Friday, August 22, 2014

Energy recovery units!

Atlas Copco has announced a complete re-design of the stand-alone, retrofit energy recovery units for its GA compressors. The new ER range now offers improved performance and a smaller footprint.

As much as 94% of the electrical energy used by industrial compressors is converted into heat and lost through radiation in the compression process. The remaining 6% is converted into compressed air heat losses. The new ER units recover up to 94% of this thermal energy to heat water up to 90°C for a number of process and domestic applications such as showers or central heating.

The ability for application industries to generate pre-heated water via Atlas Copco’s ER energy recovery systems helps reduce the costs of traditional energy sources and minimise the environmental impact of their CO2 emissions.

Development of the new ER concept was driven by market needs. The more compact design recognises the space limitations of point-of-use sites and compressor rooms. There is also a broader selection of models, including twin cooler versions, and optional provision for an energy savings counter. The units are designed to deliver the best possible performance at a competitive price and, depending on system conditions, a full return on investment is often achievable within 12 months.

The fully pre-assembled, plug-and-play range comprises three single cooler models: ER S1, S2 and S3 and two twin-cooler versions, ER S4 and S5, specifically designed for optimum oil pressure and flow through the unit. All of the Atlas Copco ER units’ mechanical parts are pre-mounted within the canopy to reduce commissioning time, simplify maintenance and to minimise the risk of incorrect connections.

The ER heat exchangers are now vertically configured to reduce unit footprints; compared with previous models, the single cooler version’s floor space dimensions are now reduced by 66% and those of the twin-cooler model by 33%. The units are offered with the option of complete, corrosion-free stainless steel construction, for applications where water purity is critical, or as a lower-priced stainless steel plate, copper brazed alternative, which provides a lower price alternative for non-critical water applications.

All ER units are provided with temperature sensors for ER water inlet and outlet temperature levels, these conditions can be displayed on the compressor Elektronikon controller or the ER unit energy saving counter, if fitted. Additionally, the SMARTLINK remote monitoring system allows users to continuously monitor and analyse these and other compressor conditions via an online portal. This feature allows easy creation of energy saving reports for ISO50001, ISO14001 and ESOS accreditation.

A 3m connection kit is supplied as standard while extension kits of up to 6m are available as an option. In addition, there is an energy counter module – factory-fitted or available as field sales kit – that monitors energy saving data.

Roadshow series on device management!

The FDT Group and PACTware are working closely together to host a series of user seminars focusing on device operation management to educate plant engineers on easier solutions to commission, diagnose and maintain HART, FOUNDATION Fieldbus and PROFIBUS devices over the device life cycle with a single tool.

The no charge seminars will be given by PACTware experts who will be making four European stops:
• Frankfurt, Germany; Oct. 21,
• Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Oct. 22,
• Antwerpen, Belgium; Oct.23,
• Ludwigshafen, Belgium; Oct. 24,
to broaden the scope and awareness of PACTware.

PACTware is a manufacturer and fieldbus-independent software organization for operating field instruments. The PACTware organization uses the FDT standardized interface that supports device integration between their Frame Application, PACTware and the individual device via a DTM (Device Tool Manager). Users no longer need to use several different manufacturer-specific configuration applications to access device information from different field instruments.

The half day events will kick off with an overview of the technology, followed by user-oriented, vendor neutral workshops focusing on operation and maintenance benefits. Attendees will have the chance to learn how configuration of a device is made easier and how advanced diagnostics enhances predictive maintenance and troubleshooting – while at the same time- increasing productivity and making life of a plant engineer a little easier. In addition to the tutorial, the event will allow attendees to network with their peers and PACTware experts at table tops showcasing the latest equipment available from leading manufacturers.

Each event will conclude with a multi-vendor demonstration showing attendees first-hand how PACTware, a Frame Application, enhances device operation through the entire life cycle of a device. The demo features numerous application examples, showing how device access can be facilitated and accelerated by using a single tool for all networks and field devices communicating via HART, PROFIBUS and FOUNDATION Fieldbus protocols.

The events are sponsored by the leading manufacturers in the industry including; Bopp & Reuther, ICS, Foxboro by Schneider, KROHNE, Pepperl+Fuchs and VEGA exhibiting their FDT enabled equipment on table tops.

Vision system ‘unwraps’ bottle labels for 100% inspection!

Olmec has designed and manufactured a line scan-based vision system for 100% inspection of labels on OTC healthcare product bottles. By rotating the bottle in front of the camera, the label is effectively ‘unwrapped’ to produce an image equivalent to imaging before it was stuck to the bottle. The vision system checks that the information on the label is correct as well as identifying missing or partial print.

The system handles a variety of bottles at a variety of speeds. The bottles are randomly fed into a servo-controlled starwheel which rotates each bottle in turn to the camera position. The ‘unwrap’ process is achieved by using rollers to then rotate the bottle within the pocket of the starwheel in front of a line scan camera which builds up the image of the label line by line. A distortion-free image is produced so there are no false rejects and no possibility of any rogue products getting through. Since the bottles do not need to be oriented before entering the system, speeds up to 120 a minute can be achieved.

The entire inspection cycle from moving the bottle into position, rotating it through 360˚, acquiring an image and making decisions takes just 500 milliseconds. The rotation of the bottle is synchronised with the scanning speed of the camera to eliminate deformations in the image. If the bottle rotates too fast the image is compressed and the pharmacode cannot be read and optical character recognition is also difficult. Similarly, if the bottle rotates too slowly, the image is stretched. In addition, if the bottle is leaning or moving up and down in the starwheel, the image can be skewed or show a ‘corkscrew’ effect. By precisely matching the mechanics of the starwheel with the image acquisition, the system offers a stability that minimises both false rejects and further software processing steps.

