Friday, November 13, 2009


Guide now available

Quality managers and others responsible to maintaining the integrity of temperature and/or humidity chart recorders or data loggers, can now download a comprehensive guide from Dickson to all aspects of instrument calibration.

Chapters of this online guide include:
Dickson Company and its web portal offer the world’s widest selection of data loggers and chart recorders to monitor temperature, humidity, pressure, or electronic signals.

  • Explanations of why calibrations are required

  • Review of calibration methods to choose from

  • A step-by-step guide to developing calibration schedules

  • “Before” Data considerations

  • Best fit applications for 1-point, 3-point and custom point calibrations

  • Glossary of calibration terms

  • Optional Calibration Club registration

    Chris Sorensen, Dickson VP Sales and Marketing explains, “All instruments lose accuracy over time due to normal usage and the environmental conditions to which they are exposed. Periodic NIST certified calibrations maintain the accuracy of your instrument throughout its life. This guide is designed to make it very easy for users of chart recorders and data loggers to navigate the many choices in calibration approaches to find the one that is best-matched to their application requirements.”
  • PID tuning

    Version 4 of PID Loop Tuning Pocket Guide

    ControlSoft Inc.’s internationally acclaimed PID Loop Tuning Pocket Guide was created in 2002, and is now available in its 4th edition.

    Providing engineers with a free and concise guide to tuning PID loops, this handy publication now includes tuning instructions for cascade loops and an expanded reference section on common controllers.

    The 12-page guide can easily fit into a jacket or jeans pocket for handy on-the-job access.
    Request a free copy of the latest version of ControlSoft’s Tuning Tips on their website.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Steady satellite

    Dynamometer keeps satellite on target

    Most equipment manufacturers aim for maximum reliability but still maintain a team of service engineers for the few times something breaks down but sending an engineer to fix a fault is simply not an option, if the equipment is in space. This is the problem faced by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd(SSTL), the most experienced small satellite company in the world, with over 32 successful launches since the first in partnership with NASA in 1981. Today’s SSTL satellites have evolved from earlier designs using the best available technology to minimise cost and maximise reliability.

    The launch phase places huge vibrational loads on the payload making the need to over engineer and thoroughly test every component essential to ensure that these loads do not compromise the performance of the satellite. Typically, the “positioning wheels”, a type of gyro, that maintain the satellite in alignment with a ground station antenna when downloading data or a specific area when imaging, use precision ball race bearings that can become pitted in the launch phase resulting in electro-mechanical noise during in-space operation. This noise can interfere with the operation of the delicate electronics used for imaging and navigation systems on the satellite.

    To simulate the operation of the “positioning wheels”, SSTL use a test rig based on a three-component dynamometer, manufactured by Kistler Instruments, which measures the forces produced by the “positioning wheels”. It is this force that, in space, maintains the satellite antenna in line with an earth station or a particular constellation depending on the mission objective. When the “positioning wheels” run at around 5,000 rpm to make a large change in the satellite position, noise is not a problem but when making small, repeated adjustments, noise can cause camera shake resulting in blurred imaging or loss of lock in the star camera positioning system.

    “We chose the Kistler dynamometer and amplifier combination as we needed the long term stability and precision provided by the piezoelectric force sensors used in the instrument”,
    says SSTL’s Andrew Haslehurst.


    New Weatherproof Servo Inclinometers

    Sherborne Sensors has announced the global launch of the new LSW Series, a family of rugged, high-precision angular sensors, designed for use in demanding all-weather applications.

    LSW Series sensors are offered in resolutions down to 0.2 arc seconds (0.00006°) and in angular ranges from ±3° to ±90°, with full range outputs of ±5 Vdc. They are designed to withstand mechanical shock to 1500g.

    Sensors are housed in a durable, stainless steel case and sealed to IP67, with a field replaceable waterproof connector/cable system, should the cable become damaged in service. Units are also fully self-contained, and able to connect to a DC power source and a readout or control device, to form a complete operating system.

