Monday, October 31, 2011

Best multinational marketplace

With the launch of its inaugural list of the “World’s Best Multinational Workplaces,” the Great Place to Work Institute has ranked National Instruments number 18 among the top 25 multinational companies to work for in the world. During a gala event last night at the New York Stock Exchange, NI president, CEO and cofounder Dr. James Truchard gathered with top executives from other leading global companies honored with this recognition, including Google, Intel and Microsoft.


“Our 100-year plan is built on the principle that our culture and employees are a key differentiator and long-term competitive advantage of NI,” said Dr. Truchard. “NI has become a technology pioneer by not only investing in products, but also in the people who make them. We hire the best and brightest, maintain an open and innovative corporate culture, and empower employees to grow their careers along with the company.”

With its company mission to equip engineers and scientists with tools that accelerate innovation and discovery, NI also aims to create a work environment that is both inspiring and fun for employees. NI employees make products that help customers design innovative medical devices, launch rockets into space and ensure successful operation of next-generation cell phones. For 35 years, the work of NI employees has revolutionized the way engineers and scientists develop any system that requires measurement and control.

The award recognizes National Instruments’ unique corporate culture and commitment to providing quality, meaningful jobs around the world. NI’s long-term management approach recognizes that employee success directly impacts the success of the company’s key stakeholders and is critical to long-term growth and overall company success.

As the company has grown from a three-man operation to a multinational organization, it has maintained its entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative nature that spurs innovation in every area of the business. NI also holds the philosophy that a well-balanced work environment improves employees’ well-being and inspires excellence. To support that philosophy, NI offers its employees professional, personal and community development initiatives, volunteer opportunities and wellness programs and facilities.

National Instruments has been named one of the best places to work in America for the past 12 years by FORTUNE Magazine and the Great Place to Work Institute. Several NI branches around the world also have been recognized as some of the best places to work by the Great Place to Work Institute, including NI Germany (2004-2005, 2008-2011), Italy (2007-2011), Japan (2011), France (2009-2011), Mexico (2008-2009, 2011) and the U.K.( 2006-2011).

SCADA Webinar

InduSoft will host "Packaging SCADA", a free webinar on November 16, 2011 to demonstrate how SCADA applications in a packaging line can directly improve production.

The webinar is part of a biweekly series that alternates between technical and industry topics. Recent webinars focused on best practices for the technology topic, and building automation for the industry topic. Guest speakers were featured, such as a representative of the University of Texas who spoke about a new building automation system.

From OEE tools to modular solutions, the Packaging SCADA webinar will reveal how a packaging application with easy-to-use tools can help machine builders and their customers turn data into high yield production. Stephen Packer, electrical engineering manager at Belvac Production Machinery, will share insights from real life applications.

Attendees will learn techniques that will save time in development, reduce errors in production, and help them pack and ship more product. In addition, they will have the opportunity to:
●     Discuss packaging trends with experts
●     Hear the experts’ challenges and successes, and learn how
to benefit from their experience
●     Learn about the latest tools and how to use them to build a
better SCADA system

The webinar is one hour long and will be held twice on Wednesday, November 16 at 8:00 am CST and again at 3:00 pm CST.

Upcoming InduSoft webinars will cover such topics as:
•         Database Connectivity and Database Redundancy
•         Cloud Computing and SCADA
•         SCADA System Redundancy
•         VBScript
•         Web Thin Client Configuration
•         Database Connectivity
•         Security
•         New focus industries, such as Detention and Energy

Those who register and attend the webinar will receive a trial version of the InduSoft Web Studio software suite. Users who wish to demo or test InduSoft beforehand may download the software here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Level using LVDTs

Accurate means of measuring liquid level using LVDTs
          
Although there are various options for measuring liquid level in a tank, RDP Electronics are able to provide an LVDT based solution that can often be used where other methods are inappropriate.

Typically the LVDT is fitted with a weighted float and installed with the transducer directed vertically downward towards the liquid surface. This approach is often suitable where the liquid inside may form a foam on top, precluding the use of optical devices. LVDTs can also be used in some Intrinsically Safe (IS) applications where the liquid may be flammable or surrounded by explosive gas, which could exclude many other types of devices. Where there is a risk of liquid rising too high in the tank, then the use of submersible version LVDTs will ensure the device is adequately protected, while the fully stainless steel body of the transducer reduces concern for deterioration in corrosive or saline fluids. The RDP range also includes seawater submersible versions of the SS Series.

Temperature/flow sensor for oil & gas

Yokogawa Electric Corporation release the DTSX200 Distributed Temperature Sensor (DTS) was released to the global market recently. It is used to monitor temperature and flow in Oil/Gas Upstream unconventional and conventional in-well applications, LNG and Refinery Tank and Pipeline leak detection, Fire Detection, and other thermal monitoring applications.

With the DTSX200, Yokogawa has developed a product for control applications that uses the optical measurement technologies it acquired over the years in the measurement field. This product can be used at extreme temperature environments like the desert and arctic locations, and in on-shore and offshore applications. Ithelps improve production efficiency by working together with production control systems.

Yokogawa is the first production control system manufacturer to develop such a distributed temperature sensor for use in Oil/Gas Upstream production and other Industrial applications. The DTSX200 is already being evaluated for use in Oil/Gas in-well production by some of our
customers, and more on-site testing is planned. With the DTSX200 distributed temperature sensor, Yokogawa can offer an even more comprehensive set of solutions ranging from temperature monitoring to production control that help improve production operation efficiency.