Robert Pounder, Technical Director at Olmec, said: “Using line scan technology greatly simplifies the inspection process. The Label Unwrap system design ensures the product is held captive and cannot be released unless it is acceptable; this eliminates the possibility of a product reaching a customer incorrectly coded or without any code at all.”

Symposium maintains tradition of high attendance!

Large gathering at the 2014 ISA WWAC Symposium to address automation challenges in the water and wastewater industries
An exuberant Daniel White of Opto 22 welcomes all comers at the Water/Wastewater Seminar
The 2014 International Society of Automation (ISA) Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls (WWAC) Symposium drew more than 170 attendees, 30 expert speakers and 27 exhibitors to Orlando, Florida, USA in early August to explore and confront the varied challenges associated with automation and instrumentation in the municipal water and wastewater sectors.

The three-day, highly targeted event—focusing entirely on the needs of automation professionals—included an extensive program of technical presentations; an interactive panel discussion; poster presentations; a tour of a local wastewater treatment plant; a vendor exposition; and two sold-out training classes—one on industrial cybersecurity and the other on troubleshooting instrumentation and control systems.

The 2014 ISA WWAC Symposium was organized by the ISA Water/Wastewater Industries Division in collaboration with the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA), the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) Automation and Info Tech Committee and the Instrumentation Testing Association.  In addition, 15 corporate sponsors supported the event.

“This year’s symposium delivered an excellent platform to examine in detail the key topics and challenges relating to automation in the water and wastewater industries, and to stay informed on the trends and dynamics shaping the future of these industries,” reports Kevin Patel, the general chair of the event. “The symposium featured some of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced subject matter experts.”

Among the diverse topics addressed during the technical sessions were:
Read-out was a media sponser for this event!
  • SCADA standardization
  • SCADA integration
  • Latest instrumentation
  • Wireless communications
  • DNP 3.0 protocol
  • Cloud-based SCADA
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data management
  • Smart Water
  • Human factors
  • Alarm management
  • Optimizing process controls
  • ISA Certified Control System Technician® (CCST®) exam information
A strong emphasis was placed on identifying opportunities and challenges faced by clean water agencies and pinpointing forward-looking solutions, some of which are being implemented today.
The keynote address, titled "A Vision for the Water Resources Utility of the Future," was delivered by Thomas W. Sigmund, P.E., Chair of the NACWA Utility and Resource Management Committee & Executive Director of NEW Water. Other notable speakers at the event included:
  • Don Lovell, of ISA, who discussed the importance of troubleshooting in daily plant operations.
  • Michael Sweeney, deputy executive director of the Toho Water Authority and long-time member of the American Water Works Association, who reviewed the current news and trends in the municipal drinking water sector.
  • Tom DeLaura, vice president of Eramosa International and chair of the Water Environment Federation's Automation and Info Tech Committee, who highlighted the current news and trends in the wastewater sector.
  • Bryan Singer, principal investigator for Kenexis Security, who outlined the most effective ways to conduct industrial security vulnerability assessments, and separated out what cyberattackers can and can't do.
Given the increasing risks posed by cyberhackers, cybersecurity was a hot topic. In his presentation, Singer helped attendees better understand the real threats posed by cyberattack and showed how owners and operators of critical infrastructure can better defend and protect industrial control systems (ICS). He pinpointed the most common techniques hackers use to exploit vulnerabilities and gain system and network access.

Utilizing modern ICS cybersecurity standards and engineering skills, Singer emphasized, can contain and limit the risk of significant network and system damage as a result of cyberwarfare.
In addition, a forum session on the Role of Automation within the Utility of the Future was held. Moderated by Tom DeLaura, the session examined how the evolving operating challenges of utilities will influence the need for automation. Panel members discussed that water utilities, for instance, are increasingly regarded as producers of a highly valued commodity, and that they will require significant operational improvements in order to be cost efficient

Forum session panel members included: 
Tom Sigmund, P.E., Chair, NACWA Utility and Resource Management Committee & Executive Director, NEW Water; 
Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, Ph.D., Dean, University of South Florida, Patel College of Global Sustainability; 
Barry Liner, P.E., Director, Water Science & Engineering Center at WEF; 
Zdenko Vitasovic, Ph.D., Senior Engineer, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; and 
Mike Sweeney, Ph.D., P.E., Florida Section of the AWWA & Deputy Executive-Director, Toho Water Authority.

Adding to the value of the symposium were the two training courses, the networking and professional development opportunities, and the continuing education credits (CEUs and PDHs). The credits, provided by ISA and the Florida Section of the AWWA, can be used toward continuing education requirements for various state-issued water operator, wastewater operator and engineering licenses.
“It’s great to know that the symposium is getting better and better and larger and larger,” emphasized attendee Charles Aycock of the city of Roseville, California, USA.

Revised method for kinematic viscosity!

The ISL Houillon Viscometers, the VH1 and VH2, from PAC, comply with the recently released revised version of ASTM D7279-14 Standard, “Standard Test Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids by Automated Houillon Viscometer”.

The new revision of the standard extends the scope from lubricating oils to include distillates (e.g., base oils, formulated oils, fuels, and biodiesel) and also adds a new precision at 40°C and 100°C, established through an interlaboratory study.

Our customers can now run their distillate oil samples on the VH1 and VH2 while complying with ASTM D7279. Requiring less than 1 ml of sample, the Houillon approach is applicable to both transparent and opaque samples, while needing less manpower to run. Since the kinematic viscosity results are produced within 60 seconds, the ASTM D7279 method has proven to be ideal for rapid testing of in-service engine oil conditions.

In addition to small sample size and fast analysis, the ISL Houillon Viscometers are easy to operate, flexible due to the capability to accommodate one or two solvents for cleaning, and robust in construction. Finally, the single-bath design, including 4 Houillon tubes, combined together with advanced automatic features, enable the simultaneous run of up to 16 tests.

