Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tougher and safer than mercury thermometers

Noel Heary of Irish Power & Process (IPP) tells us that Fluke Calibration has introduced the 1551A Ex and 1552A Ex “Stik” Thermometers, engineered to give temperature calibration specialists the durable, intrinsically-safe digital instrument they need for precision temperature calibration.

The 1551A and 1552A “Stik” thermometers provide a highly precise and durable digital replacement for mercury-in-glass thermometers. They are intrinsically safe (ATEX and IECEx compliant), so they can be used safely where potentially explosive gases may be present. More durable than mercury-in-glass thermometers, they can be used reliably outdoors or on the production floor.

Process manufacturers of chemical, pharmaceutical, food or petroleum products require accurate temperature measurements. Since temperature sensors are subject to drift with time, regular calibration or verification against a reliable reference thermometer is required. But finding a reference thermometer that is accurate, repeatable and robust has been a challenge.

Although mercury thermometers are accurate and repeatable, they are fragile and pose the risk of a mercury spill, which can endanger the environment and human health. Several U.S. states and numerous European Union countries have banned their use in industrial applications. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has funded research to identify alternatives. But such initiatives have been hampered by the lack of an electronic alternative that was intrinsically safe, repeatable and accurate.

The Fluke “Stik” Thermometers help solve this problem, and get production managers out of a potential bind, by providing the measurement accuracy, durability and safety required in industries such as oil and gas production and petrochemicals—with no mercury hazard.
The 1551A Ex “Stik” Thermometer covers a temperature range of –50 °C to 160 °C (–58 °F to 320 °F). The model 1552A Ex covers a range of –80 °C to 300 °C (–112 °F to 572 °F). Both models are accurate to ± 0.05 °C over their full temperature range.

The stainless steel probe and digital readout of the Fluke 1551A Ex/1152A Ex “Stik” Thermometers are fixed together and calibrated as a system. The accuracy specification is easy to understand since it includes all uncertainty components, including drift, for up to one year. Unlike competing products, the large backlit LCD display rotates 90 degrees, making it easy to read from any angle.
A user-configurable stability/trend indicator lets the technician know when temperature is stable enough to record an accurate measurement. A user-settable auto-off function extends typical battery life to three hundred hours. A low-battery indicator and stop-measure function prevent erroneous measurements from being made due to low battery life. A simple three-point calibration function allows you to easily and accurately calibrate the “Stik” Thermometer. Data logging to internal memory of up to 10,000 time-stamped measurements is optionally available.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Environmentally friendly waste water treatment

Powerstax and their high-energy partners DP Energy have provided a power solution for an electrochemical water-treatment system (electro-coagulation) used for removal of dissolved and suspended contaminants from waste-water streams. The development system has successfully completed a commercial-scale pilot trial at the British wastewater treatment works of a multinational manufacturer.

The system has been developed to treat effluent from the manufacturer’s paintwork department, specifically reducing phosphate concentration in the waste water. Electro-coagulation technology is used to remove phosphates and reduce landfill more effectively than traditional chemical treatment.  By removing the requirement for chemical dosing, and producing a smaller quantity of sludge for disposal, the technology offers major environmental and economic benefits.

Minimising the energy consumption required by the system was a major design criteria and Powerstax developed a highly efficient bespoke power solution for the application. The custom designed 20VDC/ 500A 19” rack mounted HF Power Source provided the end user with the key feature of reversible current flow. The power supply offers external control of output voltage and current and output monitoring using 0-10V isolated analogue signals.

Requiring a three phase, three wire supply (Public Low Voltage Network) input voltage of 400VAC, the power supply has a power factor typically >0.94 at full load and efficiency >88% (after Power Factor). Full protection features as standard include output current protection with internal electronic control of current limit and short circuit protection. Front panel LED’s indicate power on, unit on, over-temperature, low current alarm, under Voltage and over voltage. External control is provided for enable/run (stop/start), reverse output and alarm (trip) reset. A full range of alarm signals are available to provide information to central control systems including low current, on/standby, mains on and enable, over voltage, over current, high temperature, polarity normal, polarity reverse. The rack mountable unit has dimensions of 482.6mm x 394.1mm x 212.7mm and an ambient operating temperature range of 0 to +40ºC.

Outstanding results were achieved at the waste water treatment plant with up to 95% phosphate removal and up to 70% landfill reduction due to lower sludge volumes.  Other benefits of the technology include reliability of materials supply and improved control of the process.

Tim Worley, CEO Powerstax plc comments; “This project is an excellent showcase for the high efficiency, rugged power conversion systems which we excel at. Working closely with both DP Energy and the end user we have provided a bespoke power conversion system which has now proved itself in the field.”

Process multimeter doubles as a calibrator

Instrument includes specialised functions for troubleshooting, maintenance and repair of plant equipment

The new Yokogawa CA450 process multimeter is an on-site measuring instrument that not only offers the functionality of a digital multimeter for basic measurements such as voltage, current, and resistance, but can also act as a calibrator for electrical and process measurements.

With specialised functions for repair, maintenance, and troubleshooting of plant equipment, the CA450 is a single-unit, on-site measuring solution that reduces the engineering load and improves plant efficiency by accomplishing tasks that have traditionally required two on-site measuring instruments.

The CA450 is a true RMS digital multimeter with a basic measurement and generator accuracy of 0.05% and dedicated sensor modes for direct inputs from sensors such as AC/DC clamp probes. In addition, it incorporates a number of process-related features including loop check and 4-20 mA output generation and measurement functions.

With the loop check function, designed for tests on 2-wire transmitters, the CA450 supplies 24 VDC power to the transmitter and measures the DC output in milliamperes to an accuracy of 0.05% up to 30 mA. A HART mode with loop power and 250 ohm resistance allows HART and BRAIN communications to be tested.

A transmitter simulator function allows transmitter I/O to be checked by drawing in ('sinking') designated currents from the external voltage generators of the instrumentation. The 4-20 mA generator output includes span, step, auto-step and sweep capabilities.

The CA450 can also be used to carry out operating checks and adjustments on valve positioners, including zero span adjustment, response testing using the auto-step function, and tests for hunting,
sticking/slipping and valve open/close errors. Controller programs can also be verified using the CA450's 4-20 mA step generation function, which switches between 4 and 20 mA in 4mA output steps.

Electrical measurements include power supply peak-to-peak measurement with instantaneous detection in the DC voltage measurement mode, and AC/DC current measurement up to 180 A AC and 3000 A AC in sensor mode. The CA450 can also be used to check panel meters for correct connection, reproducibility and errors.

The CA450 features a safe design with current terminal shutters to protect both the operator and the instrument against incorrect connection. It conforms to the 600 V CAT.4 and 1000 V CAT.3 standards.

An optional adaptor allows the instrument to be linked with a PC, with data transferred via an infrared USB interface.

Versatile device management tool

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has released the FieldMateTM R2.03 versatile device management  tool: an upgraded version intended for use in plants and other production-related sites. In response to rapid growth in the Chinese market, Chinese language support has been included as a standard feature. Support for the ISA100.11a field wireless communications standard is also provided.

Development background
Digital communications standards play an increasingly important role in communications between plant central control systems and field sensors. With conventional field communications, only measured values from sensors are sent to the central control systems. With digital communication technologies, however, additional data such as sensor settings and maintenance information can be sent, and operators in a central control room are also able to remotely configure and adjust the sensors.

Plants using sensors from multiple vendors that rely on more than one communications standard require versatile software tools for device configuration, adjustment, and management. FieldMate, an open standard software package that supports FDT/DTM as well as all other major field communications standards, is ideally suited for such requirements. Yokogawa has released this upgraded version of FieldMate to capitalise on opportunities for growth in the device maintenance market.

