Friday 29 January 2010

Signal conditioners help reduce cabling and maintenance costs, increase efficiency for users

Rockwell Automation have launched a new line of signal conditioners designed to help maximize the efficiency and performance of process applications by helping users isolate, convert and amplify analog signals in applications involving batch or continuous processes.

Comprised of 29 distinct products, the Allen-Bradley Bulletin 931 analog signal conditioners mark the first Rockwell Automation components specifically designed for process applications.

The Bulletin 931 analog signal conditioners isolate multiple signals on the same power source, reducing ground loop and common mode noise. By incorporating the Bulletin 931 analog signal conditioners into an existing control system, users can convert a wide range of signals from field devices into a standard 4 to 20 milliamp signal. This helps users extend the performance and functionality of legacy control systems, improves design and integration flexibility, and mitigates the need for additional I/O purchases.

The signal conditioners are designed to help reduce time and costs associated with control system installations and upgrades for a diverse range of process applications. The signal conditioners can be integrated with their PlantPAx Process Automation System, leveraging a single control platform for discrete, batch, process, safety, drives and motion control.

Users with control systems that transmit thermocouple signals over significant distances can take advantage of the Bulletin 931 analog signal conditioners to help reduce additional I/O and cabling costs. The signal conditioners convert thermocouple signals into the standard 4 to 20 milliamp signal, which can be run over long distances on standard cable with less chance of signal deterioration.

Many of the Bulletin 931 analog signal conditioners have hazardous location approvals, including ATEX and UL Class 1, Div 2 certification, helping customers meet global standards to compete internationally. In addition, transmission of data over the HART Communication Protocol is available on certain models.

Relative humidity and dew point catalogue

Michell Instruments have released a new edition of their moisture and humidity product catalogue, which contains comprehensive information on their range of relative humidity transmitters and sensors, dew point transmitters and humidity calibration instruments.

As well as information on new products such as the MDM300 portable dew-point hygrometer and PC62 relative humidity probe, the catalogue also contains a handy guide to the measurement of humidity, which explains common equations as well as terms and conventions used in the industry.

Testing time for vacuum cleaner manufacturer

A company that designs and build custom test equipment for the manufacturing and research industries has developed a cost saving sub-system that allows eight dynamometer test rigs to share a single calibration unit based on a Digital TorqSense transducer from Sensor Technology Ltd.

The company, 1st Pass of Westbury (Wilts GB), started out as a regional systems integrator for National Instruments’ LabView software packages. However, it quickly realised that there was a considerable need for a wider service encompassing all aspects of test rig design and build.

Founder and Managing Director, Chris Turner, explains: “Engineers involved in either research or quality control need test rigs, but designing them is not their forte. They tend to focus only on the immediate requirements so tend towards inflexible, mono-functional designs. Six months later when new requirements emerge, they have to build another rig”.

“We saw this as a gap in the market and decided to offer the a full package whereby we would interview the engineers to establish likely future requirements, then design and build a test rig or test station that addresses all of these. This includes electrical and mechanical design, software, firmware, support systems, etc. We will also install, calibrate and maintain the rigs.”

Recently Chris was asked to visit a major West Country manufacturer to assess its needs for life testing electric motors. The company has a sizable research and development function and it was decided that no less than eight separate rigs were required. These were to be based on the well-proven concept of the test motors driving against a brake, with dynamic performance data collected from around the rig and analysed using LabView.

With the rigs’ workload expected to be high, it was sensible to go for a solid design that would last through many years of punishing duty. However, this stretched the budget so Chris applied some lateral thinking and came up with a solution.

“We needed to be able to calibrate and recalibrate the rigs on a regular basis, and we wanted the calibration process to be as simple as possible. I was able to use a TorqSense with an RS232 output for this – a sensor that can monitor the torque in a rotating shaft without actually touching it – as it opened up the potential for foolproof, robust yet sensitive calibration.”

TorqSense technology uses a radio frequency (RF) transmission link. This picks up resonant frequency signals from two piezo ceramic combs, Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW’s), fixed onto the shaft, which vary their frequency as the combs deflect under the effects of applied rotational torque. So as torque increases the combs change their resonant frequency proportionally to the change in applied torque caused by the rotating shaft.

The SAW’s function very much like as strain gauges and the RF coupling used to supply power to the SAW devices – being piezo based they need less than one milliwatt of power, is transmittable as a radio frequency and eliminates interference.”

“Initially we assumed that each rig would have its own on-board calibration unit, but I got to thinking that as they were only used at the beginning of each test run and would actually be idle the vast majority of the time. So I began to wonder about developing a demountable unit that could be shared around all the rigs.”

TorqSense’s non-contact operation and lack of flying leads make demountable installations an attractive possibility, so Chris knew he had to come up with an easy way of achieving accuracy of the transducer’s positioning. He called Sensor Technology and arranged a brainstorming session, where sliding the TorqSense unit up against end stops was identified as the best solution.

“To do this we had to find a way to move the brake away from the motor so that we had room to slip the calibrator in,” says Chris. “It was fairly obvious to mount the brake on a slide too; this was a simple solution that required little re-designing of our original concept.”

• Talking about vacuum cleaners the magazine The Stick Vacuum  have produced a comprehensive  Complete Guide To Stick Vacuum Cleaners which may be of interest!

Non-contact position measurement in membrane-style packaging

The MagnetoPot is new non-contacting linear potentiometer based upon a fully sealed membrane strip and a simple magnet that together provide position feedback from 8 mm to 1200 mm in a low profile and robust design with exceptionally long life capability. Manufactured by USA based membrane sensor experts Spectra Symbol, and available exclusively in Britain from Variohm EuroSensor, the MagnetoPot is ideal for hydraulic and pneumatic position sensing and other medium precision position feedback applications such as liquid level monitoring. A rotary version is also available for compact, low profile angle sensing.

The MagnetoPot is similar in concept to a traditional membrane type potentiometer but rather than use a contacting wiper to connect the collector to the resistive element, relies upon the interaction of a non-contacting external magnet and an encapsulated magnetic or ferromagnetic strip to determine the electrical output and hence relative position. The thin IP 65 membrane has a typical membrane thickness of less than 3.5 mm - allowing the position sensor to be discretely installed with either the magnet or the membrane strip attached to the moving component.

The standard linear MagnetoPot is available in eleven travel range versions from 12.5 mm to 1000 mm with a choice of 3-pin connection options including Crimplex solder tabs, male pins and a variety of connectors. The electrical specification includes a 10 kΩ resistance output over each linear position range (5 kΩ to 500 kΩ on request) with a linearity of +/- 5%. The positioning resolution is dependent upon the exterior magnet strength and its proximity to the MagnetoPot's magnetic strip. The rotary version is currently available with a 66 mm diameter and an active centre track diameter of 46 mm.