Development Background

The development of unconventional Oil/Gas resources and enhance oil recovery (EOR) technologies has attracted attention as alternatives to oil and gas production. When heavy oil is extracted from oil sands by using steam or some other means, it is necessary to monitor the underground temperature to ensure efficient collection.

To monitor temperature changes in underground formations that contain heavy oil, an optical fiber is fed into a well and the acquired data are used for controlling production. Although Yokogawa previously offered the AQ8920 distributed temperature sensor, this was designed for indoor use and was not suitable for production sites that typically are located in harsh environments. Therefore, Oil and Gas developers need a robust fiber-optic temperature sensor that can withstand harsh environments.

To meet this need, Yokogawa has developed this rugged distributed temperature sensor for Oil/Gas production sites. In doing so, Yokogawa has applied its optical measurement technologies for the first time ever in a control application.

Product Features
1. Works together with production control systems
Unlike all other distributed temperature sensors on the market, this product is optimized to work smoothly with the production control systems that oil and gas developers use in their operations. The DTSX200 thus helps improve the efficiency of production processes, from temperature measurement to production control.
2. Suitable for use in extreme temperatures
With the ability to have stable operation in temperatures ranging from –40°C to +65°C, the DTSX200 is ideal for use in harsh environments. Moreover, with its low power consumption of 16 watts or less, it can be easily powered by a solar panel and battery if no other power source is available.
3. The most compact sensor on the market (according to Yokogawa's own research)
The DTSX200 is just one quarter the size of the AQ8920, making it the smallest such product available today. A compact optical switch module for selecting monitoring points (up to 16 channels) is available for rack mounting with the sensor.

Main Target Markets
Unconventional and conventional oil and gas onshore and offshore in-well monitoring, LNG and Refinery Tank and Pipeline Leak Detection, Fire Detection, and other thermal monitoring applications
Applications
Oil/Gas temperature and flow in-well monitoring, Pipeline and Tank leak detection, Hot and Cold Spot LNG and Refinery Vessel Reactor monitoring, and Fire Detection

World’s largest experiment with rechargeable hybrid vehicles

EDF (Electricité de France), Toyota and the Strasbourg  (F) area council have selected PcVue SCADA software, developed by ARC Informatique, for a joint three-year project titled Kléber. This is a full-scale experiment with a fleet of 70 rechargeable hybrid vehicles (RHV) and 145 charging stations throughout the Strasbourg urban area. Value for money, short lead times and industrial know-how all played a crucial role in the selection process.

They launched a joint project named Kléber for full-scale demonstration of rechargeable hybrid vehicles (RHV). This three-year programme has three main aims: to study user expectations of RHV technology and recharging infrastructure, to verify RHV performance in real situations and to develop methods for evaluating fuel consumption and CO2 emission. This experiment is vital as Toyota is now marketing a plug-in version of its well-known Prius range. The Kléber programme is part of a world-wide project rolled out by Toyota, with 600 Prius RHVs also being tested in Japan, the United States, England, Canada and Australia. For EDF it is an opportunity to test the charging facilities in practice. 

Experiments are essential for assessing technical solutions, usage and economic models, explains Igor Czerny, EDFs Electric Transport and Vehicles Director. The Kléber project is the largest experiment of its kind in the world with a fleet of 70 RHVs and 145 charging stations, almost all connected via 3G, to be tested by selected users. The 145 stations are installed in all the places one might expect: at the roadside (8 stations), in public car parks (18), at the vehicle ownershomes (44) and in the car parks of the businesses where they work (75).

One year into the experiment, the EDF and Toyota teams have analyzed the technical data by gathering the information output by the communicating charging stations, uploading the data recorded in the RHVs during visits to the dealer and analyzing user questionnaires and field surveys.

To manage the remotely metered portion of the charging data from the EDF stations, the sponsors of the Kléber project selected PcVue SCADA software developed by ARC Informatique.This is a proven and reliable industrial tool that is used to supervise numerous devices in many large-scale projects around the world. Our choice was influenced by its meeting our specified requirements for performance and value for money.states Thierry Meunier, project manager at EDF Electric Transport and Vehicles. Examples of recent major projects in which the PcVue solution has distinguished itself include that of Iberdrola the Spanish power utility which selected the software to monitor its wind farms that generate 3600 megawatts from 35 separate plants in the USA.

Responsive service by ARC Informatique and the service provider who installed PcVue was also an important factor for the Kléber project.The contractors responsiveness was of prime importance for setting up this programme. The project was only defined in autumn 2009 and kicked off at the start of 2010, which is a very short lead time for one of this size.stresses EDFs Thierry Meunier.

The function of the PcVue supervisor is to collect data for transfer to a computer system for analysis. The data are processed directly by PcVue for display in animated views (with mimic diagrams) using pre-defined object symbols that can be instantiated in the mimics. The acquired data are translated into standard PcVue objects and then archived into databases for processing via analytical software such as for spreadsheets.

In the Kléber project, the data acquired by the charging stations are transmitted over a 3G network and managed by PcVue. The database compiled by PcVue using the information collected from them is shared with an EDF central server via a web service. This means that the data can be consulted over the Internet or an intranet via secure access.

