Friday, April 30, 2010

Acoustic sensors & instruments

New line of precision acoustic sensors and instrumentation


Meggitt Sensing Systems has introduced a new line of Endevco® acoustic sensors and instrumentation, designed expressly for use in automotive NVH, cabin noise, vibro-acoustic testing, appliance noise evaluation, wind tunnel testing and other critical sound and noise measurement applications.

Endevco® prepolarized condenser measurement microphones, available in 1/8”, ¼”, and ½” diameters, are offered in free-field, pressure, low-cost array and random incidence types and can be used to meet IEC and ANSI standards. Array microphones offer a lower overall per channel measurement cost and are directly compatible with ISOTRON® (IEPE-type) signal conditioning. They can be used as drop-in replacements within existing accelerometer test system set-ups for as-needed precision noise measurements. Models may be purchased as stand-alone units, or in a microphone and low-noise preamplifier combination with iTEDS on-board memory storage capabilities, facilitating their use within larger channel count applications. All microphones are constructed with a stainless steel protective grid case and housing, as well as a special stainless steel alloy diaphragm, for high reliability in a variety of application environments.

Available for use with these precision measurement microphones are a full range of low-noise ISOTRON® preamplifiers, handheld calibrators, and accessories. In addition, all acoustic sensors and instrumentation are covered by a five-year comprehensive product warranty.

Industrial cyber security advances!

-Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall addresses historical security challenges, improves interoperability of critical safety systems-

Invensys Operations Management has teamed with Byres Security Inc. and MTL Instruments to deliver a ground-breaking cyber security solution. The new Triconex® / TofinoTM OPC firewall will harden industrial safety systems against network accidents and attacks. It is the first firewall that protects integrated applications based on OPC Classic, the world's most widely used industrial integration protocol.

To enable greater interoperability of its Triconex safety systems, Invensys pioneered embedding OPC servers within its Tricon™ communications module (TCM). To ensure that these modules were cyber secure, Invensys teamed with Byres Security, which had recently introduced the world's first content inspection firewall for the MODBUS TCP protocol as part of Byres Security's Tofino product line, in order to create a firewall specifically for Triconex systems. The two companies then enlisted the services of MTL Instruments to build the security hardware. The result is the Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall, which is now available for Invensys customers using the Triconex TCM with the embedded OPC solution.

"Processors and manufacturers are continuously threatened by new and increasingly dangerous cyber attacks, which requires greater vigilance and security," said Joe Scalia, portfolio architect, Invensys Operations Management. "The Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall mitigates those risks by managing the traffic to and from the Triconex TCM, providing further assurance that a cyber incursion will not compromise integrated communications between the safety and critical control systems and supervisory HMI or distributed control systems. By tapping into the Invensys Operations Management ecosystem of partners and collaborating with the renowned experts from Byres Security and MTL, we co-innovated to resolve a crucial client challenge and help them achieve safety excellence."

The Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall provides security features developed specifically for Triconex and its embedded OPC Classic server to protect against malicious attacks and other threats to network operations. Users deploy the new firewall in front of the Triconex OPC server, thwarting attacks and traffic storms before they reach the safety and critical control system. It automatically mitigates risks related to previously published DCOM vulnerabilities, while providing packet management and rate limiting to prevent network traffic problems that could have an adverse effect on the stability of the safety system.

For many companies, good network reliability, like that provided by the Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall, is just as important as good security, and with its unique features and capabilities, the Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall can help avoid multi-million dollar accidents and untold environmental damage.

"Past plant shutdowns, for example, haven't been caused by hackers. Instead they were the result of badly configured software causing traffic storms that impacted critical controllers and other systems," said Eric Byres (pic right), security expert and technical officer at Byres Security. "The Triconex / Tofino OPC firewall does much more than block hackers and viruses from accessing the safety system. Its dynamic port management and built-in traffic-rate controls prevent many basic network problems from spreading throughout a plant."

"The next generation of the OPC Foundation interoperability specifications, the OPC Unified Architecture, incorporates similar cyber security protection, based on the excellent work of founding companies like Byres Security, MTL Instruments and Invensys," said Thomas J. Burke, president, OPC Foundation. "Launching the unique Invensys solution is the important milestone in demonstrating that users can secure the interoperability of OPC Classic within other applications without worrying about cyber security. As the use of OPC Unified Architecture expands, we look forward to collaborating with these market leaders to develop additional innovative, readily deployable solutions for the benefit of the entire OPC user community."

"We were pleased to join Invensys in developing a firewall for their industry-leading Triconex safety solutions," Byres said. "Together with MTL, we have delivered a solution that will improve plant safety and security, as well as enable manufacturers to deploy OPC to achieve new levels of interoperability for all of their operations, enabling, for example, tighter integration of safety and asset management systems to share data and help prevent trips."

See also Security beyond Plant Walls (29/7/2009)

Free drive configuration software enhanced with new features

Parker Hannifin, has released a new version of its cross-platform drive configuration package Drive System Explorer (DSE) Lite. Available as a free download, DSELite version 2.11 incorporates several new features and added support for the company’s newly introduced AC650S series compact sensorless AC drive for permanent magnet motor applications.

DSELite is an easy to use, block programming tool, with an intuitive user interface, for the configuration and commissioning of the company’s full range of AC and DC drives. In addition to supporting user defined configurations, it offers real time monitoring and charting. An online help function is available for the various drive function blocks.

In addition to support for the AC650S, new features in version 2.11 include the ability to perform online updates from within DSELite itself. The software includes an installation of the latest AC890 firmware, enabling users to take advantage of updated options boards and communications functions. Version 2.11 also offers improved download speeds for AC890 firmware.

DSELite 2.11 works under Windows 98, Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. It can be used with all current Parker SSD Drives products, as well as several legacy products.

Company makes History channel!

A revolutionary gas analyser from leading environmental instrumentation company Quantitech appeared in an episode of a major new History Channel series this week.

The Gasmet DX-4030 gas analyser, along with the company’s Dr Andrew Hobson, appeared in an instalment of the popular History Channel documentary series Ancient Discoveries that aired on Wednesday (28th April) evening.

The company was originally contacted by producers Wild Dream Films last year who were looking for instrumentation to measure toxic gases in air. Gas analysis on emissions from smouldering materials was featured in an episode that recreated the Roman siege of Ambracia in 189BC.

According to Wild Dream Films: “In Roman times there was a siege technique called sapping which involved the excavation of tunnels under fortresses walls in an attempt to destroy them. A method to prevent this was blowing toxic smoke from smouldering chicken feathers and charcoal into the tunnels. The Gasmet DX-4030 from Quantitech allowed us to measure the toxic gases this produced.

“By using the DX-4030 we found that the concentration of toxic gases was extremely high and potentially poisonous. The analyser was very easy to use and enabled us to shed new light on these siege prevention techniques.”

The DX-4030 is a new analyser based on tried and tested Gasmet technology providing both field-usability and high levels of analytical performance. The DX-4030 employs FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed Spectroscopy) analysis producing almost instantaneous readings for multiple compounds across a wide measurement range that extends to sub-ppm levels.

It is more commonly used for the analysis of workplace and process gases in applications as diverse as contaminated land, industrial hygiene and chemical spill response. For example, a number of the units were recently acquired by the Environment Agency for deployment in a multi-agency air quality cell that has been created to respond to major incidents affecting air quality.

Remote control causes revolution!

Remote control of Maple HMIs revolutionises automation processes
In a move that revolutionizes industrial automation and process control, Maple Systems has announced a new capability in their HMIs that allows them to be remotely controlled and monitored with laptops, desktop PCs, touch pads, and cell phones like the iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry.