The IP65 rating for the active area for both types of MagnetoPot allows for intense water spray and the non-contact technology effectively yields an extremely long and maintenance free working life.

German exhibition to highlight energy efficiency

The Exhibition Committee of the SENSOR+TEST and the Executive Board of the AMA Association for Sensor Technology have jointly decided to make energy efficiency the focal topic of the SENSOR+TEST trade fair this May. This will stress the special role that sensor and measuring technology plays in this future-oriented field. “Sensor and measuring technology contribute to energy efficiency in two ways: through products with a low energy consumption as well as by effectively preventing energy waste for numerous applications in practically all industries,” explains J. Achenbach, chairman of the Exhibition Committee.

Care in exploitation and handling of natural resources and the efficient use of energy are among the most important tasks for our future. This is due to the dwindling quantity of fossil fuels, high energy consumption in industrial countries and its sharp rise in developing countries, as well as the resulting impact on the environment. Besides having a low energy consumption, plants, machines, and products should not be limited in their productivity, safety, usability, or convenience. Sensor and measuring technology provides an important foundation for these objectives. For many applications, an increase in efficiency can only be implemented if exact, comprehensive, and real-time data about ambient conditions, operating states, and required parameters are available.

Due to the significance of sensor and measuring technology for energy efficiency, the SENSOR+TEST, to be held from 18 to 20 May 2010, will provide a suitable platform for this topic. Exhibitors, research institutes, and users will thus have the opportunity for a concentrated, pertinent exchange of ideas regarding this future-oriented field. A dedicated Efficiency Forum will enable exhibitors to present their novelties and solutions with posters. The forum can also be used by enterprises for low-cost table-top presentations without maintaining a stand of their own. On the first day of the fair, papers and podium discussions at the Exhibitor Forum in Hall 12 will revolve around the topic of energy efficiency. The organiser and the Exhibition Committee are convinced that many companies will make use of this opportunity to present their specific products and solutions here.

Extension & enhancement of Ethernet line extenders

Westermo Data Communications has expanded and improved its Wolverine range of industrial Ethernet line extenders with the addition of the new DDW-225 and an enhanced version of the existing DDW-120. These rugged industrial products are part of Westermo’s extensive range of Ethernet SHDSL extenders that are used to establish reliable long distance, high-speed remote connections between simple and complex Ethernet networks using any existing twisted pair copper cables.

The DDW-225 is the first Westermo line extender to include the WeOS operating system, which is already employed in Westermo’s high performance RedFox Industrial Routing Switches. WeOS provides advanced switching and routing functionality that enable the management of complex industrial networks.

The enhanced DDW-120 is aimed at simple point-to-point applications, or as a start or termination unit, together with any of the DDW-220/221/222/225 products, in daisy-chain applications. The latest version of the extender enables data transmission rates as high as 15.3 Mbit/s in both directions, and transmission distances of over 10km, depending on cable quality. This increased data transmission rate will help meet the ever increasing demands for bandwidth from applications such as transmitting high definition video from remote sites.

The new product supports two SHDSL interfaces and has a built in four port managed Ethernet switch, enabling users to build complete Ethernet networks with daisy chains and ring topologies. Suitable for use in extremely harsh industrial environments, the device offers a data transfer rate of 5.7 Mbit/s in both directions, and transmission distances of up to 15km. This makes it especially useful for applications such as railway trackside, tunnels, highways, harbours, power stations and extended industrial plants.

The DDW-225 also includes the company's unique FRNT (Fast Recovery of Network Topology) technology, the fastest protocol on the market to re-configure a network in the event of any failure of a link or hardware, which provides support for redundant rings. The DDW-225 can also support multiple rings, with a FRNT ring running from the SHDSL interface and a RSTP ring from the switch port. Device functionality, including VLAN, Static Routing, Layer 3 switching, IGMP Snooping Firewall, SNMP V3 and VPN support all help improve bandwidth support and network security.

The DDW-120 is designed to be transparent for multicast addressing, is suitable for VLAN networks, allows VPN (Virtual Private Network) pass-through for IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and can be used with protocols like Modbus®/ TCP and PROFINET® I/O. The DDW-120 is very simple to install, with no software configuration required. When long or poor cabling is used the settings can be adjusted via DIP-switches for optimised performance. The unit is also supplied with an advanced diagnostic utility that allows the installer to analyse the quality of the line and the connection status.

As with other products in the Wolverine series, both models are suitable for tough industrial environments. The rugged units can operate in a wide temperature range and total galvanic isolation and transient protection are standard for all interfaces. The line interface is also equipped with extensive protection against over-voltages and transients.

Electronic loads and power supplies

StanTronic Instruments has announced that it has been appointed distributor for Maynuo Electronic in Great Britain, Ireland and Germany.

The Chinese company, Maynuo, specialises in the manufacture of programmable electronic loads and power supplies with an outstanding price/performance ratio.

Electronic loads are available in four different power rating configurations of 150/300 Watts, 600/1200 Watts, 1800/2400 Watts and 3600/6000 Watts. The units can be used in constant current (CC), constant voltage (CV), constant resistance (CR) and constant power (CW) mode and are very fast and precise. They are controlled either through buttons and a jog wheel on the front or through remote control for use in automated test systems. RS-232 is standard, RS-485, GPIB and USB are available as options.

Typical applications include automated production testing for power supplies, as well as engineering in the areas of automotive, aerospace and alternative energy industries.

The DC power supplies are also ideally suited for automated test because of their remote control capabilities (RS-232 standard, RS-485, GPIB and USB as options). Single output units with 0-6V/0-60A, 0-30V/0-20A, and 0-75V/0-8A offer an accuracy of load control of 0,01% +1mV/0,1mA and can also be used as a volt or milliohm meter.

AMC Processor Module with Extended Temperature option

Concurrent Technologies have announced their latest high performance Advanced Mezzanine Card (AdvancedMC®) single width, mid-height or full-height, processor module suitable for AdvancedTCA®, MicroTCA™, Scope Alliance and proprietary platforms.

The AM 210/x0x features a low power dual core processor from the Intel® embedded roadmap - the Intel® Core™2 Duo processor operating at 2.26 GHz or 1.86 GHz and supports up to 8 Gbytes DDR3-1066 SDRAM. It is designed for use in a variety of applications including wireless base stations, Voice over IP, media-servers, blade-servers within the communication market as well as projects within the defence, security, and industrial markets. Commercial and extended temperature versions are now available for both processor speeds. For embedded types of applications there is an option for an onboard application flash disk (up to 8 Gbytes). The AM 210/x0x supports a variety of industry standard operating systems.