Family of high performance PCIe/104 OneBankTM serial I/O modules!

Diamond Systems has introduced Emerald-MM-8EL-XT (EMM-8EL-XT), a family of high performance PCIe/104 OneBankTM serial I/O modules offering 4 or 8 serial ports with software-controlled configuration and optional opto-isolation.

The serial ports are based on a high speed PCIe octal UART with 256-byte TX/RX FIFOs and auto RS-485 transmit control. Each serial port can be independently configured for RS-232, RS-422, or RS-485 protocols, along with programmable 120-ohm line termination. Each port is independently isolated with an isolated power + signal chip, plus additional isolators for control signals. The board features intelligent power management that limits inrush current on power-up and also enables power-down of unused serial ports for power savings.

Opto-isolated models feature independent 2500V isolation circuits for enhanced reliability in vehicle or long cable applications. All ports also feature +/-15KV ESD protection. Each serial port is available on an independent latching connector for increased isolation and ruggedness. With its wide operating temperature range and high resistance to shock and vibration, the EMM-8EL-XT fits a wide variety of rugged and on-vehicle embedded serial I/O application needs.

EMM-8EL-XT also offers 8 digital/analog I/O lines which are programmable from the on-board microcontroller. Each I/O line can be configured for digital input or output. Seven of the I/O lines can also be configured for 12-bit A/D input with selectable 0-2.048V or 0-3.3V input ranges.

EMM-8EL-XT contains no configuration jumpers; all configuration and control is done with an onboard microcontroller. All configuration settings are stored in the microcontroller's flash memory and are automatically loaded on power-up. The microcontroller is managed with a comprehensive software suite that makes configuring the EMM-8EL-XT fast and simple. A graphical control panel, a console application, and drivers for Windows and Linux are provided to enable convenient configuration of the board and control of the I/O features in a laboratory or system assembly environment, or embedded in the customer’s application software.
EMM-8EL-XT is compatible with Windows 7/Vista/2000/XP and Linux and is qualified for operation over the full industrial temperature range of -40oC to +85oC.

EMM-8EL-XT’s key features and functions are tabulated below.
8 serial ports with up to 10Mbps data rates
16550 compatible octal UART with 256-byte TX/RX FIFOs
Models available with or without opto-isolation
8 programmable digital I/O or analog input lines
On-board microcontroller manages and stores configuration settings
All configuration done via software; no jumpers
Comprehensive software suite enables easy configuration and control
Latching connectors for increased ruggedness
PCIe x1 host interface using PCIe/104 “OneBankTM” connector
Rugged design: -40oC to +85oC operating temperature
Support for Windows Embedded Standard 7, XP, Vista, 2000 and Linux 2.6.xx
PCIe/104 form-factor: 3.55" x 3.775" (90mm x 96mm)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shale and sensors!

Commercial viability of shale gas exploration and energy policies to influence opportunities for sensor manufacturers

What are Shale Gas, Tight Gas
& Coal Seam Gas? (NTG, Australia)
The shale gas industry holds great promise for sensors, but it is heavily dependent on government acceptance due to the numerous environmental concerns (earthquakes, pollution) associated with fracking. With governments still being undecided on whether hydraulic fracturing can be conducted, and oil and gas companies not being certain about the feasibility of commercial shale gas production, the sensors and instrumentation market in the shale gas industry has remained small.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Sensors Market in Shale Gas Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of €79 million ($63.0m) in 2013 and estimates this to reach €132 million ($106.8m) in 2020. Currently, wellhead, fracking and separation are some of the key applications for flow, level, pressure and temperature sensors in shale gas production.

“Companies have continuously invested in the broad automation sector and have adopted sensor solutions to improve efficiency and process variable monitoring, as well as reduce maintenance costs and the total cost of ownership,” said Frost & Sullivan Measurement & Instrumentation Senior Industry Analyst V Sankara Narayanan. “This is expected to drive the demand for sensors and instrumentation in the overall oil and gas industry and ultimately, in the shale gas industry as well.”

Sensors’ role in the shale gas industry is critical. For instance, sensors and instrumentation can be used to address several complexities in hydraulic fracturing such as fracture orientation, its distance and geometry, and lateral and vertical extent. Microseismic fracture-mapping sensors can enhance the accuracy of fracturing by providing details on seismic imaging, while sensors installed in the well provide data on fracture characterization during drilling. As more fractures open during the process, the sensors installed on the drilling device help to identify new drilling directions.

As shale gas activity is mainly witnessed in the United States and Canada, the market for sensors in shale gas is concentrated in North America. Therefore, the expertise of sensor manufacturers from the US shale gas industry can be leveraged to penetrate other regions. Sensor manufacturers could also position themselves as solution vendors rather than sensor component vendors to gain greater shares of the global market.

“Overall, the market for sensors in shale gas will get a boost when the current uncertainty regarding legislation, policy and commercial readiness is resolved,” noted Narayanan. “This will allow the oil and gas companies to establish the commercial feasibility of shale gas exploration across the world and thereby, engage in business with sensor manufacturers.”

Emission sensors, Q&A session!

City Technology discusses emissions gas monitoring applications and how the right sensor can improve accuracy and reduce service costs

Honeywell company, City Technology - a World leader in gas sensors for industrial safety and emissions applications - has over 25 years’ experience pioneering flue gas analyser sensing solutions.
City Technology’s Tom Gurd, Product Marketing Manager, highlights emissions analysis application needs, trends in the global marketplace and how analyser manufacturers can benefit from the latest sensing technologies and add real-world value by enhancing measurement reliability, accuracy and reducing operational costs.

