Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Torque-range measurement down to 0.5 Nm.

NCTE has expanded its 2300 torque sensor series with the introduction of a new variant for lower torque-range measurement tasks down to 0.5 Nm. The series now covers a torque range from 100 Nm down to 0.5 Nm. With measurement bandwidth up to 1,000 Hz, speeds to 10,000 rpm and accuracy to 0.5%, these non-contacting, long life sensors are perfect for torque, as well as speed, shear, and angle measurement in precision mechanics, test beds for smaller electric motors and engines, machine tool performance control, controlled screw fastening and capping operations, robotic manipulators and more.

Their torque sensors use the physical principle known as the inverse magnetostrictive effect in a patented process where magnetically encoded components in the sensor are modified by a surrounding magnetic field. Each sensor includes two magnetic fields in opposing directions which takes care of unwanted interference such as that from EMC. This real-time process, where torque measurement may be static, or dynamic detects miniscule magnetic changes for highly precise data acquisition. Factory calibrated and certified sensor outputs are 0…10V DC, 4…20mA, CANbus and USB with supply voltage requirement of 5 to 28 VDC. The USB option includes PC analysis software.

The 2300 series is available in nominal diameters of 8, 9 and 15 mm with seven measurement range variants between zero to 1 Nm and zero to 100 Nm. Full technical specifications are available from Ixthus Instrumentation. The plug and play sensors do not require external signal conditioning and as the sensor becomes a part of the shaft component, integration is easy. This non-contacting sensor technology has excellent resilience to shock and vibration and a choice of protection class allows use in harsh conditions – even in oil or under water – through a temperature range from -30 °C to +85 °C.

NCTE’s extensive range of standard torque sensors are available for measurement up to 10 KN with customised variants available on requests. The sensors are widely used for applications including but not restricted to agricultural and commercial vehicle take-off shafts, engine and turbine test beds, e-bikes, robotics and handling machinery, performance motorsports, and automotive engineering.

All are available with full support from NCTE’s distribution partner in Britain, Ixthus Instrumentation Limited,

@IxthusInst @mepaxIntPR @NCTE_AG #Pauto 

Monday, 24 January 2022

Process solutions on new website.

Now, more than ever, industrial end-users are hungry for digital innovation in their interactions with technology suppliers. These expectations will only rise, as businesses rely on the resources provided by digital tools.

Honewell supports this digital journey by offering a new, optimized online experience to our customers around the world. Thus they have announced that their new Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) website is now live!

The enhanced website with sleek and intuitive navigation provides quick and simple access to the solutions you need. Customers will also benefit from seamless e-commerce capabilities and easier access to your account information.

There are short demo videos and an overview document that provides additional information on how to get the most from the new features.

"Our commitment to improve our digital tools does not stop here, further releases are planned throughout the year that will introduce additional features such as integrated e-commerce, order status/history, chat bots, configurators as well as enhanced support and notification services," said a spokesman.

@honeywell #PAuto 

Acquisition adds harsh duty position sensing and switching technologies.

Variohm Holdings Ltd has acquired the USA based precision switching and linear position sensor producer CPI™ (Control Products, Inc.).

Graham Pattison, Variohm Holdings’ managing director, welcomed the CPI acquisition and the substantial opportunity it delivers for the Variohm Group’s manufacturing capability and potential sales growth. “This latest acquisition perfectly complements our vision and demonstrates discoverIE’s continued investment in The Variohm Group. By realising this increased synergy between our now eight members, we can deliver an increasingly more compelling offer to our valued customers”.

CPI’s specialist range of standard and ATEX/IECEX/SIL2 rated draw-wire position sensors and its waterproof switch and thermal switching technologies perfectly suit harsh duty application areas where the ISO9001 registered manufacturer has over seventy years’ experience in demanding control tasks in aerospace, construction, off-highway, agriculture, mining, subsea, oil & gas, and many other challenging fields. CPI develops, designs, and manufactures its comprehensive product range from its purpose-built facility in East Hanover, New Jersey and has the bold company strapline “Is your equipment tough enough for our sensors”.