HMIs are the human machine interfaces used to direct the controllers that run the automation processes of business and industry. When you can access your HMI remotely, you can command your control and automation process remotely.

Maple HMIs have a VNC (virtual network computing) server that makes that remote access possible. That means you can communicate with your Ethernet connected Maple HMI via any device that has internet access and a VNC client capability.

This capability provides an affordable option for operations of all sizes to access, monitor and control their automation process from afar. The bottom line is that you are no longer tethered to your machine or your process. You can access it from almost any location.

The guy who used to travel to six different pump stations can now monitor all of them via his cell phone. The custom glass manufacturer can monitor his furnaces when he's not on site. The vineyard operator can control his grape press while harvesting away in the field. This greatly expands the freedom of the operator while providing a new universe of logistical possibilities.
Maple Systems offers several sizes of HMIs with this remote operational capability including 7", 10.2", 10.4", 12", and 15" units. These award-winning HMIs come with bright high-resolution displays with 65 thousand colors (standard and widescreen), analog touchscreens with infinite touch points; USB, Serial and Ethernet ports; and an option to configure in either portrait or landscape mode.

Stemmer Imaging at Advanced Manufacturing UK

Contact image sensor technology for web inspection

Contact Image Sensors (CIS) offer an interesting alternative approach to conventional linescan cameras for industrial web applications such as the inspection of paper, textiles, glass or plastics. The technology offers significant advantages in terms of space requirements, ease of alignment, and resolution. With line rates up to 100 kHz, scanning widths up to 4 metres, very high resolutions and integral light sources, the CIS can be a very cost-effective choice in certain applications.

The CIS head consists of a lens array using graded rod lenses, with each individual lens capturing an image of a very small section of the target object. There are a wide range of resolution options available, from 25 dpi up to 3600 dpi with pixels sizes of 1mm down to 7µm. A clear, sharp image is produced along the narrow line of the sensor ‘head’, which is made up of silicon photodiodes using either CCD or CMOS technology.

Contact Image Sensors benefit from a flat construction, so that they fit into narrow spaces. They come as a system complete with optics, illumination and encoder logic and can be joined together to suit the resolution and width of the web with no reduction of line rate as the width increases. This provides a consistent viewing angle, sharpness and brightness across the width.

Integral LED line lights are pulsed to offer long operating lifetimes and maximise image quality. Built-in timer control includes encoder inputs for triggering and light control and is configured via RS232 or Ethernet. Signal processing allows for high data rates independent of the scanning width. Interface to the image processing system is via industry standard CameraLink or Gigabit Ethernet.

Contact Image Sensors operate with a fixed working distance (typically around 10 mm) and a depth of field of around 2-3 mm so are best suited for inspecting very flat objects where there is no vertical movement of the object at the point of inspection. Conventional linescan cameras, however, remain the preferred option for many applications, so it is important to get independent advice to make the best choice. STEMMER IMAGING is Europe’s largest independent supplier of vision technology and services to industrial and scientific OEMs, system integrators and reseller markets. In addition to a range of Contact Image Sensors, the company also offers cameras from the world leader in linescan technology and so can provide clear, independent advice as to what is the best solution for any particular web inspection application.

Displacement measurement near corrosive fluids

Measurements in many industrial processes, paper mills and marine locations call for transducers immune to the proximity of various chemicals and corrosive fluids. Measurement specialists RDP Electronics Ltd has developed a range of LVDTs that are at home in such corrosive environments.

RDP can manufacture LVDTs of stainless steel construction and typically fully welded. Where the operating environment is expected to be particularly corrosive then 316 ‘marine grade’ stainless steel can be used.

UL approval for signal conditioner

UL 508, the safety standard for industrial control equipment, covers requirements for:
• Devices rated 1500 volts or less;
• Products intended for use in an ambient temperature of 0-40°C (32-104°F).
UL has long-standing expertise in product safety testing and certification for industrial equipment products in accordance with the North American and IEC/EN standards.
Moore Industries has certified the award-winning line of miniMOORE Multi-Channel Signal Conditioners through Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL®). The 2-channel MIT and the 2- and 4-channel MIX miniMOORE™ products now meet UL 508 criteria—the UL safety standard for industrial control equipment. miniMOORE Signal Conditioners have received UL approval under NMTR.E159337 for [Industrial Control Equipment] Power-circuit and motor-mounted apparatuses.

miniMOORE products are now approved to be mounted in UL 508 cabinets for use in ordinary locations in accordance with the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70.

For systems integrators and panel shops, the miniMOORE approvals team acquired the UL 508 certification to make multi-channel signal conditioners more appealing for UL 508 cabinet installations.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Electrical T & M

A CD guide to understanding electrical test and measurement

Keithley Instruments has released a tutorial CD that offers practical and helpful techniques for obtaining the most accurate and precise measurements possible.

Keithley's A Guide to Understanding Electrical Test and Measurement CD is the most in-depth knowledge center that Keithley has ever created, and covers all aspects of measurement performance, including how to troubleshoot, how to connect, how to select instruments and much more. It is downloadable from their site.

The CD contains a large number of application notes, white papers and webcasts on a wide variety of test and measurement topics. Instrument options cover digital multimeters, source and measure instruments, and function/pulse/arbitrary/pattern generators. Application examples range from accelerated stress testing to wireless device testing, with many topics covered by multiple articles.

This CD will be useful to those looking for specific information on instrument selection and setup or on applications in multiple areas and in multiple industries, and to anyone who wants a ready reference on the use of instrumentation in a multitude of areas.

New lab conference

The organisers of WWEM 2010, (10/11 November 2010, Telford, England), the world’s largest environmental monitoring event, have announced that this year's event will include a dedicated Conference for the laboratory sector.

Focusing on efficiency, sustainability and accreditation, the Conference will address the key issues facing commercial laboratories in the new low-carbon, post-recession era and will be most relevant to analytical staff within the water, food/beverage, manufacturing, processing and environmental sectors.

Laboratory efficiency
With pressure on the costs of analytical services and demand from customers for faster results, efficiency has long been the key to success for laboratories. However, during 2009 improved efficiency provided a path to survival for commercial laboratories around the world and as countries emerge from recession the most efficient will be in the best position to prosper. The Lab Conference at WWEM 2010 will therefore examine ways to improve efficiency, particularly within the context of laboratory upgrade and new lab design.

Accreditation
Myriad standards, regulations and guidelines apply to analytical laboratories and the Lab Conference will examine the ways in which these can contribute to the overall success of a laboratory.

Sustainability
The UK government has pledged that emissions of greenhouse gases will be cut by 80% CO2 equivalent (measured against 1990 levels) by 2050. However, over the same period Britain’s population is expected to grow between 15% to 30% and it is likely that most industries will be required to meet higher quality and environmental standards – all driving up energy consumption. It follows, therefore, that all industries and their supply chains will be under pressure to reduce energy costs and contribute to the Government's target.

Analytical laboratories have an important role to play in the achievement of sustainability objectives. Firstly, by reducing the carbon footprint of their own activities, including the delivery of samples and results, and secondly through the provision of test data to inform operational decisions.

Comprehensive data centre solution

A comprehensive data centre solution from a single source

Rittal has a new approach to data centre design providing comprehensive solutions from a single source. “Rittal - The System” is a package that includes planning and consulting, the supply of infrastructure components and monitoring software to ensure the safe and secure operation of the data centre, all backed by a worldwide service.

Rising energy prices are resulting in increased costs in the running of data centres and this can be mitigated if all the layers of the data centre i.e. applications, IT hardware and infrastructure are perfectly coordinated. “Rittal - The System” is based on their TS 8 enclosure and IT rack system platform, with its comprehensive range of accessories, providing numerous advantages which include flexibility, quick and simple assembly, minimal warehousing, fast availability and high quality.