The AM 210/x0x board supports the 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300 or the 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor. The processor utilizes Intel’s 45nm process technology, and offers a large last-level on-die cache (6 Mbytes), 1066 MHz Front Side Bus, Intel® Virtualization, Intel® 64 Technology, improved power management, plus new features and enhancements to the Intel® Core™ micro-architecture delivering increased instructions per clock. The Intel® Thermal Design Power (TDP) for the 45nm 2.26 GHz dual core processor is 25W giving a much improved performance per Watt when compared to earlier generations of processors. The Intel® GS45 Graphics Memory Controller Hub and Intel® ICH9M-SFF IO Controller Hub are used to complement the processor to achieve a low power, yet high performance core design. The board is suited for CPU intensive processing applications whereby the processor’s dual cores can access up to 8 Gbytes of dual channel DDR3-1066 SDRAM, via two SODIMMs, with a peak bandwidth of up to 16 Gbytes/s.

It is designed in compliance to AMC.0 (including full or mid-height front panel, full hot swap, and IPMI capabilities), AMC.1 Type 8 (single x8 or dual x4 PCI Express interface), AMC.2 Type E2 (2 x Gigabit Ethernet interfaces) and AMC.3 Type S2 (2 x Serial ATA300 ports). A variant is available providing rear I/O compatibility with Scope Alliance systems. In the AMC extended options region the module also features, as a sales variant, 2 x Serial ATA300 ports, 2 x USB 2.0 ports and an RS-232 port. There is a further Gigabit Ethernet port, 2 x USB 2.0 ports and an RS-232 port accessible via the front panel. An optional onboard USB Flash disk is available in a range of capacities of up to 8 Gbytes.
See AMC specs on the PICMG site.

Commercial temperature (0°C to +55°C) and extended temperature (-25°C to +70°C) variants are now available with either the mid-height or full-height front panel type.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Packaged change management

Solution drives increased efficiency of personnel and productivity

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of its new SmartStart for Proficy® Change Management, a packaged software and services solution that is designed to get users started quickly with the company’s award-winning asset management software solution. Proficy Change Management helps organisations assess, monitor, manage, control, and lower, project and maintenance costs associated with software and device management. In addition, by providing traceability and notification of changes, it drives increased efficiency of personnel, and as a result, productivity. SmartStart delivers functionality in a low-risk, extremely rapid manner by using a proven, template- based approach to implementing automated change management in plant systems.

“Across industries, companies are faced with increasing safety, reliability and regulatory compliance requirements,”
said Claire Cerrato, General Manager, Automation Software for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Yet many operations, facilities and/or utilities lack the tools to adequately manage changes in the mission-critical software that controls their processes. All too often, changes are made by unauthorized users, without the benefit of an audit trail, or plants suffer additional downtime during backup recovery when the wrong software version is loaded. Beyond the added costs, real safety and product quality situations can arise when interlocks are bypassed or older parameters are used.”
This package combines the full-featured software and a rapid engagement model to rapidly automate and improve change management processes.
  • Version Control ensures that only one person at a time is making changes and archives the versions for reuse.
  • Security enables users to monitor and control access reducing the number and seriousness of potential errors.
  • Audit Trails and Reports allow users to track what has been happening with programs and devices in the plant.
  • Automated Scheduling, Notification and Reporting checks the integrity of what is happening on a regularly scheduled basis.
  • Configurable interface for project organization reduces training time and user error.
  • Extensive Product Support, pre-configured to support a variety of commonly used industrial software and devices.
With SmartStart, users can fully understand and evaluate the power of Proficy for 30 days with minimal upfront cost or risk of customization. Throughout the evaluation, companies invest only in the services that help get them started and receive the latest software licenses at no cost for the duration of the evaluation period. SmartStart includes:
  • Access to the right mix of full-featured Proficy software components
  • A fixed set of services to install the system, train teams, and support the evaluation
  • A structured and proven engagement model that leverages best practices to accelerate results
  • Availability of an entry-priced Server module, fully-featured for use with the production equipment included in the SmartStart pilot
  • Availability of a pre-loaded, pre-configured server package to speed deployment
  • Access to world-class GlobalCare technical support to keep you up and running
“SmartStart for Proficy Change Management leverages proven products and best practices to rapidly demonstrate the value of GE’s Proficy software and combines the right blend of solution components for a specific industry application or process,” concluded Cerrato. “It gives manufacturers an easy way to get started and allows for future expansion for true operational excellence.”

Power supply

High reliability in industrial control applications

The Harting Ha-VIS pCon 2000 family of power-supply modules are designed to offer high performance and reliability in industrial automation applications.

The new units, which are mechanically and electrically compatible with their range of Ethernet switches and other active network components, combine ease of installation with the use of redundancy modules to ensure high system availability and hence reliability in areas such as control and switch cabinets.

The new modules incorporate pluggable connections to ensure reliable and rapid assembly without the need for special tools. The range includes versions for voltages of 24 and 48 V and power outputs of 35, 60 and 120 W. Key performance features include high efficiency, extended input ranges, overload capability of up to 150% for up to 3 seconds, and low losses.

The range includes the pCon 2010-DRM redundancy module, which incorporates dual 12-48 V supplies to ensure redundancy in the power supply for components in control and switch cabinets. Losses in this unit are very low, with a maximum voltage drop of 300 mV.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

American scouts

Sponsors for interactive robotics station

The Automation Federation (AF) has announced that Rockwell Automation and Rockwell Collins will participate in the AF Technology Quest exhibit at the 2010 Boy Scout Jamboree, which will be held from 26 July to 4 August 2010, at Fort A.P. Hill, (VA US). This historic event will celebrate the “100th Year of Scouting in America” and will attract more than 250,000 Scouts per day.

Technology Quest is an exhibit area at the Jamboree where Scouts will take part in a variety of science-related activities on a daily basis. The Scouts, traveling from all over the United States, will learn about the importance of math and science in education and for possible careers in automation, including those in engineering and technology.

The Automation Federation was selected in March by the Boy Scouts of America to be a Technology Partner at the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree. The purpose of the Automation Federation exhibit is to challenge the imaginations of the Scouts and allow them to explore the wide variety of careers that await them in the automation profession.

To aid in this effort, Rockwell Automation and Rockwell Collins will present a FIRST® interactive station where Scouts will have the opportunity to take part in hands-on robotics demonstrations that will give them insight into a variety of automation careers. In honor of the event, Rockwell Automation and Rockwell Collins will also provide staff who are Eagle Scouts or are current Scout Leaders to interact with the Scouts at the exhibit.