This extensive range of linear position sensors was first developed over 15 years ago to meet the challenging demands for large hydraulic cylinders and accumulators used in the harsh environments faced by the construction equipment and materials handling industries. Rather than rod style in-cylinder position sensors which were prone to repeated failure, CPI took the basic principles of draw wire sensors in a patented configuration that replaced fragile potentiometers and encoders with either LVDT or a short rod magnetostrictive transducers as the core sensing technology. This long-life and non-contacting design offers numerous advantages including significant improvements in protection for heavy shock and vibration conditions and reliable operation in extreme temperature ranges from -40 to over 120 ⁰C. They can be located in-cylinder or externally mounted and find applications in many demanding positioning tasks beyond hydraulics. With absolute positioning and no need for homing on power-up, standard signal conditioning outputs include CAN Bus, analogue, and digital in single channel or redundant configurations. Models are available with full ATEX, IECEX and SIL2 approvals. CPI sensors are the only linear position sensors suitable for telescoping hydraulic cylinders up to 15 metres.

The Group
As Variohm Holdings continues to expand, this latest acquisition brings the Variohm Group to eight engineering companies and a total staff of more than 400 specialising in sensors, switches, motion control and systems – each with a high degree of autonomy but with complete access to the Group’s shared expertise and resources. 
CPI joins the German/Hungarian manufacturer Limitor GmbH (temperature control components),
USA based Phoenix-America – (magnetic encoder and magnetic sensors),
and British based companies Variohm EuroSensor (sensor and transducer supplier and manufacturer),
Herga Technology (switching and sensing solutions),
Ixthus Instrumentation (specialist measurement systems),
Heason Technology (motion control components and custom engineered systems), and
Positek Limited (specialised linear and rotary inductive displacement sensor technologies).
Their thermal switches are used for demanding military and commercial temperature control applications and are available in three primary electromechanical design categories: snap disk, bimetal, and rod and tube. Each type offers a differing sensitivity and temperature profile that suit a very wide range of harsh environment applications. The snap disk ‘Snapstats’ range uses a bimetallic snap disc that provides shock and vibration immunity and a broad temperature differential over an operating temperature range from around -18 to 148 ⁰C. Available configurations include surface mount with or without probe, thread mount, clamp mount, hermetically sealed, and dual setpoint. The bimetal ‘Plugstat’ series are slow-make and -break devices which provide tight tolerance temperature sensing over a small range with a working range from approx. -18C to 345 ⁰C. They are applied extensively in aircraft ECS, plastic extruders, wind turbines, and various military vehicle systems. The rod and tube design suits set-point temperature ranges from around -18C to 955 ⁰C and are well proven in harsh environment applications such as aircraft engine overtemperature, refinery process control, and engine exhaust monitoring.

CPI manufactures an extensive range of waterproof switch products that as a minimum meet IP68 protection levels and for some tasks are completely long-term submersible. Characterised by the same high levels of durability and ruggedness of other CPI products, switch configurations include normally open, normally closed and SPDT with neoprene covers to MS39058 for military applications and Santoprene™ covers for industrial switching. Electromechanical design includes momentary, maintained contact, limit. ball types, plungers, rockers and more. Available as single components or combined in switch panels they offer long life endurance ratings as high as 5 million cycles and temperature ratings from -55 to 205 ⁰C.

“discoverIE and The Variohm Group is a really perfect fit for us,” notes Mac Stuhler, General Manager of CPI. “With their long and successful history of managing companies that produce the same kind of highly differentiated components that we manufacture, we are really looking forward to working within the Group and the new market opportunities offered”.

All the CPI products can be adapted as custom designed specials for applications outside standard product offerings, and UL approvals are widely available.