With the growing convergence between IT and automation, they go beyond simple mechanical solutions and provide coordinated power and cooling technology which include the UPS systems, type-tested switchgear, aisle containment and high density cooling systems.

EMBEDDED DEVICE SECURITY ASSESMENT SPECS

ISA Security Compliance Institute Publishes Embedded Device Security Assessment Specifications

The ISA Security Compliance Institute (ISCI) announced that it has posted two of three key elements of the ISASecure™ Embedded Device Security Assessment (EDSA) certification specification on its website. ISASecure certification is intended to be used as a requirement in procurement documents. The ISASecure EDSA certification provides asset owners with security assurances to a defined level for embedded devices that meet the ISASecure EDSA certification requirements.

ISCI developed the ISASecure EDSA certification within the framework of the ISA99 Industrial Automation and Control Systems security standards. ISASecure EDSA comprises three elements: the Functional Security Assessment (FSA), the Software Development Security Assessment (SDSA), and the device Communication Robustness Testing (CRT). Details on each element are available on the ISCI website.

The two elements that ISCI published to its website are the FSA and SDSA certification specifications. They are available for download in PDF format. Upon final approval, all of the ISASecure EDSA certification specifications will be available to the public on the ISCI website.

ISCI Members, seeking to benefit the larger industrial automation controls security community, donated the ISASecure specifications to the ISA99 Standards Committee for consideration in their standards development process. ISCI invites individuals and organizations who desire to provide feedback on the specifications to communicate directly with the ISA99 standards Committee. This will enable their input to be vetted via an open-consensus ANSI Standards process.

The ISASecure program is being established as a globally recognized IEC Guide 65 conformance scheme, with processes and requirements for accrediting organizations to provide certification services on behalf of ISCI and for recognizing tools authorized for use in CRT certification. Service organizations and test tool suppliers are encouraged to visit the website on 1 June 2010, when participation requirements will be posted.

Wireless developments

New benchmark for ultra-low power wireless sensor network performance

Dust Networks®,has announced that its new IEEE 802.15.4 products will include the powerful, low power ARM® Cortex™-M3 processor. Dust Networks' new family of system-on-chips (SoCs) will be the basis for a variety of upcoming standards-based WSN products, including IEC 62591 (WirelessHART™), 6LOWPAN (IP), and Zigbee® PRO products that will provide unprecedented low power consumption while delivering a compelling set of energy saving, high performance features including:

A 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 processor and rich interfaces enable a powerful computing platform while conserving power.

The world’s lowest power IEEE 802.15.4 radio: a new benchmark is set, with a mere 3 mA transmit at 0 dBm and 3 mA receive current, delivering 5-10 times the battery life of competing technologies, and further expanding the applicability of energy harvesting power sources.
Extended range capabilities, with up to 8 dBm output power on-chip PA and an optional external power amplifier.

The industry’s first IEEE 802.15.4E-ready product, incorporating the emerging standard for time synchronization and channel hopping, while providing legacy support for 802.15.4-2006.
“Our new SoCs are geared to deliver the highest performance while running at a fraction of the power of competing silicon,” said Dr. Kris Pister, Chief Technologist at Dust Networks. “In selecting the ARM Cortex-M3 processor for our SoC, we did not have to trade-off performance for power. Dust Networks new IEEE 802.15.4 SoCs will require less than one-tenth of the energy per operation of comparable SoCs.”
The level of systems integration in the SoCs is very high, including on-chip power amplifier, DC-to-DC converter, 10 bit ADC and a built in temperature sensor. With configurations up to 512kB of flash and 72kB of RAM, these SoCs will have both the highest computational horsepower of any 802.15.4 chip on the market, and the lowest power consumption. In doze mode, with full processor state and RAM retention, current consumption is under 1uA.
“Dust Networks’ adoption of the ARM Cortex architecture is a clear demonstration of the growing support for ARM Cortex-M3 processor-based for low-power applications” said Eric Schorn, VP marketing, Processor Division, ARM. “The ARM Cortex-M3 CPU is ideal for battery operated or energy harvesting designs where performance really matters and the feature-filled Dust SoC is a powerful example of what can be done with a 'green' approach to SoC design, in applications where every nanoamp counts.”

"Low power radios such as IEEE 802.15.4 and wireless mesh networking, epitomized by Dust Networks’ TSMP protocol and its “Smart Dust” roots, have transformed the industrial wireless sensor network landscape” said Mareca Hatler, ON World research director. “With the introduction of ultra low power versions of SmartMesh IP (6LoWPAN) systems and ZigBee products, Dust Networks will expand the growing number of “Smart World” applications that span Smart Buildings, Cities, Government and Homes.”

Quality certification awarded

Sherborne Sensors has announced that its quality assurance system has been awarded the prestigious SAE AS9100B certification for the design, development, manufacture, repair and calibration of transducers.

Quality and reliability are critical values for the aerospace industry. In an environment where failure of products or services can be fatal, the effective operation of a quality management system plays an essential role in helping to reduce risks and provides a reliable framework for organizations to supply the highest quality products and services. Prime aerospace contractors consider AS9100 a major step in the history of quality management in the aerospace field; AS9100B is the ISO9001 derivative for suppliers to the aerospace industry. AS9100B certification now provides added customer assurance that Sherborne Sensors products and business processes meet or exceed the aerospace industry’s highest standards of quality, reliability and performance. To achieve this accreditation, the Sherborne Sensors Quality Assurance team has successfully completed an extensive audit of in-house practices, conducted over a period of several weeks at our corporate headquarters, as well as active participation in a series of ongoing quality review meetings.

Notes Mike Baker, Managing Director, “The team at Sherborne Sensors is proud to announce the addition of AS9100B to our existing ISO9001 quality certification. We believe that these prestigious accreditations simply reaffirm our team’s unwavering commitment to our customers, and to manufacturing some of the industry’s highest performance transducers, a philosophy that carries over into all facets of our daily business operations. We thank all of our valued customers for your continued support of Sherborne Sensors and our expanding lines of precision measurement instrumentation.”

I/O module launched

Diamond Systems Corporation has launched the industry’s first digital I/O module compatible with the recently-introduced FeaturePak embedded I/O expansion standard. The FP-GPIO96 integrates 96 buffered, programmable digital I/O lines, eight 32-bit counter/timers, four 24-bit pulse-width modulation circuits, and a watchdog timer. It interfaces to host systems via the FeaturePak host interface’s high-speed PCI Express bus interface.

In addition, Diamond have an adapter board that allows the use of FeaturePak I/O expansion modules in systems that provide SUMIT-ISM expansion stack locations. The SUMIT/FP Adapter provides a pair of 50-pin I/O header connectors for convenient access to all FeaturePak I/O and consumes a single PCI Express x1 lane from the SUMIT-A bus connector. In addition, it includes pass-through connectors for the SUMIT-ISM stack’s SUMIT-B bus and PC/104 (ISA) bus. An extended operation temperature range of -40oC to +85oC is supported.

Avoid software crashes before they happen...

Though strictly speaking this could hardly be described as instrumentation nevertheless it does have possible applications that could be useful to the automation professional.

GrammaTech
has announced the next version of CodeSonar. The release includes a radically improved graphical user interface to streamline developer interaction and boost productivity.

Critical industries need better software assurance, but growth in program complexity has made creating defect-free software more challenging than ever. Traditional approaches to testing can no longer provide adequate path coverage. CodeSonar’s program path analysis identifies major issues at compile time so they don’t crash an application in the field.

Over the last few years, many new static checkers have been added to CodeSonar that target emerging threats to reliability. Some of the new checkers find serious software quality problems. Others enforce safety-critical coding practices. Still others look for major security vulnerabilities.