Gas sensors!
What are the gases flue gas analysers detect and why is detection important?
The main products of incomplete combustion are usually CO2, CO, H2 & NO; to ensure safe combustion we measure CO and the remaining O2 after combustion to calculate a CO:CO2 ratio – the accepted benchmark of performance. Of course there is much more to understand regarding efficiency or environmental emissions. CO sensors are also sensitive to H2 so in our more demanding markets, we measure the H2 to compensate the CO reading.

The combustion process is complex, requiring the right mix ratio, turbulence, temperature and time for reactants to combine. Poor fuel mixing or too little air produces carbon monoxide (CO) and soot. If the flame temperature is too high, nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are produced. A fuel containing sulphur will produce sulphur dioxide (SO2) - all these gases are toxic and indicate inefficient combustion, which is both dangerous and costly in terms of fuel consumption. Oxygen (O2) is essential for combustion so the gases detected by a typical flue gas analyser are O2, CO, H2, CO2, NO, NO2, SO2 & H2S.

Why is the gas sensor used so important?
There is a lot of focus on the analyser specification itself, but it’s also important to remember that an analyser is only as effective as the sensors it uses. Because of the risks associated with combustion emissions, safety and reliability are critical. Due to the nature of the typical toxic gas sensor used in a flue gas analyser, emissions gases and products of combustion can produce cross-sensitivity issues.

Field failures can be dangerous and costly and lives depend on a good sensing technology. What is less widely recognised are the other economic benefits a gas sensor can bring, by reducing an analyser’s servicing needs and operational costs. Our long life oxygen sensors for example are designed to work as long and hard as a typical analyser, compared with a standard O2 sensor with a two year life expectancy that must be changed 2-3 times in the life of an instrument.

In a real-world context, a combustion check can take up to 15 minutes and is typically carried out up to 8 times in each working day. With improved response times our new sensors can allow the same combustion check to be carried out in half the time or less. This means much less time waiting for the reading to stabilize – and ultimately a valuable opportunity to carry our more services in the field. Faster response Is what engineers really value as they have to wait less time for the reading to stabilize which can lead to more accurate readings as they are less likely to take the reading too quickly.

You mention adverse conditions that can affect sensor performance – what are these and how do benchmark sensors overcome such problems?
Flue gas analysis in domestic and light commercial boilers can present a challenge for sensors; they are subjected to high humidity, temperature and pressure changes, corrosive and acidic gases, and cross-sensitivity from emissions gases. This can cause field failures, compromise sensor integrity and create considerable servicing needs.

Every component in a sensor should be built to a high specification using ultra resistant materials, so they can work effectively in these adverse conditions without affecting accuracy and reliability and deliver the fast response times. Sensor design is essential in achieving this. Our long life oxygen sensors are built using “electrochemical pump” technology which is proven in the field for 4 years and provides a viable lead fee replacement.

A high range CO monitoring application, which traditionally requires a second sensor under EN50379-2, benefits from the use of a robust, high sensitivity solution like our new A5F+ CO sensor, which can monitor up to 20,000ppm. The combination of high capacity filtration to remove SOx and NOx and auxiliary electrodes to compensate for hydrogen, provides the highest reliability.

What should an analyser manufacturer or engineer look for when selecting a sensor manufacturer? What is it about City sensors that set them apart?
It’s important to work with a manufacturer who is a recognised expert in the field of emissions monitoring. City Technology is a World leader in gas sensing with 25 years’ experience meeting the specific needs of emissions monitoring applications. Our 5 Series range (designed for use in high-end analytical flue gas analysers), was recently extended with the addition of the 5OxLL long life O2 and the A5F+ CO sensors, and is used prolifically in the World’s most stringently regulated regions, like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where only the best performing sensors can be used. Our products are also widely used in the Americas and Asia Pacific.

The ability for a manufacturer to achieve dependable repeatability should also be a key consideration. At City we use Six Sigma driven design, state-of-the-art automated manufacture and pioneering cell design innovations. Not to mention compliance with the latest standards. Our new 4 Series range is designed to meet the needs of EN50379-3 compliant analysers and features a long life solutions.

How does the right manufacturer back up such claims?
Marketing claims must be substantiated. Ask to see comparisons that back up “best in class” claims; data speaks for itself - a good manufacturer will be keen to show you how their products shape up to contemporaries.

When it comes to reliable performance stability, testing – both life cycle and field tests – provides the peace of mind that a sensor really is up to the job of emissions monitoring. Always ask to see test data that can prove that what a sensor claims it can do is accurate. At City, extensive testing is an integral part of the design process, highlighting performance and sensor robustness.

Improve interface development & expand mobile device support for mobile operators!

Web-based mobile operator interface software groov 2.2 improves screen design tools and options, expands real-time trending, and adds custom views for mobile devices.

A significant update to the company’s groov web-based mobile operator interface software, groov version 2.2, has been announced by Opto 22. groov makes it simple to build and use effective, scalable operator interfaces on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices so that authorized users can monitor or control almost any automation system. It adds and improves dynamic screen objects (gadgets), expands real-time trending gadgets with multiple pens and data buffering, and makes several time-saving tool improvements to the screen-building and editing environment. The software also improves the ability to customise separate screens for PCs and mobile devices in the same groov project, so the best interface is used for each size platform. It lets industrial automation end-users, system integrators, machine OEMs, or any authorized person quickly and securely manage automation, building, and other control systems from a mobile device.

groov 2.2 screen gadgets include a new Momentary Button gadget that works like a normally-open/normally-closed mechanical button, writing a value once when it is pressed and once when it is released. The Momentary Button gadget is useful in applications where a push-hold-release button is well suited for a task such as jogging a drive feed or panning an IP camera.