@Variohm @mepaxIntPR #CPI-NJ #PAuto 

Friday, 21 January 2022

New website for RF, microwave, waterproof and cryogenic connectors and cable harnesses.

Intelliconnect has launched a new website offering visitors easier navigation, improved search facilities, a “Quote Basket” allowing customers to automatically request a quotation for selected products and a new chat facility to assist with sales and technical questions.

Intelliconnect are proud to be the supplier of choice for many of the leading aerospace, medical and marine OEMs and have been awarded the SC21 Silver Performance Standard Award for a third year running. Equally at home responding to smaller projects and companies Intelliconnect also manufactures a wide range of standard connectors and adapters including the market leading Pisces Range of IP67/IP68 waterproof RF connectors, their Precision Rang as well as Covert, Triaxial and Multipin connector ranges.

“We believe Intelliconnect are a different kind of interconnect solutions provider” says Roy Phillips, Managing Director. “We use our long experience and innovative thinking to tailor our services to each individual customer. Our experience tells us that every product is unique, and every project requires its own strategy and outlook.” 

Intelliconnect has provided technology companies with solutions to issues relating to electrical performance, physicality, interface, water resistance materials, finish and obsolescence since 2003 and champions innovation - from their IP67/68 system for internally and externally sealing connectors to their new cryogenic range, Intelliconnect are constantly seeking new solutions. In addition, Intelliconnect claim the fastest turnaround in the industry for drawings (24 hours), samples (from three weeks) and delivery, delivering custom designed products in a matter of weeks.

@Intelli_Connect #Pauto #OEM

Time-sensitive networking (TSN).

Liam Cheng, a Product Manager for TSN solutions with Moxa lists some advantages here.*

Liam Cheng
Despite the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked on the American economy, along with continuing supply chain issues, the Federal Reserve of the United States has predicted GDP growth of 3.9% in 2022. Seeing light at the end of the tunnel, heavyweights in the manufacturing industry are planning to expand production capacities in a faster, more precise manner in response to increasing demand. However, this turnaround is dependent on the willingness of companies to embrace innovative technologies that will enable them to enhance production efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

One such technology is Time-sensitive networking (TSN). It has been touted as a means to help Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications achieve higher production efficiency as well as lower maintenance costs. Industry players who have started to utilize TSN technologies have demonstrated to the world that TSN is not just an embryonic idea, but a concrete technology. And yet, before we look to the future, there are questions you should be asking before making TSN investments.

1. What are the benefits of adopting TSN?
As a refresher, TSN is a collection of standards that enables deterministic messaging over standard Ethernet networks. As defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), TSN involves a form of network traffic management to ensure non-negotiable time frames for end-to-end transmission latencies. Consequently, all TSN devices must synchronize their clocks with each other and use a common time reference to support real-time communications for industrial control applications.The two ultimate goals of TSN are the seamless incorporation of accurate, time-sensitive data into industrial processes and a detailed and holistic view of operations in order for business owners to quickly respond to market demands in real-time. By using TSN technologies, business owners can achieve the following benefits:

  • TSN facilitates high-speed networking, large volumes of data transmission, highly accurate motion control, and low latency.
  • TSN can prioritize network traffic, which guarantees real-time communication and means time-critical data will be delivered to the right place at the right time. In other words, the aim of a converged application on one unified network will be accomplished in industrial automation based on standard Ethernet. Eventually, it will be feasible to have one unified network for diversified applications. This eliminates the concern that time-critical data would not reach its destination in time.
  • TSN can enhance network security because accurate data transmission can be scheduled to avoid the inflow of non-authorized data.