Product features
1. Chinese language support provided as a standard feature
FieldMate now supports the Chinese language, in addition to Japanese and English, positioning this product to capture a larger share of the rapidly growing Chinese market. Yokogawa has plans to add support for other languages at a later date.
2. Support of the field wireless communications standard

The upgraded version of FieldMate is now capable of supporting the ISA100.11a field wireless communications standard, which is gaining rapid acceptance in the marketplace. FieldMate's support of all major field communication protocols allows customers to manage a wide variety of devices, and to select field sensors from different vendors.

FieldMate is a PC-based device configuration tool with an intuitive, user-friendly interface that is used to perform initial setup, routine maintenance, and device replacement. It supports all major industry-standard communication protocols such as FOUNDATION Fieldbus, PROFIBUS, BRAIN, and HART, as well as the FDT/DTM open framework for setting and adjusting any vendor's network-capable field device, regardless of which communications protocol is used. In addition, support for the ISA100.11a field wireless communications standard enables configuration, adjustment, and management of a wider variety of field devices in plants.

Field Device Tool (FDT) is a communications interface that links control systems with field sensors such as pressure transmitters and flowmeters. Device Type Manager (DTM) is an FDT-based device application that is provided by a vendor of a device or a control system.

Main target markets
Target markets include facility maintenance divisions in process industries such as oil, petrochemicals, chemicals, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals, foods and beverages, and iron and steel. Applications include sensor configuration, adjustment, and inspection and device information management in plants and other production facilities

Report on recent Yokogawa Technology Day in Ireland

Control, instrumentation and sensor & measurement showcase

From its conception, MTEC continues to be Britain's  premier event for companies showcasing the latest in control, instrumentation and sensor & measurement technologies needed in today's non- or limited-tolerance production processes and products. Officially supported by the Institute of Measurement & Control, this is your company's opportunity to stand out among key decision makers from diversified industries such as aerospace, medical, automotive, manufacturing and green energy.

Co-located with MEDTEC UK and the new broad-based manufacturing show, Midlands Design & Manufacturing, these three events are expected to attract in excess of combined 6,500 design, process control & instrumentation engineers, as well as corporate management to the NEC this April.

These visitors will be searching for the latest technologies and innovations to solve current production issues, assist in the delivery of new innovation products, and give a boost to their overall business activities.

With companies such as Huba Control, Variohm, Micro-Epsilon, Vishay Measurement Group, Rhopoint Components, Tesa Technology, Infratec, Nixon Flowmeters, ESI Technology , Weldlogic & Renishaw to name but a few exhibiting, MTEC cements itself as the hub event for the UK's control & instrumentation industry.

 See our Reports on previous mtec shows.

Reducing consumption to save

Proficy® for Sustainability Metrics Accelerates Energy and Water Reductions with Actionable Information

GE Intelligent Platforms has a new software solution aimed at helping producers achieve more environmentally sustainable operations. Going beyond utility billings, or facility-level meters, Proficy® for Sustainability Metrics offers a starting point for measuring and analyzing energy and water consumption at the area, process or machine level within a facility. The solution makes utility consumption data actionable by exposing it to those in a position to manage it day-by-day in a facility.

“A combination of regulatory, customer and cost pressures are driving every sector, most notably manufacturing, to reduce consumption of energy and water throughout their operations,” said Erik Udstuen, Vice President, Software & Services. “Some customers may realize significant savings, on the line of approximately 20% of energy or water in an area or process, simply by exposing unusual consumption patterns and prompting intervention by operators and supervisors.”

Measurement of resource usage has commonly been based on utility bills, or on “whole facility” levels of measurement. And, most existing software applications that deal with utility consumption deliver information and analytics in isolation from contextual data that would provide insight into the factors that actually drive usage. By enabling detailed measurement and reporting in relation to the processes and equipment that are consuming resources, Proficy for Sustainability Metrics enables both real-time response to unusual usage, and provides a detailed history to drive analysis and improvement efforts. This combination of responsiveness and data-driven equipment tuning has enabled some GE customers to realize water or energy usage reductions of more than 10%.

The Proficy for Sustainability Metrics solution is built on industry-leading software products from GE’s Proficy Software Platform: Proficy Historian, Proficy Pulse and Industrial Gateway Server I/O drivers, and it includes visualization objects that can be used in the Pulse environment as well as Proficy iFIX. This architecture means Sustainability Metrics to be easily integrated with existing supervisory and monitoring systems or deployed alongside, leveraging existing investments in data collection or automation.

“Providing a solution that contains standard products with a set of re-usable objects enables customers to quickly construct a measurement and reporting framework that matches the physical realities of their facility, and reduces the time and cost associated with delivering by-area or by-asset views of consumption,” Udstuen continued.

Manufacturers will be particularly interested in this solution as it represents a low-cost, low-risk way to begin collecting and presenting data that not only offers internal economic value, but also is required by an increasing number of customers. And, for campus-based organizations like universities, multi-building corporations and hospitals, it is the first step in a campus optimization journey to view data from islands of automated systems across the campus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GC/FTIR interface

AABSPEC has introduced a new, high performance GC/FTIR Interface, the IX10-8B.

This no-compromise design has as its heart a solid gold light-pipe formed from pure gold using newly developed manufacturing methods. It provides very low flow rate capability for excellent capillary chromatography plus extreme inertness for the most demanding sample types.

Additional new technology has been developed enabling higher upper temperature operating limits. The resulting product offers unmatched excellence in Capillary GC/FTIR. The IX10-8B is available now.

International automation competancy

Nelson Ninan AF Chairman
The Automation Federation Board of Directors has approved the participation of AF as project leader for a new manufacturing technology project within the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) program. The purpose of this project is to develop an international network through which the Automation Competency Model (ACM), developed by AF and the United States Department of Labor in 2009, can be disseminated, promulgated, and updated. This network will be called the Automation Competency Model Network (ACMN).

Through the ACMN, partners in non-U.S. IMS Regions and in other countries worldwide will be encouraged to adopt the ACM, adapting it as necessary to local circumstances and using it as the basis for developing training and education curricula as appropriate. This project will operate as an open network, and additional partners from IMS Regions with expertise in automation competencies will be actively encouraged to participate.

Several IMS partners expressed their interest in being part of the ACM Network, and are joining the ACMN project, including Switzerland’s University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) Institute CIM for Sustainable Innovation (ICIMSI); Mexico’s Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM); and Mexico’s government agency, ProMéxico.

Dr. Marco Colla of ICIMSI stated, “We have a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with courses and a lab on automation, so our interest [in the ACMN] is having a reference for comparing course content, and maybe, in the future, for creating a specialization (or degree) for automation.”

Nelson Ninin, 2011 Automation Federation chair commented, “I am pleased that the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems program has aligned itself with the Automation Federation to help promote the Automation Competency Model and the importance the Model holds in enhancing recognition of the automation profession. This project will significantly aid AF in spreading our message about the importance of the automation professional worldwide.”

System of systems in lube plant!

InFusion ECS implementation at  lubes plant unifies existing systems to help achieve operational excellence

Invensys Operations Management has successfully implemented an InFusion™ Enterprise Control System (ECS) for ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties Company. Through a joint Invensys and ExxonMobil team effort, the installation was successfully completed and the plant was back to full production on schedule with no safety incidents.