The groov Trend gadget has been significantly expanded to extend real-time trend durations to seven days and to use up to four pens per chart. Longer update rates allow users to build trends to meet their specific needs, and trended data is now buffered. This buffered data can survive a reset or power outage, ensuring no trend data is lost, which can be critical in applications or environments where viewing long data trends is vital.

groov Build, groov’s interface development tool, adds multiple new color backgrounds for screen design, including several dark backgrounds up to black. Darker backgrounds generally produce less glare when an interface is used in environments with dim lighting. Along with these new background choices, on-screen gadgets, text, and other objects now automatically change color for best visibility on the current background. This greatly speeds up interface development because the screen developer/designer can quickly test many different background colors without needing to change any on-screen objects.

Also in groov Build are improvements for editing objects and gadgets, including new sizing handles, easier selection of z-order (depth) for on-screen objects, and a new Edit menu that puts related commands in one place. Together, these improvements can reduce the time to build interfaces by up to 50%.

Custom Views for Mobile Devices
groov interfaces are used on many different devices, from compact, handheld smartphones to large wall-mounted TVs. When an operator interface is built in groov Build, two screens are created simultaneously: a larger screen intended for a PC or tablet, and a smaller screen for a smartphone or similar mobile device. Both large and small screens include the same objects and gadgets by default, and gadgets can be individually positioned and sized for best use on the large or small screen.

New in groov 2.2, objects and gadgets can be included in one size screen but omitted in the other. For example, a real-time trend can be included on the large PC/tablet screen but not on the smaller smartphone screen, customizing the operator interface for either size device. In another example, a large, horizontally-oriented graphic can appear on the large PC/tablet screen, while a smaller, vertically-oriented version of the same graphic appears on the smaller screen. This new feature provides a level of screen-building customization and utilization never before offered in an operator interface product.

Additional Improvements in groov 2.2

  • groov 2.2 includes other improvements and new features:
  • groov software automatically checks for new software updates from Opto 22. (Internet connection required.)
  • The Video gadget can be resized while keeping the proportions (aspect ratio) of the original video source. The Video gadget can also be reduced to a very small “thumbnail” size, with or without keeping the same proportions.
  • “On” and “Off” values displayed in a Value gadget can be customized with labels like “Open” and “Closed” that may be more meaningful in specific applications.
  • When a new gadget is created, its label automatically uses the name of the tag to which it’s connected. This feature saves time when building screens.
See also our report: "Operator interface that just works, Mate!" (Aug 2013)

A first in European Test & Measurement market!


Microlease is celebrating the launch of Keysight Technologies, Inc., formerly Agilent’s Electronic Measurement Business. Microlease, whose global headquarters are in Britain, became the first partner to do business with Keysight in Europe by placing an order for new products for its inventory.
Keysight Oscilloscopes!

“We are thrilled to do business with Keysight as it spins off into its own entity,” says Nigel Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Microlease. “Keysight is now the world’s leading electronic measurement equipment manufacturer, and we are committed to helping the company prosper globally.”

Microlease has had a long-standing relationship with Agilent Technologies, dating back to when its electronic measurement group operated under Hewlett Packard. Microlease placed the first order with Agilent in Europe when the company separated from Hewlett Packard in 1999.

• Effective 1 August 2014, Keysight Technologies, Inc. is operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Agilent Technologies, Inc. until the formal separation expected in early November 2014.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fibre optic current sensor for high voltage applications!

Enabling digital substations and smart grids

The latest generation Fibre Optic Current Sensor (FOCS-FS)from the ABB stable complements its portfolio of optical sensors. The FOCS-FS gets its name from its innovative ‘free standing’ design.
ABB’s Fibre Optic Current Sensors (FOCS) are based on the Faraday effect principle, whereby light is used to deduce the precise magnitude of current that is creating the magnetic field. ABB’s FOCS series for high-voltage substations includes FOCS integrated with DCB (Disconnec-ting Circuit Breakers), FOCS kits for integrating with other high-voltage equipment such as gas-insulated switchgear and generator circuit breakers. FOCS-FS will add to this portfolio of offering.
A salient feature of the FOCS-FS is its digital interface capability making it ideal for deployment in digital substations and facilitating adaptability to future substation automation needs.

It also complies with IEC 61850 open systems communication protocol, enabling interoperability with equipment from other vendors. The new FOCS will be suitable for current measurement applications in 245 kV to 800 kV substations.

“ABB’s new FOCS-FS ‘free standing’ digital fibre optic current sensor solution will facilitate the development of digital substations and enable the grid to get smarter” said Giandomenico Rivetti, head of ABB’s High-Voltage business, a part of the company’s Power Products division. “It is also more ecoefficient and is designed to minimize footprint and enhance safety”.

Conventional current and voltage measuring devices in substations comprise of oil and SF6 based instrument transformers. However these devices are heavy, weighing up to several tons. They also consume significant amount of space.

The new FOCS addresses demanding performance requirements for accuracy across a wide temperature range. It is inherently free of magnetic saturation, making it ideal for capturing fast transient currents, short circuit currents, and alternating current (AC) with direct current (DC)-offset. The compact design helps achieve reduced substation footprint as it requires much smaller space compared to conventional instrument transformers. It is also an eco-efficient solution that uses no oil or gas,
eliminating the risk of explosion.

A seminar on SPICE!

A free half-day seminar (Click on the EMEA link!) is designed to educate and inform both advanced and new users of LTspice.