2. Is "one unified network" important?
Yes, the convergence of OT and IT networks that results in one unified network is required to facilitate accurate and coordinated data that can provide insights into production processes. However, it is extremely difficult to bring the convergence to fruition if there are gaps between the two sides, not to mention integrating isolated proprietary automation islands into OT environments. One unified network includes the following benefits:
  • A single industry standard used for communication.
  • Minimal training effort to understand different vendor's protocols Reduced cabling and maintenance costs

3. What are potential applications for TSN?
Even though TSN evolved from Audio Video Bridging (AVB), the use of TSN is not restricted to audio or video applications. It is the promising features and benefits of TSN that make it indispensable to a wide range of applications that are extensively used across various industries, including semiconductor, automotive, machinery, food and drink, chemical, and power generation. Of course, each TSN application comes with its specific requirements, and currently there is a substantial gap between existing TSN standards and application-specific TSN systems.

4. Is it feasible for my applications to utilize TSN technologies?
If you tick off more than three of the following statements, then TSN may be an ideal solution for your organization.

  • You experience huge costs when integrating either standard or proprietary communication technologies.
  • It is very expensive to debug an existing network system due to an isolated networking structure.
  • The network system is difficult to manage and you are required to develop tools, which takes additional time, money and effort.
  • You have interoperability issues between existing systems and the IT system.
  • Higher network bandwidth is required when developing a new automated system.
  • You need to enhance network security.

5. My organization is fine with the existing production processes and network setup. Why should I consider deploying TSN?
For the time being, an organization may be satisfied with production output. However, in the long term, it will find it difficult to keep up with competitors as they embrace TSN. On the one hand, you can still expand production based on the existing infrastructure, but the expansion will be stretched to the limit when you find, for instance, the conveyor belt is communicating with the HMI by PROFINET. On the other hand, the motion control that requires hard real-time is using EtherCAT, and the robotic arm control is using another protocol, such as Mitsubishi CC-Link IE. Even though it is comparatively easy to make use of add-on blocks as deemed necessary, managing all of these devices from different vendors who utilize a variety of industrial Ethernet technologies is very difficult. When each cell is isolated, there are many obstacles to just integrating the data, not to mention fine tuning the processes and improving production efficiency. In the long term, the result will see moving in the opposite direction of realizing Industry 4.0 and IIoT applications. It will also hinder or prevent the deployment of plug-and-produce solutions when extra applications, such as machine vision and motion cameras, are attempted to be added onto one unified network. 

In conclusion, it is the convergence between IT and OT networks that enables Industry 4.0 and IIoT applications. TSN achieves this by linking up these networks, which creates significant advantages in network connectivity and reduces costs when deploying systems. Even though some manufacturing professionals remain under the misapprehension that TSN is still an unproven technology, it has actually evolved into more than just TSN switches, PLCs, servos, and IOs, and into an ecosystem that helps accomplish the goals of IIoT and Industry 4.0 applications.

* Download the Moxa whitepaper "How Time-Sensitive Networking Is Revolutionizing Industrial Automation".

@MoxaInc @OConnellPR PAuto #IIoT #Industrie4

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Salad days in Britain.

Lettuce is a valuable crop in Europe and the USA. But labour shortages make it difficult to harvest this valuable field vegetable, as sourcing sufficient seasonal labour to meet harvesting commitments is one of the sector's biggest challenges. Moreover, with wage inflation rising faster than producer prices, margins are very tight. 
Machine vision and AI are used to determine a precise intersection point on the stem

In Britain, agricultural technology and machinery experts are working with IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH to develop a robotic solution to automate lettuce harvesting. The team is working on a project funded by Innovate UK and includes experts from the Grimme agricultural machinery factory, the Agri-EPI Centre, Harper Adams University, the Centre for Machine Vision at the University of the West of England and two of Britain's largest salad producers, G's Fresh and PDM Produce.

Within the project, existing leek harvesting machinery is adapted to lift the lettuce clear from the ground and grip it in between pinch belts. The lettuce’s outer, or ‘wrapper’, leaves will be mechanically removed to expose the stem. Machine vision and artificial intelligence are then used to identify a precise cut point on the stem to neatly separate the head of lettuce.

