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
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

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.

Ultra high speed, flexible image processing system

The latest Keyence machine vision system is without doubt the most complete vision system on the market. Already at top performance levels for speed, resolution, stability and the range of software tools, the XG-7000 Series can now also be programmed in a PC environment. The Controller houses a powerful image processing platform dedicated to avoiding problems of overloading and maintainability commonly found with conventional PC System. This vision system combines flexibility, stability, and performance with simplicity. Thus, it can be used by all, for all applications.

The PC software can be used to develop the vision program and the user interface. The XG Vision Editor software is intuitive, fast, and flexible, and it can be fully personalised.

The program takes the form of a flowchart, in which the users simply drag and drop processing 'blocks' to create the flow. A wide range of algorithms and filters are available. Among them, the ShapeTrax2 positioning tools, the Stain defect detection tools, and the Edge measurement tools that are already well known in our current Machine Vision systems. As an extra feature, the XG-7000 provides the possibility of executing operations on the images before processing them; this enables use of image calibration and distortion correction systems that are in strong demand in the field of robotics and dimensional measurement. Bar codes, OCR and 2D codes can also be read.

The system's flexibility also lies in the possibility of integrating the source code written in C language by the user. It is then possible to execute algorithms and specific filters, and import from your existing applications.

New Debugging, simulation and Trace log tools can be used to test the vision program and the interface in order to reduce integration time.

The XG-7000 Series is secure; it manages user rights and keeps a log of changes.
It can handle up to 100 users with 5 access levels.

The controllers can be networked, and accessed remotely using software to view and test the changes made from a remote terminal or via the Internet, without stopping production.

An FTP server can be used to send the information (data and images) to a central monitoring system.
An ActiveX component enables control of the vision system; it is integrated in a machine. The ActiveX control can also be used to create measurement data, obtain information concerning results or historical data, and manage files.

Performance and stability
The XG-7000 is the most powerful vision system on the market. For example, it provides the possibility of processing 1 million pixels in 20.5 ms. This calculating power also enables implementation of multiple controls and further enhancement of production control: unrivalled repeatability (7 times higher than the current standards) and numerous image processing features are available to optimise the precision of the controls.
The models in the XG-7000 series are controlled by a high-speed colour image processing engine and a fast RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processor linked to two DSPs (digital signal processors) that are specific to the image processing system. Overall, the models in the series use four processors to provide parallel processing and the highest possible processing speeds.

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Distributed control system market share maintained!

ARC study states that new projects in heavy process industries, power generation contributed to overall market growth

In the newest version of ARC Advisory Group’s “Distributed Control Systems Worldwide Outlook,” study, ABB retained its leading worldwide market position in this core automation market. According to the study, the DCS (distributed control system) market in 2010 rebounded from 2009; the overall market for DCS (distributed control system) increased by 3.3 percent, in part due to an increase of new projects in the heavy process industries.

ARC forecasts that market growth, while improved compared with 2009, will not reach peak 2008 levels until next year, and then will resume normal slow but steady growth. The increase in new projects in the heavy process industries such as oil & gas and petrochemical, as well as a resurgence in power generation projects, helped to drive global demand for DCS in 2010.

Many of the larger projects that contributed to 2010 growth were booked throughout 2009. ABB booked a number of large process industry and power generation orders, which included major greenfield projects as well as system upgrades and expansions for existing installations.

“Innovation, quality products, extensive industry knowledge and application expertise has enabled ABB to establish a large and loyal customer base,”
said Barry Young, Principal Analyst at ARC and author of the report.  “ABB brings together a product, system and service capability that allow them to deliver complete automation and production solutions across a broad range of industries.”

According to the study, ABB was also the regional market share leader for Latin America, Europe/Mid East/Africa (EMEA), and the worldwide leader in key global verticals including Upstream Oil & Gas, Pulp and Paper, Mining and Metals, and Cement and Glass.

