Saturday, March 13, 2010

Are we what we eat?

Image processing for automated sandwich sorting
Automating a process to check that the sandwiches packaged for sale in a supermarket correspond to what it says on the label was a challenge faced recently by Stemmer Imaging. The company undertook a feasibility study which required that the sandwich was imaged through the ‘clear’ plastic packaging, while the label on the packaging was also read.

Reproducible identification of sandwich contents and bread types was achieved using the Manto pattern recognition tool, which is part of Stemmer’s Common Vision Blox hardware independent machine vision toolkit. Manto is an object recognition tool that uses a neural technology resulting from research in the field of Artificial Intelligence, especially statistical learning theory.

Manto differs from other pattern recognition approaches because it allows, among other things, the recognition of organic forms and textures that show a high level of distortion or that are hard to reproduce. This makes it particularly well suited to this application as it copes well with applications where other methods of pattern recognition fail.

The system is trained to identify a particular sandwich type by presenting it with a series of training images of the sandwiches, until the system achieves acceptable levels of sandwich recognition. Unlike traditional neural network technology, Manto has the ability to use any number of training images, thus providing the ability to classify objects
with an accuracy not previously possible.

In the feasibility study, the system was successfully trained to recognize Cheese Ploughman’s, Cheese & Celery and Cheese & Bacon Club sandwiches.

Now back to your lunch!

Michell at Advanced Manufacturing

Showing smallest and fastest portable in range at mtec

Michell Instruments will be showing their smallest and fastest portable dew-point hygrometer at mtec, part of Advanced Manufacturing (Birmingham GB 27-28 April 2010). At just 21cm by 17cm, weighing 1.5kg, and with a battery life of up to 48 hours typical usage, it enables the user to take field moisture measurements with the minimum of fuss.

The MDM300 has an innovative ergonomic design, with all the buttons easily accessible while the instrument is held comfortably in both hands. All measurement parameters are available at the touch of a button and the password-protected set-up menu is simple to navigate and intuitive to use. Both instrument set-up and downloading of logged data are easy with a Bluetooth connection that comes as standard.

New developments in Michell’s ceramic sensor technology have dramatically reduced the response time for low dew points, allowing for many more measurements to be taken each day.

To maximize flexibility, external sensors can be easily connected and used to measure and display pressure and temperature. These parameters can also be used to provide pressure and temperature compensated measurements improving accuracy and allowing users to choose from a range of measurement parameters.

If you visit Michell at MTEC on stand 1340 see a demonstration of the MDM300, or for advice on moisture measurement and control. Michell have over 35 years of research and development in the field of moisture measurement, and have recently added a range of oxygen analyzers to their range of instruments.

Temperature measuring system to fly at Las Vegas!

Seica has just introduced "Flying IC Thermal Detection Units" on its line of Aerial flying probers. Two IC Thermal Detection Units, are positioned on each side of the unit under test to detect thermal parameters of ICs under power. The purpose is to compare temperatures of “known good” boards to “suspect” boards and indict bad components in the depot repair environment.
More about the Pilot Line
The Pilot line is one of the world's most versatile and complete line of automatic flying probe test systems, offering the widest range of solutions and performances for flying probe test of electronic boards on the market today. Models range from 2 to 8 test probes, accessing simultaneously one or both sides of the board, which can be positioned either horizontally or vertically.

The AERIAL Prober is based on Seica’s proprietary VIVA Integrated Platform (VIP) core hardware and software. Designed with today’s industry demands very much in mind, AERIAL’s simple programming and operation mean it can be operated by specialist and non-specialist test personnel alike as part of a highly cost-effective test strategy.

Ideal for testing prototypes, samples and small-to-medium production runs, AERIAL reduces the investment and time needed for board development while providing maximum test flexibility.

This is in part due to four completely independent, mobile test probes, two on each side of the test board, that enable simultaneous, accurate double-sided testing, while Seica’s proprietary OTPN (One Touch Per Net) technique quickly characterizes the net and identifies faults on subsequent test boards. Additional tests, such as junction fault verification, are executed at the same time, simplifying and speeding up test program generation and maximizing fault coverage and throughput.

Data collection and statistics functions come as standard, and the system’s capabilities can be further expanded with optional in-circuit test and visual inspection software modules.

Through the VIP environment, the system is also fully compatible with Seica’s PILOT Flying Probe, and its STRATEGY In-circuit and VALID Functional testers, making AERIAL even more versatile. All of this is packed into a compact yet easy-to-load system that, depending on the model, can accommodate large boards up to 24” x 20” in size
Seica is the first flying prober OEM to introduce this feature on its line of flying probers.

Introducing thermal sensors with the traditional features already present on flying probers, such as in-circuit, functional, boundary scan and power up test make the flying prober a continuing evolving test tool to satisfy the demanding test needs of the production and depot repair markets.

In the market today, there are instances of large 'bone piles' of boards that require many hours of debug and testing by skilled senior technicians or engineers to return them to operational condition. The IC Thermal Detection Unit capabilities allows for precise thermal measurement of the IC or other components while the part is powered up even under low voltage conditions. The simplicity of a thermal profile test can help reduce labor repair cost and improve inventory turnover.

The company is showing this new feature for the first time at IPC Apex Expo™ (Las Vegas NV US 6-8 April 2010).

Long-travel threaded test probe

The new P31/G test probe from Peak Test Services features a long plunger and a travel distance of 14.3 mm, making it ideally suited to test applications where contact has to be made deep inside a connector.

