Friday, April 25, 2014

Design toolbox expands control design capabilities!

Maplesoft™ has announced an important update to the MapleSim Control Design Toolbox, an add-on to MapleSim, the advanced system-level modeling and simulation tool from Maplesoft. The MapleSim Control Design Toolbox allows engineers to take advantage of the greater flexibility and analysis options available through the use of symbolic parameters. This new release extends the functionality of this toolbox with more control algorithms, options for automatically selecting the most suitable algorithm and parameter values, and extensive improvements to existing features.

The updated MapleSim Control Design Toolbox
allows engineers to design a greater variety
of controllers and controller-observer systems
while leveraging powerful analysis options
 using symbolic parameters.
The Design Toolbox now includes additional control algorithms that operate on a wider range of systems and the ability to construct closed-loop systems so that users can create controllers with feedback. It offers a more complete set of algorithms for PID control, including automatic tuning of the controller. It also provides automatic computation of design parameters, such as poles and weighted matrices, for state control feedback design. These enhancements allow engineers to design a greater variety of controllers and controller-observer systems such as linear-quadratic-Gaussian control (LQG).

“With the MapleSim Control Design Toolbox, customers can easily perform traditional control tasks, but they also have the added flexibility that comes from having access to the symbolic power of MapleSim,” says Dr. Chad Schmitke, Director of MapleSim Development at Maplesoft. “By including symbolic parameters, researchers can gain insights into control problems in ways that are simply not possible with other tools. In addition, educators can use this approach to give their students valuable insight into the theory behind control design, giving them the understanding they need to tackle challenging problems, in school and out in the field. This new release increases those abilities by significantly expanding the scope of problems this toolbox can solve.”

The new MapleSim Control Design Toolbox is an add-on to the recent release of MapleSim, MapleSim 6.4.

Submersible subsea load cells excel under pressure!

With over 20 years experience designing and manufacturing submersible and subsea load cells Applied Measurements have sensors functioning worldwide, from a few metres below the surface to 10 kilometres underwater (depth or pressure equivalencies). These submersible and subsea sensors operate precisely and reliably 24/7 in applications including underwater structure lifting systems, ROVs and offshore power generation.

Many of their load cell designs are based on standard products with modifications to allow operation in underwater environments; O-ring seals, welded housings and moulded subsea connector assemblies ensure high integrity even at great depths. The most common models are our CCD column type compression load cells; DBCL in-line tension and compression load cells (image shown), which cover higher capacities from 1 tonne up to 1000 tonnes+; and our DDEN load cells, which are suited to lower capacities from just 250N/25kg up to 20kN/2000kg. These modified subsea and submersible load cell designs have been used in subsea structure lifting systems, offshore power generation and ROV exploration.

They also offer their STALC3 submersible load cells, which feature pressure compensation to ensure that the environment has a minimal effect on load cell performance. These products are designed primarily for use inside tri-axial chambers used by geotechnical testing laboratories, however, they have also designed customised fixtures that allow their use in a wide range of underwater applications including ROV development and subsea component pressure testing.

All subsea load cells can include the ICA series of miniature analogue amplifiers or the DCell miniature signal digitiser. Their small and compact size allows them to be fitted inside the submersible transducer, providing a conditioned and calibrated output directly to match existing instrumentation.

Where Applied Measurements specialise in the design of customised sensors to suit specific applications, we have served many unusual requirements so we’re always keen to help with any enquiry and relish the challenge of technically complex measurement scenarios.

Speeding cable-to-cable connection!

Harting has expanded its Han® B industrial connector product portfolio with the addition of Han® Hood Link: a new locking system that speeds cable-to-cable connection by allowing the connection of two standard Harting 16B hoods while simultaneously achieving an IP 65 degree of protection.

A key feature of the new connection is that it is made from a resistant elastomer which provides optimum protection against external mechanical forces, as well as good resistance to oils and gases. When used in conjunction with a specially contoured design, it achieves locking and sealing in a single action. As a result, housings can be quickly assembled and disassembled with minimal effort - all without tools.

A further product variant also permits housings to be locked together with both bulkhead and surface mounted housings.

This type of simple and robust locking element is particularly useful in concert and stage installations, since it minimises the risk of connectors falling from heights and the associated damage to the locking device on impact. This impact can be prevented by the elasticity of the new Han® Hood Link, which enables external mechanical forces to be absorbed. It also allows cables in machinery to be pre-assembled quickly and conveniently.

Measuring temperature for 75 years!