Installed at ExxonMobil’s lubricants plant in Beaumont (TX US), the InFusion ECS will help manage the operating facility, controlling major processes and integrating the existing SAP enterprise resource planning, batch process and final packaging and shipping systems. By making extensive use of Invensys’ open, industry-standards-based ArchestrA® architecture framework and other advanced technologies, the ECS will apply the principles of real-time process automation across the manufacturing enterprise to improve production flexibility and workflow, as well as address end-of-life issues within the existing control systems.

“In 2004, ExxonMobil embarked on a global modernisation plan to realise the lubricant plant of the future, selecting Invensys as their preferred production and integration partner,” said Eric Moorehead, vice president, strategic accounts, Invensys Operations Management. “The InFusion ECS installation at Beaumont continues that modernisation effort. Operating as a ‘system of systems,’ the InFusion ECS holistically integrates our open technology with legacy applications and third-party solutions to improve the plant’s operations and performance in real time. This unique ability is what sets the InFusion ECS apart from anything on the market today.”

As part of its ongoing relationship with ExxonMobil, Invensys is also using its Houston (TX US), Engineering Center of Excellence to incorporate best practices for ExxonMobil in Beaumont and Port Allen, (LA US). This approach is helping ExxonMobil continually improve its control system strategies and achieve its goal of developing the lube plant of the future.

PCB adaptor offers direct board mounting of industrial connector

A PCB adaptor which allows direct board mounting of the Han® Q 12/0 industrial connector has been introduced by Harting.

The new adaptor means that the Han® Q 12/0 - the HARTING connector in the small Han® 3 A series with the highest number of pins - now has the option of direct connection to device boards. In addition to the actual PCB adaptor, special versions of the Han® Q 12/0 connector's male and female inserts for the PCB adaptor are being introduced.

The PCB adaptor can be installed independently of the connector, allowing it to be pre-mounted according to the pinhole pattern on the board, as with other components. The male or female insert for the PCB adaptor is installed after the board has been installed in the housing by being mounted on to the PCB and fixed in place on the bulkhead-mounted housing with the fixing screw.

Because of the separation of the connector from the PCB adaptor, all 12 contacts and the PE conductor can be used for connection to the PCB.

The adaptor meets the requirements of the DIN EN 61984 standard, with electrical ratings of 7.5 A and 250 V rated and a 4 kV impulse voltage at pollution degree 3.

The new PCB adaptor model complements HARTING's existing range, which includes adaptors for the Han DD®, Han E®, Han-Modular® and Han® Q series of connectors.

Fieldbus protocol offering expanded

Emerson expands its PROFIBUS digital protocol offering to include Rosemount® pressure and temperature transmitters

A complete Emerson device portfolio now supports PROFIBUS PA profile V3.02, providing PROFIBUS users with the latest interoperable devices

Emerson Process Management has expanded its PROFIBUS offering to include the Rosemount® 3051 pressure transmitter and Rosemount 644 temperature transmitter, both available with PROFIBUS PA profile V3.02. Now more than ever, Emerson can provide customers with a comprehensive offering of PROFIBUS solutions, making it easier to have one protocol for an entire plant.

PROFIBUS PA is the latest addition to the Rosemount 3051 pressure transmitter, and continues the tradition of releasing industry first capabilities with a Local Operator Interface that features simple addressing and configuration at the transmitter. It is available on the complete Rosemount 3051 family of products including 3051CF flowmeters and 3051L level transmitters.
The versatile Rosemount 644 has also expanded its platform to include PROFIBUS, making it even easier for the flexible DIN A Head Mount design to fit customers’ needs. Now existing PROFIBUS PA users can experience the benefits of the Rosemount 644 temperature transmitter equipped with custom addressing capability.

Emerson products are designed and tested to open standards, providing the highest level of interoperability. Emerson devices communicate seamlessly with hosts to provide complete, open, and interoperable access to device functionality and information. Emerson’s certified PROFIBUS specialists are trained to provide global support on any Emerson devices.

Emerson’s growing portfolio of PROFIBUS supported interoperable products includes the DeltaV™ digital automation system and AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager, Fisher® control valves, Rosemount flow, pressure, and temperature transmitters and Micro Motion® Coriolis mass flowmeters.

DSP engine

Mistral Solutions has announced the availability of Curtiss Wright’s CHAMP-AV8: its first rugged, high performance OpenVPX DSP engine based on the new quad-core Intel® CoreTM i7-2715QE processor.

The new CHAMP-AV8 is also Curtiss-Wright Controls’ first DSP engine to offer IDT's upcoming Gen2 PCIe-to-sRIO protocol conversion bridging semiconductor product, bringing the performance and bandwidth advantages of sRIO switch fabrics to the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor-based embedded computing applications.

Available in a full range of air- and conduction-cooled configurations, the rugged CHAMP-AV8 combines the significantly improved floating-point performance of the latest Intel® Core™ i7 processors, with the substantial bandwidth and system-enabling features of the 6U OpenVPX™ form factor. The board’s pair of quad-core processors features new Intel AVX floating-point instructions, and delivers unmatched performance, rated at up to 269 GFLOPS.

With a 21GB/s (peak) DDR3 memory subsystem connected directly to the processor, the Intel® CoreTM i7-2715QE is able to maximize the throughput of its Intel AVX vector processing units and process larger vectors at peak rates significantly greater than was possible with previous AltiVec™-based systems.

The CHAMP-AV8 features a high-bandwidth PCI Express® (PCIe) architecture, with on-board PCIe connections between the processors and the XMC site. With 8GB of Flash and up to 16GB of SDRAM, the CHAMP-AV8 is designed for applications with demanding storage, data logging and sensor processing requirements.

Meeting environmental and operational challenges.

Proficy® Software Platform Named GE ecomagination sm Product 

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced that its industry-leading software platform, Proficy®, has been named an ecomagination sm product its parent company, GE. ecomagination is GE’s corporate-wide commitment to help customers meet their environmental and operational challenges.

About ecomagination!