The P31/G is designed for mounting at 4 mm centres, and has a current ratingof 10 A. Serrated and flat head styles are available.
Mounting is made using the associated R31/G-S receptacle, which can be made airtight by closing the hole in the solder cup with solder.

A step version is available with the same dimensions for applications where the contact element position has to be set precisely.

Favorably priced solution to visualize process flows

Today, simple and cost-efficient solutions are required for the automated operation of machines and plants: With its web panels, based on web technology, Phoenix Contact is offering a simple and favorably priced entry-level solution for the visualization of process flows of machines and plants. The new HMIs are suitable for operator control and visualization – especially for smaller machines where complex system screens do not have to be visualized.

All web panels use the simple, intuitive Web Visit development environment to visualize process flows. In this case, the compact control, for instance the ILC 130 ETH control, which is connected with the web panel, acts as a web server for data processing and visualization. Data can be displayed on the web panel connected via Ethernet using the micro-browser that is integrated in the panel.

The WP 04T web panel with 3.5” TFT touch color display and WP 06T with 5.7” TFT touch color display supplement the controls of the 100-type class to facilitate cost-efficient visualization. These devices can also be combined with other controls of the automation system.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Connector series with tripled voltage transfer capability

Hartings's surface-mount compatible series of DIN 41 612 connectors now has triple the voltage transfer capability of earlier versions.

This performance gain has been achieved through the use of special plastics featuring higher values of CTI (comparative tracking index: a measure of insulation capability defined by Underwriters Laboratories). These new plastics comply with the Group II specification, with a CTI of between 400 and 600, while the standard plastics are classified as Group IIIa or IIIb,
with a CTI of between 100 and 400. Given a creepage distance of 1.2 mm, the voltage between two adjacent contacts can amount to 160 V: considerably higher than the usual 50 V.

The new connectors are available in types C, 2C, 3C, B, 2B, 3B, R, 2R and F. Additional construction types and sizes are available on request.

New brochure to clean up!

Emerson Process Management has published a new brochure that describes Fisher® cavitation control for dirty service applications. The brochure introduces four Fisher technologies that can be used in severe liquid flow conditions. They include the NotchFloTM DST control valve, Dirty Service Trim (DST), DST-G control valve, and 461 angle valve. Cutaway images and product data are included in the brochure.

Download here (pdf)

More about Fisher Severe Service.

Digital multimeter technical library on CD

Keithley Instruments has published a digital multimeter (DMM) technical library for engineers and researchers who use DMMs for a wide range of applications. This CD-based library includes more than 100 documents, including measurement tips, application notes, and product selection guides.

Choosing the right DMM instrument has a direct effect on a measurement’s integrity and repeatability. Keithley’s “Digital Multimeter Technical Library: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Most out of Your DMM” explains the differences in instrument categories, specifications, and intended applications that will help guide engineers to the right instrument for the job. A free copy is available on request.

In addition to a technical overview of DMMs and their applications, the CD provides application notes with detailed advice on specific areas, such as data acquisition with Ethernet, switching, temperature measurements, and interfacing with IVI drivers, LXI and SCPI protocols, and SQR programming.

The digital multimeter technical library features helpful tips on overcoming common problems encountered by DMM users, as compiled by Keithley’s experienced customer support team. These include errors in low voltage, low current measurements, low resistance measurements, noisy readings, and reading drift.

In addition, the library offers 13 application notes covering the use of DMMs for airbag test systems, audio analysis, automotive electrical systems, connectors, flat panel displays, power supplies, synchrotrons, and wireless devices. Detailed information on the considerations for selecting a DMM are provided, including general purpose, high performance, and application-specific DMMs, as well as DMMs with integrated switching capabilities.

Torque transducers provide wide range of in-stock options

Datum Electronics successful M420 Series rotary torque transducers are now available from stock in a wide range of sizes and intermediate torque ranges.

The M420 Series transducers are currently in use in over 50 countries performing torque measurement tasks over many differing applications in the marine, defence, process and general engineering industries. Accurate, reliable and competitively priced with resistance to oil, grease, dust, etc., they are ideal solutions for most general test rig applications.

To meet customer needs with the minimum of delay, the range is available in 6 body sizes, 5 of these from stock. In addition, a number of intermediate torque ranges are offered with each body size. The smallest Size 1 providing no less than four options: 0-10Nm, 0-25Nm, 0-50m and 0-100Nm. The remainder of the range provide at least two options, starting at 0-250Nm on Size 2 and rising to 0-20,000Nm on Size 5. The bespoke Size 6 offers a range of 0- 80,000Nm.

Transmitting signal output as RS232 data, Datum Electronics M420 Series transducers are designed to provide you with highly stable, noise immune, easily accessible and accurate results. The M420 Series will interface directly with control systems, logging systems or a PC through an optional USB converter.

Wirelesss starter gets smarter!

Adapter and wireless position monitors to deliver once-stranded process and diagnostics data from instruments and valves

Emerson Process Management has expanded its configurable Smart Wireless Field Starter Kit to include the Smart Wireless THUM Adapter and Wireless Position Monitors. These WirelessHART devices easily convert wired HART instruments and valves into wireless, for delivery of once stranded data improving plant performance and safety.

Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology is currently deployed in thousands of installations across industries and world regions. The new THUM adapter and wireless position monitor enable plants to wirelessly access digital information from HART instrumentation points and valves that were previously limited to single-variable analogue communications.

