Friday, September 11, 2009

Console recorder

Message from the PR Rep of Lonwatch which accompanied this release:
I’ve been a PR hack for 20+ years, and I’ve NEVER used the word “breakthough” to describe a client’s product. (I admit to once using “paradigm shift” back in the 1980s, and for that I apologize).
As you know, most products are not breakthroughs, best-in-class, state of the art, award-winning, or leading edge, except in the mind of the vendor’s PR people.
But this time I have such a breakthrough product! The Console Recorder from Longwatch is a virtual time machine, a software package that lets companies see what the operator was watching on the HMI when the plant blew up. It records the video signal to the HMI and archives it, so companies can see exactly what happened during an alarm, explosion, plant upset, leak or any other event.
If three monitors are available, the company can put archived plant video on one screen, display what the operator was watching on another screen, and show data from the historian on a third screen—in other words, the company can reconstruct the EXACT situation as it occurred in the control room at the time of the incident.
I will leave it to your fertile editorial imagination to consider what this might mean in terms of legal implications, accident investigations, event reconstruction, regulatory concerns, training, operator procedures and process control/automation in general. I am with child in anticipation of reading what you might say.
Rich Merritt

Unique event, alarm or process upset record!
Video software records exactly what was on HMI screens when an event occurred, archives it, and plays the video back for training or analysis purposes.

Longwatch has launched the Operator’s Console Recorder, a software module that automatically records images being shown on multiple HMI or SCADA operator’s displays. The module takes its signals directly from each HMI screen’s video software driver, so it records the actual video being sent to the HMI. The software can accommodate video signals from an unlimited number of HMIs to show what operators were watching at the time of an event, alarm or process upset.
Few, if any, companies have taken the simple step of making sure that their human interfaces are delivering necessary information in a timely and unambiguous fashion so that the operators make timely and appropriate command actions.
Playing back what the operator was seeing can be a very valuable method for troubleshooting, training and process improvement. It can also be an important tool to help analyse what went wrong, or what can be done to avoid future problems.

Video images can be combined with the automatic data mapping capability of their Video Historian, so the Console Recorder can automatically retrieve and replay operator displays simply by clicking on a time-based alarm or system message. Playing back what the operator was seeing at the time of an event can be a valuable tool for training and analysis purposes, and can help mitigate insurance and regulatory issues by eliminating guesswork and conjecture.

Videos used for monitoring plant activities can also be combined with the operator console videos and data from a process historian. This enables engineers, analysts or investigators to see what was happening in the plant, what the operator was seeing on the HMI screen at the time, and all relevant real-time data that occurred at the time of an event.

For example, in the case of a leak at a pumping station, investigators could watch plant video taken at a remote site showing fuel oil creeping across the floor of a pumping station, real-time data being acquired from pumps, valves and the receiving tank while the leak is occurring, what appeared on the operator’s HMI screen, and the alarm screen that came up when the leak detector went off. Investigators can then watch the operator switch the HMI screen to live video feed from the pumping station, observe the leak, and take action from the HMI to shut off the pump. Plant video would show the arrival of a maintenance crew to repair the leak. Analysis of all data and videos might show that the leak detector was poorly positioned and an alarm condition is needed for when fuel oil is being pumped but is not being received at the storage tank.

With a typical three-display system, as found in many process control applications, it would be possible to display remote pump video on one screen, video from the operator’s display at the time of the event on a second screen, and process historian data on a third screen, thus getting a simultaneous view of what happened and what the operator saw.

To help mitigate insurance and regulatory issues, the combined video and historian information could help determine that the operator acted correctly and the spill was cleaned up with no damage to the environment. The Longwatch Operator’s Console Recorder and Video Historian fills the gap between normal plant data acquisition and actual plant management, because it shows everything that happened during an event; i.e., what actually happened, what the data acquisition equipment monitored and recorded, and what was reported to the operator on the HMI screen.

"Capturing the actual video feed to the operator HMI is a much better solution than traditional methods," says Steve Rubin, president of Longwatch. “Before Longwatch, recording and playback of an operator’s HMI was clumsy and limited. One method was to put a camera over the operator’s shoulder. This is intrusive and intimidating, and the camera has a limited ability to read what’s on the screen,” he explains. “In an installation with multiple HMIs, this solution would require a camera on each screen.”