Krohne Inor, the temperature centre of excellence within the Krohne Group, has had major influence on the development of temperature transmitters. Founded 1939 in Malmö, Sweden, Krohne Inor celebrates its 75th birthday this year.

Print advertisements from the 1940s and 2014
The company was founded as Inor AB by Austrian Alfred Brakl who emigrated to Sweden in the 1930s. Focussing on temperature assemblies from the beginning, it started as a sales company for temperature assemblies and associated components. In the following years, Brakl expanded by setting up an assembly and matching services for temperature products. Not satisfied with what was available on the market at that time, he decided to develop his own temperature transmitter in the 1960s. From his idea derived a milestone for temperature transmitters: in 1974, INOR introduced the first temperature transmitter that could be built into the connection head. Since then, the design of the head-mounted transmitter has become an industrial standard and helped to extensively promote the name INOR as an innovator.

Progress was also made in the field of temperature assemblies: with temperature assembly starting in the 1950s, it already comprised numerous variants at that time. The company has gained wide experience in the areas of manufacturing standard and special variants, processing and machining different materials over the years, as well as designs and process connections of industrial temperature assemblies. The quality management of Inor was accredited to EN ISO 9000 already in 1995, since 2002 it is also accredited to EN ISO 14001.

In 2006, Krohne acquired Inor. Known as a manufacturer of flow and level measuring instruments, the company based in Duisburg, Germany, was looking for an expert company in the field of temperature measurement to offer its customers a broader portfolio from one source.  Inor became Krohne Inor and since then focusses on the extension of the temperature product portfolio and the internationalisation of its business activities. By combining both names the strong brand name INOR was accommodated.

In 2011 the company moved to its current location in Malmö where the urgently required space to enlarge production and assembly lines was available. Today, products and services of KROHNE INOR are available in more than 100 countries worldwide. Examples for the success of the efforts are major orders such as the equipment of the Solana CSP in Arizona, USA, with more than 1,100 measuring points. Among special high-temperature assemblies and accessories, the order comprises 1,148 OPTITEMP TT 51, a SIL2 HART transmitter.

• Krohne products are marketed in Ireland by DWN Instrumentation! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Expansion of Oil, gas & energy industries powers A&C market in CIS.

Upcoming brownfield and greenfield projects in the oil and gas and power generation industries will sustain the demand for automation and control solutions (ACS) in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Among the countries in the region (Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Moldova), Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan will remain market hot spots as scheduled oil and gas exploration activities as well as the anticipated modernisation of the industrial automation sectors pave the way for ACS adoption.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Strategic Analysis of the Automation and Control Solutions Market in CIS Countries, finds that the market earned revenues of €321.4 milliom  (US$443.8 million) in 2013 and estimates this to reach €405 million (US$559.2m) in 2017. While programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and safety instrumented systems (SIS) will continue to dominate the market, the distributed control system (DCS) segment is expected to witness the highest growth rate.

“As awareness increases, industries in the CIS are deploying ACS to bolster production volumes, optimise manufacturing processes, decrease operational costs, and boost returns,” said Frost & Sullivan Industrial Automation and Process Control Research Analyst Maryna Osipova. “Advanced solutions that offer asset management capabilities and enable the processing, displaying and archiving of information are particularly making a mark among end users.” 

One of the key challenges in the CIS ACS market is the lack of a well-qualified workforce. Innovative ACS systems require professional engineering resources for installation, operation and repair services, and the shortage of skilled assets affects project performance and customer service support for ACS products.

Another restraint is the economic downturn that has compelled customers to tighten budgets, resulting in the temporary shelving of present projects and the delay of future ones. High inflation rates further curb the purchasing power of customers and limit investments in automation.

Expanding into the region will help ACS producers overcome cost concerns from end users to an extent through geographical proximity and product customization activities.

“Building sound relationships with original equipment manufacturers will allow ACS service providers to deliver flexible solutions and carve a niche for their products in the competitive CIS market,” elaborated Osipova. “In addition, ACS suppliers must customise solutions to not only meet emerging customer needs but also add value to their offering and widen their reach in the region.” 

If you are interested in more information on this study, please send an e-mail to Julia Nikishkina, Corporate Communications, at, with your full name, company name, job title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state and country.

Seasoned leader for European vice president position!

NI has announced the promotion of Robert Morton to Vice President of Europe. As Vice President of Europe, Morton is responsible for NI sales, marketing support and general and administrative operations in the greater European region.

Robert Morton
“Since joining NI in 1994, Robert has driven revenue growth, defined sales and support structures and recruited high-performing teams to serve customers, and I look forward to his continued leadership,” said Francis Griffiths, Senior Vice President of Regional Sales and Marketing and former Vice President of Europe.