The THUM Adapter easily retrofits on any existing two- or four-wire HART device to enable transmission of measurement and diagnostics information not available using analogue-only communications. Users now have the opportunity to make any HART device wireless, enabling new measurement variables. Users can then gain access to advanced instrument diagnostics, remotely manage devices, monitor device health, efficiently gather data from multivariable devices and enable enhanced valve capabilities.

Emerson’s Wireless Position Monitors use non-contact technology to detect linear and rotary movement on many types of equipment, including valves, sliding stem regulators, displacement and float level sensors, and relief valves. They provide percent-of-span feedback, similar to a position transmitter, and on/off or open/closed feedback using two limit switches. The wireless position monitors can also monitor device temperature.

Both devices are now available as part of Emerson's expanded Smart Wireless starter kit, an easy-to-configure suite of Smart Wireless technologies and services that gives users a low-risk way to gain practical experience with wireless. The kit can be ordered online and includes any combination of five or more wireless pressure, temperature, DP level, DP flow, vibration, or pH transmitters and discrete switches together with any combination of wireless enabling THUM Adapters and Wireless Position Monitors, to collect previously untapped process and diagnostics data.

The kit also includes a secure, robust Smart Wireless Gateway and AMS™ Suite predictive maintenance software, which delivers diagnostic information from the wireless devices. There is also an AMS Wireless SNAP-ON™ application which enables easy design of wireless networks, as well as network and device diagnostics information. SmartStart™ Services provide a full network health assessment to ensure robust communications plus verification of device functionality and output to the user’s Modbus, OPC, Ethernet or other communications system.

No site surveys, front end engineering design, or special tools are required to implement a wireless network using the kit. Everything can be installed and commissioned within minutes and users can easily add additional devices to their wireless network.

See also CHARMS gets THUMS up in Rijswijk!

Unique training experience for British automation people

The PROFIBUS Group has announced that Manfred Popp, author of three influential books on industrial communications - The Rapid Way to PROFIBUS, The Rapid Way to PROFINET, and Industrial Communication with PROFINET - will be presenting a PROFINET Product Development course in Manchester (GB) on 5th May.

Ethernet basics PROFINET basics
• Device model and addressing
• From engineering to start-up
PROFINET: unsynchronised communication
• PROFINET IO, RT classes, and UDP/IP communication
• Data exchange, diagnosis and alarms
PROFINET: synchronised communication
• Isochronous real-time
Static device description
• Parameterisation via GSD
Dynamic device description
Tool Calling Interface (TCI)
PROFINET features and service
• Redundancy, topology display
• PROFIsafe, iPar-Server, device replacement without engineering stations
Development kits
The training course is for both PROFINET product developers and for a wide range of audience who want to know PROFINET and industrial Ethernet. The course content is carefully selected to fit into a one-day schedule and contains the most important aspects of PROFINET (see box on right!). The course has been delivered in Germany for a number of years and will be a unique experience for the British audience.

PROFINET uses Industrial Ethernet as communication medium and has many advantages if you want to bring Ethernet and Internet to the factory floor. However, the office world where Ethernet has been so successful is very different from the industrial world where electrical shocks, humidity, high temperature, moving parts, and EMR are constantly present. Not only the cables, connectors, and switches have to be industrialised (e.g. using rugged and metal housing) but also the multiple protocols worked so well for the Internet have to be selected and extended to meet the requirements for determinism and speed. With both TCP/IP and real-time protocols, PROFINET will be the future backbone network linking lower level fieldbus instruments and upper level enterprise functions making information technology an increasingly integral part of the automation industry.

Manfred will show developers how PROFINET works and how PROFINET solves real-time communication utilising and enhancing the existing Ethernet protocols.

Safety management certified

Three of the newly certified engineers at Hima-Sella: (from left) Chris Parr,Carl Toft, James Hibbert

Four engineers at systems integration specialist Hima-Sella have successfully completed the TÜV Functional Safety (FS) Certification Course, led by global functional safety expert Clive Timms.

To achieve certification, James Hibbert, Tim Marsden, Chris Parr and Carl Toft all completed an intensive three day course and gruelling four hour exam. The prestigious TÜV FS Engineer certification equips participants with the knowledge to fully understand and master the application, principles and requirements of IEC 61508 (functional safety of electrical, electronic and programmable electronic safety systems) and IEC 61511 (functional safety: safety instrumented systems for the process sector).

Hima-Sella’s functional management safety team now comprises Nigel Banner and Ian Parry, both TÜV certified in 2008, James Hibbert and Chris Williams. In recognition of certification, Marsden, Parr and Toft are appointed as Principal Engineers , joining the team to provide advice and technical expertise in-house at Hima-Sella and externally to clients.

Hima-Sella managing director Ian Wright comments, “Congratulations to all four engineers on their recent successes. Strengthening our functional safety management team by appointing engineers with the highest standard of safety expertise and knowledge underscores our commitment to provide the most reliable safety solutions in key industries such as nuclear and oil & gas.”

As well as its success with TÜV certification, at the annual Hazardex awards held in Harrogate (GB) in February, Hima-Sella was one of two runners up in the User Application category for designing and commissioning the first HIMax safety system in Britain at a major UK refinery.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tight production system integration with enterprise systems for visibility from top to shop floor

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of Proficy® Open Enterprise 1.2, an out-of the box solution that connects enterprise systems and the Proficy suite of software. Built on top of Proficy SOA and utilizing the breakthrough architecture of Proficy Workflow, Open Enterprise allows bi-directional messages to and from enterprise systems so companies can integrate data at the business level with the plant floor driving additional visibility into the manufacturing process to help with better decision-making and customer responsiveness.