Leo Staples, co-chair for the Automation Federation planning committee for this exhibit, said, “I am pleased that Rockwell Automation and Rockwell Collins will play an important part in the Automation Federation Technology Quest Exhibit. Both companies have consistently shown their support for educational opportunities that support the goal of advocating the importance of math and science to students. We welcome and value their participation and what they will bring to our exhibit and our workforce development initiatives.”

Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO, Keith Nosbusch, said, “I commend the Automation Federation for their insight and leadership in stepping forward to participate in this important Scouting event and, more importantly, for the opportunity it gives our profession to lay the groundwork for building the next generation of automation technicians and engineers.”

“The Scouts will experience hands-on activities that will be fun and educational at the same time,” said Rockwell Collins Chairman, President, and CEO, Clay Jones. “This formula is a proven winner when it comes to getting kids engaged in learning about technology and high tech careers.”


Compact Inclinometers for OEM applications introduced

ASM has introduced its smallest addition to the POSITILT® inclinometer series that is available in single and dual axis versions. By using MEMS technology, this new inclinometer PTAM20 series is packaged into a very compact, flat housing making it ideally suited for OEM applications. The measurement range for the single axis version is available from +/- 15° to +/- 180°, in increments of 15°. For the dual axis version, the measurement range is available from +/- 15° to +/- 60°, in increments of 15°.

Due to its small size of 7mm in height and 48 mm in diameter, the PTAM20 series inclinometer has been designed to fit into the tightest locations in OEM applications. The enclosure is rated IP60 which is suitable for many instrumentation functions.

The maximum measurement range for the single axis version is +/- 180° and +/- 60° for each axis in the dual axis version. Each version is available with smaller ranges in +/- 15° increments. Several analogue output types are available: 0.5-4.5 V, 0.5-10 V and 4-20 mA.
The resolution is 0.05° and the linearity is up to +/- 0.5°. Each version offers high shock resistance.

Vision book

New Imaging and Machine Vision Handbook.

The 4th edition of Stemmer Imaging’s extremely popular Imaging & Machine Vision handbook is now available. Packed with over 50% more pages than Issue 3, and including improved technical overviews and easier to use selection guides, the latest edition is being printed in German for the first time as well as English. It is available free of charge in the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland.

The handbook is an extremely useful guide to machine vision. The comprehensive ‘technology overviews’ featured in each section not only explain clearly how the products work, but also show how they can best be applied in machine vision systems. In addition to the updated technical overviews, the sections on cables and systems have been significantly expanded, while infrared cameras have been included for the first time.

Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Williamson, said: “The Imaging & Machine Vision Handbook adds real value in the selection of machine vision technology and is an integral part of STEMMER IMAGING’s strategy to work in partnership with customers. Although its production is a major exercise, so many of our customers have told us how useful they find it that we feel the investment in time and effort is really worth it. It is the sort of publication that engineers keep on their shelves.”

After Buncefield

Instruments chosen for new multi-agency air quality unit
Pic: Royal Chiltern Air Support Unit

Environmental instrumentation company Quantitech has been awarded a contract worth in excess of £1million to provide advanced air sampling and analysis equipment to the multi-agency air quality cell that has been established following the recommendations of the Major Incident Investigation Board for the Buncefield incident.

Quantitech has supplied 18 sets of instrumentation including their advanced portable Gasmet FTIR multi-gas analysers in addition to TCR Tecora high volume Echo and low volume Delta air sampling equipment.

The company has also been responsible for the provision of a thorough training programme covering instrument operation, maintenance, calibration and service.

The project was created to develop an air monitoring and modelling capability for major pollution incidents affecting England and Wales. Participants include the Environment Agency, the Health Protection Agency, Public Health Wales, the Met Office, the Health and Safety Laboratory, the Food Standards Agency and Local Authorities.

Quantitech's Dr Andrew Hobson has been responsible for providing initial training on the instruments. He says, "We are delighted that the Gasmet DX4030 portable FTIR gas analyser has been chosen for this project because it was developed for applications in which almost any gas might need to be identified.

"The FTIR analyser is located in a backpack and effectively provides laboratory grade analysis in a field instrument. A Bluetooth connection to a handheld PDA provides simultaneous measurements for up to 25 compounds and the collection of a complete sample spectrum means that over 250 compounds can be analysed."

Summarising progress to-date, the Environment Agency's Gillian Hickey, service manager for monitoring in the Air Quality in Major Incidents project, says, "Over the last 6 months we have responded to a number of chemical air pollution incidents with enhanced interim arrangements.

"Our experience and the lessons learned at these incidents, which have included fires at tyre recycling sites, a waste management transfer site, an electrical recycling site and a publishing warehouse, are proving invaluable in the development of our monitoring and modelling capability, which will be fully established in April 2010."

Portable monitoring equipment is vital to the success of the project because of the rapid response times that have been established by the project. The Emergency Services will notify the Environment Agency within 30 minutes of a major pollution incident and the Environment Agency will then convene the Air Quality Cell (AQC).

CHEMET air modelling information from the Met Office will be available within 20 minutes with more detailed modelling provided later.

The Environment Agency will mobilise monitoring teams from one or more of eight locations and monitoring data will be provided to the AQC within 2 to 6 hours of the incident.

The Buncefield explosion near Hemel Hempstead in December 2005 raised a number of environmental issues and Quantitech's Dr Hobson says he is "delighted to have played a role in one of the very positive outcomes to have been initiated by this major incident," adding, "This is a very important contract for Quantitech and one that has enabled us to exercise the core capabilities of our company. Namely, leading edge technology in combination with the highest levels of technical support."

Load versus displacement

A simple system

RDP Electronics can offer a combination of standard products to provide a simple-to-configure, cost effective system for plotting load versus displacement. Typical applications include materials testing, lifting platforms and vehicle testing.

By using two RDP E725 signal conditioning display units, data outputs from a load cell and from a displacement transducer such as an LVDT, can be combined to present a graphical display of stress over strain on a standard PC or lap top. The RS232 output of the E725 connects to a PC used in conjunction with Microsoft Excel® compatible free downloadable software.

Designed for use with a wide range of transducers including LVDT, strain gauge and internal in-line types, the E725 signal conditioner and display unit is suited for applications in manufacturing, process industries, test and research. The E725 incorporates signal conditioning for transducers, offers a clear 5 digit display, with fast peak and trough detection and limit trips shown by indicator lights and offers options such as relay outputs.

Building automation

Open standards platform for integrating building automation systems launched

ICONICS, has announced a new solution FacilityWorX.