The PcVue software keeps a central database for recording the behavior of the charging stationsusers throughout the Strasbourg urban area and for logging the usage of the stations. It also provides real-time management of any charging station that malfunctions, for improving maintenance of the overall system.
The Kléber project is a full-scale experiment based on a fleet of 70 rechargeable hybrid vehicles (Toyota Prius RHV) and 145 charging stations installed by EDF throughout the Strasbourg urban area.

Load cell for rocket motor testing

We've just reported on ABB involvement in the meterological satelite project from NASA (Out of this world! Abb in space!) now we have this story on an application for rocket motor testing from RDP.

Model 41 load cells with dual bridge configuration supplied by measurement specialists RDP Electronics Ltd are in demand from British based rocket motor manufacturing facilities for use in testing programmes.

Because rocket engine testing is expensive to set up, good quality and verified data from the test and measurement equipment is critical. So too is a load cell that can meet the arduous conditions and strain that thrust measurement tests place on the transducer. The use of dual bridge load cells ensures that the two entirely separate bridge networks built into a single load cell can be separately logged and checked against each other to ensure that the data has maximum validity. Additionally, in the unlikely event of a large load spike there is a better chance of one out of two of the bridges surviving in order to complete the measurement cycle. Dual bridge load cells are effectively two load cells contained in a single housing, each with its own connectors and separate strain gauge networks permitting two sets of signal conditioning electronics to be deployed. Under normal operating conditions, the two outputs can be compared for greater certainty of data integrity or in the event of failure of one, the second signal conditioning set maintains system integrity.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Out of this world! Abb in space!

An ABB interferometer is at the heart of a key instrument for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP), the first of a new generation of US meteorological satellites to be launched by NASA on October 28, at 5:48:01 a.m. EDT.

Pic: NASA
Working with its customer, ITT, on a contract worth nearly $50 million that was carried out in a number of phases, ABB developed the interferometer, which is a critical part of the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), one of the instruments that make up the next generation of US polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. The NPP will carry new sensors to monitor global environmental conditions, collect and disseminate data related to weather, atmosphere, oceans, and land.

The NPP is the first satellite mission to address the challenge of acquiring a wide range of land, ocean, and atmospheric measurements for Earth system science while simultaneously preparing to address operational requirements for weather forecasting. This will result in improved five-day weather forecasts and a better understanding of the formation of storms and changing weather patterns.

“Since its beginning, this project has always been very exciting for all ABB employees and especially for those who worked on the project itself. The launch of the NPP satellite marks the achievement of great teamwork,” said Philippe Berube, Program Manager with ABB’s Analytical business unit in Quebec City.

The CrIS offers 100 times higher spectral resolution than the sensors onboard the current generation of meteorological satellites. CrIS will produce high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, pressure, and moisture profiles. These profiles will be used to enhance weather forecasting models, and they will facilitate both short- and long-term weather forecasting. Over longer timescales, they will help improve the understanding of climate phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña.

"The NPP mission is very gratifying since it will benefit all mankind by enabling more accurate weather forecasting and faster predictions of natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes.” said Marc-André Soucy, Remote Sensing Industry Manager with ABB in Quebec City. “This satellite will contribute to the increased security of the world population.”

Guiding technicians

Diane R Barkin wrote Start-Up: A Technician’s Guide, Second Edition, just published from the ISA stable,  with the technician in mind. It is a non-mathematical, practical book that provides an overview of the scope of duties a technician must perform in real-world situations.

The author has updated her publication significantly since the first edition. She has added content regarding project execution, information concerning various systems and the personnel a technician will work with in the current manufacturing environment.

When new plants or systems go online, Control Systems Technicians face special challenges. The start-up may be a newly built, substantially changed, or a portion of a manufacturing facility. Barkin explores and explains the crucial role a technician plays in the process. From the first start-up team meeting to the last round of tuning and loop checking, she uses her extensive practical experience in the process control field to walk through the issues and skills typically required during a start-up.

Each chapter includes self-study learning objectives, practice questions and exercises, answers and references to industry practices and standards.

Wireless Cellular Controller

The T925 connects remote equipment through cellular networks, eliminating the need for hardwired connections.

The T925 Wireless Cellular Controller, from Xenon, connects remote sites with central control and monitoring stations through cellular networks. A T925 remote communications network eliminates the need to make hardwired Ethernet connections to the Internet or to an intranet at each remote site and at the central control and monitoring station, and the network operates from any location worldwide with cellular coverage.

A T925 remote communications network allows end users, machine and skid builder OEMs, RTU and SCADA OEMs, security monitoring system OEMs and other firms to monitor and control their automation and monitoring systems through the cellular network at sites thousands of miles away. Typical applications include pipelines, pump stations and electrical substations.

The unit is usually configured with a T925 at each site. Up to 250 T925s can simultaneously communicate through the cellular network with a VPN router installed at a central control and monitoring station. Each T925 is custom-configured by Xenon, and is ready for deployment and operation with no communications programming required by the user.

Once one or more of the units and the VPN are installed and communicating, a user simply needs to connect desired hardware components to the VPN to enable full remote monitoring and control of all components connected to the T925 at the remote site. Hardware components at the central control and monitoring station are hardwired to the VPN and are typically one or more PCs running SCADA software.