GE is driving a global energy transformation with a focus on innovation and R&D investment to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technology. Since its inception in 2005, more than 90 ecomagination-approved products have been brought to market with revenues reaching $18 billion in 2009. With $5 billion invested in R&D its first five years, GE committed to doubling its ecomagination investment and collaborate with partners to accelerate a new era of energy innovation. The company will invest $10 billion in R&D over five years and double operational energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. As part of the initiative, GE launched the “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid”, a $200 million financial commitment challenging innovators to join in building the next-generation power grid.
The ecomagination program, which now has 98 approved products in the portfolio, is based on GE’s belief that solving environmental problems is good business around the world. It represents a pledge by the company to continually improve operations and invest in research and development that will produce more innovative ecomagination products. ecomagination is GE's business strategy to address global energy issues through technology and innovation. Through ecomagination, GE is driving a global energy transformation with a focus on innovation and R&D investment to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technology.
The Proficy Software Platform is used worldwide for industrial and commercial applications to provide deep insight into process/asset performance and identify ways to reduce costs and take corrective actions, enabling companies to increase productivity and efficiency, optimize production and decrease energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions.
“The ecomagination designation is an affirmation of our commitment to providing products that meet both the ecomagination environmental performance standards, as well as the business needs of customers around the world,” said Maryrose Sylvester, President and CEO of GE Intelligent Platforms. “GE is delivering innovative products that help customers gain a sustainable competitive advantage in both operating performance and environmental performance.”
To earn ecomagination approval, Proficy was evaluated for its ability to significantly and measurably improve customers’ environmental and operating performance. The rigorous, multi-tiered review process concluded with a third-party audit to ensure accuracy and thorough documentation of technological performance. The extensive nature of this process reflects GE’s commitment to the accuracy and rigor of ecomagination, which has brought global recognition of the company’s environmentally advanced products. ecomagination products are re-qualified regularly to help ensure that claims remain accurate.
The Proficy Software Platform is ecomagination approved for improving overall process efficiency, reducing waste and defects, and reducing energy usage. “Proficy Software layered on top of our existing plant infrastructure has provided the tools to manage quality, efficiency, inventory levels, consumption and delivery information,” said Stefan Malmsten, Industrial IT Manager for Eka Chemicals, a business unit in AkzoNobel. The company’s strategy has paid off. Its sustainable business practices have earned AkzoNobel the global leader in the chemical industry ranking from The Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes (DJSI).
Proficy Software’s integrated capability to collect, organize, analyze, and drive work processes around massive volumes of real-time data provides companies with a sustainable competitive advantage into the future. This was proven by numerous customer proof points including:
  • A wine bottler in the U.S. saved $5 million annually through improved quality; increased production by 5 percent and reduced defects by 25 percent and reduced plant downtime by 25 percent. In addition, the company protected the environment by significantly lowering energy needs to run the glass furnaces, decreasing emissions by 80 percent.
  • A producer of cooling lubricants in Switzerland realized up to 45% reduction in energy costs and reduced CO2 emissions with its Proficy Software solution.
  • A U.S. manufacturer in the steel industry reduced scrap by more than 1,000 tons per year and improved machine uptime by approximately 1%.
  • A water treatment plant in Italy realized a 28% energy efficiency improvement and significantly improved its water improvement process.
  • Polish brewing company decreased the total number of mechanical and electrical downtime events by 39% and increased the availability of resources.
The Proficy Software Platform can improve overall process efficiency by approximately 3% to 15%, and can reduce waste and defects in manufacturing and infrastructure applications by approximately 1% to 10% on average. Many companies may see an even greater reduction. In addition, Proficy can significantly reduce the average energy usage associated with operations.
Proficy is the latest example of how GE’s $4 billion-a-year software and solutions services businesses are helping customers improve productivity.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hidden energy savings uncovered!

Proficy software solution uncovers hidden energy savings across manufacturing facilities

General Motors, a 20-plus-year customer of GE Intelligent Platforms, has augmented its Proficy software solution to control the lights and other big energy consuming equipment in its assembly plants, saving the major automobile manufacturer energy costs and considerably reducing its carbon footprint.

In a car factory, which has a few million square feet of floor space, turning lights off when that part of the plant is not in use, saves a lot of energy, and money. General Motors realised that if they tied the lights to the schedule of the conveyor (outside of the security lighting), they could considerably reduce energy consumption in the plant. GE Intelligent Platforms’ Proficy® CIMPLICITY controls the conveyor so GM managers approved an application based on CIMPLICITY that schedules the lights to coincide with conveyor operation. This led to other discoveries of potential energy savings.
“Everything in a vehicle assembly plant is tied to the conveyor,” said Mike Durak, General Motors, Global Information Technology Manager. “A hidden benefit was that once we scheduled the conveyor we had a good view into what the plant was doing, so we were able to schedule the on and off of big energy consumers in the plant like air supply houses on the roof, ovens in the paint shop, lighting, water, and compressed air generators.”
The savings comes from being able to control millions of square feet of plant floor space with Proficy CIMPLICITY software, a client/server based HMI/SCADA solution that allows operators and management team to make more informed decisions with real-time visibility technology. In GM’s case, the team can manage certain parts of the factory or the whole plant from any location.
Employees are not affected by the automatic shut off of lighting and equipment. From the lighting perspective, lights are turned on two or three minutes before employees arrive at their workstation. The general building lighting goes on a few minutes earlier. “We’ve also scheduled different turn on/shut offs on weekends,” said Durak. “For instance, ovens in the paint shop need two hours to warm up so we need to take that into account when we turn them off. Therefore, we have different times for end of shift, weekends, extended long production, lunch and end of day, just to name a few.”
The paint shop in automotive assembly is a significant energy consumer, because in order to make sure that the car’s paint does not contain dust or other contaminates in the final product, it is important to have the optimum air quality and temperature. Proficy CIMPLICITY is used by General Motors to monitor the paint shop environmental conditions alerting the paint shop staff when process circumstances begin to trend out of acceptable ranges.
With its less than six month payback and low cost to implement, the solution is now rolling out to 20 plants in the GM family. Example annual savings versus one-time implementation costs at individual plants include:
  • For weld water pumps/cooling tower/fans, chilled water and exhaust fans, annual savings 7 times greater
  • For hydraulic pumps, ovens, weld water pumps/cooling towers/fans, annual savings 4 times greater
  • HVAC and line lighting savings are 5 times greater
  • Ventilation, line lighting, air supply/exhaust savings are 5 times greater
“General Motors has extended their application of Proficy software to further their goals of operational excellence,” said Erik Udstuen, Software Vice President for GE Intelligent Platforms. “This is a perfect example of what Proficy can do to connect the enterprise to execution systems driving real-time decision making, enabling lean operations, and improving efficiency.”
vProficy CIMPLICITY is presently deployed by General Motors in 85 global facilities in the USA, South America, Europe and Asia. Proficy CIMPLICITY either provides or is the basis of GM’s 11 Global common manufacturing applications that include Production Monitoring and Control, Bank Management and vehicle routing and control in the paint process.

Enterprise-wide collaboration made easier

Invensys Operations Management has announced the release of Skelta™ BPM 2011, a robust  business process management solution.

Skelta, a brand offering of Invensys Operations Management, provides business process management (BPM) and advanced workflow solutions for enterprises worldwide. Its flagship product, Skelta BPM software, provides a strong and collaborative platform that automates the sequence of human and system activities that are required to complete specific business goals.

A next-generation business application platform, Skelta BPM software provides users with the ability to create new BPM-enabled applications rapidly by making use of powerful features such as an embeddable, web-based process designer; forms designer; process monitoring and optimisation capabilities; multi-tenancy; multiple communication channels; and strong integration with Microsoft®  technologies. In addition, the software offers online access to the operating environment, thus enabling a SaaS or cloud version that reduces barriers to access and use.

This new release of the Skelta BPM software has many new productivity enhancements, including the ability to collaborate from within web-based forms, extending advanced BPM functionality to Microsoft SharePoint® 2010; document management enhancements; customisable user-friendly business dashboards and web parts; and support for custom controls.

Skelta BPM software is used by approximately 700 customers across many industry verticals. It is used by financial institutions, government organisations, educational institutions, business process outsourcers and other organisations to build horizontal solutions such as accounts payable, document management, compliance management, HRIS and other business processes.

Sanjay Shah
Sanjay Shah, Skelta managing director for Invensys, said, “The Skelta BPM 2011 software has matured and evolved. We strongly believe it will provide businesses across the world a better platform for enterprise-wide collaboration, while at the same time leverage existing systems to achieve operational excellence and high returns on our clients’ BPM investments. We also thank our customers and partners for giving us their valuable suggestions to help us evolve this product over the time."

To mark the launch of the Skelta BPM 2011 software, Sandy Kemsley, a leading independent BPM analyst and systems architect specialising in business process management and Enterprise 2.0, will deliver a webinar titled BPM and Application Composition. The webinar will be hosted on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, explaining how BPM-enabled composite applications ensure rapid ROI. Attendees will also have free access to a complementary whitepaper on the topic.