FacilityWorX Key Features

* Intuitive Web-enabled interface
* Native BACnet Support
* Rich HVAC Symbol Library
* Graphical interface for device and tree navigational view
* Calendar based scheduling for planning
* Campus-wide alarm management
* Receive alerts via mobile devices or Web Browsers
* Charting, analysis and reporting tools
* Robust data logging and archiving
* Redundancy support for critical applications
* Certified on latest hardware and software
FacilityWorX enables facility managers to intelligently reduce cost, increase security, improve alarm response time and achieve better energy efficiency. It provides an open standards software integration platform for existing building automation systems to achieve a complete operational view of an entire building or campus. Integrate lighting, elevator, boiler, chiller, fire, generator, access control, and HVAC control systems into one easy-to-configure operational console. FacilityWorX communicates via BACnet, Modbus, JCI N1, SNMP, LonWorks and OPC with all major control systems.

"ICONICS runs in over 40,000 building control applications worldwide, making facilities a key market for us," said Mark Hepburn, Vice President of Worldwide Sales for ICONICS. "FacilityWorX connects the various building control systems found in our buildings and campuses into unified management systems. It is designed with the BAS integrator in mind for easy development to drive profitability and efficiency. FacilityWorX will be marketed exclusively in the Americas through organizations who specialize in building automation system solutions and services."

It provides users with the greatest application performance, reliability and flexibility. Certification for Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Vista operating systems assures applications will run for years to come, thereby "future proofing your investment."

Due to the skyrocketing costs of energy, the need for a solution such as FacilityWorX has never been greater. FacilityWorX helps companies become "green" and reduce their overall carbon footprint through optimizations made to energy consumption. It can also assist companies in meeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for the operation of green buildings.

"Facility Managers today require the capability to integrate their existing building automation systems into a single common operational view that provides the intelligence necessary to make critical control decisions that have major impact on both managing energy costs as well as monitoring and controlling security," according to Craig Resnick, Research Director at ARC Advisory Group. "For Facility Managers to be most effective, they must have a solution capable of analyzing the multiple sources of data required to run an entire facility, as well as a system capable of providing collaboration between visualization, alarm management, scheduling, reporting and analysis functions. ICONICS' FacilityWorX software solution meets this collaboration capability objective."

Building Controls and Security including examples!

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Condensation monitor

Avoid forming of irritating droplets and wetness

Cooling ceilings, critical areas in HVAC and technical installations, which are operating close to the dewpoint temperature, need an early alarm system against the forming of moisture, because of the potential danger of condensation. The new condensation monitor EE46 from E+E Elektronik is specially designed for such applications and can be installed in a few seconds on pipelines, walls, and ceilings.

The early detection of “danger of condensation” and as a result the immediate start of counter measures renders this product as very significant.

A special coating protects the sensor and electronics against dirt and dust – a guarantee for a longstanding, stable and above all maintenance free operation.

The fast response, high accurate E+E humidity sensor is exposed to the temperature of the surface of the object by means of a thermal conducting foil. Therefore, the humidity sensor measures the same relative humidity as is present at the surface of the object to be monitored.

If the preset set point of 90 %RH is exceeded the EE46 switches a potential free contact and provides a signal enabling to take early counter measures, e.g. to increase the temperature of the water in the pipe, to decrease the cooling power or to turn on the heat. In addition, a LED on the enclosure indicates the actual status.

The condensation monitor of the Series EE46 is designed to be powered by 24 V ac/dc.

These products are marketed in Ireland by Instrument Technology.

Safety & security

Symposium for Big Easy!

The International Society of Automation has announced that the 2010 Industrial Automation Safety and Security Symposium, sponsored by the ISA Safety Division, will take place 28-29 April 2010 in the French Quarter of New Orleans (LA US). This year’s symposium will focus on threats—including cyber security threats—to industrial environments and the steps engineers must consider when designing and optimizing industrial processes and Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS).

ISA training courses include Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) and the ANSI/ISA-84 standard, and industrial automation security and the ANSI/ISA-99 standard.

Symposium presentations will provide practical and useful guidance for designing industrial processes, selecting SIS, and protecting these systems against cyber threats and dangerous failures.

The day will include three tracks—Alarm Management, SIS, and Cyber Security—and will end with a safety and security panel discussion. The event will provide an in-depth look at today's safety and security technologies and procedures. It is intended to create a forum where paper presentations and panel discussions transfer information from the leaders and experts on safety and control to industry professionals. A full program will include expert-led sessions, training, social functions, and more.

See our page on Cyber Safety.

Linear accelerometers

Provide precision single, biaxial or triaxial measurement capabilities

Sherborne Sensors has introduced the A545 series, a range of single, biaxial and triaxial solid state linear accelerometers, designed to measure acceleration and deceleration within demanding environments, and within the same, compact package size.

Available in ranges from ±2 to ±500g, A545 series accelerometers feature an advanced MEMS sensor, incorporating air damping. Unlike fluid-damped devices, air damping is essentially independent of temperature, which enables the transducer to reliably perform over a wide temperature range. Sensors are fully compensated for temperature effects on both sensitivity and zero, and incorporate positive mechanical stops. Housed within a robust, lightweight, (less than 40 gm), durable light alloy package with solder pin connectors, the A545 series confers excellent shock resistance, and provides reliable over-ranging protection. The A545 series is designed to operate from an unregulated DC power source and have useable frequency responses from DC to several kHz.

Typical applications for this series include data acquisition systems, crash testing, fatigue life monitoring and prediction, low-frequency vibration analysis, and structural surveying. Custom designed units can also be manufactured and tested to conform to specific requirements. All A545 series accelerometers are 100% tested and calibrated at the factory prior to shipment, and are accompanied by a two-year comprehensive warranty. These accelerometers are also part of the new Sherborne Sensors Guaranteed On-Time Delivery program.

They have the added benefits of ISO9001: 2000 certified manufacturing, extensive applications engineering support, global technical sales presence, repair, refurbishment and calibration services, stocking programs, and continuous product improvements.

Monday 25 January 2010

4.5 million downloads

Data Portal has extensive collection of device and component data

In just one year after its much anticipated launch, the EPLAN Data Portal has had a tremendous effect on engineering - 4.5 million downloads speak for themselves. This innovative web-based portal delivers around 100,000 items of the latest tested and certified component and device data from numerous leading component manufacturers, thereby giving users an extra productivity boost.

In addition to perfect software support, engineers need suitable component data that can be imported directly into a project. With its extensive collection of device and component data from renowned manufacturers, this Data Portal ensures seamless engineering at maximum speed. In no time at all, a desired component can be found by using a keyword, manufacturer’s name, product group or catalogue view in the direct search function. The time-consuming act of browsing through catalogues and manually transferring information are a thing of the past. Data is entered directly in a project from the EPLAN Data Portal - with all the convenient functions of a web-based solution.