“Companies are looking for ways to integrate their plants with their enterprise systems. Proficy Open Enterprise allows real-time order information to be shared between the various systems that require this information,”
said Sheila Kester, General Manager, Operations Management Software for GE Intelligent Platforms. “The tight integration with the production process allows users to see the status of orders, level of inventory change as well as performance of the process. The real advantage is having one version of the truth – with information available when and where it is needed.”

When combined with other Proficy solutions, including Proficy Plant Applications and Proficy Workflow, Proficy Open Enterprise becomes integral to a total solution to help companies gain visibility into the production process and understand the status of an order, efficiently execute those orders, and provide Manufacturing Intelligence, analytics, genealogy and traceability information. The system can also identify and resolve issues with production orders, download schedule data into Production Systems for order execution, provide timely reporting on production results and help operators to understand what material has been consumed to assure prompt reorder.

Proficy Open Enterprise allows decision makers at the enterprise layer to have real time information about production processes. This visibility helps to highlight issues on the floor, material needs as well as any errors that should be highlighted. In addition, it has the ability to upload performance information to corporate enterprise systems to allow business level visibility into what products have been built or consumed.

Built on B2MML and ISA-95 standards, Proficy Open Enterprise enables easy integration with enterprise systems providing a quick time to value for users. A full B2MML Object model is available for customization of solution. In addition, no coding is required which will allow faster time to deployment.

“Proficy Open Enterprise helps users run ‘Leaner’ by providing information about the actual consumption of materials,”
said Kester. “Inventory reordering occurs when actually needed which can result in a significant cash savings.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grant for SMEs announced

National Instruments has announced a grant programme to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in embedded development. Starting in 2009, National Instruments UK and Ireland began offering very low cost training and certification to unemployed scientists and engineers to help them develop skills to aid in finding employment. In 2010, recognising that many of the innovative advances in technology over the past 20 years have been developed by small, entrepreneurial companies, the company is offering grants for software, support and training to micro, small and medium-sized companies (often known collectively as SMEs) that are developing embedded devices in areas such as medical, energy and green engineering.

Knowing that SMEs often have limited resources, they have created a grant programme that will award up to £25,000 (ca €26.6k) in software, support and training to selected SMEs that are evaluating the NI platform as a component of their devices. The goal of the new grant programme is to help these companies reduce the cost and complexity of development by providing them with technology such as the National Instruments LabVIEW graphical programming environment. The National Instruments software and hardware platforms for graphical system design are ideal for accelerating the design, validation and implementation of new concepts. The LabVIEW graphical programming environment makes system development faster and more intuitive, opening embedded development to scientists and engineers who are experts in their fields but not necessarily in traditional embedded software. When LabVIEW is used together with the FPGA-based CompactRIO architecture it enables the use of the latest embedded technology without the need for costly custom designs.

"National Instruments UK and Ireland is committed to supporting innovation," said Robert Morton, Managing Director. "Through this grant programme, National Instruments is supporting scientists and engineers based in the UK and Ireland who are developing innovative solutions to the grand challenges the world faces in energy, sustainability and healthcare .”

National Instruments UK and Ireland will accept applications throughout 2010. To apply for the programme, SMEs must provide documentation on the company and the project and participate in an interview.

Best managed company

QUMAS, leading provider of Compliance Solutions to highly regulated companies, has won the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Award.

At a Gala Awards Symposium held on Friday 5th March at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin and attended by the Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen T.D., QUMAS was named as one of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies by Deloitte. The Deloitte Best Managed Companies awards program, in association with Bank of Scotland (Ireland), was developed to recognize Irish companies operating at the highest levels of business performance. The program identifies the best managed companies through an evaluation process that extends far beyond financial results.

“We are delighted to receive this accolade from Deloitte”, said Kevin O’Leary, CEO Qumas. “As a profitable and growing indigenous Irish company, we are very proud of our success and growth, particularly in these challenging times. This achievement recognizes the commitment and dedication of the QUMAS management team to making the company a global success”.

As Qumas continues to confirm its clear dominance in the Regulatory Compliance marketplace, it’s thought leadership and world class solutions continue to attract repeat business from its client base as well as a broad range of new clients from many regulated sectors. An Irish company, it operates at a global level, with over 95% of its revenues coming from outside the domestic market.

Picture shows Taoiseach (Head of Government Ireland) Brian Cowan, left with Kevin O'Leary, Qumas.

Flying penguins!

Festo’s famous bionic AirPenguins (Video) will be flying at The Gadget Show Live. Visitors can watch the popular Channel Five TV (GB) show’s presenters perform a live version of the TV programme, and attend a range of special theatres and features to gain insight into top gadgets of the past, present and future, as well as see the Festo penguins fly.

A Festo AirPenguin can also be seen in the event’s Future Tech Zone, which is designed to provide people with a personal and interactive glimpse into the future. Steve Sands, Festo’s Marketing Manager, will be on hand to answer questions about the robotic technology behind the penguins and the likely impact of such biomechatronic systems on future automation.

The Future Tech Zone will also feature Festo’s AirMotion Ride, which is a six-axis simulator capable of reproducing all the dynamic thrills of driving a racing car around a challenging circuit. All movement of the participant’s seat is controlled by Festo fluidic muscles, which are powerful pneumatically-powered actuators capable of exceptionally fast and smooth operation. It can be just as much fun – some might even say more – watching people on the simulator, as it is actually experiencing the ride.