    The LSW Series is ideal for high precision measurements within physically challenging environments, adverse weather conditions, or where exceptionally high levels of shock and vibration are present. Applications can be found in the offshore industry, military, civil engineering, bore hole mapping and in geophysical and seismic studies.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Imaging capabilities

    New dual sensor camera offers unique imaging capabilities

    Hits Financial Targets

    STEMMER IMAGING UK has just completed its 2008/9 financial year, and is delighted to report that it has hit its sales targets, representing 10% growth compared to 2007/8.

    UK Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Williamson, said: ”This is fantastic achievement, especially considering the widespread economic downturn in the UK during this period. Not only have we grown by 10%, but we have also invested in additional staff during this period, putting us in a good position to take advantage as the economy improves”.

    “Key to our performance has been the level of service that we offer to our customers”, he continued. “We have maintained our £2 million stock levels throughout the recession, which means that we continue to offer next day delivery on a host of items, and we are still able to offer equipment on loan for evaluation. This commitment to customer service seems to be a significant differentiator for us in the market place."

    “In addition, STEMMER IMAGING has no bank debt and we have cash reserves”,
    he said in conclusion. “This further reinforces customer confidence in us, which is borne out by a recent survey of customers spending up to £5000 with us in the last 6 months, carried out by STEMMER IMAGING GmbH. This revealed that around 50% of orders came from direct referrals".
    Stemmer Imaging's latest camera offering, the JAI AD-081CL, features two monochrome progressive scan CCD sensors mounted to a custom-designed optical prism. The prism-based design enables the camera to simultaneously capture two channels of 30 fps video of the same field of view to within one-quarter pixel accuracy. A choice of operating modes allows the camera to be used for high dynamic range, high speed operation or particle imaging velocimetry.

    Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV) is a planar optical measurement technique which provides a means of measuring the velocity of seeded particles (~1 - 50 microns (in air)) in the flow of interest. Applications include vortex forming in artificial heart chambers, combustion analysis in engines, and air flow studies in wind chambers. With a single CCD camera, the laser illumination is pulsed and two sequential images are captured and analysed to track particle measurement. The dual sensor AD-081CL, however, features a unique PIV mode, which allows the camera’s two-channel operation to capture three closely-spaced images on a single trigger instead of two. This provide 50% more data for improved analysis of ultra-fast events.

    Independent control of shutter speed and/or gain for each channel of the AD-081CL provides the opportunity for wide dynamic range operation. This is especially useful in inspection applications where there is a particularly bright light background, such as LED inspection or welding. One channel is adjusted for the bright output, while the other channel is tuned for lower light output. The two images can then be analysed separately or combined to produce a dynamic range nearly double the normal CCD response. This enables the camera to achieve dynamic range levels as high as 20-bits per pixel (~120 dB) in a linear fashion that avoids the noise, shutter, and compression issues found in other types of cameras.

    The versatile AD-081CL can also operate at an effective frame rate of 60 fps. This is achieved by interleaving the images from the two sensors into a single output stream. This high-speed/low noise mode does not increase in the clock frequency of the camera itself, thus keeping clock noise to an absolute minimum.

    Each sensor has 1024 x 768 pixel resolution and 8 or 10 bit pixel depth. The camera features two configurable Camera Link outputs, allowing single-cable operation or separate cables for each channel. Other features include partial scanning and vertical binning capabilities, as well as analog video output to support auto-iris lenses.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    EX Gas detection

    Explosion proof wireless gas detection

    The Gastronics True Wireless explosion proof gas monitors are available for measuring H2S and combustible gases for hazardous locations.

    They are now available fully compatible with the recently agreed ISA100.11a 2.4 GHz MESH Standard

    Using up to 6 Watts of Power on a UHF / VHF licensed radio frequency, the TW-XP can transmit and receive data for miles without direct line of sight or repeaters.