Morton has held leadership positions across sales and engineering, including leading the northern European region as Sales Director. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Manchester and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Kingston University in London.<

Force measurement seminars!

Kistler Instruments are offering a 25% discount on all bookings made before the 31st August for its one day seminars held at two locations in England, on the 7th October  Corsham, and the 9th October at Gaydon.
The seminars will be held on 9th October 2014 at The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire and on the 7th November 2014 at Guyers House Conference Centre, Corsham, Wiltshire.

The 25% early booking discount will apply to the £200 single delegate fee and the reduced multi-delegate rate for all bookings made and paid for before the 31st August 2014. The delegate fee includes all course material, refreshments and lunch.

More information or to book contact Sharon Turner

The seminars, designed to provide an introduction to piezoelectric sensor technology for instrumentation engineers, will cover the theory of piezoelectric sensors and the practical application of piezoelectric measurement in both laboratory and industrial environments. Relevant to all those responsible for designing and building instrumentation and measurement systems, especially where long term reliable operation is a priority. A major quality of piezoelectric sensors is the ability to monitor highly dynamic impact or combustion events, often under harsh operating conditions.

Although piezoelectric sensor technology has many advantages over other types of sensor technologies, a clear understanding of piezoelectric measurement is essential for the full benefits to be obtained under real world conditions.
The subjects to be covered include:

  • ➢ Design, principles & benefits of piezoelectric sensors.
  • ➢ A practical exercise on fitting & mounting force sensors.
  • ➢ Charge signal conditioning and system integration.
  • ➢ Calibration and measurement.

The Internet of Things and air monitoring!

Jim Mills, Managing Director of Envirologger, was recently invited to speak at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) in Dallas (TX USA). The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) was the central theme of the Conference, which sought to identify the potential for wireless ‘smart’ systems in applications as diverse as the remote control of domestic appliances with smartphones to space robotics and personal medical devices.

"Wireless technology may be used to monitor
almost any remote sensors." Jim Mills
With 18,000 employees worldwide, Freescale is a leader in embedded processing solutions for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. From microcontrollers and microprocessors to sensors, analogue integrated circuits and connectivity, the company’s technologies are employed in many of the devices that we use every day.

Developed with the embedded engineer in mind, the FTF events drive innovation and collaboration amongst the global developer community, drawing nearly 60,000 attendees worldwide since their inception in 2005. The Dallas Conference was attended by around 2,000 engineers and speakers include Freescale’s CEO and senior management with guest presentations from some of the world’s leading technology innovation companies, including General Motors, Oracle, ARM, etc.

The guest speakers were invited to demonstrate that the IoT is already being employed successfully in a wide variety of applications and Jim Mills was asked to show delegates how Envirologger has web-enabled much of the Britain's air quality monitoring network. Jim outlined the ways in which Envirologger exploits Freescale technology to provide real-time access to remote monitors for air quality, traffic, meteorology and noise. “The Envirologger Gateway can be connected to just about any monitor, collecting data and passing it to our cloud-based servers,” he explained, adding: “We have also built Freescale technology into the wireless nodes that we have developed, which can be connected to individual sensors.”

During his presentation, Jim provided a live demonstration, featuring a global map showing the locations of Envirologger monitoring stations. For the purposes of the demonstration, Jim had configured carbon dioxide monitoring points at Freescale locations in both Scotland and Dallas, from which both historical and live data could be viewed.

Commenting on applications for the IoT Jim said: "We are seeing strong growth in the market for environmental monitoring and our customers are constantly finding new ways to exploit the value of live data.

"In essence, our customers need data, so with monitoring information stored in the 'cloud' we are finding that more and more customers prefer to rent data rather than purchase equipment and run it themselves. In addition, by web-enabling the data, users are able to provide information to an enormous number of people, which massively increases the value of the data."

All of the FTF presentations were filmed and are available online here. Jim's presentation can be viewed 50 minutes into the presentations on the second day. They have also conveniently extracted this presentation as a single YouTube video which we have included below!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Combat cyber-threats with specialist training!

SolutionsPT is continuing its proactive response to the growing threat to cyber security in British manufacturing by becoming an authorised training provider for Tofino® Security Products, (now part of Belden.)

Earlier this year SolutionsPT became a Certified VAR Gold Partner for Tofino’s Industrial Security Solution. Tofino, as our readers will know, is renowned in the industry for cyber security protection within control networks. Tofino’s flexible architecture enables users to create security zones – Zone Level Security – throughout their control network to protect critical system components. (See more on our ICS & SCADA Page on Tofino's part in the battles against Stuxnet and its siblings!)