Another method is to use process historian data. “It’s possible to recreate the console display the operator should have been watching by driving it with data from the process historian,” says Rubin. “This requires the historian to record all the data values present on every display. However, no one knows which screen an operator was actually watching at the time of the event. An operator could have been looking at a trend display, not the alarm summary screen.”

With the Longwatch system, there is no problem reading the screens, and no doubt which screens operators were watching. By combining video data from plant locations, video from HMI screens, and data from the historian, investigators can go back in time to see exactly what happened and make a better analysis of what to do about a similar situation in the future.

W&WW papers!

Water and wastewater white papers will add to your problem-solving repertory

The technical papers section at Controlsoft gives environmentally concerned operations people in the waste and wastewater industry the chance to review solid information that can lead to tighter chlorine control and lower chlorine setpoints, as well as massive cost savings.

The Water and Wastewater group includes application notes and technical email such as "Process Control for Drinking Water Treatment," "Coordinated Control for Chlorination Stations," and "Keeping Chlorine Discharge Residual at the Desired Level."

These papers offer both experienced and new technical personnel the opportunity to add to their process control knowledge.

Engineers and operations people may request free PDFs of the Water and Wastewater group by going to On the home page, click on the Support button to reach the technical papers section of the web site, which shows the titles of available papers (grouped by industrial category, such as food and beverage, fermentation and biochemical, etc.).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Debug probe

Support for TI’s Code Composer Studio 4

Ashling Microsystems, a NeST Group company, has added support for Version 4 of Texas Instruments Code Composer Studio (CCS) on its Opella-XDS560 Debug Probe.

Version 4 of Code Composer Studio is based on the Eclipse open source software framework. Opella-XDS560 is a high performance JTAG Debug Probe targeting Texas Instrument (TI) DSP Platforms. Opella-XDS560 seamlessly plugs into Code Composer Studio IDE allowing convenient debugging of application code actually running on the target system. Debugging support is provided for all TI platforms including OMAP™, DaVinci™, TMS320C6000™, TMS320C5000™, TMS320C2000™ and TMS470™ families

Opella-XDS560 and TI’s CCS are available directly from Ashling and its sales representatives worldwide. Click here for more details!.


SolutionsPT Continues to Invest for the Future
John Bailey moves to group Chairmanship role and Phil Gillard appointed SolutionsPT General Manager

SolutionsPT Limited, an operating company of the Pantek Group, today announced that John Bailey has been appointed Chairman and Phil Gillard moves to the newly created role of SolutionsPT General Manager. John Bailey, who founded the first Pantek Company in September 1985, has previously managed SolutionsPT on a day to day basis. Phil Gillard initially joined the company as Business Development Manager in May of this year.
John Bailey

Announcing these executive changes John Bailey said, “These announcements, especially that of Phil’s appointment as SolutionsPT’s General Manager follow on from the development of a solid commercial restructuring lead by Neil Pearce and the very successful major rebranding of the organisation that we announced in February 2007, and are yet a further enhancement to our positioning and investment in the company’s future success.”

Phil Gillard brings a wide and in-depth range of market sector knowledge along with significant management and commercial experience to SolutionsPT. Phil, having graduated in Control Engineering in 1982, commenced his career as a Control Engineer for Petrofina. Subsequently he had more than a decade of experience in the DCS sector, initially with Fischer & Porter then as Sales and Marketing Director at Yokogawa. Additionally, Phil has significant knowledge of the systems integration business including PLC, SCADA and MES technologies, gained via a five year tenure as Business Unit Manager for the Engineering Division at Motherwell Information Systems. Additionally, Phil has nine years international account management experience - primarily in the Food and Pharmaceutical sectors - which he gained at Rockwell Automation and AspenTech.

Commenting further upon Phil Gillard’s new role John Bailey continued: “Besides Phil’s key manufacturing and control market sector experience along, of course, with his business development expertise, he also brings us valuable commercial and general management experience. This appointment will allow SolutionsPT to continue to develop its key business areas and fulfil its role as a Wonderware Star+ distributor for the years to come.”