    The dual purpose circuit board can act as a 3-Wire fixed system monitor and then by adding the internal radio, the TW-XP becomes a UHF/VHF wireless monitor. Capable of quarter, half and full channel spacing operation, the TW-XP is compatible where refarming compliant narrow band frequencies have been assigned.

    Features and Benefits
      • Ideal for areas where metal structures may interfere with low powered, non-licensed radio signals.

      • Spare input for a 4-20 mA, 2 or 3 Wire auxiliary device, such as level, flow or valve position.

      • Includes 2 relays that can be used for both alarms as well as activating a valve.

      • Microprocessor firmware can be flashed to the monitor circuit board in the field with a laptop computer.

      • Calibration and Telemetry settings are easy to control with a non-intrusive magnetic tool.

      • Remote Radio silence can be enabled and disabled from a base transceiver.

      • Data reporting includes Gas Reading, 0.0-20.0 Auxillary Analog Input Reading, Temperature, and Relay/Alarm Status. Base Transceivers can provide Analog and Digital Outputs as well as Modbus- RTU Communications to a DCS or SCADA.

    The TW-XP system is also compatible with Safer Systems® plume dispersion modeling software.

    FF approval

    Device Couplers Approved by Fieldbus Foundation®

    The TG200 and TG300 TRUNKGUARD™ Series Fieldbus Device Couplers from MooreHawke, the fieldbus division of Moore Industries, have successfully completed the Foundation Device Coupler Registration Process for the Fieldbus Foundation.

    The company has received a registration certificate for five models in the TRUNKGUARD TG200 series: TG204, TG208, TG20X, TG20Y, and TG20W, and two models in the TG300 series: TG304 and TG308. They are now all registered as FOUNDATION Device Couplers.

    TRUNKGUARD TG200 and TG300 Series Fieldbus Device Couplers deliver a fast and easy way to connect multiple fieldbus devices to a main fieldbus trunk in FOUNDATION fieldbus™ (H1) and PROFIBUS PA networks. TRUNKGUARD is the first fieldbus Device Coupler to provide fully automatic segment termination. The patented technology prevents fieldbus segment failure from under- or over-termination, a major problem in fieldbus startups.

    See our Fieldbus Pages

    Monday, November 9, 2009


    Exhibition and conference replaces conference and …
    This is the unedited report on ISAExpo 2009 from Industrial Automation Insider, November issue.

    As had been widely predicted, the International Society of Automation (ISA) duly announced during last month’s ISA Expo in Houston that the current show would be the last. According to ISA’s own figures, the event attracted a total of 8,500 attendees, barely sufficient to raise its status above that of a local event and certainly not enough, according to most reports, to make the 61,500 square foot exhibition with 364 exhibitor companies look anything other than thinly attended.

    Although the announcement has triggered a further round of criticism of the organisation, by no means all of it constructive, it’s only fair to say that the ISA Show, as most still call it, has simply gone the same way as most other process automation industry exhibitions across the world, succumbing to a fatal pincer movement between, on the one hand, the internet and, on the other, the growing success of the major vendors’ own user conferences, including, for example, the recent Emerson Exchange in Florida and Honeywell’s European HUG in Lisbon.

    ISA has in fact held on longer than most. The UK’s once hugely successful - and for a long time vastly profitable - Control & Instrumentation (C&I) Show succumbed in 2000 while the once mighty Interkama abandoned its traditional venue in Düsseldorf and threw in its lot with the Hanover Fair in 2003.

    New format
    Where ISA may come in for more justifiable criticism is in its choice of what to do now. The precedents for reviving this type of event in a new format are hardly encouraging. C&I organizers Centaur, it may be remembered, announced with something of a flourish at the time of the demise of the C&I Show that it would be reborn in a new event to be known as Integrated Automation Solutions, only to strangle the new show at birth just a few months later. Even Interkama, on life support at
    Hanover, has little impact outside Germany, with most of the major vendors feeling they can safely ignore it.