It can be connected to a variety of components at the remote site. It can accept up to seven Ethernet inputs—as well as four digital inputs, four analog inputs and two temperature inputs, either thermocouples or RTDs. The T925 has four digital relay outputs that can be used to control components and systems at the remote site, and it features on-board data logging with up to 2 gigabytes of storage space.

The T925 also allows users to connect to local devices serially through RS232, RS422, and 2- and 4-wire RS485/422 communication links. OPC communications are supported with all digital data links.
The T925’s local HMI operator interface panel with push button inputs gives personnel at the remote site the ability to monitor operation, set alarm ranges and set points, and control local devices. The T925 is housed in a NEMA 4X enclosure suitable for installation in Class 1, Division 2 hazardous area locations, and it meets FCC, C/UL, CSA and CE requirements.

The recent widespread proliferation of high-speed 3G and 4G cellular networks has increased communication bandwidth and performance to a level more than sufficient for most industrial automation control and monitoring applications. This makes cellular network communications the best option in many applications because of its superior price-performance ratio along with its ease of installation and use.

The T925 works with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, Midwest Wireless, Cellular One and 16 international carriers. Depending on customer preference, contracts with cellular providers can either be direct billed to the customer, or billed through Xenon via a software-as-a-service model. Cellular network communications are typically through an always-on cellular gateway, with charges based on data usage.

With a T925 system, communications are transparent between components at the remote sites, and control and monitoring hardware and software at the central station.

Panel mounted flowmeter

Panel mount flowmeter now available with optional ½” barbed hose fittings

Blue-White has just introduced a new option for the popular F-550 Series Panel Mount Flowmeter. The flowmeters are now available with an optional ½” Barbed Hose Fitting. The fitting material is Polypropylene with Viton o-ring seal.
Available flow ranges for the F-550 are Available ranges: Liquid: 0.5 to 5 GPM / 2 to 20 LPM; Gas: 2 to 20 SCFM.

Additional F-550 features include: Solid one piece machined acrylic meter body; #316 Stainless Steel floats and float guides; permanent screen printed scales directly in front of the float for easy reading; bulkhead nuts that attach directly to the inside panel; separate mounting screws are not required; optional Flow Control Adjustment Valve; and the F-550 is acceptable in direct sunlight applications.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More than 1000 hydraulic macros

A new, comprehensive master data package for hydraulics now bridges the gap between fluid and mechanical design. More than 1000 new hydraulic macros in Eplan Fluid speeds up and simplify interdisciplinary documentation.
The new hydraulic macros in Eplan Fluid are the basis for fast, clear documentation.

The advantages of a common set of control technology documentation for fluid and electrical engineering is well known, a look at hydraulics opens up even more potential. From the beginning, Eplan Fluid 2.0 offered users a comprehensive "fluid data package" containing more than 1000 hydraulic macros. The combination of CAE functionality and the new macros provides unbeatable advantages for hydraulic designers, especially in mechanical engineering. This combination has high standard of graphic documentation according to current standards and a modular system for sub-plates, hydraulic power units, sandwich arrangements and more. What technical data must be including in the hydraulic schematic? What pressure switch settings are needed and how are they best represented in the schematic? Eplan Fluid offers the ideal solution for high-quality documentation through a combination of macros, pressure switches for instance, and the associated data tables.

Perspective: rotating and mirroring

The new macros are all designed for intelligent rotating and mirroring of fluid elements; a function in the upcoming version of Eplan Fluid. Background: Often in a schematic, it is necessary to represent that cylinders move in opposite directions and correspondingly control them. Ideally, the user only has to design half the switch and completes the documentation using the new convenient functions for rotating and mirroring. The macros provide an excellent basis for key users and administrators.

Intelligent macros
The high diversity of filters and pump/motor combinations on power units often leads to documentation that differs only in the details. Eplan technologies, such as variant technology and project options, are the foundation of creating intelligent macros that can be immediately changed in the fluid plan. A modular system makes it easy to create different variants of collective sub-plates. This system provides the easiest way to put together sections.

Interesting for manufacturers
The macro collection is the ideal starting point for fluid power component manufacturers in the hydraulic industry. They can also use the Eplan Data Portal to make their component data available. The perfect multiplier. While the neutral macros available in Eplan Fluid can be used for different manufacturers, the component data in the Eplan Data Portal is associated with a specific manufacturer and provides a solid engineering basis when combined with additional documents such as technical data sheets, component photos and 2D and 3D data.

Thermography stick

Fluke is offering a free USB stick, an exclusive ‘gateway’ to access everything the professional electrician and industrial maintenance technician needs to know about Thermal Imaging. It contains videos, a digital copy of the 72-page booklet ‘Principles of Thermography’, a ROI calculator, links to online training, and much more.
Thermal imaging can find faults fast and save downtime. Fluke offers a wide range of thermal imagers which includes the entry level Fluke Ti9 and TiS, and the latest Fluke P3 Series, comprising the Ti27, Ti29 and Ti32 for industrial, electrical and process control applications, and the Fluke TiR27, TiR29 and TiR32 for building inspection, energy audit and building maintenance applications. Fluke thermal imagers are designed to be safe, rugged and easy to use, while offering superior image quality and high productivity.
 The free Fluke thermography USB stick contains:
  • Brochures from the current Fluke thermal imager line-up
  • A booklet on the basics of thermography
  • Videos of Fluke thermal imagers in action
  • Links to online thermography training
  • A Return on Investment (ROI) calculator
  • SmartView® software, a modular suite of tools for viewing, annotating, editing and analysing infrared images captured by Fluke thermal imagers

Celebration strain gauge!