Elaborating upon the company's market position Phil Gillard observed: “The single entity that is SolutionsPT is increasingly being recognised as offering one of the most comprehensive and effective ‘scope of delivery’ offerings within its chosen position in the manufacturing information and control market. This is particularly important in today’s difficult trading environment where the market requires a high level of technical and application knowledge coupled with the ability to be agile in response to evolving business drivers.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

PV plant control

New versatile modular controller for solar photovoltaic plants
Carlo Gavazzi’s new Eos-Array controller enables efficient running of PV plants to help meet the growing demand for green energy

Carlo Gavazzi has announced a new versatile, reliable management and control system targeting small to medium or high power solar photovoltaic (PV) plants. The new controller is designed to enable the plants to meet growing demand for clean sources of energy by maintaining efficient operation, maximising performance and strengthening the Return on Investment.

Easy to install and configure, the new Eos-Array comprises individual modular elements that, when interacting with one another, provide a complete and independent control solution that gathers accurate and dependable data to ensure effective information management. The core component is the VMU-M which performs local bus management of measuring units and I/O modules. The VMU-M assigns the proper local unit address automatically and gathers all local measurements from the VMU‑S and VMU‑P, simultaneously connecting with the external world through VMU-O modules.

It has a modular design allowing the control to be scaled up or down according to requirements and budgets. A single master VMU-M can control 15 Eos modules on its local bus; including up to seven VMU-O I/O modules and one VMU-P unit. With no auxiliary bus wiring, the system is simple to install and straightforward to expand. Further cost saving is provided by the integrated string fuse protection and modularity also improves overall system reliability. String efficiency and inverters are controlled locally enabling operators to rapidly isolate faults, failures and inefficiencies.

Each VMU-O provides two PV panel temperature inputs and two relay outputs to manage alarms (such as the integrated anti-theft system) and external loads (such as lighting and PV washing systems). The VMU-S measures DC output from the PV panel. VMU-P collects relevant environmental data (through external sensors) such as wind speed, air temperature and irradiation. Eos-ArraySoft can download the Eos-Array system memory to the PC, for scheduled or on-demand plant efficiency calculations and alarm analysis.

A typical 50kW plant would use one VMU-M unit for data logging and local bus management, ten VMU-S units for string control (50kW total for 228x220W PV panels, 12.5A/400V single string), one VMU-O for I/O management and one VMU-P for environment measurements. Eos-ArraySoft software is installed in a local PC to provide data collection and historical analysis.

Temp Calibration

Modular concept temperature calibration systems

The CS Series from Eurolec comprises two dry block “black body” sources for calibration with a temperature control system and a pocket for a reference thermometer. Model CS173 features a range of +30 to +200°C and model CS174 features a range of 40°C below ambient (approx. -20°C) to +85°C, together with 0.01°C resolution between -19.99°C to + 85.00°C.

In addition, both models feature a 2 position Precision Accuracy Check (PAC*) function where at the touch of a switch, the accuracy of the unit is confirmed at 2 preset points. A calibration certificate, traceable to national standards is supplied with both models. For precision accuracy checking over an extended range, reference thermometers RT161 or PC Temp RT1 are recommended.

These innovative units save the on the inconvenience and time lost due to external calibration, are quick and easy to use and will provide considerable cost savings when compared with external or contracted on-site temperature calibration.

New US distributor

New systems integrator and distributor signs up!

Longwatch has signed Industrial Network Systems as its distributor and systems integrator in Illinois, Indiana, Western Kentucky and Eastern Missouri (US).

Longwatch is a supplier of “Video MES” hardware and software, a portfolio of products that allows HMI/ SCADA system users to use video cameras for security, surveillance, and real-time monitoring of automation and process control systems. Longwatch systems connect to a control room’s HMI/SCADA system via legacy and new networking infrastructures, including wireless and cellular connections. Longwatch video systems work with virtually every major HMI/SCADA system, including those from GE Fanuc, Wonderware, InduSoft and Rockwell Automation, plus process historian and trending software from Canary Labs. (see also Process historian added to video system - 5 Aug'09).