Visit strengthens EU locations with innovation, technology, education and knowledge

European Commission president Barroso visits Festo
José Manuel Barroso with Dr. Eberhard Veit, Chairman of the Management Board, Festo AG.
 President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and European Commissioner Günther Oettinger visited Festo in Esslingen (D), on Thursday, 20 January 2011, during Barroso’s visit to the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The visit focused on success factors for strengthening the EU’s competitiveness and facilitating sustainable and ecological growth. These include Festo Didactic’s global concepts for technical education, cutting-edge manufacturing concepts for the factories of the future and completely new approaches in the field of energy efficiency with the aid of bionics. The EU’s main research fields and their implementation in public-private partnerships and cross-company networks are becoming an increasingly decisive factor for sustainable growth.

Global challenge: keeping locations competitive
“Only those who invest in the future today will be able to successfully compete in future. This applies to both companies and business locations such as the EU,” stressed Dr. Eberhard Veit, Chairman of the Management Board of Festo AG. He went on to emphasize that efficient and productive approaches – as well as often completely new manufacturing technologies – were required in the EU as enablers for the successful market implementation of new research results and key technologies, such as biotechnology. "With the aid of cutting-edge technologies, we aim to make our facilities more productive and achieve future success together with our lead customers,” he explained.

Festo supports this aim with the know-how it has gained from supplying automation technology to over 200 industrial sectors – including highly specific regional industries in certain EU states, such as cork production in Portugal. Festo helps its customers comply with machine guidelines, as well as safety and quality standards. Only the perfect interplay of technical solutions with consulting expertise, services and training programmes can guarantee optimum customer networking. This enables the perfect integration of solutions into the customer’s machine and manufacturing concepts throughout various facilities in the EU and around the world.

“Our products and solutions help customers reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their machines. We want to make the engineering process simpler, faster and safer for our customers; in Germany, Europe and around the world. We highlight opportunities for increased productivity, helping companies and business locations become more competitive,” adds Dr. Ansgar Kriwet, Member of the Management Board Region and Sales Europe.

Education is the future
Competiveness, innovative strength, knowledge and learning are all closely linked within the company. With increasing globalisation, they will become the key factors for manufacturing excellence in the 21st century. Education and training are the foundation on which societies can achieve sustainable development. They help secure peace, prosperity and jobs in an increasingly complex environment. Education and training are the raw material for global success – today and for coming generations.

Leading industrial companies need technical and technological quantum leaps to generate sustainable growth. Sharpening this technological edge has become a key priority for many companies. Innovative solutions are required which ensure that skills are continually adapted to the growing demands of technical progress and globalisation. The decisive challenge for economies, companies and educational institutes is to achieve a knowledge-based lead by making sustainable investments in the field of education. This applies in particular to the EU as a business location.

“Education and skills training also need business to take a sustained initiative. Festo can draw on its expertise in over 200 sectors to provide training for skilled employees. Companies and universities around the world rely on Festo’s modern training solutions with cutting-edge practical components to enhance their competitive standing. They know that innovation and productivity begin with training,” stressed Dr. Theodor Niehaus, Managing Director of Festo Didactic, and added: “We must take aholistic view of the manufacturing process. Simply looking at the performance of products and equipment is no longer enough. Actual productivity gains can only be achieved if you also consider organisational expertise and staff skills. We have to provide answers in the three fields of People, Technology and Organisation. The training and consulting provided by Festo Didactic represent a key component in this respect.”

“Blended Learning Solutions” is the term applied to the tailored knowledge transfer of the future, based on a wide variety of formats: from modular learning systems simulating industrial plants, to software, e-learning, web-based training, on-site seminars and the accompanying specialist literature. Only the right blend of these tools makes learning both effective and efficient. Some 42,000 customers are trained every year at seminars or in Festo’s own training facilities – in 176 countries around the globe. Festo sees its contribution to society as part of a corporate educational responsibility.

With its Festo Education Fund and involvement in the European (EuroSkills) and international (WorldSkills) vocational skills championships for Mechatronics and Mobile Robotics, as well as many other international, national and regional projects, Festo promotes technical skills among young people, supports international training standards and encourages outstanding technical achievements.

Research excellence strengthens EU locations
“Our high investments in R&D, future technologies and Future Concepts form the basis for sustainable global success. Despite the economic crisis, Festo has reached a record R&D investment ratio of 9.5 % of turnover since 2009. The main focus of our R&D activities is placed on the areas of man-machine cooperation, energy efficiency, ease of operation, machine availability and process reliability,” explains Dr. Veit. Over 700 R&D employees are currently working on long-term new product development, as well as on customer-specific projects. In this way, the company aims to achieve a further lead in the global competition for production technology. “As the highest accolade, or technology Oscar, the ‘Deutscher Zukunftspreis’ (German Futures Award) 2010 for our Bionic Handling Assistant was a clear vindication of our strategy,” stresses Dr. Veit. Cross-company collaboration in networks and clusters is also becoming increasingly important.

Dr. Peter Post, Head of Research at Festo and Speaker of Manufuture Europe, also underlined the significance of the EU initiative Manufuture in this respect. “Within the framework of the European Manufuture initiative, Festo is working on application-oriented concepts for the manufacturing technology of the future. The engineering industry is one of the largest employers in Europe and a guarantee for growth and prosperity in the EU. We can only rise to the challenges of the future if we invest enough research funds in this sector and if companies cooperate across borders,” he explained.

Sustainable growth with energy-efficient innovations
“Festo attaches great importance to environmental protection and resource efficiency. Increased productivity, reduced costs and energy efficiency are critical factors for efficient automation – both for us and for our customers around the world,” said Dr. Veit.

The engineering sector was hit hard by the economic crisis in 2009. The economic, technological and ecological challenges were higher than ever. But the crisis also illustrated one fact: only companies acting in a sustainable manner could compete on the market and be a true partner for their customers and employees, as well as for the environment.

As a family-owned company, Festo takes a holistic approach. It assumes global and local responsibility for its actions and aims to conserve resources and enhance the quality of life wherever it operates – with the aid of new technologies, knowledge and education.

“Our research also focuses on making production processes safer, more eco-friendly and more efficient – at our own facilities and those of our customers.

"This is why our production processes and products have made us such an important pioneer in automation technology over the years. This is also how we are seen by the general public. This is particularly true, for example, in the field of bionics – the transfer of biological principles to technology. Nature can provide us with completely new insights into how we can achieve more performance with less energy. With our Bionic Learning Network, we have created a platform for the energy-efficient drive systems of the future.

"We want to set new standards with regard to energy efficiency and green manufacturing. With the aid of our self-developed Energy Saving Services, for example, companies can save up to two thirds of their compressed air consumption during production. The Environmental Technology Award 2009 for our Energy Saving Services, as well as the strong demand from our customers for energy-efficient solutions, are confirmation that we are on the right track. We also regard the international Energy Efficiency Award we received at the Hanover Fair in 2008 as further motivation to enhance our company’s buildings, production methods and industrial plant,” adds Dr. Veit.

Communications groups has new member

Contemporary Controls develops products such as the BAS Remote that allow users to integrate Modbus devices into BACnet networks. Modbus remains a popular protocol for Contemporary Controls customers.

To support the continued use and application of Modbus, Contemporary Controls has joined the Modbus Organization, the nonprofit trade group.

Modbus was introduced in 1979 by Modicon (now part of Schneider Electric), the leader in the infant programmable logic controller (PLC) market. It was intended as the internal point-to-point communications protocol between Modicon PLCs and programming panels used to program the controllers.

“The Modbus protocol continues to thrive because it is easy to understand and many engineers have cut their protocol teeth on Modbus,” said George Thomas, President of Contemporary Controls. “Products like the BAS Remote make Modbus to BACnet integration easy.”