Mantracourt are celebrating the success of their Strain Gauge Amplifier, a product that is now seeing service across the world and enjoys acclaim in such sectors as offshore engineering, construction, process control and automotive testing. Since its development 10 years ago, and having been updated and modified over that time, Mantracourt have shipped over 15,000, with sales still holding up.

Mantracourt’s Strain Gauge Amplifier (SGA) is a high performance signal conditioner for single or multiple strain gauge bridge sensors such as load, force, pressure and torque. The SGA offers a wide bandwidth and a wide input signal range and can be powered from AC or DC supplies, providing excitation for up to 4 x 350 ohm strain gauge bridges. The conditioned output signal can be selected from 0-20mA, 4-20mA, 0-10V, 0-5V, ±5V or ±10V. Options include isolated DC supply, DIN rail mount and an OEM module.


"We feel very proud that so many engineers and scientists around the world have come to trust the SGA,” said Kelly Voysey, Sales and Marketing Manager at Mantracourt. “The SGA has really helped spread the Mantracourt brand and reflects our passion for developing effective and reliable industrial measurement systems.”

The SGA Strain Gauge Amplifier is supplied in a waterproof IP65 NEMA4 bulkhead mountable case and is available with AC or DC power supply options. There is also a digital version with set point relays, communications and display options.

UK based Mantracourt is a leading manufacturer of industrial measurement technologies and a world leader in the design and manufacture of electronics for measurement technologies, including strain gauge, temperature, pressure, voltage, current, potentiometer, rate, flow, LVDT and displacement in either analogue, digital or wireless form.

“All our products are designed and manufactured in house at our factory in the UK,” said Voysey. “This enables us to control both the quality of the design and that of the final products that are shipped to customers. Furthermore, it also means that our technical support team have first hand knowledge and are able to provide some of the best support in the industry.”

Mantracourt are also able to provide a range of data logging technologies and peripheral equipment, as well as wireless telemetry modules for remote data capture.

Handheld OTDRs

Two new testers designed specifically for the system maintenance of passive optical networks (PONs) have been added to the Yokogawa AQ1200 Series of handheld optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDRs).

The new AQ1200B and AQ1200C OTDR carry out measurements at the maintenance wavelengths of 1625 nm and 1650 nm, respectively, and are optimised for in-service PON testing of FTTx access networks. Each single-wavelength model incorporates a 1310/1550nm cut filter to reject unwanted in-service signals, and will carry out accurate measurement through high-port-count (1 x 32 or 1 x 64) splitters.

Options include a choice of three different optical power meters, including one for PON applications, a 1625 or 1650nm light source function, a 650nm (red) laser for visual fibre inspection, and an Ethernet PING test function.

Sound vibration!

The latest version of National Instruments' NI Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite software, provides a comprehensive collection of analysis and signal processing tools for noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) testing, machine condition monitoring (MCM) and audio test applications. Engineers can use the suite as stand-alone software or combine it with NI hardware and NI LabVIEW system design software to greatly simplify test system development and control. With its new vibration data-logging functionality and other enhancements, the Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite 2011 helps engineers to more easily customize and automate any MCM or NVH test or monitoring application.

“The NI Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite is an integral part of our MCM applications,” said Professor Jay Lee, director of the National Science Foundation’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems at the University of Cincinnati. “The suite has tremendously reduced system development time and has helped us achieve a variety of efficiencies throughout our machine analysis process.”

The Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite 2011 greatly simplifies the development of MCM, NVH and audio measurement systems with several new features, including a ready-to-run data-logging virtual instrument that makes it possible for engineers to save data continuously or based on specific criteria such as triggers or time. Engineers can easily configure the data logger and run it as long as necessary for a variety of sensor types including accelerometer, tachometer and proximity probes. The measurement suite also includes the Sound and Vibration Assistant, a stand-alone software module for quickly acquiring, analyzing and logging acoustic, noise and vibration data. Additionally, the Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite provides new, easy-to-use application examples for impact test and swept sine analysis. These enhancements for the 2011 version add superior flexibility and high-performance capabilities to a variety of sound and vibration measurement projects.

By integrating with LabVIEW, the Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite 2011 helps engineers increase test throughput with advanced parallel processing capabilities, among many other advantages of LabVIEW. LabVIEW 2011 can dramatically increase development efficiency through new engineering-specific libraries and its ability to interact with almost any hardware device. Together, LabVIEW and the Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite 2011 help engineers integrate individual measurement types into a single, reconfigurable platform so they can do their jobs faster, better and at a lower cost.

Used Test & Measurement

Test equipment sourcing specialist Livingston has released the latest edition of its Used Equipment Catalogue. Available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish and Dutch, the catalogue is divided into six core categories: General Purpose, Electrical & Industrial, Fibre Optics, RF & Microwave, Communications and Broadcast. It includes a broad variety of test hardware, such as power supplies, logic analysers, frequency counters, oscilloscopes, function generators, multimeters, power quality analysers, fibre optic splicing equipment, optical sources, signal analysers, network analysers, signal generators, cable/antenna testers, protocol testers, access testers, radio test sets, video test systems and thermal imaging cameras.