The report also notes that the DCS business has continued to be primarily a services business over the past few years, with combined project, engineering and operational services accounting for more than half of total revenues. In particular, the Main Automation Contractor (MAC) approach, in which the automation vendor manages the overall project and includes a strong project execution and services component, continues to grow stronger and expand in scope.

“ABB’s deep process industry knowledge, extensive global and local resources, and world-class services organization provide the project execution capabilities needed to successfully manage complex projects as the Main Automation Contractor,”
said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “In addition, we offer our customers a diverse portfolio of DCS solutions to help any process perform better, from the smallest operation to large integrated operations.” 
ABB’s portfolio of DCS includes its flagship System 800xA Extended Automation platform, Symphony Plus control system, Freelance process control system for small to medium process applications, as well as its prior generation systems. All ABB control systems offer a secure evolution path forward to next generation technologies to protect and enhance the control system investment over its lifetime.

New vision and motion hardware

National Instruments has introduced two new additions to its popular reconfigurable I/O (RIO) technology including a reconfigurable Camera Link frame grabber for demanding embedded vision applications and a motion module for the NI CompactRIO platform. The NI PCIe-1473R frame grabber is a PC-based embedded vision board that combines field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology with a Camera Link interface to help engineers create high-performance embedded imaging and inspection applications. The NI 9502 brushless servo drive C Series module makes it possible for engineers to drive brushless servo motors, including six new custom NI motor options, directly from the reconfigurable CompactRIO system to address advanced motion control challenges.

The PCIe-1473R frame grabber is ideal for advanced inspection and imaging applications that require image preprocessing and high-speed control such as medical imaging, web and surface inspection and high-speed sorting. Engineers and scientists can program the new frame grabber’s onboard FPGA with the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module for custom image processing and analysis in real time, with little to no CPU intervention. The frame grabber combines the onboard FPGA with a high-bandwidth 850 MB/s Camera Link bus, which supports a range of Camera Link configurations up to 10 taps and 80 bits. The PCIe-1473R also supports Power over Camera Link (PoCL) to directly power cameras with no additional cables or external power supply. With such features, the frame grabber is an off-the-shelf solution that makes it possible for engineers to create high-performance imaging applications without spending substantial time and money to develop a custom design.

With the addition of the NI 9502 motion drive module for CompactRIO, engineers can now power brushless, stepper or brushed servo motors directly with NI C Series modules to provide a compact, highly customizable solution for integrating motion into advanced control, monitoring and test systems. The NI 9502 offers 4 A continuous/8 A peak current and multiple commutation modes. To complement the module, NI is also releasing six three-phase brushless motors that are specifically designed for maximum performance and direct connectivity with the NI 9502. With these features and more, the NI 9502 helps engineers implement proprietary custom drive control algorithms at the FPGA level through LabVIEW FPGA, eliminating the need for custom firmware from a drive manufacturer.

“With its superior I/O and motion control capabilities, along with the flexibility and reliability of its onboard FPGA, the new NI CompactRIO system helped us to create a high-performance embedded monitoring and control system that matches our rigorous requirements,” said Pascal Wattellier, automation products coordinator at Serimax, an international full-service welding solutions company. “The CompactRIO system was the only commercially available solution that we could use to integrate motion control, I/O measurements, and HMI functionality within one system.”
An integral part of the NI graphical system design approach, NI RIO technology combines LabVIEW system design software with commercial off-the-shelf hardware to simplify development and shorten time to market when designing advanced control, monitoring and test systems. NI RIO hardware, which includes CompactRIO, NI Single-Board RIO, R Series boards and the PXI-based NI FlexRIO, features an architecture with powerful floating-point processors, reconfigurable FPGAs and modular I/O. All NI RIO hardware components are programmed with LabVIEW to give engineers the ability to rapidly create custom timing, signal processing and control for I/O without requiring expertise in low-level hardware description languages or board-level design.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Low cost high performance dataloggers

MadgeTech’s new 101A series data loggers are made in the USA and built to provide the highest level of accuracy, reliability and performance, at an economical price. Our research has shown that when compared to similar data loggers in the market, the 101A series exceeds the level of accuracy, memory, and advancement of technological features of other similarly priced devices.