Industrial Network Systems (INS), based in Mount Prospect (IL US), with offices in Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Kentucky, is a systems integrator and distributor that specializes in supplying factory automation systems. In 15 years the company has delivered more than 3,500 software, hardware and training systems in a wide range of applications, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, water/wastewater, paper and steel. INS works with a partner network of more than 150 systems integrators, OEMs and A&E firms.

The company has spent years providing manufacturing and industrial clients with best-in-class solutions to improve their overall business performance. They supply customers with scalable software, hardware, and training solutions that deliver increased productivity and ROI. The company has successfully applied over 3,500 software, hardware and training solutions that were focused on collecting, coordinating and synchronizing plant information throughout the entire enterprise.

“We’re excited to work with such a well-respected and proven organization as INS,” says Steve Rubin, President of Longwatch. “They have been instrumental in improving the use of automation software in their territory for over 15 years. We’re confident that they will help their customers even more by introducing Longwatch’s breakthrough “Video MES” and industrial surveillance software.”

Control services

Company growth drives web enhancement

Classic Automation, the international provider of parts, products and services for installed control systems, has continued to experience rapid growth prompting the need for its newly enhanced web site. The new site focuses on improved customer service through on-line ordering, live inventory and expanded part information. The site has been designed specifically to help our customers find the spare parts that they need.

“Challenging economic conditions increasingly require industrial companies to prolong the useful life of their control systems”, explains Fritz Ruebeck, company president. “We provide quality surplus parts on a high availability basis. Our web site provides instant access to part availability and ordering to help them meet their maintenance logistic needs.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

pH measurement

Digital pH sensors
Used in diverse markets such as automotive, electronics, building & construction, transportation and healthcare.

A leading global supplier of engineering thermoplastic materials used in diverse markets such as automotive, electronics, building & construction, transportation and healthcare is using Memosens pH sensors in Wastewater and bio treatment facilities. These are monitored by the local Environment Protection Agency and the company carries out regular internal pH calibration checks to ensure measurement consistency and compliance with waste monitoring regulations. The company prides itself on its waste water compliance, and in order to ensure its continued efforts, they turned to Endress+Hauser for support. Its pH measuring equipment came from various sources, meaning the calibration processes and documentation were different across a range of equipment, which subsequently made operation and maintenance of instruments with different functionality more complicated for the company's technical staff.

Memosens digital pH sensors: the reliable solution
The aim was to achieve operation and maintenance consistency by standardising equipment. Endress+Hauser supplied its Memosens digital pH sensors, which fully equipped the wastewater monitoring andbio treatment facilities as well as the company's laboratory.
Using revolutionary digital technology, Memosens pH transmitters allow important process data to be saved directly in the sensor, guaranteeing interference-free measuring signals and simplification of process measuring technology. And, via its inductive plug-in connection and bayonet lock, it eliminates the problems of moisture ingress, leakages and corrosion offering complete galvanic isolation.

The real advantage that fulfilled the customer's requirements, though, is the memory chip inside the sensor head that allows calibration and sensor performance data to be stored. This facilitated the management of the calibration processes on-site and, more importantly, reduced the time needed for the calibration routines.

Boosting calibration efficiency

With the these digital pH sensors, the company achieves measurement integrity and optimisation of its calibration processes. The company has standardised its pH equipment with a highly functional and user-friendly system, which facilitated more efficient planning and faster calibration, so that compliance with the Environmental regulations for waste monitoring continues to be ensured.

The customer commented: "We have a strong record of wastewater compliance and we continually look for systems that will support our Environmental Health & Safety priorities. Endress+Hauser worked with our team to provide a solution allowing us to meet our continued high standards. Since installing the Liquiline transmitters and particularly Tophit sensors, we have reduced our spares inventory and have begun a more efficient routine for calibrating all pH systems associated with our wastewater plant. Our technicians have reported that being able to pre-calibrate the sensors in our workshop, before installing them in the plant, has made the process of multiple calibrations far quicker and easier. On site we have five transmitters installed in our process, two in our lab and one in our workshop for calibration purposes. To date, there have been no reliability issues after 18 months of constant use."


3-component system for measuring machining forces

A new modular 3-component dynamometer from Kistler Instruments, the Type 9129A, is designed specifically for measuring machining forces up to 8 kN during boring, cutting and turning operations. The dynamometer is ideal for analyzing process capability, investigating the machining of new materials, and optimizing high-performance cutting. The modular design allows the dynamometer to be easily adapted to match a wide range of lathes including VDI, Coromant and Capto plus standard turrets. Toolholders for cutting and boring tools can be mounted on the cover plate of the dynamometer.