Mike Englehardt
What is LT Spice?
Linear Technology’s LTspiceIV is the number one high performance SPICE simulator, schematic capture and waveform viewer that has enhancements and models for easing the simulation of switching regulators. Linear Technology’s enhance-ments to SPICE have made simulating switching regulators extremely fast compared to normal SPICE simulators, allowing the user to view waveforms for most switching regulators in just a few minutes. Included in the download are SPICE, Macro Models for 80% of Linear Technology's switching regulators, over 200 op amp models, as well as resistors, transistors and MOSFET models.
Dates & Venue
  • October 1 Dortmund, Germany
  • October 2 Hannover, Germany
  • October 6 Reading, England
  • October 7 Cambridge, England
  • October 8 Edinburgh, Scotland
  • October 9 Dublin, Ireland
This is an excellent opportunity to gain the knowledge to successfully simulate circuit designs and predict circuit behaviour for faster more efficient designs.

At this seminar attendees will learn the ins and outs of LTspice, as presented by Mike Engelhardt, the author/creator of LTspice. Included will be informative tutorials on how to simulate switch mode power supplies, compute efficiencies and observe power supply start-up behaviour and transient response. Attendees will also be able to utilise LTspice as a general purpose SPICE simulator for AC analysis, DC sweeps, noise analysis and circuit simulations.

Attendees are invited to bring along their unique questions on LTspice and get answers direct from the creator of the software himself.

Continental breakfast and lunch will be served.

Cold store scanner with intelligent heating!

Difficult ambient conditions sometimes exist during the processing, transportation, and identification of products, such as large below-zero temperatures. However, normal automation components such as barcode scanners are generally not suitable for operation in cold storage warehouses. Instead, special device designs are needed for this in which frequently reduced performance values must be taken into account. Systems that are not subject to restrictions are of more interest here.

Can be used universally from chilled
to warm conditions
The compact cold store scanner VB14N-T from Pepperl+Fuchs operates at temperatures from -35 °C to +45 °C and delivers its full performance potential over this exceptionally large operating temperature range. With a scan rate of up to 1000 scans/s and resolutions of 0.2 mm, the device offers the same performance as the VB14N type counterpart available for standard temperatures. The special feature of the low-temperature version lies in the integrated heater, which is monitored by microprocessor-controlled temperature control. Depending on the internal and external temperatures of the barcode scanner and environment, the device constantly determines the optimal heating power. The developers have therefore succeeded in combining counter-acting properties such as the low power consumption of a maximum 10 W with a very short warm-up period of a maximum of 20 minutes.

Other highlights in this device class include master-slave operation in which up to 32 scanners work together in a network, configuration via the convenient PC software Genius, and the innovative direct-operation concept with mode button. With the help of intelligent code reconstruction, the model can even decode poor-quality code readings such as those with low contrast, damage, or in-motion blurring. With identical dimensions, the standard scanner can easily be replaced by the new cold store version if required. Cabling effort is also low, as the device and heating are supplied via the same cable. The possibility of using the VB14N-T in the positive range in normal temperatures makes the device—which is accommodated in a robust housing to IP 65 degree of protection—a universally usable all-rounder with a wide field of application.

Standardisation and Integration of FDI into FDT!

The FDT Group will be exhibiting at the upcoming Yokogawa Users Conference and Exhibition in Houston (TX USA), September 9-11, 2014. The growth in industrial network standards, instrument configuration methodologies, and the relentless pursuit for operational excellence and increased plant reliability has accelerated the use of the FDT Technology on worldwide basis.

This year the FDT Group will exhibit a technology demonstration that focuses on smart device integration solutions that are both protocol and supplier independent. With the magnitude and diversity of suppliers, products and communication protocols available on the market today, device integration and interoperability are key concerns in the user’s mind and FDT focuses and delivers the solution. Come by and talk with an FDT expert.

In addition to our exhibit, the Group will host a presentation on Standardisation and Integration of FDI (Field Device Integration) into FDT (Field Device Technology) Standards on Wednesday, September 10th from 1:15 PM to 1:45 PM. Presented by Chuck Micallef, the presentation will examine the capabilities of the FDT2 standard and describe how FDI device packages are easily integrated into an FDT2 Frame Application.

Directly following the FDT presentation, FDT will participate in a question and answer session along with experts from the Fieldbus Foundation and OPC.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vibration transmitter helps prevent unscheduled downtime by extending cost-effective protection to more assets!

The field-configurable instrument delivers real-time information about rotating equipment for operational decision-making

Emerson’s new CSI 9360 vibration/position transmitter offers users and manufacturers an economical solution for extending basic protection to compressor, pump and fan assets. Developed using OEM-supplied specifications, the transmitter detects emerging sleeve bearing issues by capturing vibration or position data and translating it into a 4-20mA signal for monitoring. This advanced warning allows customers to shut down these assets before significant equipment damage occurs or production is impacted.

Its versatility it helps users save money by reducing the need for multiple types of transmitters. It can be field-configured for three radial vibration ranges or position with invertible position signal, selectable sensor loop response times and optional sensor fault lock out times. While most transmitters standardise on 5mm sensors, this unit supports multiple eddy current sensor sizes.

The CSI 9360 provides users with precise, accurate information for critical operational decision-making. To verify radial vibration or axial thrust movement measurements, it can be used to perform 2oo3 sensor voting on high-speed shafts as small as 16 mm (5/8”) in diameter.

The transmitter has flexible options for accessing data, making it easier to take timely, corrective action. For data collection and analysis, the buffered output can be accessed through a SMB connection by a portable analyser such as the CSI 2140. The screw terminal buffered output connection can be directly wired to a monitoring system for detailed analysis or troubleshooting.

For simple installation, the unit is loop powered with a standard DIN rail mounting clip or optional panel mount adaptor and has standard CSA and ATEX agency safety ratings (pending).

The CSI 9360 makes field changes easy. Given its low component exchange error, users can combine different sensors, extension cables and transmitters in the field and still maintain tight measurement tolerances (typically under 4%) without recalibration.

Breakthrough in switchgear technology with eco-efficient insulation gas!