The Modbus Organization is group of independent users and suppliers of automation devices interested in promoting the Modbus communication protocol suite. The organization provides the infrastructure to obtain and share information about Modbus protocols, application and certification.

In today’s industry, there are two implementations of Modbus. The traditional implementation of Modbus over a serial line is called Modbus Serial. The more modern implementation of Modbus operating over a TCP/IP network is called Modbus TCP.  Both implementations remain popular.   Using the BAS Remote allows users to keep their existing Modbus devices and integrate them with larger BACnet networks.

On-board weighing systems

CANopen device profile for on-board weighing systems

Another application is truck-mounted cranes
Members of CAN in Automation (CiA) have established the CANopen SIG (Special Interest Group) on-board weighing systems. They intend to develop the CANopen profile for on-board weighing systems. Experts from Celmi (IT), Dennis Eagle (GB), Moba (DE), Pfreundt (DE), and PM Vishay (GB) accepted the submitted CiA 459 work draft proposal (WDP) as discussion base. The SIG plans to release the first version of the draft standard proposal (DSP) by end of this year. The experts elected unanimously Ashley Clarke as chairman of the SIG.

CANopen is increasingly used as body network in off-highway and off-road vehicles. In particular in battery-powered forklifts, it is also used as drive-train network. The proposed CANopen on-board weighing system is also suitable for truck-mounted bodies. A typical application is refuse collection trucks.

Another application is truck-mounted cranes, which need information about the actual load of the truck.

The proposed CANopen device profile should simplify the integration in CANopen-based body control networks in any kind of vehicle. This includes trucks as well as off-highway vehicles such as forklifts, agriculture

and construction machines. The on-board weighing system may use internally a deeply embedded CANopen network linking the CiA 404 compatible load-cells. Alternatively the sensors are networked by other communication technologies including analog interfaces. The CANopen interface of the on-board weighing system hides these internal details. In case of deeply embedded CANopen networks, it is possible to implement the CiA 302-7 SDO/EMCY router, in order to access from the CANopen body network each sensors individually.

High voltage switches

Diversified Technologies provide compact, solid-state high voltage switch modules that provide direct high voltage switching for replacing switch tubes, ion and plasma processing, and large scale electroporation.

Their DTI PowerMod™ Solid-State Switch Modules provide high voltage switching in as little as 50 ns and pulse repetition frequencies up to 30 KHz are avail-able with pulsewidths variable on a pulse-to-pulse basis from 1 µsec to DC. Eliminating transformers and impedance matching, the modules are controlled at ground with a simple magnetically-coupled loop, operate on 110/220 VAC power, and accept pulse commands via fiber optic link to simplify integration.

Featuring >99% switching efficiency, or <50 V drop for a 10 kV, 300 A module, DTI PowerMod™ Solid-State Switch Modules measure 305 x 127 x 76.2 mm and can be stacked for switching up to 500 kV at 5,000 A. Operating fully “on” or fully “off” which greatly eases high voltage management, each module yields >1 million hours predicted reliability per MIL-HDBK-217F.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking advantage of ‘Sandy Bridge’ technology

GE Intelligent Platforms today announced the second in its planned family of new products that take advantage of the compelling potential of the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors – formerly codenamed ‘Sandy Bridge’. The SBC324 3U OpenVPX rugged single board computer features a quad core processor operating at up to 2.1GHz, coupled with up to 8GBytes of DDR3 1,333MHz memory for exceptional performance in size-, weight- and power-constrained applications in harsh environments such as unmanned vehicles.

GE Intelligent Platforms SBC324 3U VPX
single board computer
Supported by GE’s extensive ecosystem of 3U VPX capabilities – which includes NVIDIA® CUDA-based GPGPU functionality, advanced graphics, high performance switches, high density storage and rugged chassis – the SBC324 is expected to be deployed not only in traditional 3U VPX applications such as command/control, but also in ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance), radar/sonar and signal processing.

“The SBC324 brings superior processing performance as well as a range of other new functionalities such as integrated graphics and memory controller, Intel’s AVX technology for demanding signal processing applications and second generation PCI Express for faster interconnect,” said Rob McKeel, President, Military & Aerospace, GE Intelligent Platforms. “These add up to a solution that will deliver significantly more capabilities than have historically been possible with the 3U VPX architecture.”

The SBC324 also provides an upgrade for GE’s MAGIC1 Rugged Display Computer which combines the throughput of a second generation Intel Core i7 processor with the advanced parallel processing of an NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPGPU.

The SBC324 benefits from a range of PCI Express backplane configurations; an XMC site with I/O; two 10/100/1000BaseT Gigabit Ethernet interfaces; VGA graphics; HD audio; two SATA channels; four USB 2.0 ports; a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port; and two RS-232/422 COM ports.

A rich software choice is planned for the SBC324, including comprehensive Deployed Test Software (BIT and BCS) plus operating system support for Windows® 7, Open Linux®, VxWorks®, LynxOS® and LynxOS-SE®.

GE’s SBC624 6U OpenVPX rugged single board computer, based on the 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 processors, was announced on January 5. Three further additions to the family are planned for the near future, which will bring latest generation Core i7 performance to CompactPCI® and VMEbus systems, as well as to a new digital signal processing platform.

Over 9,000 instrument drivers

National Instruments now offers more than 9,000 drivers from more than 350 vendors through the Instrument Driver Network (IDNet) that simplify and automate connection to stand-alone instruments. IDNet, the industry’s largest source of instrument drivers, includes more than 1,000 new drivers added since November 2009. The drivers are written for the LabVIEW graphical development platform, the NI LabWindows™/CVI ANSI C integrated development environment and Measurement Studio for Microsoft Visual Studio.

Engineers, scientists and instrument manufacturers around the world have relied on National Instruments software and instrument drivers since the first version of LabVIEW was shipped in 1986. With the latest version, LabVIEW 2010, engineers can use the new Instrument Driver Finder (IDFinder) to quickly search IDNet and download different LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers for their stand-alone instruments. IDFinder scans the system for connected instruments; downloads and installs the appropriate drivers; and presents ready-to-run examples to the engineer. IDFinder significantly reduces time to first measurement by helping engineers get up and running without leaving the LabVIEW environment.

From IDNet, engineers can download LabVIEW Plug and Play, LabWindows/CVI Plug and Play and interchangeable virtual instrument (IVI) drivers certified by NI to automate measurements from thousands of instruments. With NI software, instrument drivers can simplify instrument automation across a variety of buses including GPIB, USB, PXI, PCI, Ethernet, LXI and RS232. NI builds all of its instrument drivers using VISA, an industry-standard I/O programming interface that abstracts the underlying bus communication for a consistent programming experience regardless of the instrument bus.

Top ten energy trends!

The global energy industry is undergoing unprecedented changes. Rapid increase in energy consumption in the developing world will be the key driver of growth for the global energy market. China is becoming the world’s largest energy consumer. Huge demand for power will come from Africa and India as well, thanks to the development and electrification in rural regions. Market participants have to start preparing for the oncoming spike in demand. To help companies effectively navigate the market as well as successfully achieve growth objectives, Frost & Sullivan has listed the Top Ten Global Energy Trends expected to dominate by 2020.

Beatrice Shepherd,
Frost & Sullivan’s Director CEE, Russia & CIS, in a presentation entitled “Energy Policy of the Future: Top Ten Global Trends” noted, “In today’s increasingly changing and competitive environment, market participants must continuously look for promising business opportunities. The energy industry, a key sector to the world economy, is particularly important and must be closely monitored in order to maximize investment returns by understanding what is impacting the market.”