More information about Festo’s AirPenguins is on the website here. As well as detailed downloadable technical information about the AirPenguins, this page contains links to other bionic delights, including their associates, the AquaPenguins. There’s even a link to Channel Five’s website, showing what happened when one of the Gadget Show‘s presenters visited Festo’s headquarters in Germany last year, and went swimming with the AquaPenguins.

Raman images and analysis become even easier

The XploRA™ Raman microscope has been launched with the ground breaking SWIFT confocal Raman image operation from HORIBA Scientific, and will enable this compact analytical Raman spectrometer to enter into the realm of the research microscope.

The XploRA™ is a new concept in Raman microscopy, bringing Raman chemical identification directly to your microscope. High resolution light microscopy is effectively coupled to uncompromised Raman spectroscopy in one unique, compact package.

The system provides the established performance of HORIBA Scientific Raman microscopes at a surprising price. Combining microscopy and chemical analysis the XploRA™ retains the full functionality of your microscope coupled with high performance Raman spectroscopy.
The new SWIFT functional expands the possibilities of this groundbreaking instrument still further providing much faster and higher definition images than one would expect from an “analytical” Raman microscope.

Compact and rugged in design, the XploRA™ is easy to use and transport due to its minimal footprint, so it is the ideal smart microscope for every R&D, QA/QC and forensic lab. Now you can explore the true nature of your sample with rapid compound identification and chemical imaging, with no sample preparation and analysis in normal ambient conditions. This non-destructive technique of analysis will transport you into a new dimension of microscopy.
Intuitive operation through new fully compliant software modules including GO!™ the Guided Operation wizard ensures complete ease of use and gets you up to speed immediately.
The XploRA is the complete analytical Raman microscope so come and see it in operation at Microscience 2010, stand F9.

Torque tension testing

RS Technologies, part of PCB Piezotronics, has introduced LabMaster Portable Model 3210 for joint analysis torque-tension testing. Manufacturers who use threaded fasteners to assemble their products can benefit by using this system to verify the performance of their fasteners.

The LabMaster Portable is designed to test threaded fasteners and evaluate fastener coatings, lubrication, finish, and plating. The system will also analyze bolted joints and certify power tools. Combined with a torque-angle sensor and a thread torque-fastener tension research head the following measurements can be made: input torque, angle of fastener rotation, clamp load, and thread torque. Specific calculations can then be performed, including: thread friction torque, underhead friction torque, torque tension coefficient (T = KDF), thread friction coefficient, and underhead friction coefficient. The LabMaster also calculates statistics for a series of tests such as Standard Deviation, ±3 Sigma, Cp, and Cpk.

The LabMaster Portable comes with LabMaster for Windows® testing software, which uses a USB port to interface with a customer-provided laptop or desktop PC.

The system includes a durable hard shell case enclosure designed to survive a variety of manufacturing environments, a 4-channel data acquisition card that provides high-speed sampling, and a signal conditioning card compatible with most strain gage transducers and high-level devices.

Test setup is quick and easy employing full Windows® functionality with drop-down menus and point-and-click features. After set up, the LabMaster Portable module conducts data acquisition operations providing a real-time display to the operator. After the test is complete, the recorded data can be printed, plotted, and saved on the computer or archived on a network drive. Data can also be exported to Excel for further analysis.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Measurement of forces underwater

When approached by a customer to measure in harsh environments including submersion in water due to flooding and in high humidity conditions, Applied Measurements were able to supply an off-the-shelf solution in the form of their DDEN series of loadcells.

Designed for the measurement of tensile or compressive forces in underwater locations of up to 10m depth, the DDEN loadcell is particularly suitable for cable monitoring applications such as mooring tension in buoys, mast stays on yachts or within the water industry during the clearing of blockages within underground pipes.

Constructed from Stainless Steel and protected internally with an inert waterproof gel, the electrical termination is a tough IP68 multicore cable that connects through an IP68 cable gland, to complete to fully submersible sealing. The DDEN series of loadcells come with integral male threads for in-line mounting.

This compact design means that the dimensions of the standard product remains the same through the range with an outside diameter of just 44mm, enables it to be mounted in a wide variety of applications where conventional loadcells will not fit.

The DDEN, as with all their other sensors can be supplied complete with control electronics and calibrated as a system. A version fitted with an integral amplifier is also available and designated the DDENA, to provide a conditioned voltage or current output signal.

Transmitters convert up to three measurements into wireless signals

Honeywell has added universal input/output (I/O) transmitters to its family of XYR™ 6000 wireless products. The transmitters allow manufacturers to wirelessly monitor more plant points with fewer devices. By transmitting signals from up to three different types of inputs – including measurement devices with a high-level analog, temperature or milli-volt, or contact-closure switch input – the XYR 6000 Universal I/O transmitters can help plants save up to 30 percent in costs over similar devices that can transmit signals from only two inputs.

This XYR 6000 family of transmitters, which includes a version that can transmit up to two inputs and provide a local discrete output, is ideal for applications such as wirelessly monitoring level switches, pump status and system alarms. The devices also carry intrinsically safe approvals from FM Global and the Canadian Standards Association for use in hazardous areas.