Paul Anderson, GrammaTech’s vice president of Engineering, commented, “GrammaTech has always focused on providing high-value information, such as highlighting program-crashing defects and serious security vulnerabilities. A big strength of CodeSonar is that it identifies far more of these critical issues than competing static-analysis tools. With the interface redesign, we wanted to ensure that CodeSonar would still present all the information, but do it a way that would minimize the amount of time and effort a developer spends on reviewing results. We tasked an engineering team, headed by one of our user-interface experts, to develop a new approach to displaying results. After a lot of research and work, we came up with a fresh design that will enable developers to quickly digest key information, understand and identify the most important issues, and prioritize their fixes.”

Titan at Advanced Manufacturing UK

Breakthrough technology launched at mtec 2010
We saw a new high-accuracy and low-cost ultrasonic flowmeter launched at this year’s mtec Exhibition (part of Advanced Manufacturing UK 2010).

Titan Enterprises' "The Atrato" is set to create a breakthrough change in small bore flow metering, it uses patented technology which enables the direct through meter to handle flows from laminar to turbulent and Titan founder Trevor Forster was there each day of the show to discuss and extol the virtues of his "new baby," which he told us was eight years in gestation!

With accurate and cost effective flow measurement becoming increasingly important to many industries, Titan Enterprises have developed this exclusive product with one of the foremost fluid engineering establishments, perhaps in the world, Cranfield University. The Atrato is capable of monitoring flow over a range of 200:1 and has an accuracy better than +1.5% but equally impressive, its simple design and USB interface, makes it extremely easy to install and use.

Well known to the industry with clients such as Coca Cola and BP, Titan’s new device uses the favoured ‘time of flight’ measurement system where a signal is passed along the pipe with the flow and back up the pipe against the flow, the difference in these signals produces the flow rate. Until now, this technology has been deemed expensive and sometimes inaccurate; however Trevor Forster believes the Atrato’s fully symmetrical, concentric signals coupled with the ability to achieve desired timing accuracies makes it a new market leader. It being largely immune to viscosity makes The Atrato even more appealing to customers.

It is aimed at the wide customer base and should satisfy critics in Industrial engineering, plant operators, medical equipment supply, drink dispensing, and Laboratory technicians. According to Trevor, one of the unique aspects of the Atrato is the computer interface.

He commented: “The USB connection permits the user to monitor the rate and total on their laptop in addition to operating parameters such as the pulse resolution units. At a later date, data logging and operation statistics will also be possible.”

Having championed the technology Trevor said: “Fundamentally, my position is that the future of flow measurement is going to be ultrasonic or coriolis. They’re the only two long-term viable technologies because they’re not intrusive.
“I am delighted after designing flowmeters for around 40 years, to launch The Atrato which I believe is a true contender in challenging conventional flow meter thinking, the world over! We have a successful business selling well over 250,000 flowmeters and I have an experienced team of staff and family behind me, I think it is our integrity and problem solving approach which has led us to a 95% repeat business rate and customers in over 40 countries.”

Professor Mike Sanderson, Emeritus Professor of Fluid Instrumentation at Cranfield agreed saying: “The Atrato’s unique clean bore construction makes it ideal for hygienic applications. The use of low frequency ultrasound and advanced signal processing to interrogate the flow ensures that the flowmeter provides high accuracy over a wide turndown range. In addition the technology developed for the Atrato has the flexibility to provide the basis of a family of flowmeters suitable for an even wider range of flows and applications.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New backpanes for embedded test & control OEMs

National Instruments Introduces PXI/CompactPCI Backplanes for Embedded Test and Control OEMs Backplanes Ideal for Custom Instrumentation, Aerospace/Defence and Industrial Embedded Control OEMs

National Instruments is now offering board-level backplanes from all of its industry-leading PXI/CompactPCI and PXI Express chassis for OEMs to use in applications ranging from aerospace/defence to industrial embedded control. Engineers and scientists can use the PXI/CompactPCI backplanes to create custom, rugged applications that meet their unique form factor needs or environmental specifications.

The more than 10 new 3U and 6U PXI/CompactPCI backplanes offer from 4 to 18 slots and work with PXI, PXI Express, CompactPCI and CompactPCI Express modules. Engineers can design custom installations and enclosures around the backplanes while integrating more than 1,500 existing PXI modules – from data acquisition to FPGA-based I/O modules, to high-end instruments such as signal generators and RF signal analysers, as well as a variety of bus interface modules including serial, MIL-STD-1553, IEEE 1588, PROFIBUS and DeviceNet. They can also use the NI LabVIEW graphical system design platform to design, prototype and deploy all aspects of their system, increasing productivity and reducing time to market.

“As an OEM, we've used the new NI PXI/CompactPCI board-level backplanes to create a family of custom, portable, high-performance military-grade computer platforms that give integrators the power to deliver instrumentation test systems using NI modules and controllers,” said Don McCook, Vice President of Business Development for Logic Instrument USA, Inc. “NI has a solid reputation for creating high-quality hardware, and now, OEMs can leverage that reliability in our own products.

Readers can visit www.ni.com/embedded and select ‘board-level PXI/Compact PCI’ to learn more about the NI approach to embedded design.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PCI board processor

Six-core Intel® Xeon® processor available on a 6U CompactPCI® board

Concurrent Technologies has released the PP 68x/m71 family of 6U CompactPCI® boards, one of the first embedded product ranges to feature the 2.00 GHz Six-Core Intel® Xeon® processor L5638 or the 1.87 GHz Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® processor L5618; both processors are from the Intel® embedded roadmap which offers at least seven year availability. With up to 48 Gbytes of DDR3-1066 ECC SDRAM, two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and several SAS and SATA300 disk interfaces these boards are pin compatible with Concurrent Technologies’ popular PP 66x/m71 family. These latest Intel Xeon processors, based on 32nm process technology, now support four or six higher performance cores with faster AES encryption instructions and larger last level caches. Therefore, the PP 68x/m71 family have one of the highest performance specifications available to 6U CompactPCI users today and is particularly suitable for CPU intensive processing applications within the telecommunications, defence and homeland security market sectors.

The PP 68x/m71 family is based on the Intel® Xeon® 5600 Platform, consisting of the Intel® Xeon processor, the Intel® 5520 I/O Hub and the Intel® ICH10R I/O Controller Hub. The Intel Xeon 5600 platform provides impressive performance-per-watt and integrates the memory controller into the processor for reduced memory latency. The Intel Xeon processors feature Intel® QuickPath Technology and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology which, along with Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology, deliver top performance for bandwidth-intensive applications. Intel QuickPath Technology provides a high-speed, point-to-point connection between the microprocessor and the Intel® 5520 I/O Hub. Intel Turbo Boost Technology elevates performance for specific workloads by increasing processor core frequency.

Glen Fawcett, CEO for Concurrent Technologies, commented, “This product is a perfect upgrade from previous products and ensures that existing customers can protect their software investment and maximize their development efforts.”

The PP 68x/m71 products benefit from the Intel Xeon processor’s large last level on-die cache of 12 Mbytes and its ability to directly access (via a 1066 MHz memory bus) up to 48 Gbytes of DDR3-1066 ECC SDRAM in four DIMM sockets. The processor has a very fast I/O data path to the Intel 5520 I/O Hub via the 20 Gbytes/sec Intel Quick Path Interface.