The 101A series data loggers are available in temperature, humidity, voltage, pulse, bridge/strain, event, process and state models. These innovative devices are equipped with a multiple start/stop function, up to a 10 year battery life, a 1 second reading rate or faster, ultra-high speed download capabilities, up to a 1 million readings storage capacity, battery life indicator, optional password protection, programmable high-low alarms and more. MadgeTech also offers free firmware upgrades so products in the field can grow with new technological advancements. The devices may be upgraded from any internet connected computer, making the process simple and convenient.

Using the MadgeTech data logger software, starting, stopping and downloading is easy. Graphical, tabular and summary data is provided for analysis and can be viewed in a variety of units. Data may also be exported to Excel for further calculations.

Double module connector!

Harting has added a multi-contact double module to the range of data interfaces for the Han-Modular® family of industrial connectors.

Offering the highest contact density of any connector in the range, the multi-contact double module can include up to 12 contacts, including coaxial contacts as well as contacts for optical waveguides. The precision manufactured components allow the use of a broad range of optical waveguides, from POF to multimode fibres.

Compared to connectors previously available on the market, the new module offers a 50% higher packing density in line with the trend to more compact solutions. Because it can be combined with all known standard housings and housings from Harting's new Han-Eco® and Han-Yellock® series, it is
suitable for diverse applications in industry and transportation.

In addition to multiple-channel data transmission, the new multi-contact double module also allows simultaneous implementation of power contacts, which is particularly useful in hybrid cabling concepts that integrate data transmission and power supply in one connector.

Non-contact measurements in tyre manufacturing

Infrared temperature sensors from the Calex PyroCouple Series are being used by a major tyre manufacturer to detect the presence of hot rubber tyre material as it passes a point on a conveyor.

The tyre material is transported in two thin bands on a cooled aluminium conveyor. A PyroCouple model PC301MT-0 infrared temperature sensor is positioned above the conveyor, and is aimed so that both bands are contained in its field of view.

The temperature of the tyre material is normally 75°C and the cooled conveyor surface temperature is typically 20°C.

The sensor is connected to a DIN rail-mounted controller with a relay output that will switch at a chosen measured temperature (e.g. about 45°C).

The relay setpoint temperature is low enough that the relay will be triggered reliably despite the tyre material not completely filling the sensor's field of view. The system can therefore detect the presence of the tyre material, and the time that the material starts and stops being present can be logged.

Speed data from the conveyor drive system is combined with the timings from the sensor and the total length of tyre material passing the sensor can be calculated over each manufacturing period.

Application tips
This system can also be used to detect the presence of a single band of product. If the sensor's field of view is completely filled by the tyre material, then the temperature reading will also be accurate.

Tyre rubber has a high emissivity, so the low-cost, fixed-emissivity PyroCouple Series of infrared temperature sensors is perfectly suitable. For other materials, please contact Calex for advice on the most suitable sensor.

The sensor measures an average temperature across its field of view. Because the sensor can also "see" the cool conveyor as well as the hot tyre material, the measured temperature will be lower than the true temperature of the tyre material, however the reading is sufficiently accurate that the sensor may be used to detect whether or not it is present.

The PPT245 DIN rail-mounted controller will indicate the measured temperature and the setpoint temperature, and can also be configured to retransmit the measured temperature as a linear 0-10 V DC or 4-20 mA signal for connection to a data logger or instrumentation. It has another relay output that can be configured for control or alarm.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dual functionality in a single device

Building in reliable, dual functionality remains a challenge in instrumentation, even in today’s advanced world. The Echotel® Model 962 from Magnetrol, offers two setpoints on the same transducer, a tip sensitive lower gap and a unique flow-through upper gap. This dual-gap design allows the unit to be used for low and high level alarm, high and high/high level alarm, low and low/low level alarm, or for pump control in an auto fill/empty mode.