"The cutting process of an iceberg is the most technically complicated step in the process to automate, according to teammates from G subsidiary Salad Harvesting Services Ltd.," explains IDS Product Sales Specialist Rob Webb. "The prototype harvesting robot being built incorporates a GigE Vision camera from the uEye FA family. It is considered to be particularly robust and is therefore ideally suited to demanding environments. "As this is an outdoor application, a housing with IP65/67 protection is required here," Rob Webb points out.

The choice fell on the GV-5280FA-C-HQ model with the compact 2/3" global shutter CMOS sensor IMX264 from Sony.

"The sensor was chosen mainly because of its versatility. We don't need full resolution for AI processing, so sensitivity can be increased by binning. The larger sensor format means that wide-angle optics are not needed either," Rob Webb summarised the requirements. In the application, the CMOS sensor convinces with excellent image quality, light sensitivity and exceptionally high dynamic range and delivers almost noise-free, very high-contrast 5 MP images in 5:4 format at 22 fps - even in applications with fluctuating light conditions.

The extensive range of accessories, such as lens tubes and trailing cables, is just as tough as the camera housing and the screwable connectors (8-pin M12 connector with X-coding and 8-pin Binder connector). Another advantage: camera-internal functions such as pixel pre-processing, LUT or gamma reduce the required computer power to a minimum.

Prototype lettuce harvesting robot
Agri-Epicentre (Scotland)
The prototype of the robotic mower will be used for field trials in England towards the end of the 2021 season. "We are delighted to be involved in the project and look forward to seeing the results. We are convinced of its potential to automate and increase the efficiency of the lettuce harvest, not only in terms of compensating for the lack of seasonal workers,” affirms Jan Hartmann, Managing Director of IDS Imaging Development Systems.

The challenges facing the agricultural sector are indeed complex. According to a forecast by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agricultural productivity will have to increase by almost 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2012 due to the dramatic increase in population. Such a yield expectation means an enormous challenge for the agricultural industry, which is still in its infancy in terms of digitalisation compared to other sectors and is already under high pressure to innovate in view of climatic changes and labour shortages.

The agriculture of the future is based on networked devices and automation. Cameras are an important building block, and artificial intelligence is a central technology here. Smart applications such as harvesting robots can make a significant contribution to this.

@IDS_Imaging @mepaxIntPR #Pauto #Vision #Food

Feedthrough connector and plug carrier.

Cliff Electronics have added a new Cat5e RJ45 Feedthrough Connector to their very successful FT range which all fit into an industry standard XLR connector 24mm diameter panel cut out. In addition, a compatible, secure, snap-in lockable XLR style Plug Carrier is available to facilitate the connection of an RJ45 plug (not supplied) or cable assembly.

John Hall, Managing Director of Cliff Electronics, comments, “Wired Ethernet networks remain popular in both industrial and domestic environments as they can offer more stable, interference free and faster data connection than wireless and reduce the risk of data being hacked. Our FeedThrough RJ45 Jack has a wide variety of applications for safe data connectivity for OEMs around the world and brings another variant to our very flexible FT connector range.”

The new Cliff RJ45 FT Jack is a rugged nickel-plated diecast zinc metal construction offering protection to IP65, providing a dust tight and water-resistant connector for rugged applications and is supplied with an integrated dust cover for continued protection when not in use. Rated at Cat5e the socket is suitable for both Fast Ethernet (10/100) and Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000) data communications.

Widely used in IT systems, consumer and audio/broadcast products Cliff’s female RJ45 Feed Through Ethernet sockets meet the wiring standard for using an 8P8C connector as defined in Part 68 of the FCC rules and are generally mounted directly on a device or on an I/O patch panel. The all-metal design reduces the effects of EMI, has a dielectric strength of 1K VDC, frequency range from 1-100MHz, contacts are rated at 1.5A/50V, lifetime is greater than 1000 mating cycles and operating temperature range is from -30°C to +80°C.

#CliffElectronic #PAuto #Connectors