For high performance I/O, control and data processing flexibility, the PP 68x/m71 supports, via the front panel, a PMC/XMC site (133 MHz PCI-X and up to x8 PCI Express® lanes) as well as optional I/O interconnections via two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports (copper or optical). The rear I/O configuration can provide an interface for either an optional PMC rear I/O board or an optional on-board 8 port hardware RAID Controller board supporting SAS and SATA300 drives. The PP 68x/m71 can operate as a system controller board (left slot or right slot), a peripheral board or as a satellite board (blade). Support is also provided for PICMG® 2.16 (Ethernet fabric), PICMG 2.9 (IPMI) and PICMG 2.1 (hot swap); the CompactPCI® backplane interface operates at 33/66MHz PCI signalling speeds.

The PP 68x/m71 includes three 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet interfaces (one front and two rear) and the front panel also provides USB 2.0, RS-232, digital (1600 x 1200) and dual analog graphics (2048 x 1536), keyboard and mouse interfaces. The rear connectors provide four further USB 2.0 ports, an RS-232 port, and four SATA300 interfaces, as well as the connections to the optional RAID controller. Other features included are a watchdog timer, long duration timer, LAN boot firmware and options for an onboard 2.5-inch SATA300 disk and CompactFlash™ storage. For applications requiring rear I/O connections, a single or dual slot transition module is available which can be optionally fitted with a USB Flash disk and up to two 2.5-inch SATA300 disks.

For ease of integration, the PP 68x/m71 family of boards support many of today’s leading operating systems, including Linux®, Windows® Server 2008, Windows® Server 2003, Windows® XP Embedded, Windows® XP, Solaris™, VxWorks® and QNX®. This includes, as applicable, support for 64-bit operating systems.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Marketing and sales again!

ISA’s 5th Annual Marketing and Sales Summit heads for Atlanta in September

Last year one of the highlights for this correspondent was the ISA's 4th Marketing and Sales Summit in Boston - Managing Through the Tumult and Turbulence. We didn't attend but we were able to look-in on the event and actually participate without having to brave the perils of a tran-Atlantic crossing. It was the first tme that we had been able to share in an event this way and for that reason it is indelibly filed in our memory.

The 5th Annual Marketing and Sales Summit will be held 1-3 September 2010, in Atlanta (GA US). This year’s conference theme is In Search of the Holy Grail: Integrating Marketing and Sales. The event is sponsored by ISA’s Management Division.

In a time where innovation and quick responses to the market are crucial to success, this three-day summit will provide valuable insight into how marketing and sales professionals can work together for positive outcomes.

Sessions will focus on best practices in social media, guerilla marketing, brand marketing, winning complex accounts, market-driven product development, business development and engineering, product marketing management vs. product management, sales vs. marketing, branding in the web 2.0 era, and redefining advertising in the digital age. Breakout sessions will provide even more practical information.
Conference Tracks:
  • Strategy and Business Development
  • Integrated Marketing and Sales
  • Online Marketing
  • Sales Best Practices
“Going on our fifth year, the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit continues to break new ground and deliver vital, timely marketing and sales education, and incredible networking for automation professionals,” stated Juliann Grant, vice president, Telesian Technology and Planning Committee Member. “Last year, we held the first live broadcast to illustrate the power of social media, and we had people participating from around the world. This year we have even bigger plans to showcase new technologies and demonstrate how they integrate with marketing and sales. The bottom line is, the world of communications is rapidly changing, and it’s important that marketing and sales professionals get the education they need to stay on top of current trends, and stay connected with their peers in the automation industry,” she added.

We look forward to a more exciting and an even more participative event than last year's pioneering event.

Corrosion/erosion monitoring

In the oil and gas industry alone, corrosion- and erosion-related losses total billions of dollars every year through unscheduled plant or pipeline shutdowns, lost production, high repair costs, and imposed fines. In addition, incalculable damage can result from potential employee injuries and the effect of spillage on an organization’s reputation.

In industries where the integrity of piping, vessels, and other fixed assets can be compromised by corrosion or erosion, the consequences of failure can be both serious and costly. Historically, time-based, manual inspection methods have been employed to mitigate these risks; unfortunately, this is a very costly approach, frequently involving excavation, scaffolding, special permits, and other expenses. As a result, the annual maintenance costs for assets relying on manual inspection methods are among the highest in the operation.

GE’s Rightrax® system (from GE Energy) reduces these problems using innovative online technology to end costly, time-based inspections while simultaneously providing better, more timely, and more frequent corro­sion/erosion information that dramatically decreases the risk of asset failure. With ROI for the Rightrax system typically less than a year, the economics of going online are compelling. With support for the Rightrax system now available in GE’s System 1® Software, going online is easier and more powerful.

The system uses non-invasive, ultra­sonic sensing technology that attaches to the outside of the asset and measures wall thickness. Rightrax sensors can be polled periodically, allowing users to assess not only useful life remaining by comparing current values to minimum thickness limits, but to establish historical trends. This ability to trend data sets it apart from even the most frequent manual inspection regimens. The benefits are two-fold:

First, users can understand the rate at which corrosion/erosion is progressing, allowing better maintenance planning. Second, users can correlate Rightrax data with process data, providing powerful insight into cause-effect relationships that can help operators understand and avoid the conditions that accelerate corrosion/erosion rates and corresponding asset degradation.

Second, integration provides Rightrax users with all the powerful capabilities native to System 1 software for displaying, trending, analyzing, plotting, and correlating data. It provides powerful import/export functionality for integration with reporting tools and programs, such as Crystal Reports® and Microsoft® Excel®. What sets the power of the System 1 environment apart is its decision support technology: powerful automa­tion capabilities that can automatically analyze data using sophisticated, user-written rules and embedded knowledge. When specific conditions or anomalies of an unknown origin are detected, the system can send intelligent advisories to appropriate personnel.

Thermocouple terminal block

Omega Engineering has introduced the New DRTB Series thermocouple terminal blocks. They are designed and manufactured by Omega using thermocouple alloys to guarantee accurate readings. The terminal block has a built-in female socket to accept a miniature thermocouple connector. This novel feature enables the user to insert a plug for easy connection to a handheld device allowing installation testing, quality assurance compliance, troubleshooting or repairs without interrupting the signal or circuit.

The terminal blocks are fully enclosed and require no end plates. The screws and clamps are zinc plated and together they provide an excellent vibration, maintenance free and corrosion resistant connection.

DRTB terminal blocks mount on standard 35 mm DIN rails or 32 mm G-type rails and are identified with calibration type and positive (+) and negative (-) connections. Wire entry is funnelled to allow quick wire insertion even with stranded wire.

Single source measurement auditor selected

Three-year £2.25M contract to be managed by Emerson’s METCO Services includes 60 audits per year and four full-time engineers providing measurement support

BP has selected Emerson's METCO Services as its single-source provider for offshore and onshore measurement audits and for onshore contract measurement engineering support of BP installations in Britain. The company will also provide operational support to the existing BP Measurement engineering team.

“Selecting Emerson as the single provider for measurement audits and support will streamline management of these services,” said George Bird, Sub-Sector Lead, Procurement & Supply Chain Management, BP. “Having one team of contract measurement engineers working together to support our many offshore installations will also enable more efficient and improved servicing.”

Four full-time, UKAS-accredited auditors will complete 60 measurement audits per year. They will use the METCO 'Inspect' electronic audit package for reporting and scheduling audits on some of BP’s key pipeline infrastructure. “Having all 60 measurement audits conducted by METCO will ensure that they are completed professionally, efficiently and consistent with BP processes and standards,” said Jim Barton, BP’s Measurement Manager & Technical Authority.

Emerson’s METCO Services will also provide measurement support to ensure all meter maintenance is properly completed and recorded, and to manage operational spares and fiscal test equipment to help ensure continuous uptime of metering equipment. Emerson engineers will also compute erroneous measurements so they can be corrected. This measurement support team will initially include at least four full-time engineers at Emerson's Aberdeen facility.