The main trend in the global energy industry is power demand growth, as the world energy consumption is projected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030, (Energy Information Administration, US, 2009). Europe, with its ageing fleet of power plants would require approximately 25GW of additional generation capacity annually up to 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan estimation. Demand for power in Africa, China and India will rise with rural electrification efforts. Developed countries will significantly support the energy demand by endorsing expansion of the electric and hybrid vehicles. Global electrification will reach 80 percent by 2020.

A new age of natural gas is coming with the massive boost in LNG availability. “The really interesting development is the quick rise in what is called ‘unconventional gas’ supplies,” says Ms. Shepherd. “The US has already overtaken Russia in 2009 as the world's largest gas producer due to surging production of shale and coal seam gas.” The search for unconventional gas is developing in China and Europe; however the procedures of extracting gas are still being considered.

Clean coal commercialization is the next important trend listed by Frost & Sullivan. “Clean coal technologies will continue to play an important part in the coal power generation industry over the next few years with increased investments in the area,” notes Ms. Shepherd. Technologies that have a long-term potential are carbon capture and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC).

A global revival of the nuclear sector, mainly driven by China, India and Russia, is another significant theme in the energy industry. Nuclear energy is considered one of the most cost-effective technologies to meet the ever-increasing demand for electricity and also a crucial contributor to energy independence and security of supply. The number of partnerships and co-operation agreements is increasing along the entire nuclear value chain to keep pace with the strong global demand.

Governments around the world have declared policies supporting renewable energy development – the EU plans to achieve 20 percent of energy generation from renewable sources in 2020, 22 of the Unites States have 10-20 percent renewable targets while China aims at generating 100GW of renewable energy by 2020. These developments coupled with technology advancements will eventually result in “grid parity” – a point where cost of producing electricity from fossil fuels is equal or cheaper to the cost of producing energy from renewable sources. It is likely to happen in countries, where the renewable resources hold the important share in the energy mix. Countries with economies based on fossil fuels will reach this point in the much longer run.

The demand for electricity has far exceeded existing grid capacity and coupled with the rising number of decentralised energy generation units is forcing most of the utilities to improve their measurement and monitoring network structure by implementing smart technologies. Smart meters form an integral part of the bigger movement towards the “smart grid”. USA and Europe have already started implementing smart meters, with Italy leading the race. “The smart grid is becoming a multi-billion dollar market, which is expected to scale unprecedented heights in the near future,” adds Ms. Shepherd.

The next important drive in the energy sector is energy efficiency. Most developed countries are actively creating and implementing energy efficiency policies for appliances, regulating the minimum energy performance standards and associated labelling for a growing list of appliances. Technologies related to reducing fuel consumption and cutting carbon emissions such as energy management tools, green buildings and clean transportation are key enabling technologies that will bring about energy efficiency and cut down CO2 emissions.

Electric and hybrid vehicles and also renewable energy require efficient energy storage systems, which is the key enabling technology under development, according to Frost & Sullivan. Among the factors affecting the future potential of energy systems are the fundamental properties and nature of the storage systems and also the type of materials used. The biggest potential is seen in fuel cells with their flexible capacity and flywheels for a specific, narrow set of applications. The global storage market was worth $43.5 billion in 2008 and expected to increase to $61 billion in 2013.

The latest trend is the energy market is liberalization, which is limiting the activity of large energy monopolistic utilities and opening up the energy market for competition. A customer should be able to choose an electricity supplier. In fact, the idea of cross-border trading of electricity,, supported by the European Commission and implemented worldwide, could help pave the way for a continental high voltage direct current electrical (HVDC) grid capable of easily transmitting renewable energy across borders.

Real-time recording and playback instrument

Pentek has announced its first multi-channel real-time recording and playback instrument based on the company’s popular Cobalt family of Xilinx® Virtex™-6 FPGA modules – the Model RTS 2706. Housed in a 4U rack-mountable enclosure, the RTS 2706 utilizes 16-bit 200 MHz A/Ds and 16-bit 800 MHz D/As with as many as 20 hot swappable SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drives configurable as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) Levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 or 50. The RTS 2706 instrument includes COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) features that can be selected by the customer to suit his application.

These flexible, customer-selectable features include A/D channel count, DDC (digital down converter) capabilities, D/A and DUC (digital upconverter) resources for the real-time reproduction of recorded signals, storage drive capacity and GPS time stamping and positioning. The net result of this flexibility is a turn-key, high-bandwidth recording and playback instrument suitable for a wide range of applications, including with all the benefits of a COTS system including faster delivery and value pricing.

RTS 2706
"As an example, the RTS 2706 in a four-channel configuration, provides sustained recording rates of up to 1600 MB/sec,” said Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek. He added, "The instrument is much faster than Pentek's previously released recorders and this system offers unmatched flexibility. With the RTS 2706, our customers can now record larger signal bandwidths for longer periods of time and choose configuration options that work best for their specific application."

The RTS 2706 supports GPS (Global Positioning System) for GPS time and position stamping of recorded data. The RTS 2706 allows synchronization across all channels and operates under a single GUI (Graphical User Interface) virtual instrument that is scalable to meet any recording requirement.

Embedded Workstation Speeds Processing and Analysis
"In addition to the recording and playback of data, the RTS 2706 serves as a fully-functional signal processing workstation. Based on the Intel® Core™ i7 processor and Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGAs, the instrument can perform real-time signal analysis during capture and playback so operators can validate input sources and examine signals on the fly,” said Pentek product manager Chris Tojeira. “And the multi-core Intel Core i7 is only lightly loaded during recording, so users have a powerful workstation to handle post acquisition signal analysis and processing.”

The RTS 2706 is Pentek's first high-bandwidth digital recorder to utilize the Windows® 7 Professional operating system. By using this operating system, the instrument is able to handle as many as twenty, one Terabyte drives in a RAID configuration, recording data in NTFS (New Technology File System) format to eliminate the need for data conversion that can take as long as the recording itself.

Users have a variety of options for transferring data recorded on the RTS 2706 to other systems for additional processing or archiving. The instrument’s SATA drives are hot swappable, allowing them to be removed and inserted in another system for immediate access. Users can also offload data via two gigabit Ethernet ports, six USB 2.0 ports or two eSATA ports. Additionally, data can be copied to optical disk using the instrument’s built-in 8X double layer DVD±R/RW drive.

Software Provides Full Analysis Capability
As with all Pentek recording instruments, the RTS 2706 has full software support with Pentek’s SystemFlow package. The software provides a GUI for easy instrument setup and control and can save user profiles for single-click configuration. The software also includes a Signal Viewer, which provides virtual instruments such as a spectrum analyzer and an oscilloscope for real-time viewing of data before, during and after recording.

Acoustic measurements products guide

Meggitt Sensing Systems, a Meggitt group division, has announced the global release of its new “Endevco® Acoustic Measurement Products Selection Guide”, a single comprehensive product specification resource, detailing Meggitt’s complete range of Endevco® acoustic sensors and instrumentation for automotive NVH, cabin noise, vibro-acoustic testing, appliance noise evaluation, environmental noise analysis, building acoustics, appliance noise evaluation, wind tunnel testing and other critical measurement applications.
Endevco® prepolarized condenser measurement microphones are offered in free-field, pressure, low-cost   array and random incidence types and may 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, facilitating their use 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 TEDS for larger channel count applications. Available for use with Endevco® precision measurement microphones are a full range of low-noise ISOTRON® preamplifiers, handheld calibrators and accessories.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pan European distribution

Emerson Network Power signs European distribution agreement with Avnet Embedded

Avnet Embedded EMEA has agreed on a pan-European distribution relationship with Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson and the global leader in enabling Business-Critical Continuity™.