Among the leading equipment manufacturers to be found in this publication are Aefos, Aeroflex, Agilent Technologies, Anritsu, Chauvin Arnoux, EXFO, FLIR Systems, Fluke, JDSU, Lecroy, Rohde & Schwarz, Sumitomo, Sunrise Telecom, Tektronix, Trend Communication and XL Wireless. All items are immediately available from stock and come with a seven day money back guarantee. Calibration and warranty options are also available on request.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#EMrex coming to Europe

Emerson has announced the first Global Users Exchange in Europe. Themed “Exchanging Ideas. Creating Solutions”, the three day event will run from 29-31 May 2012 at the Hotel Maritim, Düsseldorf, Germany. Tailored to meet the needs of users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, delegates will learn about best practices and see how colleagues are meeting new regulatory requirements, increasing yields, improving efficiency and reducing costs with enhanced automation.

The European event will follow the same format as the October 2011 Emerson Global Users Exchange held in Nashville, USA (follow #EMrex on twitter!). The event will include workshops, presentations, industry forums, short courses, technology exhibits and product roadmaps. Delegates will be able to choose from themed presentations in English, German and Russian.

“We are delighted to announce the details of the first Global Users Exchange for our many users across Europe and others who will join us from other regions,” said Bob Sharp, President, Emerson Process Management Europe. “The Emerson Global Users Exchange is much more than an industry-leading technical conference.  It is a community of manufacturing leaders committed to extracting the most from their automation investment and sharing their learning with each other.”

The event also provides an opportunity for delegates to understand what their peers, other suppliers and customers in the industry are doing to compete in these dynamic times. Attendees will be provided with a unique opportunity to touch and experience the breadth of innovative Emerson technologies – all in one place.

An important element of the event is the opportunity it provides to network with other delegates and industry leaders to make the right connections. Delegates will also be able to meet with the experts behind the technologies and learn how innovative technologies can be put to work.

The Emerson Global Users Exchange organisation is now looking for users to share their experiences and expertise with their process automation peers by giving a presentation, workshop or short course at the event. Presenting at the Global Users Exchange provides a unique opportunity for users to showcase their company and its successful operational practices.

Gateway logger

Carlo Gavazzi has introduced a gateway logger device that integrates with EoS Array - its complete solution for control, protection and monitoring of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) plants.

The new EoS-Gate gathers data from solar power installation powered by Eos-Array or Eos-Array Lite and sends them to a centralized supervisory web portal enabling users to monitor all their plants from a central location, using a simple web browser. Web-based monitoring complements the EoS Array's capability to provide local control and alarms together with remote alarms via SMS and GSM communications.

Operating with photovoltaic installations up to 200kW, EoS-Gate provides data polling (measurements and alarms) from Eos-Array/Eos-Array Lite, its energy meters and inverters, and transmits data over the Internet using 'Push' web-services to avoid firewall related issues. Its use of communications protocols based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) delivers a high degree of flexibility, allowing Eos-Gate to push data to multiple monitoring portals, including the Carlo Gavazzi Web Portal and the Fat Spaniel® Web Portal – a platform that likewise allows users to manage their data remotely through an easy and powerful Web based user interface.

Eos-Gate logging capabilities, its robust transmission protocol and the 99.9+% availability of Carlo Gavazzi's best-of-breed web-farm together ensure total  data security along the whole path from the field to the portal’s servers.

The logger is easy to configure, thanks to built-in auto-discovery of local devices, so installers can readily implement a centralized supervisory solution that focuses on the real benefits delivered by PV monitoring.

The solution is completely independent of the inverters used, eliminating the need to delegate data management completely to the inverter – a known weakness of many PV installations. In this way, plant operators can work with a common user interface throughout their operations, free from being locked into one specific inverter model or manufacturer.

Hardware is based on an industrial strength embedded PC with data acquisition, data logging and protocol conversion capabilities, featuring two RS485 communication ports (Modbus), twin Ethernet ports and data storage on a 1GB SD card using hardened industrial grade single level cell technology. Both wall-mount and DIN rail mounting options are available, and the device carries both CE marking and UL certification.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Machine prognostics & health management

The Watchdog Agent Prognostics Toolkit for NI LabVIEW system design software has been introduced by National Instruments This expands the capabilities of LabVIEW in machine prognostics and health management (PHM) applications. The toolkit is a product of collaboration between NI and the National Science Foundation’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on Intelligent Maintenance Systems at the University of Cincinnati. It is ideal for serving engineers’ increasing demand for monitoring and reporting the health status of machines, structures, components and systems.

“Companies are looking for a systematic approach to rapidly develop and deploy prognostics for failure prevention, health monitoring and machinery prognostics,” said Dr. Jay Lee, professor and director of the Center on Intelligent Maintenance Systems. “The new Watchdog Agent Prognostics Toolkit for NI LabVIEW provides an easy-to-use solution for predictive maintenance and prognostics.”
The Watchdog Agent toolkit gives engineers a ready-to-run prognostics solution that can greatly increase engineering efficiency for developing any PHM application. The toolkit works with the advanced signal processing capabilities of LabVIEW and the extensive analysis of the NI Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite. It provides a set of algorithms including logistic regression, statistical pattern matching, a self-organizing map, a support vector machine and a Gaussian mixture model. Engineers can use these algorithms to create machine and component status descriptors of operating states and failure modes. The algorithms convert multiple field sensory readings into summarized health information values for efficient monitoring. The toolkit also includes a health radar chart that displays organized health values of multiple machine components on a single display.