The piezoelectric sensor system, on which this measuring system is based, measures the forces with virtually no displacement and the design of the dynamometer minimizes temperature error. Ground loop problems are largely avoided by ground-isolated mounting of the sensors. Provided matching cables are used, the corrosion-resistant dynamometer is protected against ingress of cutting fluids to IP67.

On twin turret, inclined bed lathes the measuring system can be mounted over or under the work piece. The dynamometer has been designed to ensure that the cutting edge of the tool is always at the height of the rotational axis, in the middle of the work piece, irrespective of the mounting position.

DO2 meter

The World’s first in-situ self-verifying Dissolved Oxygen Meter

Pi (Process Instruments), is to launch another world’s first - the world’s first in-situ self-checking Dissolved Oxygen Meter.

Combining their award-winning electronics with In-Situ’s acclaimed RDO® sensor, Pi believes it has a world beating combination especially when you include the brand new self-checking functions included by Pi and In-Situ.

The sensor comes equipped with a self-cleaning mechanism (requires air or water), which also allows the instrument to check its calibration response (patent pending) without needing the Dissolved Oxygen probe to be removed from the aeration lane/oxidation ditch.

The In-Situ Rugged Dissolved Oxygen® sensor is based on luminescence and includes many improvements over existing light-based Dissolved Oxygen sensors including; typically 12 months between maintenance, typically 12 months between calibration, improved ruggedness of the lumiphore, improved resistance to abrasion, in-situ sensor verification and self-cleaning.

Mike Riding, Managing Director of Pi today said: “The key to good process control is good process instrumentation, and the key to good process instrumentation is to use the best sensors coupled with the best electronics………. and that is what we have with the CRIUS 3200 Dissolved Oxygen Meter.”

“There is no such thing as a ‘fit and forget’ instrument, particularly in the harsh environment of an aeration lane or oxidation ditch, but this instrument is as close as it gets with typically 12 months between calibration and maintenance.”

Live Turbine Health

Digital signal processing (DSP) unit delivers
real-time turbine blade tip condition monitoring

Monitran Technology has developed a digital signal processing (DSP) unit for the real-time monitoring of turbine blade conditions.

The unit reflects ‘live’ blade health by providing traffic-light-type indicators: green for safe, amber for advisory and red for danger. Also, for each condition, there is a programmable output capable of switching up to 30V at 5A, which means the unit can be easily integrated into control circuitry and to provide an automatic shut-down of the turbine if necessary.

Donald Lyon, Monitran Technology’s Managing Director, comments: “Up until now, turbine blade health monitoring has required the capture of data, often with the turbine off-line, and then extensive and time-consuming data analysis. Our DSP unit affords real-time, in situ data analysis, allowing plant owners and other users of turbines to adopt predictive maintenance strategies, and to operate more cost-effectively. Also, if the unit is playing a role in the turbine’s control circuitry, it can reduce the risk of catastrophic failure if something does go wrong.”

The DSP unit has four channels which are each intended for use with an eddy current probe and suitable trigger circuitry (such as Monitran’s T3 unit) and processes data relating to blade-tip-to-casing clearance and by recognising any blade-to-blade lead or lag issues.

The use of all four channels supports the placement of sensors at approximately 90 degree intervals around the turbine’s casing. Lyon adds: “Investigatory work we conducted with QinetiQ indicated that blade deterioration can occur in less than a single revolution.”

A fifth channel on the unit is intended for a traditional accelerometer, so that vibration levels may also contribute to the overall picture of turbine health. In addition, all five channels feature digital (first in first out – FIFO) buffers for pre- and post-trigger recording, and can feed external digital recorders.

Once per revolution (OPR) signals are also provided; one input and four synthesised outputs.

The unit is in a standard DIN rail mount format, and measure 156 x 86 x 56mm (L, D and H respectively). It is available with the control panel either integral to the unit or as a separate item (say for wall-mounting). In addition, full remote monitoring and control of the unit is possible via multidrop RS454.