Donald Angus, Business Development Director for Emerson's METCO Services, said, “We are delighted that BP recognised the knowledge and experience of our local team, combined with our outstanding track record of delivery. We look forward to helping them make the most of their measurements.”

METCO is Emerson's specialist measurement services organisation, providing audit and consultancy services, field technicians, and office based engineers to help oil and gas companies manage their fiscal, allocation, and environmental measurement infrastructure.

Close-coupled manifold system simplifies process level measurement applications

Integrated manifolds provide 'close-coupled' connection of differential pressure instruments to process vessels - eliminating size, weight, potential leak paths and installation time

A new highly-integrated manifold concept is offering users a radically simpler means of installing level measurement instrumentation to process tanks and vessels. Two single-piece manifolds integrate all of the valves and features required for connecting the upper and lower pressure sensing points to a differential pressure transmitter. The approach eliminates a huge amount of weight, size and potential leak paths compared with conventional 'hook-ups' fabricated using discrete valves and tubing connections. The solution has been developed by the Instrumentation Products Division of Parker Hannifin.

Called CCIMS Level-Flange, the new solution consists of two manifolds. One provides a single-piece solution for the lower or 'wet leg' pressure connection at the bottom of a tank. This has a flange at one side for connection to the tank, double-block-and-bleed valves in a monoflange style, a mounting point for a differential process transmitter, and tube connections for the balance line connection to the second sensing point. The second manifold provides an integrated solution for the upper or 'dry leg' pressure sensing point, with a flange connection, block-and-bleed valves and balance line connections.

The intimate nature of the piping connection provided by CCIMS Level-Flange aids the fundamental performance of the instrument system. Traditional hook-ups, fabricated from discrete valve and tubing components, typically involve longer flow paths, bends and sometimes changes in bore size. These can introduce pressure drops that can decrease measurement accuracy, commonly referred to as 'gauge-line error'. CCIMS Level-Flange provides a short, straight and even flow connection - allowing end users to benefit fully from the instrument's accuracy to monitor process levels.

The close-coupled design ensures that the differential pressure instrument is mounted directly adjacent to the process vessel - helping to avoid the common problem of blockages that can be caused by factors such as viscous media, hydrate formation, freezing, and so on.

The weight and size of the integrated manifolds is also reduced compared with other solutions. A complete assembly with instrument only extends around 10.4 inches / 26.3 cm from the tank - which can be as little as a half that of some other hook-ups. This eliminates any need for supporting metalwork, and reduces the likelihood of clashing with any nearby pipework etc.

The integrated nature of the manifolds also means that numerous joints are eliminated, every one of which is a potential leak path - helping to avoid both the human and environmental safety issues caused by leakages or emissions.

Installation time is one further significant advantage of Parker's new solution. By replacing hand-crafted assemblies of discrete tubing, joint and valve components that can take many hours to assemble, CCIMS Level-Flange is expected to reduce the installation time and cost of differential pressure transmitter level measurement systems by up to 85%.

Standby power consumption measurements to IEC 62301

New software carries out standby power consumption measurements according to IEC 62301 standard

New standby power consumption measurement software that conforms with the testing methods specified in the IEC 62301 standard and the European EuP Directive has been introduced for the Yokogawa range of digital power analysers.

The new software, available for the Yokogawa WT3000, WT1600, WT500 and WT210 analysers, allows the user to perform measurements according to IEC 62301: Household electrical appliances - measurement of standby power and EuP (Energy-using Products) Directive Lot6.

The software sets up the appropriate test conditions, measures the power values, and creates a test report based on the requirements of the IEC 62301 standard. Key parameters measured and incorporated in the report include total harmonic distortion, crest factor, RMS voltage, frequency, measurement period and power.

IEC 62301 imposes stringent conditions on the accuracy and resolution of the test instruments used for standby power measurement, as well as specifying requirements for analysing the total harmonic content and crest factor of the supply voltage waveform. The Yokogawa WT3000, WT1600, WT500 and WT210 power analysers meet these requirements, and cover current input ranges from 5 mA up to 20 A.

The Yokogawa power consumption software is available as a free download here!

New 6 inch operator interface

Color screen operator interface in a small body brings improved enhanced graphics at a lower price point

GE Intelligent Platforms announced the 6-inch Color-TFT model of the QuickPanel View Basic operator interface, ideal for small applications using point-to-point serial connectivity. QuickPanel View operator interfaces are known for their open and connected abilities to act as the bridge between the enterprise system and the plant floor.

The Basic QuickPanel’s small form factor allows it to fit on spaces where perhaps there is not as much room, or a large screen is not needed. The new color model will provide enhanced graphics, allowing for greater resolution on the screen, and a visual reference for the applications where color is needed or desired. In addition, the new screen increased off-angle visibility for better visuals when looking at it from different viewpoint. The low price point of the unit makes it desirable for companies looking to upgrade their current systems. The model has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, with 16 MB of flash memory and 16MB of DRAM memory and is available immediately.

“The QuickPanel View provides the tools required for today’s application needs,” said Hanuman Gadepalli, Operator Interface Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Acting as the bridge between the enterprise system and the plant floor, QuickPanel View provides information that operators need to run the machines, and that management needs to run the business.”

Show overcomes volcanic eruption...

Despite the fact that many people were unable to attend and the fact that the high level personalities scheduled to participate in the opening, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (who did visit later) and Silvio Berlusconi, the eponymous prime minister of the Italian Republic, (whose Economic Minister did in fact Drive from Italy for the show!), were both precluded from attending the opening by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, the organisers advise that this years Hannover Fair was a success.

It has given a further boost to economic recovery, with benefits set to flow through to the industrial sector over the next few months. Exhibitors are feeling upbeat about their future prospects: "The mood at HANNOVER MESSE is always a good indicator of industry sentiment, so we can now confidently speak of an upswing," commented Deutsche Messe Managing Board Chairman Wolfram von Fritsch at the end-of-show press conference in Hannover on Friday, April 23. "Although the first part of the show was indeed severely impacted by the air travel bans caused by the volcano eruption, the last two days made up for part of this."

"Exhibitors have reported many promising talks on projects, investment plans and deals which will contribute to enhanced utilization of capacity over the weeks and months to come," he added. "Last year people came here in need of orientation; this year they came strictly to do business. The strengths of HANNOVER MESSE were leveraged to good advantage in this phase of the cycle, giving a real boost to business activity. Some exhibitors even managed to generate returns on a par with the boom year of 2008."

Major travel limitations resulting from the international flight embargo impacted both exhibitor participation and visitor attendance, but Deutsche Messe was quick to launch a series of measures to ease the situation, chartering a fleet of buses to bring several hundred exhibitors from across Europe to the show. From Turkey alone, some 150 exhibitors took the 50-hour ride. And from New Zealand, an exhibitor turned up after a 134-hour travel marathon! "Many hundreds of people demonstrated to us just how important it was for them to be at HANNOVER MESSE," von Fritsch remarked. The air travel ban did, however, prevent around 300 exhibitors from arriving in time to set up their stands, with exhibitors from Asia and the Americas most severely affected.

The closing of European airports put the brakes on international air travel to Hannover and Europe in general, which naturally had a negative impact on attendance. "Flight bans and several days of uncertainty did put a major dent in attendance on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we were not able to catch up by the end of the event," von Fritsch explained. Attendance from outside Germany was down by about half. The total visitor count of 150,000 was roughly 20 percent below the previous year's figure. Attendance from Asia and North America suffered the most.

As expected in light of the flight bans, the majority of foreign visitors were from Germany's neighboring countries. Attendance from the Netherlands was well up on the 2008 figure. The next largest contingents came from Austria, Denmark, France, Switzerland and Poland.