Manufacturers currently participating in EPLAN Data Portal are ABB, B&R, Bachmann Electronic, Eaton/Moeller, HARTING, Helukabel, Igus, Lapp Kabel, Martens Elektronik, Michael Riedel Transformatoren, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Pilz, Rittal, Rockwell Automation/Allen Bradley, Schneider Electric, SEW, Siemens, Vishay ESTA, WAGO, Weidmüller.

See EPLAN Data Portal boosts project speed (2nd December 2009)

Lifting & weighing

A Range of shackle load cells for harsh Environments

LCM Systems has introduced an innovative range of shackle load cells designed specifically for lifting and weighing applications in harsh or rugged environments. Ideal for use in applications such as under-hook hoist and crane weighing, cable tension monitoring and crane load safety monitoring, the sensors are available in either cabled or wireless telemetry versions.

Ever mindful of customers’ needs and preferences, they can provide the cabled versions with Crosby shackles as standard or as an option with Greenpin shackles. Safety is paramount for the demanding applications in which these shackle load cells are used and the use of high-quality shackles is essential to comply with safety standards and regulations as well as to maintain integrity.

The SHK-D cabled, shackle load cells use the Crosby G2150 and are available in a range from 1 tonne to 35 tonne, while the SHK-B cabled series has a rated load up to 400 tonne, using either the Crosby G2130 or G2140. All shackle pins are forged from high tensile carbon steel and proof loaded to 150% of the normal rated load. The standard product is sealed to IP66 to protect against harsh weather conditions. All load cells in the series are easy to install and can be supplied with a range of instrumentation for a complete load monitoring system.

For engineers wanting a wireless, telemetry option, the TELSHACK range uses integral wireless telemetry electronics operating on the 2.4GHz license-free frequency. Two ranges are offered: TELSHACK-D can be used from 12 tonne to 35 tonne, while the TELSHACK-B can be used for applications up to 400 tonne. Both ranges can be supplied with either Crosby or Greenpinshackles and experienced design engineers at the company can provide expert advice on the correct shackle for each application.

One of the main features of the TELSHACK ranges is that the housing is supplied with a built-in rechargeable battery. This means that they can be removed from the shackle for charging, while the shackle itself remains in place. A handheld battery powered display is supplied as standard with the option of a single display that can monitor up to 12 shackles when the load cells are used in a multi-shackle configuration, either individually or for summation/balancing applications.

LCM Systems’ standard range of shackle load cells can provide an ideal and safe solution for many applications. However, for more complex requirements their Technical Department will work closely with application engineers to provide customised and workable systems for even the most complex applications.

Profibus again!

User Conference 2010

PROFIBUS UK tells us that the 7th annual PROFIBUS and PROFINET User Conference will be held from 29-30 June 2010 at Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire. Following the successful theme established as a result of six years of positive delegate feedback, this user focused event will feature a comprehensive, multi-stream educational programme that will lead new users through both PROFIBUS and PROFINET, from the basic technology through to its use and application experience in real world industrial and process applications.

The two-day Conference offers a selection of application-oriented technical presentations and hands-on workshop sessions presented by experienced users, technology experts and systems builders. These are people who are training practical PROFIBUS and PROFINET engineers and installers, who are designing and building new systems or system expansions using the technology, or who have installed such systems in their plant, and wish to relate their experience.

The conference will assist companies that own, operate, design, build or maintain manufacturing facilities and process plant, in making the transition from conventional to fieldbus systems as easy (and jargon free) as possible, by covering the latest developments in PROFIBUS, PROFINET and PROFIsafe technology for factory and process automation.

The carefully organised conference and workshop schedule means that you can attend hands-on sessions without having to miss a relevant presentation. The event is supported by a free of charge exhibition, with interactive displays and technology demonstrations from the UK's PROFIBUS Competence Centre, and leading product vendors, trainers, consultants and systems integrators.

To ensure that no-one goes away with unanswered questions, PROFIBUS gives pre-registered delegates the chance to pose their questions in advance of the Conference. In addition, what subject areas are the most important for you in such a conference? While we're still in the process of putting the programme together, there's still a chance to influence the content! This year the schedule has added topics such as energy efficiency, and water saving, but what else would you wish to see covered – submit your suggestions with the registration form, available via the website.

See also our report on the ProfiBus & ProfiNet Seminar in Ireland.

Saturday 23 January 2010


Award winning software enhancement

InduSoft's powerful Human Machine Interface and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software now works with the latest versions of Microsoft Windows. InduSoft Web Studio (IWS) version 6.1 Service Pack 6 is fully compatible with Windows 7 (both 32 and 64-bit) and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Since its inception, InduSoft has developed its IWS product with broad Windows compatibility in mind. InduSoft Web Studio continues a powerful yet easy-to-use feature set across all current Microsoft operating systems. Everything from Windows CE, Windows Mobile, and Windows Embedded XP to most desktop (Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and now Windows 7) and server (Windows Server 2003 and now Windows Server 2008 R2) platforms is supported.

The company has also implemented many customer-requested improvements to IWS, including:
  • Improved Performance - The already optimized runtime engine for Windows CE and Windows Mobile is now even faster and supports a wider range of devices.
  • Flexible Licensing - IWS is the first Human Machine Interface software for Windows CE and Windows Mobile to support USB hard key licensing (when supported by the hardware platform), in addition to the already supported soft key licensing.
  • Share Data with Any SQL Relational Database - Support for Microsoft SQL Server CE 3.5 + Service Pack 1 as well as for the MySQL .Net Connectors.
  • Reporting Delight - PDF printing on 64-bit operating systems is now supported.
  • Exchange Knowledge Quickly - Send e-mail in almost any language using UNICODE text format.
  • Talk to Just About Anything - A new, custom serial driver (TxRx) allows users to transmit and receive hexadecimal codes to support both ASCII and non-ASCII protocols. If InduSoft doesn't have a built-in driver for a device, this driver will communicate simple streaming protocols used by devices like bar code readers, RFID devices, temperature controllers, actuators and custom embedded controllers.
  • Now in Japanese - The IWS development environment can be switched to a Japanese-based user interface, making it easier to develop and deploy Japanese-language applications. Users of IWS can already develop applications in any language, but InduSoft went a step further and implemented a Japanese language pack that allows them to experience the development environment in either English or Japanese.

InduSoft Web Studio v6.1 Service Pack 6 is available as a free upgrade for existing v6.1 customers on their website.

Friday 22 January 2010

Moulding application!