A a significant breakthrough in switchgear technology, has been achieved by ABB, with the development of a solution that deploys a new insulation gas mixture as a substitute for sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Sulphur Hexafluoride
This alternate gas mixture has similar insulation properties as SF6 gas now used in switchgear, but can substantially lower environmental impact due to its extremely low global warming potential. ABB’s gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) with the new gas mixture has the potential to lower carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by up to 50 percent through the lifecycle of the equipment, compared to its predecessor with the same rating.

“This is a significant achievement and can pave the way for more eco-efficient switchgear in the years ahead,” said Bernhard Jucker, Head of ABB’s Power Products division. “It will enable our customers to lower environmental impact and is very much in line with ABB’s ongoing commitment to technology and innovation to enable power and productivity for a better world.”

For decades, SF6 gas has been used extensively in the electrical industry for dielectric insulation and current interruption due to its physical properties. Pressurized SF6 gas aids the safe and reliable operation of gas-insulated switchgear because it has a much higher dielectric strength than other insulation media, making it possible to significantly reduce the size of switchgear installations and enable installation in areas where space is at a premium. However, SF6 is a known greenhouse gas and moreover, its lifecycle management requires careful handling for utility and industrial users. The cost of managing it in a compliant manner can also be substantial, particularly when decommissioning aging substations.

The new technology will be deployed for the first time at a substation located in Oerlikon, Zürich (CH), as a pilot installation for the leading utility, ewz. In addition to the 170 kilovolt (kV) high-voltage GIS, ABB will also install medium voltage GIS with the new gas mixture.

In a power system, switchgear is used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment to boost the reliability of the electrical supply. With GIS technology, key components including contacts and conductors are protected with insulating gas. Compactness, reliability and robustness make it a preferred solution in urban areas and other places where space is a constraint or in harsh environmental conditions.

Robust, non-contact distance measurement!

A new bearingless encoder for linear distance measurement has been introduced by Baumer. The MIL10 comprises a sensing head and an adhesive magnetic tape.The non-contact magnetic sensing method is wearfree and hence provides virtually unlimited service life.

Magnetic tape encoding is by poles of 2mm width. Signal processing integrated in the sensing head allows for resolutions up to 5 µm. The fully encapsulated magnetic sensor provides IP 66 and IP 67 as standard protection. Used in conjunction with a masking tape of stainless steel, the system is even up to demanding environments with a high degree of soiling by dust, chippings, splints or oil. Operating temperature may range from -40°C to +85°C.

Sized 10 x 15 x 45,5 mm, the sensor is extremely compact. It withstands shocks and vibrations up to 500 respectively 30 g. The Polyurethan cable capable of flexible carriers and frequently changing bending radii is shielded and twisted in pairs - and in conjunction with the sensor’s robust metal housing the ultimate protection against electromagnetic interference.

The output frequency of max. 350 kHz allows for travel speed up to 25 m/s. MIL 10 is available with 5 VDC supply and TTL / RS422 compliant line drivers and as a 10…30 VDC variant with push-pull. Both output two inverted channels with 90° shift and generate an additional pole-periodic inverted index pulse.

IT Roadshow to tour Ireland and Britain this Autumn!

The next Solutions PT Industrial IT Roadshow is taking place at 7 different iconic venues across Ireland & Britain.

The seminar will focus on the latest IT technology trends and we will present their views on how the increasing influence of mainstream IT is driving unprecedented levels of change within manufacturing. Their experst will share knowledge and experience of industrial IT solutions that enable customers to adapt quickly to the changing pace of business and technology by maximising opportunities and reducing cost.

There will also be live demonstrations of some of the latest technologies on the market (Stratus Everrun, ThinManager 7 and Relevance) and it is an unmissable chance for to quiz some of the leading figures in this specialised area of industrial automation about the key issues surrounding Virtualisation, Fault Tolerance, Thin Client Management, Cyber Security and Mobile Technology.

The agenda is downloadable from the site and attendees may also fill in the booking form there. The event is free and breakfast will be served on arrival .

Dates and Venues
They have chosen some of the most inspiring and unique venues to accommodate this road show and attendees will be able to enjoy some extraordinary event spaces, from the historic Engineers House, a Grade II listed conference center to the fascinating exhibitions at Mercedes-Benz World where they can get up close to the legendary Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and Croke Park, the historic home of Ireland's native games, visited by England's Queen Elizabeth during her historic visit to Ireland some years ago.

  • 21st October, Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • 23rd October, Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
  • 28th October, Towcester Racecourse, Towcester, Northamptonshire
  • 29th October, Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge, Surrey
  • 30th October, Engineers House, Bristol
  • 4th November, Croke Park, Dublin
  • 6th November, Fota Island Resort, Cork


Multigas analyser supports liquid fuel research!

Two advanced FTIR analysers are being employed to monitor multiple gas concentrations simultaneously in laboratory scale reactors at Sasol’s Research and Technology Centre in South Africa. The monitors, which were supplied by Gasmet Technologies (FIN), are being used to study changes in gas composition during the preparation of Fisher Tropsch catalysts which are used in gas-to-liquids (GTL) processes.

Sasol is an international integrated energy and chemical company, and a global leader in GTL and CTL technology. The company’s Nishlan Govender, a Senior Scientist in Fischer Tropsch research, uses the FTIR analysers to determine the completion of a reaction in the preparation of a Fischer–Tropsch catalyst by tracking the tail composition in the reactor. This includes the analysis of CO, CO2, CH4, H2O and hydrocarbons up to C6. The H2O measurements are corroborated by readings from a dewpoint analyser that is used routinely in the laboratory.