“More manufacturers today are considering wireless monitoring to improve asset management while saving costs, but converting to a wireless infrastructure isn’t always easy,” said Raymond Rogowski, global product marketing manager wireless, Honeywell Process Solutions. “Devices such as the XYR 6000 Universal I/O Transmitter can ease the transition to wireless and help plants reap the overall safety, equipment reliability and process efficiency benefits that come with it.”

The new devices complement the other wireless transmitters in Honeywell’s XYR 6000 product line, which includes transmitters for: absolute, gauge and differential pressure, temperature, analog input, discrete inputs, corrosion monitoring and valve position. These devices are critical elements of Honeywell’s overall OneWireless™ solution, the company’s industrial wireless mesh network designed to meet ISA100.11a hardware requirements. The network can simultaneously support thousands of devices – including various transmitters, mobile operator technology and physical security equipment – to more efficiently monitoring processes, assets and people.

Sensors for water treatment

Water treatment applications place high demands on pressure and level measuring instruments. For these applications, Baumer offers robust sensors which are suitable for high vibrations as well as for the use with aggressive media. For example, sensors made of seawater-resistant Hastelloy C and with a ceramic sensing element are available for desalination plants. Flush mount versions are offered for sewage applications. The devices can be easily configured on PC via the FlexProgrammer 9701.

Pressure and level measuring devices for water treatment applications have to be extremely robust. First of all, this concerns the materials used in instruments that are in contact with aggressive or corrosive media in applications such as desalination plants or sewage sludge processing. In addition, the devices have to be highly resistant against vibrations which are generated continuously for example in applications with volumetric pumps. Further challenges are the formation of foam, suspended solids, and condensation in tanks.

For these challenges, Baumer offers an extensive portfolio of pressure and level sensors mounted in a stainless steel – or optionally Hastelloy C or Monel – housing. They are available with a wide range of process connections and galvanically isolated output signals. They are extremely resistant against shocks and vibration and feature high temperature resistance, accuracy and long-term stability. Products ideally suitable for applications in water treatment plant include the submersible probe ED752 for hydrostatic depth measurement, the new pressure transmitters of the modularly constructed PB series, the digital pressure switch TED, the level detection device FlexLevel Switch and the ultrasonic sensors UNAR and UFAR. The measuring devices can be configured on-site in the application surrounding.

Furthermore, Baumer offers chemicals seals made of Monel or Hastelloy C in order to separate pressure switches like the TED50 from aggressive media. This solution is already used in many reverse osmosis processes used for desalting seawater. Thanks to its high vibration resistance of 1.5 mm (10…55 Hz) and 20 g (55 Hz…2 KHz) according to the EN 60068-2-6 standard, the measuring device is also used in many other water treatment processes such as ultra-filtration in urban waste water treatment plants.

EMEA distributor of the year

Farnell has been presented with the 2009 EMEA Distributor of the Year Award by Honeywell Sensing & Control. The important award recognises the high levels of sales and service performance achieved by Farnell during what was a challenging year for the electronics industry.

Farnell offers over 2,000 products from Honeywell Sensing & Control’s range of electromechanical switches and electronic sensing solutions to support designs in sectors such as medical, aerospace & defence, industrial & transportation. Their website offers easily accessible product data backed by comprehensive technical support to help design engineers quickly choose the most suitable Honeywell Sensing & Control product for their applications. The element14 online technology portal and e-community for design engineers also enables valuable design information and inputs to be gathered to support the design process.

“This award provides recognition of the great working relationship forged between Honeywell Sensing & Control and Farnell,” said Mike Buffham, Director of Product and Supplier Management, Farnell. “By aligning and focusing on the execution of our strategies, we have been able to provide excellent support and service to our design engineering customer base during what have undoubtedly been very challenging times for the industry as a whole.”

“Farnell’s sales in the Honeywell EMEA distribution channel outperformed in a down market,” said Sean Conley, Director of Global Distribution. “Honeywell is pleased to recognize Farnell for their new customer acquisition activities. Their innovations in online marketing serve as a great foundation for success as they serve the design engineering community."

Medium voltage power products to support network upgrade

ABB has signed a $12 million framework agreement to supply medium voltage power equipment to ESB Networks, Ireland’s nationwide power distribution utility.

The four-year framework agreement includes supply of 24 kV SafeRing Ring Main Units (RMUs) to help upgrade the utility’s secondary distribution network across Ireland and follows a similar previous agreement completed with ESB.

“This reaffirms ESB’s faith in ABB’s products and the excellent performance of SafeRing in particular”, said Markus Heimbach, global head of the Medium Voltage Products business a part of the company’s Power Products division.

The upgrade will contribute to more efficient and reliable power distribution and help meet local consumer needs. The SafeRing units will also contribute to enhanced safety and are virtually maintenance-free.

ESB Networks is the licensed operator of the electricity distribution system in the Republic of Ireland and is responsible for building, operating, maintaining and developing the electricity network and serving electricity customers across the country.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 117,000 people.

Maintenance free torque sensor

Building on its worldwide reputation for high precision sensors, Kistler Instruments has developed a range of value for money sensors aimed specifically at manufacturing, production and quality assurance applications.

The latest new product is the Type 4520A contactless, low maintenance torque sensor at around the same price as slip-ring types, typically less than £1,500 (€1670 ca). Using non-contact signal transmission eliminates wear making the new sensor exceptionally robust and maintenance free, even in continuous use.

Ten models are available with rated torque from 1 to 1,000 Nm each with class 0.5 accuracy at speeds up to 10,000 rpm. Output is the standard ±10 V plus a speed signal of 60 pulses/rev and a remotely switchable 100% test function.