Melt pressure measuring chain is precise and reliable

When moulding components to very tight dimensional tolerances the precise measurement and recording of melt pressure is essential to ensure minimum out of spec product. The new melt pressure measuring chain from Kistler brings new precision and repeatability to measuring this important process parameter directly in front of the screw. The new measuring chain is made up of a factory calibrated sensor, matched amplifier and cable designed specifically to measure and record the melt pressure in injection moulding machines and hot runner systems and is also suitable for measuring static pressure in polymer pumps.

The new sensor allows the melt pressure and temperature signals to be integrated into the moulding machine's control system providing a practical, cost effective means of enhancing production efficiency.

The very stable, high temperature resistant, piezoresistive measuring element is protected by a robust diaphragm allowing the sensor to be mounted directly in the flow of the material to eliminate the time lag inherent in indirect measuring systems. A temperature signal derived from the piezorestive element is used by the amplifier to compensate for temperature variations providing an exceptional level of accuracy of the melt pressure in real time.

The new sensor displays exceptional precision with repeatability errors of <0.1%, linearity errors of <0.5% and zero point change of <0.5%. Supplied as a complete measuring chain with a new digital amplifier that also has a melt temperature output, the Type 4021A is available for pressures ranges up to 3,000 bar at a maximum operating temperature of 350o Celsius

The new measuring chain allows the melt pressure and temperature signals to be integrated into the moulding machine's control system providing a practical, cost effective means of enhancing production efficiency.

New website for Invensys

Invensys Operations Management has launched its new corporate website. The new site shows how the company's premier industry brands and solutions offer the most holistic, cost-effective way to optimise and improve the performance and profitability of its clients' business operations.

"Over the past several months, we have made significant investments to create a customer- and visitor-friendly site that supports our open, collaborative approach," said Mark Davidson, vice president, global marketing, Invensys Operations Management. "As a truly integrated company, the combined capabilities of our eight leading brands, including Avantis®, Eurotherm®, Foxboro®, IMServ™, InFusion™, SimSci-Esscor™, Triconex® and Wonderware® are aligned for our clients' long-term success, and the new website has been designed for easy access to information about our unique industry solutions, services and products offerings.
"With more enhancements to come, this is only Phase 1 of our new online presence, but we are pleased to offer a look at the value Invensys Operations Management provides to our clients and the market in general. With an open environment and platform, we help improve the performance of our clients' resources-their people, equipment, energy and materials-in real time, with dramatic, measurable results. Our new site demonstrates that when working with Invensys, the experience will be one of real collaboration with real-time results."

Located at, the website features an integrated view of Invensys Operations Management, with sections devoted to specific industries, solutions, products, and consulting and service offerings, along with customer and ecosystem partner support and training. The site is also home to 60 new customer success stories, as well as additional information.

Wireless I/O adaptor

Modules for distributed automation applications

The new Wireless POINT I/O Adapter (ILX34-AENWG) is a high-speed, standards-based 802.11g wireless I/O adapter from ProSoft. It takes benefits of the compact size of the 1734 POINT I/O systems (distributed Input/Output modules) from PLC/PAC manufacturer Rockwell Automation®, and combines it with ProSoft Technology´s Integrated Wireless Architecture™.

When coupled with the Wireless, POINT I/O Adapter becomes ideal for collecting data from and for controlling moving systems (like robots, automated carts, overhead cranes, earthmovers), as well as fixed-position racks in hard-to-reach areas of the process plant.

The need
Non-tethered link to distributed I/O is requested in applications with moving or remote equipment, or where it would be difficult or costly to wire devices or control panels. These applications include:
  • Tank farms (Oil and Gas, Water treatment),
  • Cranes, stackers/reclaimers (Material Handling),
  • Rotating filling, spooling, molding machines (Food and Beverage),
  • Robotics / multi-axis machining
  • Remote monitoring
  • Condition monitoring
  • and other remote/moving distributed I/O applications.
The solution
The ability to connect POINT I/O modules wirelessly, allows Automation Engineers to design high-performance, scalable and low-latency systems in cases where wired I/O would be problematic.

This adapter provides a familiar programming environment to users by utilising the connection-based EtherNet/IP protocol and configuration with RSLogixTM 5000 programming environment and connection-based EtherNet/IPTM protocol to simplify configuring and communicating with POINT I/O racks scattered throughout the process facility.

The benefits
The Wireless POINT I/O Adapter can be used in networks with RadioLinx® Industrial Hotspots or third party 802.11g access points to provide high-speed, low latency 802.11g client communication over widely spaced plant areas. This ability to work with existing standards-based wireless technology protects and leverages the end-users' investment. For security, the Wireless POINT I/O employs 802.11i WPA2 with AES Encryption.

The Wireless POINT I/O Adapter provides users with the flexibility and scalability (up to 63 modules) offered by the many standard Rockwell Automation POINT I/O modules including analog I/O, digital I/O, POINT Guard I/O(TM), DeviceLogix(TM), relays, RTD, and counters.

All ProSoft Technology products come with a 3 year warranty and unlimited technical support.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Liquid level

Precision sensor “Off the Shelf”

The Gill Sensors ‘R-Series’ is a precision “off the shelf” liquid level sensor, developed for motorsport, military and industrial applications. The sensor has no moving parts, utilising advanced capacitive technology to accurately monitor the liquid level.

Compatible with fuel, oil, water and other specialist liquids, the R-Series liquid level sensor features an SAE 5-bolt flange mount as standard and is manufactured to the customer’s exact length requirement, avoiding the need for any mechanical adjustment by the customer. With fully integrated electronics producing a configurable 0-5V analogue output, the R-Series is an ideal ‘drop-in’ solution for most liquid level applications.

In addition to the standard sensor, the company has also introduced an ‘Rxl’ variant of the sensor for applications where a very long sensor is required. This variant of the R-Series utilises the same SAE 5-bolt mounting pattern but introduces additional mechanical strengthening features to support the longer probe. This sensor is ideal for industrial applications that require precision liquid level measurement of storage tanks up to 3m in depth.

With over ten years development experience in the field of capacitive liquid level measurement, Gill Sensors has quickly become a leader in the industry, with customers spanning top level motorsport, military and industrial applications.

Servo driver

Built-in motor wizard works with most servo motors for easy integration

ORMEC Systems Corporation (ORMEC) has just announced the global launch of the XD-Series, a new family of Indexer Servo Drives, providing high-reliability motion control capabilities for even the most challenging applications. The unique features of the XD-Series are built upon proven success of ORMEC's high performance, networked, multi-axis integrated motion controllers, of which thousands have been successfully installed in the field. Product philosophy behind the XD-Series centers on the critical importance of understanding application requirements and the ability to specify parameters, to achieve optimal motion control performance.