"The performance of HANNOVER MESSE 2010 certainly cannot be gauged in terms of the visitor statistics. This year's event will go down in history as the 'volcano event,'" von Fritsch commented.

The President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Hans-Peter Keitel, agreed that the event had been a success overall. "The volcanic ash cloud paralyzed international air travel, but not HANNOVER MESSE! To the contrary: The exhibitors, and in particular Deutsche Messe, were totally committed to making this HANNOVER MESSE a success. This was absolutely crucial in light of the incipient economic recovery. The companies and industries who exhibited here now have wind in their sails for smoother sailing ahead, despite any navigational obstacles which might still be in the way."

The main sectors at HANNOVER MESSE 2010 consisted of industrial automation, energy technology and industrial subcontracting, with well over 4,000 innovations being unveiled at the exhibition. Hall 2, devoted to the research and development sector, featured market-ready research findings awaiting industrial application.

This year's HANNOVER MESSE, staged under the keynote motto of "Efficiency, Innovation, Sustainability," attracted bookings from more than 4,800 exhibitors from 64 countries, matching the totals for the "boom year" of 2008.

The energy shows at HANNOVER MESSE occupied around one-fourth of the exhibition space. Over 1,100 companies were on hand to present with conventional and renewable sources the energy mix of the future, with displays covering the entire energy added-value spectrum - from generation, delivery, transmission and distribution to transformation and storage.

A major drawing card for the public consisted of the new MobiliTec trade fair in Hall 27. This was also the location for the group pavilion on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and the exhibitions on renewable forms of energy. MobiliTec marked Deutsche Messe's debut in the electric mobility sector - clearly a topic for the future, given attendance there by around one-third of all visitors to the show, who were able to gain new insights into hybrid and electric drive technologies, mobile energy storage systems, and alternative mobility technologies. Around 100 exhibitors showcased a wide range of future mobility technologies and solutions on a total of over 4,000 square meters of floor space. "Our new MobiliTec tradeshow has been a great success," said a delighted Wolfram von Fritsch. "Our concept of highlighting the linkage between the various sectors and technologies involved worked very well. We presented the full value-added range of electric mobility - from components, drive technologies and batteries to entire systems and the relevant applications, including infrastructure and network integration."

Another show making its debut in 2010 was CoilTechnica. Around 70 exhibitors were in Hall 6 to present technologies for the production of transformers, generators, coils and electric motors. Even before HANNOVER MESSE opened its doors, the industry had made its decision to stage another CoilTechnica in 2011. "This will further enhance the profile of industrial subcontracting at HANNOVER MESSE. The CoilTechnica show has secured the participation of an industry that fits perfectly into the HANNOVER MESSE mesh. Exhibitors were delighted with the trade fair, and will be back in Hannover next year to repeat the exercise," said von Fritsch.

Once again, industrial automation was high on the agenda. Visitor interest was particularly strong for the "Efficiency Days", jointly organized by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI) and Deutsche Messe. Companies showcased their expertise involving energy efficiency in industrial processes in a series of presentations, discussions and guided tours over the five days of the show.

Von Fritsch also expressed his appreciation for the outstanding performance of this year's Partner Country, Italy. "Italy has made good use of every opportunity to present itself as an export-focused industrial nation with strong innovative skills. The adaptability and flexibility displayed by our Italian exhibitors was underscored by Economic Minister Claudio Scajola, who drove all the way from Italy to take part in the opening - a fine confirmation of our close partnership with his country."

The TectoYou careers initiative for young people was another success. Several thousand young people came from across Germany and were clearly inspired by the technologies and innovations presented by exhibitors. HANNOVER MESSE also featured more than 1,000 conferences, forums and workshops, which helped bring visitors up to date on the latest trends and topics.

On Friday, the last day of the show, Deutsche Messe was preparing to stage its 7th "WoMenPower" special symposium, focusing on career issues and success strategies in the workplace as well as "work-life balance". Deutsche Messe expected to welcome over 800 participants.

HANNOVER MESSE 2011 will run from 4 to 8 April, occupying the entire exhibition center, with a total of 13 trade fairs. The nine trade fairs at this year's event - Industrial Automation, Energy, Power Plant Technology, MobiliTec, Digital Factory, Industrial Supply, CoilTechnica, MicroNanoTec and Research & Technology - will be supplemented by Motion, Drive & Automation, Wind, Surface Technology and ComVac.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Next generation valve island.

ASCO Numatics announces the new G3 fieldbus next-generation, electronic platform valve island. The G3 is easy to assemble, install, commission, and maintain, and features a graphic display for easy commissioning, visual status and diagnostics. The robust connections are quick, easy to use and make the platform highly distributable.

The new G3 valve island offers increased intelligence in the form of new diagnostic functions and enhanced plug-and-play capabilities for individual modules. The graphic display (in place of the usual LED indicators) supports plain-language messaging of diagnostic information at both the module and communication node level. The messages give the user direct information and this makes it easier to detect shorted and open load, shorted sensor/cable, low and missing power, and missing module. It also allows self-test activation and provides a log of any network/distribution errors.

The G3 Series product line is a completely modular system. Protected to IP65/NEMA 4, the G3 electronic modules plug together, using an innovative clip design, allowing easy module removal/replacement without dismantling the whole manifold. This makes the system highly user friendly. Additional flexibility is incorporated because the same modules can be used in either centralised or distributed applications.

SPEEDCON M12 connector technology allows for fast and efficient ½ turn I/O connector insertion and the power connector scheme allows the output power to be removed while inputs and communications are left active. An Auto Recovery Module (ARM) protects configuration information during a critical failure.

The G3 supports up to 512 inputs/outputs with one communication node of up to 32 valve solenoids per manifold and up to 16 manifolds per communication node. One node supports 16 I/O modules-analogue I/O, digital I/O (NPN & PNP) and the unique distribution system allows system efficiency by allowing the same modules to be used in either centralised or distributed applications. The G3 interfaces to valves with flow from 275 up to 3820 l/min ANR.

Protocols supported include DeviceNet, DeviceNet w/Quick Connect, EtherNet/IP, PROFIBUS-DP, CANopen, PROFINET and MODBUS TCP. The G3 electronics interface with the highly modular Numatics generation 2000 Series, ISO 5599/2 and ISO15407-2 Series valve lines, to further enhance the modularity and flexibility of the entire system solution.

The G3 range of valve islands has many applications in packaging machinery, conveyors, robotics and valve piloting used in industries that include food processing and machine automation.

High precision pressure measurement

With the PBMN product, Baumer offers a highly precise pressure transmitter for demanding applications in hydraulics or engine and vehicle construction. The fully welded versions are available with an accuracy of up to 0.1 % F.S. The total error band is less than 0.4 % F.S. over the whole compensated temperature range. The transmitter can be easily configured with the FlexProgrammer.

As part of their modularly designed PB series, which can be adapted individually to customer needs, the PBMN is the high-end transmitter for demanding applications. Thanks to the seal-less construction, the measuring device can be used in many different media. The PBMN is suitable for measuring ranges from 0…100 mbar up to 0…1600 bar. It is based either on piezoresistive technology (for pressures below 40 bar) or on metal thin film technology (for pressures over 40 bar).

The PBMN features a high overpressure resistance and long-term stability (0.1 % F.S.) as well as a very high accuracy over the compensated temperature range from -40 °C up to +85 °C. It is available with accuracies of 0.1 %, 0.25 %, or 0.5 %. The total error band in the compensated temperature range is less than 0.4 % F.S. for the version with 0.1 % accuracy.