In addition to integrating with the Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite, the Watchdog Agent toolkit can read history data collected from the NI measurement hardware including NI CompactRIO, CompactDAQ, PXI and PCI. It also integrates with the IOtech eZ-TOMAS Technical Data Management Streaming (TDMS) data plug-in, vibDaq from CalBay Systems or any other sensory data acquisition systems based on NI TDMS data files.

USB Hi-Speed to Digital Level UART Cables

USB solutions specialist Future Technology Devices International (FTDI) has added two more cables to its USB to digital level serial interface product offering. The new products, which make up the company’s C232HD USB 2.0 Hi-Speed to Digital Level UART cable series, each incorporate one of its FT232H Hi-Speed USB RS232 converter.

ICs, mounted on a compact circuit board contained within the USB connector at the end of the cable. Receive and transmit buffers with 1 kByte capacities allow efficient transfer of high levels of data. The signal levels are either +3.3 V (for the C232HD-DDHSP-0 version) or +5 V (for C232HD-EDHSP-0 version).

The integrated FT232H IC handles all the USB signalling and protocols, facilitating rapid implementation and lowering engineering overheads. Both the C232HD-DDHSP-0 and C232HD-EDHSP-0 have an optional power output capability with a maximum output current of 200 mA at their respective signal voltage level. The cables, which are 1.8m long, can cope with data transfer rates of up to 12 Mbaud.

Both of these cable products have an operational temperature range of -40 °C to +85 °C. They are housed in black cabling with a transparent connector at the end. Individual wires are terminated on to a single header socket. Typical applications for these product include Flash card readers/writers, bar code scanners, industrial control systems, medical diagnostic equipment, set top box interfaces, USB digital camera interfaces and USB wireless modems. An additional power output pin can be used to drive the target application. As the cables are powered by a USB host port, they can easily be configured into various interface options using freely available application software. FTDI also provides the required USB drivers free to download from its website.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Monitoring at Maltese temples

Heritage Malta has installed Envirologger monitoring technology at ten locations around the site of the Tarxien Temples – a highly important archaeological site dating back to between 3600 and 1500 BC.

The monitoring stations were installed in 2011 and are being utilised for research purposes and to gain reliable data for scientists, conservators and engineers to ensure the best possible management of the site. Explaining the benefits of continuous environmental monitoring, Curator Joanne Mallia from Heritage Malta says: "Naturally, the materials and structures at this site are affected by the environment, so a protective shelter has been proposed to slow down the rate of deterioration of the stone surfaces and the monitoring equipment will help create an accurate picture of the environmental conditions on site, both before and after the installation of the shelter."

The Envirologger is a highly sophisticated battery powered data collection technology that is able to accept inputs from a wide variety of sensors and output via almost any communications technology. At Tarxien, the Envirologgers are connected to sensors for measuring wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, ambient humidity, atmospheric pressure, soil temperature and wetness, and water level.

Data is transmitted to a central web logger by the new Envirologger wireless sensor nodes. The data is then ‘pushed’ to Heritage Malta. The entire monitoring and data transmission network is run on low voltage solar power because it is not possible to run cables around the site for fear of negative effects on the ancient stone structures.

The Tarxien Temples site is a recipient of European funds under the ERDF 2007-2013 programme and the installation of an environmental monitoring system will help to protect the site for the benefit of future generations.

Summarising, Joanne Mallia says: "The monitoring equipment was chosen following a competitive national government tendering process and we have been pleased with the hardware and the quality of the sensors. The ability of the monitoring system to use solar power is also particularly useful."

Significant industrial wireless milestones

Emerson Process Management has achieved significant milestones in driving the adoption of wireless technologies in refineries, chemical plants, and other industrial facilities around the world. With 580 million total hours of wireless operation across 6,100 networks, Emerson Smart Wireless solutions have gained widespread adoption as they deliver proven performance while addressing critical business challenges.

Their smart wireless technologies have enabled industrial customers to monitor processes in places where wired connections are impractical or where humans shouldn’t go. Emerson, the largest provider of wireless solutions based on the internationally recognised IEC 62591 (WirelessHART®) standard, delivers wireless communications for highly complex operations, including process automation, emissions controls, maintenance, and worker safety – and, in many cases, in very challenging and extreme environments.

“We’ve focused on wireless innovation to enable industrial efficiency in the toughest environments, from monitoring oil pipelines on the North Slope of Alaska, where wind chill temperatures are minus 56 degrees Celsius, or in the desert, where temperatures rise to over 40 degrees Celsius, with sandstorms and even the gnawing jaws of camels damaging wired connections,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “We’re seeing tremendous growth in our Smart Wireless solutions, as thousands of industrial customers realise the unique benefits and broad potential of wireless communications to improve operations, enhance safety and reduce environmental risks.”

IMS Research reports that worldwide shipments of industrial products that are wireless-enabled are set to grow from an estimated 1.2 million in 2009 to more than 3 million in 2015, at an average annual growth rate of 18 per cent. Since WirelessHART was approved in 2010 as the first international wireless communication standard, it has been validated and accepted globally by industry.