This series allows programming of 32 individual motion profiles, which can be mapped to I/O points, 1 or 2 functions per point, initiated via Modbus/TCP, and chained or looped together. The adaptable I/O, with 14 inputs and 8 outputs, can be mapped to change from position, velocity or torque modes during program execution. Motion can be synchronized with supported machine I/O, allowing for start, stop or trigger speed changes, with inputs at any point in the chain, and user-defined units for axis position speed and acceleration, further simplifying implementation. By employing an HMI or optional Fieldbus communication, the XD-Series allows motion parameter adjustments, remote commanded motion and real-time indexer status read capabilities. Communication setup may be accomplished via USB or Ethernet connections, with Modbus/TCP, Ethernet/IP, CANopen and Profibus-DP options. The XD-Series is available in 115, 230 and 460 VAC input power, with 3 to 60 amp continuous current ratings.

In addition, the XD-Series features a built-in Motor Wizard, which simplifies non-standard motor integration and enables users to quickly commission unproven motors. Once the program and motor data are loaded onto the indexer, configuration data is stored both in the indexer and on a removable memory card, greatly simplifying software transfer, duplication requirements, and hardware replacement needs. Software includes extensive support for monitoring and optimizing an application, allowing the application program to be quickly honed to perfection.

ORMEC's software tools can reduce conventional setup efforts, from what typically was days, to a matter of minutes, with the supplied pre-defined "load and go" application templates. The versatility and high-performance design of the XD-Series make it uniquely capable of handling a wide range of motion control applications, including Intelligent Conveyor Control, Pick and Place, Labeling, Flying Shear, Rotary Knives, Scanning, High Speed Printing, Part Storage and Retrieval, and many others. In addition, the unique built-in features of the XD-Series allow it to support otherwise difficult application requirements, such as Tension Control, Dual Loop Feedback, Registration, Gearing and others.

New transmission probe

Aabspec has released a new dual sample transmission probe for their #S and #SX multi-mode spectroscopy/ microscopy systems.

The probe is formed in a single piece of 316 stainless steel (no welds, no brazes) and provides lower thermal mass with integral sample temperature read-out. The #S and #SX provide the capability to compare two samples in the same experiment. Temperatures from –150degC to 600degC can be used with pressures from UHV to 1000psi.

Optical modes include FTIR using Transmission or Large Angle Reflectance with the option of UV irradiation. In addition, the #S and #SX provide Raman Spectroscopy and Microscopy. Applications include polymer, adhesive, catalyst and

Scottish power

Improving automation at twelve sites

PAS has announced that Scottish Power has selected its comprehensive alarm management and control performance software and services to improve the operations of twelve sites comprising gas-fired, coal-fired, and hydro-electric power generation stations.

Under the contract, PAS engineers will assess the performance of alarm management systems and control loops, and develop improvement plans for each individual plant. PAS will also install its PlantState Suite software at all sites, which will provide comprehensive alarm management and control performance functionality to facilitate the assessment, and improve the performance, of their systems. Upon completion of the project, Scottish Power will continue to utilise PlantState Suite to monitor and sustain the improvements.

"Scottish Power selected the PAS alarm management and control loop performance solutions after an exhaustive assessment of available technologies in the market," said Suzanne Mackay, Scottish Power Project Manager. "We believe that these technologies will best help us avoid abnormal operating situations, significantly improve the situation awareness of our plant operators, and provide better control of our plants

"In choosing PAS software and services, Scottish Power has taken a significant step in further advancing their leadership in Process safety, reliability, and performance." said Chris Lyden, PAS President. "We are proud to be their partner in this endeavour."

ELVIS @ university!

Standardised for new mechatronic engineering course

Kingston University (GB) recently purchased thirty NI ELVIS (National Instruments Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite) units to equip its state-of-the-art laboratories for its new Mechatronic Engineering course, which started in 2009.

“We chose to standardise on NI hardware and software tools in order to provide the best learning experience for our engineering students” said Gordana Collier, Senior Lecturer at Kingston University (in picture left with Robert Morton of National Instruments). “Our strategy is to adopt an ‘applied approach to teaching and research’ which was the driving force behind the investment. We are very passionate about hands-on, project-based learning being more engaging and producing better skilled, better prepared engineers for the workplace. NI ELVIS, LabVIEW and Multisim help us deliver this experience to students and more effectively support their learning.”

Mechatronics: An Integrated Approach
Clarence De Silva; available through ISA

This book offers a strong foundation in such core subjects as dynamic system modeling, electronic components and analysis, mechanical components and analysis, robotics, sensors/transducers and instrumentation, stepper motors, dc and ac motors and drives, hydraulic and pneumatic actuators, fluidics, automatic control, digital processing and hardware, communication and interfacing, software tools, design, and prototyping. Appendices provide additional background on Laplace and Fourier transform techniques, and software tools including MATLAB®, SIMULINK®, and LabVIEW®. The book emphasizes practical situations and applications with numerous worked examples, problems, and exercises. An entire chapter is devoted to practical case studies.
Head of School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, Professor Andrzej Ordys pointed out: “Our MSc in Mechatronics combines strong theoretical background with practical hands-on experience. We believe that this addresses the needs of students and employers. Moreover, we are seeing an ever increasing importance of applied electronics in virtually all engineering disciplines; for example in the automotive industry. Thus it is our imperative to enhance the electronics content and delivery in all our courses, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Furthermore, the NI equipment has already proven very useful in our research projects.”

NI ELVIS, based on National Instruments LabVIEW, features an integrated suite of twelve instruments in one compact form factor and is ideal for hands-on learning. Educators use it to teach concepts in circuit design, instrumentation, control, telecommunications and embedded/MCU theory.

Each unit in Kingston’s lab is accompanied by a Freescale microprocessor teaching board. Several experiments from Quansar, including an inverted pendulum are also used with NI ELVIS. A suite of fifteen National Instruments CompactRIOs have been deployed in research and teaching of advanced control.
“NI has always been passionate about enabling STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education and inspiring future engineers and scientists” said Robert Morton, National Instruments UK & Ireland Managing Director. “Now, more than ever, we believe universities need to deliver a healthy stream of innovative, creative and talented engineers and scientists to address some of the serious challenges industry, and the world, faces in the 21st Century. NI is proud to be able to supply tools to help universities do this.”

To continue developing the strong partnership between NI and Kingston University, National Instruments UK & Ireland is a regular participant in the Industrial Advisory Board, held at the University campus. The role of the Industrial Advisory Board is to shape and tailor university courses to meet industry needs, ensuring graduates achieve the relevant technical skills, knowledge and experience to take a proactive role in industry.