The measuring device is provided with several output signals (4…20mA, 0…10VDC, 0…5VDC) and stainless steel process connections. A number of options are available for the electrical connection as well. The PBMN is delivered programmed according to exact customer requirements, but it can easily be re-configured using the Baumer FlexProgrammer 9701. The measuring range is one of the adjustable parameters, and the zero point can be recalibrated as well.

EDDL/DDL host test suite

The HART Communication Foundation has released the new enhanced HART EDDL/DDL (Electronic Device Description Language) Host Test Suite. The test suite is used by suppliers and developers of host products to test compliance of their implementation and is used by the Foundation to verify and validate compliance of host products submitted for HART Registration.

The new HART EDDL/DDL Host Test Suite is one of the most extensive and rigorous host test programs in the process industry using 950 automated test cases and 8300 individual verification points.

“Everyday users rely on HART technology’s promise of interoperability to harness the power of continuous communications among new and existing HART devices,” says Ed Ladd, HART Communication Foundation Director of Technology Programs. “To meet user expectation, the new test suite automates and standardizes the host testing process to verify proper functionality, behavior and interoperability with all HART products.”

The EDDL/DDL Host Test Suite includes Test Libraries, Specifications and adaptable Device Simulator to stimulate and verify proper host functionality and behavior for all HART protocol versions. The Test Suite extensively exercises the host product application to verify compliant operation and functioning with respect to DDL/EDDL Operation, User Interface, Data Modeling and Method execution.

Building on the efforts of the EDDL Cooperation Team (HART Communication Foundation, Fieldbus Foundation, OPC and PROFIBUS Nutzer-organisation) and the HART DDL Working Group, realization of the test suite enhancements was a major undertaking that required many man years of cooperative effort by Foundation staff and multi-company volunteers.

Products submitted for HART registration are tested by the Foundation to independently verify test results and validate that device and data meet HART Protocol requirements. The HART Registration Program is a quality assurance program to ensure interoperability of products produced to the HART Standard regardless of the manufacturer.

New website launched.

Capacitec has announced the launch of a fully upgraded global corporate website. With improvements that are 100% driven by comprehensive customer and industry feedback, the site has been enhanced to reflect Capacitec’s growing product portfolio, while addressing the expressed product, application and educational needs of present and prospective customers.

The new Capacitec website features a clean, easy-to-navigate home page, which includes added search capabilities by product type or target market category. Upon selection of desired target product or application, the user has instant access to a series of comprehensive product pages, devoted to sensing system product specifications, as well as detailed recommendations on accompanying software and accessories. The site’s enhanced search capabilities allow for greater functionality and speed of information gathering. In addition, a comprehensive resource library contains up-to-date product literature, as well as detailed examples of the practical applications of Capacitec product technologies that will best solve a specific measurement challenge.

Notes Bob Foster, president, Capacitec, “We are pleased to announce the launch of the new Capacitec company website, which is really reflective of where our company is today. The goal for www.capacitec.com was to grow an invaluable customer resource and go-to reference guide for the engineering community at-large, and particularly, one that keeps pace with the tremendous growth we’ve experienced over the past few years.”

Improving security of oil & gas infrastructure

The LOGIIC Consortium has announced its formal inception under the auspices of the Automation Federation.

The LOGIIC (Linking the Oil and Gas Industry to Improve Cybersecurity) program is an ongoing collaboration of oil and natural gas companies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate. LOGIIC was formed to facilitate cooperative research, development, testing, and evaluation procedures to improve cybersecurity in petroleum industry digital control systems. The program undertakes collaborative research and development projects to improve the level of cybersecurity in critical systems of interest to the oil and natural gas sector. The program objective is to promote the interests of the sector while maintaining impartiality, the independence of the participants, and vendor neutrality.

The Automation Federation serves as the LOGIIC host organization and has entered into agreements with the LOGIIC member companies. Member companies contribute financially and technically, provide personnel who meet regularly to define projects of common interest, and provide staff to serve on the LOGIIC Executive Committee. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate has contracted with the scientific research organization SRI International to provide scientific and technical guidance as well as project management for LOGIIC.

“LOGIIC is a model example of how leading industry organizations can team with government in a public-private partnership to ensure the security and safety of the automation systems that are crucial to our critical infrastructures,” said Ted Angevaare of Shell and chair of the LOGIIC Executive Committee.

As its first project under the auspices of The Automation Federation, LOGIIC seeks to evaluate and improve the level of security of Safety Instrumented Systems as these are increasingly integrated with process control systems. These goals are to be achieved by an evaluation process conducted by subject matter experts working closely with system vendors. The results of this project will ultimately benefit not only the members of LOGIIC, but also the oil and gas industry as a whole.

Current members of LOGIIC include BP, Chevron, Shell, Total, and other large oil and gas companies that operate significant global energy infrastructure.

The elephant in the room...

Festo's Bionic Handling Assistant set to revolutionise handling technology

At this year's Hannover Fair (ending on 23rd April), Festo launched its latest bionic concept project.

Festo uses bionic concepts in the same way the car industry uses concept cars - they are not saleable products but are proof of research ideas and demonstrations of design concepts, intended to stimulate dialogue with customers, suppliers and partners. Known as the Bionic Handling Assistant, the latest concept offers a completely flexible - and safe - means of moving objects from one position to another. It could revolutionise the design of materials handling systems, and potentially opens up a host of entirely new application areas involving direct, non-hazardous contact between humans and robots. These include equipment for use in hospitals, rehabilitation and care homes for the elderly, as well as agricultural machinery and even domestic appliances - anything, in fact, that requires risk-free mechanical assistance.

The Bionic Handling Assistant is the latest innovation to spring from Festo's Bionic Learning Network, which is an alliance of educational establishments and specialist companies tasked with exploring bionic solutions for automation applications of the future. The inspiration for the Bionic Handling Assistant comes from elephants' trunks -a fundamental part of the animals' olfactory system - which are muscular, flexible extensions to their upper lip and nose, with finger-like growths known as proboscides which enable them to grasp food and other small objects.

The Bionic Handling Assistant employs highly innovative biomechatronics technology and introduces an entirely new concept, whereby direct contact between machines and their human operators - whether accidental or intentional - is no longer hazardous. In the event of a collision with a human, the Bionic Handling Assistant yields immediately, without modifying its desired overall dynamic behaviour, and then resumes its operation. Unlike heavy industrial robots, the Bionic Handling Assistant is characterised by an excellent mass-payload ratio, provides smooth operating motion with more degrees of freedom, and makes very efficient use of resources.

The Bionic Handling Assistant consists of three basic elements for spatial movement, together with a hand axis with a ball joint, and a gripper with adaptive fingers. Each basic element comprises three circularly arranged pneumatic actuators tapering at an angle of 3°; each actuator is supplied with compressed air at the interfaces of the basic elements. Opposing movements are effected by the loop-like design of the actuators, which act like a spring when the compressed air is exhausted. Their extension is measured by position sensors, which control the system's spatial movement. In the hand axis, three further actuators are arranged around a ball joint; their activation displaces the gripper by an angle of up to 30°. Festo SMAT safety position sensors register the travel and ensure precise alignment, and the company's VPWP proportional valves are used for pneumatic control. The overall result is a highly flexible system that can transmit high forces despite its lightweight design.

The Bionic Handling Assistant is manufactured using the latest additive rapid manufacturing technologies, which facilitate the production of individual moveable system components from polyamide. This is applied in thin layers onto a base platform, with each new layer being fused into place by means of a laser beam, hardening the layers only where it is programmed. This is a form of 3D printing which now makes it possible to cost effectively produce intricate, complex products in small batch sizes.

Readers may be interested to view the video of the Bionic Handling Assistant here. This page also provides detailed information about Festo's other bionic projects.