    More important, perhaps, is the fact that in markets which no longer have a major process automation event, nobody seems to miss them or even contemplates trying to start one. One group which does seem to miss such events is that of the smaller instrument vendors who valued the opportunity to the gain exposure to the larger audience which the major vendors were thought to attract. With those major vendors long gone, however, that’s largely wishful thinking, particularly at a time when technology has provided smaller companies with an almost infinite variety of other ways of reaching that audience directly, at lower cost and on equal terms with their very largest competitors. Those still lamenting the passing of the major shows have either failed to get to grips with the opportunities presented by the new media or are simply lamenting the loss of those three days off the leash and away from home and family.

    Set against that background, what is the ISA now proposing? In its own words, a new intensive technical conference to be held from October 4th to 7th 2010 at the Westin Galleria in Houston. To be known as ISA Automation Week, it is to be accompanied by “an exhibition featuring leading suppliers of automation and control products and services” and will coincide with and provide a venue for the annual face-to-face meetings of ISA’s standards committees and working groups in its Industry Standards Forum.

    If that sounds pretty much like the mixture as before, ISA executive director and CEO Patrick Gouhin begs to differ. “ISA Automation Week is organized around a different model than ISA has used in the past. The new model focuses on the conference as the center of the event, because we believe that automation and control professionals at every level seek knowledge above all else. By centering the event on the conference, we can help exhibitors create more successful interactions with serious and focused attendees at all levels.”
    Jerry Cockrell - "It's all about knowledge"

    $950 conference fee
    Whether conference delegates will pay a higher conference fee – said to be of the order of $950 - and attend in sufficient numbers to justify the participation of exhibitors must be the key question. While the ISA top brass, including Automation Week Program Committee co-chair and 2009 ISA president Jerry Cockrell of Indiana State University – “It’s all about knowledge” - and 2010 ISA president Nelson Ninin, president of Yokogawa America Do Sul - “We believe that an educated prospect is a qualified prospect” - are enthusiastic, long term critics of the organisation are less than hopeful. Jim Pinto, for example, writes in his Connections for Growth & Success newsletter that “I predict it will be a flop (less than 100 paying attendees).”

    As well as announcing Automation Week, ISA also confirmed that it had outsourced all of its electronic newsletter activity to The most significant deliverable from the agreement is a co-branded weekly e-newsletter to be known as Automation Weekly, production and distribution of which has already commenced. There will also be quarterly topic specific e-newsletters devoted to a wide range of topics from building automation to control panels and motion control to SCADA, though whether these, or Automation Weekly itself, will consist of anything more than compilations of vendors’ press releases remains to be seen. The chief attraction of the deal from’s point of view is, of course, access to the 75,000 strong ISA mailing list which will enable it to boost the combined total distribution of its e-newsletters to some 90,000 “world-wide automation professionals”.

    Infrequent InTech
    Since the original announcement, ISA has also revealed that its flagship InTech magazine is to become a bimonthly with effect from next February, with six print issues scheduled for 2010. At the same time is also taking over responsibility for advertising sales for the print, digital, and online editions and Richard Simpson, InTech’s publisher for
    the past 15 years, is joining Quite what the future holds for InTech editorial staff, including editor Greg Hale, is at this stage unclear but Pinto reports 30% staff cuts at ISA’s headquarters which sounds ominous.

    As critics such as Pinto and CONTROL’s Walt Boyes have pointed out many times in the past, ISA is grappling with the challenge of being a volunteer led organisation faced with problems which even the most professional of commercial organisations are finding near insuperable. Against that background the outsourcing route, which has been followed by a number of other similar organisations, is almost certainly the only viable long term solution, not just for ISA’s electronic publishing activities, but for InTech magazine and, indeed, for any related exhibition and conference ventures. It’s hard to believe that incoming ISA Publications Department VP-elect Eoin Ó Riain, with his own long print and electronic publishing experience with Read-out magazine and web site, won’t draw the same conclusion.