The majority of industrial wireless users rely on these devices to extend the plant information network with additional sensors, streamline maintenance and improve worker safety.  Future Smart Wireless products from Emerson will extend customers’ capabilities from monitoring to control functions, enabling customers to not only gather critical information but also to act on it remotely. Emerson will also extend wireless to new applications that historically have relied only on manual observation and periodic reporting, giving industrial customers real-time, constant visibility to new and better data for improved control systems, safety systems, asset management, machinery health and overall plant performance.

Emerson offers a wide range of wireless field instrumentation and plant operations equipment, including Fisher® position monitors, Rosemount® transmitters, and Rosemount Analytical and Machinery Health Management devices. Other components of an Emerson Smart Wireless solution include AMS Suite predictive maintenance software, DeltaV™ digital automation systems and wireless SmartStart™ Services. Smart Wireless is an extension of Emerson’s PlantWeb™ digital plant architecture.

Laboratory PSU

Aim-TTi has introduced a lower-cost version of the company’s best-selling QPX1200 series laboratory power supply. The new model is designated QPX1200S and is intended for applications where digital remote control is not needed.

The QPX1200S has a maximum power of 1200 W and features PowerFlex regulation. This enables it to offer voltage and current combinations between 60 V / 20 A and 20 V / 50 A, making it suitable for a very wide range of applications.

A linear output stage is included within the PowerFlex regulator. This gives it a low output noise of less than 3 mV RMS and a transient recovery time typically ten times better than that of conventional switch-mode units.

Setting of voltage and current is fully digitally controlled via keypad or “spin wheel” controls using instrumentation-quality 16-bit digital/analogue converters. A quasi-analogue interface is also included which provides zero to full-scale voltage or current from 0 to 5 V or 0 to 10 V inputs.

An unusual feature of the QPX1200S is its ability to directly measure low resistance by calculating the voltage/current ratio. This enables very low impedances to be measured at high currents, eliminating the potential thermal EMF errors inherent in low-current measurements.

Unlike many higher-power laboratory power supplies, the QPX1200S is suited to bench or rack-mount applications. Output and sense terminals are provided on both the front and rear panels. The case has integral tilt feet, and a 3U rack mount is available as an option.

High-throughput cytological discovery system

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has released the CellVoyager™ CV7000 high-throughput cytological discovery system. This enhanced system has four times as wide an imaging area as our previous model and surpasses that model’s industry leading throughput. The CV7000 will help accelerate the discovery of new drugs and improve the efficiency of advanced biomedical research involving iPS, ES, and other stem cell types.

Yokogawa exhibited this new system at the Academic Screening Workshop, which was held earlier this month in Bridgewater, New Jersey (USA).

Development Background
In the pharmaceutical industry, the use of drug discovery support systems has been expanding to facilitate the screening of hundreds of thousands or even millions of compounds for promising drug candidates. A drug discovery support system automates the processes of administering candidate drugs to cells, imaging changes in the cells, analyzing the obtained images, and confirming the effects of administered compounds.

Drug discovery support systems require high throughput to shorten the new drug discovery period and increased accuracy through the detailed analysis of large amounts of cell data. If priority is given to image-capturing speed and a low power objective lens is used, images of a wide area can be taken, but resolution will be reduced, making it difficult to observe detailed phenomena in the cells. The use of an objective lens with high magnification and a narrow field of view to observe detailed cell conditions requires an enormous number of images and can be time consuming. Drug discovery support systems require wide-view, high-resolution imaging.
To improve the imaging of cells, Yokogawa has upgraded its unique micro lens-enhanced Nipkow disk (a disk with many pinholes placed in spiral patterns to focus laser beams)  confocal technology and developed a new wide-view confocal optical mechanism, and has incorporated these innovations together with a high-resolution camera in the CellVoyager CV7000.

Product Features
1. The highest throughput in the industry with wide-view imaging
The CV7000 offers even higher resolution than our previous model, which was already the best in the industry, while taking images that are four times wider. Previously, it took 16 minutes to obtain fluorescent-stained images of all the wells in a 384-well cell culture plate, whereas the CV7000 can do this in just four minutes.
2. Enhanced analysis software
The analysis software supports multi-core CPUs that are up to 10 times faster than those on our previous model, and so can handle larger amounts of data. Image data management software for managing and arranging large amounts of image data is available as an option.

Main Target Markets
Research and development departments of pharmaceutical companies, drug discovery research institutions, and biomedical basic research organizations
Applications
Screening of candidate compounds for new drugs, regenerative medicine and drug discovery application research with iPS/ES cells, analysis of cell functions, study of tissue formation

CellVoyager
In terms of functionality, drug discovery support systems are categorized into high throughput screening (HTS) systems and high content analysis (HCA) systems. HTS is mainly used for screening compounds at high speeds, not for detailed scans of individual cells. HCA is a high-precision measurement method for scanning targeted cells and investigating chronological changes with multiple parameters. Yokogawa estimates that the market for drug discovery support systems combining HTS and HCA systems will be worth 50 billion yen by 2015.

Yokogawa’s CellVoyager is an HCA system with similar screening throughput as an HTS system. It consists of a confocal scanner unit capable of observing live cells in real time and a driving mechanism based on precise positioning technology for observing multiple samples at high speed. (This technology was originally developed for semiconductors, LCD panel manufacturing devices, and the like.) With its industry-fastest screening and highest resolution, CellVoyager is greatly valued around the globe.