Both of the FTIR analysers (DX4000) are used in conjunction with Gasmet portable sampling systems which utilise a ‘hot-and-wet’ measurement principle, so that a truly representative sample is analysed with no requirement for drying or dilution. This portable technology was chosen because it can be quickly and simply deployed, producing highly accurate readings for up to 50 compounds simultaneously.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Infrared temperature measurement in thermoforming!

The process of thermoforming a plastic sheet depends critically upon temperature.

Calex pyrometers have been used by leading manufacturers to control heating and cooling in thermoforming for more than 10 years, resulting in increased product quality, consistency and production rates, and a reduction in heating costs.

Heating
Forming temperatures typically range from 120°C to 370°C. Precise temperature control is required, and the high-performance PyroMini infrared temperature sensor is ideal.

The plastic sheet is heated by infrared heaters; a temperature sensor is used for each heating zone to ensure it is heated evenly. For the best control, at least 10 points should be measured: all four corners and the centre, on the top and bottom surfaces.

The sensing head is positioned between the heating elements. High ambient temperatures mean that PyroMini JA (up to 120°C ambient) and HA (up to 180°C ambient) models are most suitable. No cooling is required for the sensing head.

Cooling After Forming
The production rate is often limited by the cooling time. The PyroMini monitors the surface temperature of the formed part as it is cooled with an instantaneous 240 ms response time, so the operator or control system can see immediately when the part is cool enough and remove it quickly.

The optional touch screen display provides a large, bright indication of measured temperature, 2 alarm relay outputs, and data logging to a MicroSD Card. The sensor is fully configurable via the touch screen.

For connection to a PLC or temperature controller, two output types are available: 4 to 20 mA or RS485 Modbus.

Calex can also provide other thermoforming temperature systems ranging from a single sensor with a PID controller, to a digital network of hundreds of sensors, with display, control, alarm, analogue output and data acquisition functions.

Business growth through IT!

‘How companies can succeed in the face of global competition’ is the subject of a recent White Paper sponsored by Rittal. International market research company IDC examined the influence that data centres have on the economic success of small and medium-sized businesses.

This research has shown that IT is an important factor in achieving business goals and that companies are willing to invest in technologies such as cloud, Big Data, or mobile computing, but are concerned over the potential risks.

Findings, at a glance, indicate that if a company was commercially successful last year, this has a direct impact on the IT budget and there is a direct correlation between IT spending and revenue growth.
Energy efficiency offers the potential to cut costs. 57% of respondents report PUE (power usage effectiveness) values exceeding 2.0. The closer the PUE value gets to one, the more efficient the data centre.

IT managers surveyed indicated they operate their data centres at an average of temperature of 15.5°C. Instead of cooling entire rooms, it is more efficient to work with direct cooling within the rack or in the individual aisles.

Existing redundancy concepts are often out-of-date and not sufficiently reliable to ensure the high level of availability that customers expect, therefore greater reliability is needed.

There is an investment backlog in the data centre. The participants surveyed reported that their data centres were, on average, 7 years old.

Cable Assemblies from DC to 50GHz

Intelliconnect is expanding its cable assembly service. Having seen considerable business growth since its launch 18 months ago the operation is relocating to a new facility in Corby (GB) and investing in additional production equipment.

The company supplies bespoke cable assemblies for both high-volume or specialist small batch requirements for typically RF applications including test and measurement etc.

Using their own manufactured high quality RF connectors, all types of cable assemblies are undertaken from wiring loom assemblies to high performance low loss cables operating up to 50GHz. Coaxial, triaxial and multi-way connectors may be specified and fully immersible waterproof versions are available. All Intelliconnect cable assemblies are 100% electrically tested before despatch. In addition phase matching is available where required to ensure signal integrity in individual, or batches of, assemblies.

Roy Phillips, Managing Director of Intelliconnect, comments, "As a manufacturer of an extensive range of high reliability RF connectors for industrial and medical applications we are in the unique position of being able to use our own high reliability components in our cable harnesses. We are continuing to invest in the company and will soon be able to test up to 70GHz.”

In addition to custom cable assemblies Intelliconnect (Europe) Ltd manufactures a wide range of standard and custom RF connectors and components, including waterproof and fast turnaround custom designs which are undertaken without NRE charges to their customers. Intelliconnect also manufacture a large range of coaxial adaptors to facilitate inter-series connection and gender change etc. Typical applications include MIL and aerospace, marine, oil and gas, medical and general microwave markets.

Positive results for Eurolec's cool brain!

Eurolec Instrumentation has recently created a new associate company called Oriel Medical Devices Ltd. This new company has been exploring how to apply the technology & experience gleaned from Eurolec products, to introduce some exciting NEW instruments.

They have been aware of the very high number of people who suffer strokes or heart attacks each year.

Induced hypothermia has been recognised as having benefits in improving the prognosis for victims of: ischaemic strokes; cardiac arrest; brain trauma. It is also used to assist babies who experience breathing difficulties at birth & to cool the scalp of chemotherapy patients to significantly reduce hair loss.

Oriel Medical Devices Ltd. designed a self contained, non-invasive, portable, simple to operate electronically controlled system “Cool Brain“ which can accurately regulate the temperature of a body area to heat or cool the specific area ( including the head ). The instrument will operate from:- its own battery for approx. 1 x hour; or a 12v  paramedic vehicle battery or from mains power.  This functionality permits the earliest possible intervention in an emergency situation to optimise the prognosis for the patient. (See also For a cool head! 12/12/2012)

A prototype model was evaluated by the Neuroscience Dept. at Trinity College Dublin under the guidance of Prof. Shane O’Mara. The results were encouraging & anyone interested can read the full academic report in the prestigious: Open Access Journal of Science & Technology


Following the TCD report, Oriel Medical Devices Ltd. is now refining this patented “Cool Brain “ design to operate at lower temperatures & with different attachments for different applications  & global market sectors.