Under this agreement, Avnet Embedded is authorised to sell and support the Emerson Network Power range of embedded computing standard and customised products and services including industrial motherboards, single board computers and system on modules.

Alessandro Brazzoni
, director South Europe and marketing director Embedded Computing EMEA at Avnet Embedded commented on this appointment, saying, “Adding Emerson Network Power expands the breadth of technology Avnet Embedded offers to customers. Emerson Network Power is an embedded computing manufacturer with a technology leadership and an aggressive product proposition which spans standard off-the-shelf as well as custom embedded solutions. Its vertical market proposition, product portfolio and competence in different technology sectors are aligned with our core strategy and will enable Avnet Embedded to introduce state-of-the-art computing solutions based on the latest technologies where long product lifetime, reliability, quality and earlier access to the latest architectures are key to our customers.”

Peter Barlow
, vice president, worldwide sales, Embedded Computing, Emerson Network Power responded, “It is great to be working with one of the leading embedded distributors in Europe. This agreement builds on the successful partnership that has already developed between different divisions of Avnet and Emerson. Avnet Embedded is a value-add distributor with strong experience in embedded solutions, an excellent reputation and world-class logistics. I am confident our customers with local needs as well as the ones operating globally will soon benefit from our combined efforts in the computing arena.”

SCADA/HMI in Italy

AFCON Software and Electronics has appointed MDN Italia as the new distributor for its SCADA/HMI software products in Italy. The appointment of a new distributor is part of AFCON's strategy to extend its global presence and promote its products broadly in Italy.

MDN Italia will distribute and provide technical support for AFCON’s product suite, including Pulse SCADA/HMI and Dart cellular software, to new and existing customers. Owing to their long experience in the SCADA market, MDN Italy can support SCADA/HMI customers, thus enabling the development of new markets for Pulse SCADA/HMI and Dart.

2011 T+M catalogue

Keithley Instruments has published its 2011 Test & Measurement Product Catalog in CD form. The CD offers details and technical specifications on Keithley's general-purpose and sensitive sourcing and measurement products, DC switching, Digital Multimeters, RF/microwave switching, data acquisition
solutions, and semiconductor test systems. Useful selector guides and tutorials simplify choosing the right solutions for specific applications. A free copy may be ordered  here.

The CD is arranged by product type and application area with sections containing Keithley's newest offerings in test and measurement:

• Source and Measure Products
• Semiconductor Test
• Low Level Measurements and Sourcing
• Switching and Control
• Digital Multimeters and Systems
• Specialized Power Supplies
• Optoelectronics Test
• Function/Pulse/Arbitrary/Pattern Generators
• Accessories

Several new and enhanced products are highlighted in the catalog's featured products section:

• Ultra-sensitive sourcing and measurement solutions: low-level DCand DC+AC current sources, picoammeters, switch mainframe and cards optimised for use in Hall effect testing, a nanovoltmeter, and an electrometer.

• Semiconductor test solutions: the latest upgrades to Keithley's S530 Parametric Test Systems, new options for the Model 4200-SCS Semiconductor Characterization System, including an ultra-fast I-V module, and the latest additions to Keithley's popular Series 700 switch matrix line, updated for high-speed semiconductor test applications.

• Sensitive source/measure and switching solutions:  Keithley's popular Series 2400 and 2600A SourceMeter® instruments, Model 3706 System Switch/Multimeter, and Model 2010 Low-Noise Digital Multimeter.

Potash at Dead and Red Seas!

ABB's System 800xA will help improve process efficiency and boost production capacity for Arab Potash Company in Jordan

ABB process automation systems are helping Arab Potash Company expand its extensive potash production and port facilities at the Dead and Red Seas in Jordan to become one of the most productive and efficient in the world.

The upgrades are based on their flagship automation platform, Extended Automation System 800xA, and are part of a comprehensive modernization and expansion project at Arab Potash Company’s (APC) extensive potash processing and warehousing facilities in Jordan.

Dead Sea salt ponds
APC is one of the world’s major suppliers of potash, a vital plant and crop nutrient used in agricultural fertilizer all over the world. The company’s vast salt ponds extend over 112 at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and its potash refinery at Safi on the banks of this hypersaline mineral-rich lake is capable of producing 2,500,000 tons.

Processing potash from saltwater is a long and complex process that takes around 12 months to complete. The highly saline water in the APC salt ponds is slowly evaporated by the heat of the sun to produce a mineral-rich slurry called carnallite, which is then processed into potash at the Safi refinery.

APC recently completed a large modernization and expansion project at Safi to enhance the efficiency of the refining process and boost capacity by 25 percent from 2 million tons to 2.5 million tons a year. The existing hot leach and cold crystallization plants were upgraded and a second cold crystallization plant was built.

The three plants are the heart of the refinery. There, the carnallite is dewatered, crystallized, leached, dried, and screened into three grades of potash. Each stage of the refining process at the new plant is controlled and optimized by a state-of-the-art System 800xA distributed control system that monitors and manages process information from 3,500 input/output channels.

The project at Safi follows the recent modernization and expansion of APC’s warehousing facilities at Aqaba by the Red Sea, where the potash is stored, ready for loading onto bulk carriers for shipment to markets all over the world.

ABB provided an electrical, control and instrumentation package to help boost capacity at Aqaba and make the storage and loading process faster and more efficient. The long conveyor system, three stackers and two reclaimers are now controlled by a System 800xA distributed control system that helps deliver a loaded product of consistent quality..

As a result of the two System 800xA automation systems at Safi and Aqaba and the ongoing modernization of existing facilities APC will have a leading-edge process automation system that integrates all automation functions at the sites into a single engineering and operations environment that enables all facilities to operate more efficiently and with considerable cost savings.

3D fluid & electrical engineering

Electrical and Fluid Engineering now in 3D with EPLAN Pro Panel

Offering exact planning reliability EPLAN Pro Panel allows the definition of a virtual 3D prototype of the mounting layout – independently of the electrical or fluid schematic. Mounting panels, housings or enclosures can be dimensioned optimally so that the costs are reduced. Consistent data for all the participating engineering disciplines ensure that the workflow towards the production is also efficient. Last but not least EPLAN Pro Panel provides added value to the complete engineering process.

Designing on the basis of the EPLAN platform is supported fully in both electrical and fluid engineering. This applies to mounting panels that are planned with EPLAN Electric P8 as well as for hydraulics units designed with EPLAN Fluid. Attrition losses through data conversion between the disciplines are a thing of the past.

Optional Pro Panel module offers all the functions for equipping mounting panels or for defining power units and valve blocks on the basis of the systems of the EPLAN platform. Standard-compliant mounting layout and production drawings are easy to realise using associative model views and the many possibilities of the EPLAN platform. Changes in the 3D mounting layout are naturally taken into consideration in the corresponding model views and legends.

In the course of mounting layout all the devices used in the schematic, or in the parts pre-selection, are displayed in a list or tree structure. When placing elements, the system checks whether the placement is on the correct mounting panel. This immediately indicates which items from the schematic have yet to be placed on the mounting panel. The 3D mounting layout can optionally be the leading factor or it can be equipped correctly from the schematic. Placing of the components using the new EPLAN eTouch technology is remarkably simple.

Provision of powerful designing aids is important for the correct implementation of the mounting layout and a guarantee for higher planning reliability in the product engineering process. EPLAN Pro Panel is designed to operate within manufacturer specifications and facilitates an exact position check of devices, wire ducts and mounting rails.