SolutionsPT is now helping fight the battle against cyber-threats by providing training aimed at maximising the potential of Tofino’s Industrial Security Solution, which includes the EAGLE20TM Tofino Hardware.

The one day course is designed to deliver a fundamental and in-depth understanding of the Tofino Industrial Security Solution by equipping users with the knowledge to install and configure Tofino within a manufacturing network to enable users to extend Cyber Security down to the control network and securely track network devices and easily create firewall rules.

Mike Lees, Hardware Manager at SolutionsPT said: “We are dealing with specialist security solutions designed specifically for the industrial IT market. It is therefore important that we educate our customers to use them effectively and ensure best practice is met, to make certain they are getting the best return on their investment, especially as security is such an ever-increasing issue in our industry”.

Courses will deliver a fundamental and in-depth understanding of the Tofino solution to users in IT, system administration, operations and engineering departments.

Delegate numbers are kept purposefully low so that individual needs and specific industry and company issues can be addressed fully.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dew-point, moisture & gas analysers certified safe!

Michell Instruments has recently gained IECEx certification for its Exd range of moisture, hydrocarbon dew-point, oxygen and binary gas analysers. Adding this certification to the range means the analysers now have approvals for installation in hazardous areas around the world.

The complete set of approvals for the Exd range now include:

  • IECEx – globally accepted and required by Australia and South Korea
  • ATEX – required in Europe
  • CSA – harmonised certification applicable in both USA and Canada
  • TC-TR Ex – required in the CIS zone (Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus)
  • Ukraine EX

Michell also have experience in delivering complete analyzer systems conforming to Brazilian hazardous area certification, INMETRO.

The new certifications apply to Michell’s Condumax II Hydrocarbon Dew-Point Analyzer, Promet EExd moisture in process gases analyser, Liquidew EExd, which analyses moisture in petrochemical liquids, the XTP601 oxygen analyzer and the XTC601 binary gas analyzer. This means that all moisture and hydrocarbon dew point applications, around the world can be covered by these analysers.

• Michell Instruments are marketed in Ireland by Instrument Technology.

Code readers for shiny surfaces!

Reliable readings on reflective surfaces using polarisation filter

A new series of camera-based code readers now comes equipped with special polarization filter technology, which significantly expands the devices' application area. This is because the barcodes and Data Matrix codes are often located on shiny, reflective surfaces, which can significantly interfere with the read operation. The new code readers are reliable at suppressing these kinds of reflections and even enable fast, reliable readings on metallic material.

OPC120P - the code reader for highly
reflective surfaces
The new OPC120W and OPC120P Series 1-D code and 2-D code readers from Pepperl+Fuchs cover an exceptionally broad range of applications. The OPC120W models offer an excellent cost-benefit ratio and are all-rounders suitable for a host of standard applications at standard speeds. The OPC120P model is perfect for more difficult tasks: It can handle high-speed applications with movements up to 10 m/s or 100 readings/s, and is equipped with unique polarization filter technology. Reliable code reading is guaranteed on highly reflective surfaces, such as metals, plastics, PCBs, under films, and on curved surfaces. Dr.-Ing. Tim Weis, Product manager Industrial Vision Components, Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH adds, "Other highlights offered by this device include a rotary encoder input for path synchronization and the ability to read barcodes up to 200 mm in length through multiple image capture. The high depth of focus enables readings over a long distance without needing to make parameter changes. Moreover, the code readers are available in a range of interfaces that include PROFINET, RS232, and Ethernet."

The OPC120 Series devices read the DataMatrix, Code 2/5, Code 39, Code128, EAN13, and Pharmacode code symbologies. In addition, they can detect varying textures, expiration dates, and the presence and position of logos. The code readers are characterized by many other features: These include outputting the code quality, automatically saving fault patterns, formatting the output string, and the match code function. These functions can be applied to up to four separate regions of the captured image. Its wide variety of features and protection category IP67 mean that the new code readers are suitable for a broad range of applications and industries.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Video promotion of automation publication for your iPad!

Just over a month ago we reported InTech Plus, a new mobile app from the ISA, for the Apple iPad that enables automation professionals to rapidly access, scan and digest a diverse range of technical and educational content—and utilise valuable tools and calculators—through a highly interactive and inviting format. (InTech steams into your iPad! - 13/3/2014).

Now they have produced a short and snappy video to extol its virtues and advantages. Enjoy!