than 125 available trigger combinations, automated serial and parallel bus analysis, innovative Wave Inspector controls, and optional automated power measurements round out the feature-set, and ensure comprehensive tools for every stage of debug. This functionality is extended with the addition of 9 optional serial protocol analysis packages – I2C, SPI, RS-232, USB 2.0, CAN, LIN, FlexRay, MIL-STD-1553, and Audio.

The integrated, optional 50 MHs AFG functionality is more than two times faster than competitive offerings with eight times the arbitrary waveform record length. While the integrated digital voltmeter (DVM) provides 4-digit AC RMS, DC, or AC+DC RMS voltage measurements, as well as 5-digit frequency measurements in a large, easy-to-read display that makes changes in your readings instantly visible. The DVM feature is available free of charge when an MDO3000 product is registered.

Adding to the value story, MDO3000 instruments are the first in the industry to offer 3.9 pF passive voltage probing on instruments with a starting price of €2,700/£2,250. For higher speed applications, 1 GHs passive voltage probes are offered standard with 1 GHs instruments – the only in the industry. These low capacitance probes minimise the impact on devices under test while reducing signal distortion and cleanly passing the signal to the oscilloscope for measurement.

“The trend toward integrated instrumentation is one that we plan to embrace wholeheartedly. We can now give our engineers the full set of tools they need while lowering overall cost of ownership,” said Scott Ausborn, test engineer supervisor, Logitech, UE. “But what makes the MDO3000 particularly attractive is the integrated spectrum analyser. Wireless is showing up in more products every day, and EMI challenges come up regularly, so having a spectrum analyser tightly integrated into our scopes isn’t just a nice to have, it’s becoming a core requirement.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Earth testers for simpler, faster testing!

Two new Earth Ground Testers, indispensable troubleshooting tools to help maintain uptime and lower the risk of electric shock to personnel ahve been introduced by Fluke. Their 1623-2 and 1625-2 GEO Earth Ground Testers offer automated data collection and storage, with download capabilities via a USB port, eliminating data entry and recording errors. The choice of models targets electrical contractors, industrial maintenance technicians and power utilities and telecom engineers. The higher end 1625-2 features Automatic Frequency Control (AFC) which identifies interference and chooses measurement frequency to provide an even more accurate earth ground value. Optional colour coded wires provide easier identification and deploying of wire reels and stakes, thus offering faster setup.

A lack of proper grounding also increases the risk of equipment failure. Without an effective grounding system, electrical devices are subject to instrumentation errors, harmonic distortion issues, power factor problems and a host of possible intermittent dilemmas. Studies show that as much as 25% of power quality problems are related to poor grounding. The new IP56-rated Fluke 1623-2 and 1652-2 GEO Earth Ground Testers can perform all four types of earth ground measurement:

  • 3- and 4-pole Fall of Potential (using stakes)
  • 4-pole Soil Resistivity testing (using stakes)
  • Selective testing (using 1 clamp and stakes)
  • Stakeless testing (using 2 clamps only)

The testers are also easy to use. For each test, the tester indicates which stakes or clamps need to be connected and the large rotary switch can be used even with a gloved hand. Other advanced features on the Fluke 1625-2 include R* measurement, which calculates earth ground impedance at 55Hz to more accurately reflect the earth ground resistance than a fault-to earth ground would see, and adjustable limits for quicker testing.

With the stakeless test method, two clamps are placed around the earth ground rod and both are connected to the tester: no earth ground stakes are used at all. The tester automatically determines the resistance of the earth ground rod which does not need to be disconnected - leaving the bonded earth ground system intact during test. This enables tests inside buildings, of power pylons, and anywhere there is no access to soil. This test method only works if a bonded earth ground system exists for the building or structure under test, but most are. If there is only one path to ground, as at many residential applications, the stakeless method will not provide an acceptable value and the Fall of Potential test method must be used.

Available also as complete kits, these come with the 1623-2 or 1625-2 tester, test leads, 4 earth ground stakes, 3 cable reels with wire, 2 clamps, batteries, and manual - all inside a professional Fluke carrying case.

1500 tonne calibration test machine delivered!

LCM Systems has recently installed a custom designed 1500 tonne calibration machine at its manufacturing facility on the Isle of Wight (GB). The addition of this machine to their calibration facilities means that all load cells, shackles and pins with capacities up to 1500 tonnes in compression, and 150 tonnes in tension, can be calibrated in-house. For customers, this means that prices can be reduced and faster delivery times for large capacity load cells guaranteed. Also, as many of LCM Systems’ load cells are used in safety critical applications, all calibrations are traceable to national standards and accurate to 0.1% of rated load.

Prior to its arrival, all load cells measuring loads over 200 tonnes had to be shipped to The National Physical Laboratory in the British mainland for calibration, adding to the production time and also incurring additional costs. Having seen a large increase in the requirement for larger capacity load cells over the last few years, it became increasingly evident that investing in a bespoke calibration machine would not only dramatically speed up the production process, but would also pay for itself in just two years.

Having the ability to carry out calibrations up to 1500 tonnes is also rather unique, as apart from The National Physical Laboratory, there is only one other calibration machine in Britain capable of testing load cells with such high capacities.

Steve Sargeant, Managing Director said “We are delighted at the arrival of our new calibration test machine, which comes after 18 months of designing and planning, and is a really positive addition to our facilities. The company is growing rapidly, and as we are committed to maintaining this growth. This enhancement to our capabilities will be key to helping us achieve this. Crucially, we can now offer our customers of large capacity load cells improved delivery times as well as cost reductions, making us even more competitive.”

The test machine represents a significant investment for the company, which has been possible due to an increased demand for the company’s products, with growth over the last few years consistently around 30%.