The new Kistler torque sensor range is ideal for static and dynamic torque measurement in production, quality control and research and development applications.

Accelerometer with digital temp compensation

Meggitt Sensing Systems has announced the global market launch of Endevco® model 7290E, a high-precision variable capacitance accelerometer with integral digital temperature compensation, designed for accurate measurement of low-frequency events and offering best-in-class thermal zero shift and sensitivity shift performance.

Available in seven different models, ranging from 2 to 150 g, the model 7290E incorporates a patented variable capacitive sensing element (US patent numbers 4,574,327; 4,609,968; and 4,999,735), with gas damping and internal over-range stops, which enable the transducer to withstand high shock and acceleration loads. Available in a wide range of excitation voltages and choice of either differential or single ended output, as well as cable length, Endevco® model 7290E offers +0.2% FSO typical non-linearity and hysteresis for most ranges, with superior frequency response, enabling the sensor to provide the highest level of measurement accuracy available on the market today, In addition, the Endevco® model 7290E is covered by a five-year comprehensive product warranty.

With its exceptional bandwidth, precision accuracy and high shock survivability, the Endevco® model 7290E is ideal for use in aircraft flight and flutter testing, automotive rough road body motion studies, suspension systems tests, railroad testing and train tilt control, centrifugal force, launch loading and acceleration, and short-term navigation. Recommended accessories for use with model 7290E include Endevco® model 136 signal conditioner and the model 7990 triaxial mounting block.

Endevco are exhibiting at Britain's leading instrumentation event Advanced Manufacturing UK in April.

EX i isolation amplifier with SIL and Zone 2 certs

Phoenix Contact has added two new modules to its range of safety-relevant applications: The repeater power supply PI-EX-RPSS and the isolation amplifier PI-EX-AIS correspond to the requirements of EN 61508 for Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 and have been available since autumn 2009.

The modules, which are certified as associated intrinsically safe equipment, also have protection type EX n and can therefore also be installed as electrical equipment in Zone 2. This extends the options for users when it comes to flexible installation concepts.

Both modules belong to the pluggable PI-EX product line for potentially explosive areas according to protection type EX i – which permits efficient and versatile control cabinet solutions. Combination with the basic terminal block allows direct installation at the switching level of the control cabinet as well as pre-wiring of the modules, which are just 12.4 mm wide.

The required electronics can then also be subsequently plugged in. Alternatively, motherboards are available as additional basic elements, with which system cabling can be established.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rational machines in factory automation

The International Society of Automation (ISA) announces that its ongoing publishing partnership with O3neida has produced a new technical publication, Domain Ontologies for Reasoning Machines in Factory Automation, by Jose L. Martinez Lastra, Ivan M. Delamer, and Fernando Ubis.

This is the first book dedicated to the exciting topic of “Knowledge Representation and Reasoning Machines.” It introduces the concept of ontology as a way to represent formal knowledge using logic constructs. It then presents a methodology for building domain ontologies, and finally introduces logic reasoners and some of the tools available for editing domain ontologies.

The authors envisage future production platforms dynamically adaptable to market changes with a minimum of human involvement; therefore, they target reasoning machines that are able to collaborate and automatically reconfigure themselves to meet evolving production needs and achieve rapid product changeover. This autonomous behavior can only be accomplished when knowledge about processes, products, and industrial equipment is represented in a way that machines can understand. The work referenced was carried out at the Factory Automation Systems and Technologies Laboratory of the Department of Production Engineering at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland.

This volume is the latest in a series of seven books on automation technologies that was introduced in 2008 when the first book, IEC 61499 Function Blocks for Embedded and Distributed Control Systems Design, by Dr. Valeriy Vyatkin, was published. Two other books are scheduled for publication later in 2010.

Wikipedia on ontology!

HEPCOMotion at Advanced Manufacturing

The notion that any type of linear actuator can be chosen for any axis in an X-Y-Z system will be challenged by HepcoMotion at this year’s show (MBA). The demands on each of the axes vary considerably so a ‘one-type-fits-all’ approach will ultimately compromise performance, reliability and service life of the overall system.

On a specially developed demonstration unit, HepcoMotion will show that with the correct choice of linear actuator, each axis will operate optimally. The company has developed a family of actuators to address the different characteristics in each axis. If required, these elements can then be incorporated into a chassis made from its comprehensive MCS machine construction system and given intelligent control through HepcoMotion’s partnership with Smart Drive.

The demonstrator will show the HepcoMotion PDU2 linear actuator operating as the X-axis foundation of the system. This popular product features the ultra-high performance Herculane wheel technology in a compact and cost-effective belt driven unit.

As a Y-axis typically requires high load capacity and stiffness against twisting loads, the PDU2M with high moment load capacity will feature. And the needs of the Z-axis are different again, with enhanced linear force and higher gearing a common requirement.

The new PSD80 is the ideal choice for the task, with drive from a super-smooth stainless steel lead screw operating with a bearing polymer nut. It, too, uses Herculane wheel technology in a unit that is perfectly matched to the other axes in terms of performance, size and cost.

HepcoMotion supplies it X-Y-Z systems as individual parts, in kit form or as fully assembled units.

More exhibits at Advanced Manufacturing UK 27-28 April 2010

Delta Line at Advanced Manufacturing

Delta Line offers a wide variety of products, intended as either single motion products within an application or as a complete system. (MBA Exhibition)

Products include DC and BLDC motors, disc magnet, hybrid or tin can stepper motors, spur gear, planetary and customised gearboxes, encoders and intelligent drives for DC, BLDC or stepper motors.

Included in the line up are Portescap’s new Athlonix brush DC motors; compact, high-efficiency endurance motors that deliver unrivaled speed-to-torque performance in a compact lighter weight package with output power up to 9 W. They are available in 12, 16 and 22 mm frame sizes.

A typical 22 mm coreless motor operating at high load of 15mNm for 5,000 hours can see performance degrade due to the thermal heat it has generated, while at the same time having less power and less energy efficiency due to higher motor regulation factor. Athlonix motors have motor regulation factors that are lower by 5-20% than most comparative motors available, resulting in consistent power density over the motor life-time. As a result, they are ideally suited for use in automation applications such as medical analysers and electronic assembly that require constant pick-and-place operations during machining, assembly and scanning.

Also on show, the Portescap nuvoDisc flat brushless DC miniature motors with an incomparably small footprint (32 mm diameter and 11.7 mm long), nuvoDisc offers superior continuous speed, quick design integration and mechanical installation, and high reliability due to no mechanical wear because it’s a brushless motor and the ball bearings provide excellent life. And as a result of this slotless no cogging design, nuvoDisc benefits from minimal vibration.

Then there’s the new DPM high torque brushless 42 mm motor with integrated Hall sensors. The high energy permanent magnets used in the BLDC motors produce very high efficiency and acceleration with peak torque that can reach 1.44 Nm. The configuration of the stator (10 poles) increases the torque constant value up to 0.054 Nm/A. The DPM brushless range includes motors from 22 mm diameter up to 86 mm with a rated torque range from 8 mNm to 2.1 Nm and in lengths of 40 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm and 100 mm.

More exhibits at Advanced Manufacturing UK 27-28 April 2010

Weldlogic at Advanced Manufacturing

Weldlogic displays a computer-controlled arc-welding package developed to carry out precision automatic welding operations simply and accurately, while offering the flexibility to adapt to a wide range of weld configurations.

The dual process AWS-6100 system combines a set of proven components to provide a complete ‘ready-to-go’ package offering advanced levels of weld process control and automation.

Circumferential, longitudinal and spot welds can be made simply and with a minimum of operator training, says the company. Standard features include a choice of current from 0.1A to 200A for tungsten inert gas (TIG) or plasma welding, arc gap setting and distance control, arc start, multiple current levels, shield gas and back-up control and wire feed controls. All welding functions are synchronised from a single enclosure, putting everything at the operator’s fingertips.

Manufacturers dealing with heat-sensitive components can additionally benefit from AWS-6100’s ability to use the micro-TIG method rather than the traditional electron beam method. For example, automated computer-controlled production of medical devices such as surgical baskets, heart valves and biopsy needles can be carried out using low-level assembly heat to minimise mechanical distortion to the finished product. The manufacture of metal bellows used for conducting gas or liquid between two members that may be susceptible to vibration or sifting is another application for which significant benefits are claimed.

More exhibits at Advanced Manufacturing UK 27-28 April 2010

Hamamatsu at Advanced Manufacturing

Hamamatsu Photonics offers a wide range of CMOS linear image sensors for use in analytical instruments such as spectrophotometers and industrial process monitoring equipment. A new range of CMOS linear image sensors (dual inline and surface mount types) has recently been developed offering very high-speed response while maintaining high resolution.

The new S11105 series has 512 pixels with a 12.5 µm pitch giving an aspect ratio of 20:1, thus allowing 20 times the light collection area compared to conventional linear CCDs.

The CMOS arrays incorporate 512 individual photodiode elements with buffer amplifier, digital shift register (multi-plexor) and signal processing circuit (i.e. a correlated double sampling noise reduction circuit) all on the same “monolithic” silicon chip. The S11105 series has a high-speed readout of up to 50 MHz and an electronic shutter function to facilitate high speed imaging. Also both are provided with all the necessary clock generation functions on chip, making system design and implementation easier than ever!

The S11105 series are ideal for applications such as in-line product inspection, portable spectrometers, industrial process control, colour monitoring, medical diagnostics, distance measurement, optical encoders, blood analysers, optical scanners and water pollution analysers.

New this year is a 12-bit digital output colour sensor Photo IC. The S9706 device consists of a matrix photodiode array, coupled to a RGB (red, green and blue) filter matrix to give colour response. The device is combined with ‘in house’ CMOS processing electronics, all contained within a monolithic silicon chip. The output of the S9706 is in 12-bit digital format with the colour intensity of red, green and blue read out sequentially at potentially high speed.

The S9706 is easily operated with a standard 3.3V CMOS power supply and has higher speed and is much lower in cost than three colour image sensors. It is also highly accurate and is easier to implement than current discrete three colour photodiodes.

Hamamatsu has also recently introduced a new range of high power laser diode products. The single bar modules are capable of emission powers from 50 W to 200 W. Depending on the packaging option chosen, up to 75 bars can be stacked in one module, offering a maximum output power of over 11 kW. Various cooling methods are available, from water and Funryu active cooling to open heat sink types. Emission wavelengths including 792 nm, 915 nm and 980 nm, with many more in between easily achievable.

Also on show will be the new LC-L2 range of UV curing systems featuring new higher power UV LEDs (compared to those in the well-established LC-L1) that ensure a high stability light output is easily maintained over the 20,000 hour LED lifetime.

More exhibits at Advanced Manufacturing UK 27-28 April 2010