By using the pulsed ultrasonic wave technology, the Model 962 is less sensitive to buildup, aeration, foam and turbulence. Response time is less than 0.5 seconds.

The unique feature of this unit includes adjustable time delay (up to 45 seconds) and a test button for the output signal. Other LEDs indicate proper operation and malfunction conditions; identification of the malfunction and a separate error signal are also standard. Another major advantage is that the Model 962 is not sensitive to density or liquid change and therefore does not require any calibration. Depending on the transducer the device can be used with nearly every type of liquid (maximum viscosity of 10.000 cP) in a temperature range between -80°C up to +165°C and pressures ranging from vacuum up to 130 bar.

The Model 962 is available loop-powered with a mA output or AC/DC line-powered with integrated relays.

It is designed for use in ATEX intrinsically safe as well as explosion proof areas. Its construction conforms to the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED), and, with a Safe Failure Fraction higher than 90% the Model 962 can easily be integrated in SIL 1, 2 or 3 loops.

Smart switch for Ethernet radios

RadioLinx Smart Switch intelligent routing technology enables true peer-to-peer wireless Ethernet communication. When coupled with the Industrial Frequency Hopping Ethernet’s 1.1 Mbps data rate capabilities, the Smart Switch radios from ProSoft Technology provide best-in-class performance for any application.

This new Smart Switch feature, supported in its RadioLinx® Industrial Frequency Hopping Ethernet Radios for the 2.4 GHz spectrum (900 MHz as well for applications in North America).

With Smart Switch technology, the Ethernet radios are able to intelligently route packets over the network, managing the wireless network and creating true peer-to-peer wireless Ethernet communication. The powerful, rugged Industrial Ethernet radios provide long-range wireless connectivity (up to 7+ km in Europe, up to 3+ miles in North America) with 1.1 Mbps data rates. When coupled with the efficient Smart Switch feature, this solution provides industrial, process and SCADA users with reliable ‘any-node-to-any-node’ communication with best-in-class performance, including faster scan times, faster upload/downloads, and faster PING times.

Industries that rely on robust and long range performance of frequency hopping wireless technologies now get the added benefit of true network connectivity. Smart Switch enables the SCADA network to behave like a true Ethernet network boosting system performance.

An additional unique feature of the Industrial Frequency Hopping Ethernet radios is a serial port that can be used to pull data from a serial device and send to a client via wireless Ethernet.

For configuration and advanced network-wide diagnostics, the radios use ControlScape Configuration and Diagnostic Software, an easy to use graphic interface for configuration and network-wide diagnostics. An OPC server is also included to enable wireless network monitoring within HMI screens.

The Industrial Frequency Hopping Ethernet radios with Smart Switch technology are available globally, through the ProSoft Technology distribution channel. For existing users of the RadioLinx® Industrial frequency Hopping Ethernet radios (RLX-IFHx series), the Smart Switch feature is backward compatible, allowing existing devices to be upgraded from the field.

Hands-on experimentation to RF and communications labs

National Instruments has announced the NI USRP-2920 and NI USRP-2921 universal software radio peripheral (USRP™) instruments, offering a new educational platform that delivers hands-on learning with real-world signals to RF and communications university labs, which previously relied on computer-based simulation to augment theory. The new platform, consisting of their USRP hardware, NI LabVIEW software and lab-ready course material, provides educators with an affordable, off-the-shelf solution that exposes students to practical application of abstract mathematical theories learned in traditional lecture.

“The USRP has gained popularity in recent years among universities as a research tool in software-defined and cognitive radio fields,” said Thad Welch, PhD, professor at Boise State University. “With LabVIEW support and course-specific lab materials, the NI USRP helps educators strengthen students’ understanding of RF and communications theory through hands-on experimentation.”

With this platform, students can now explore the link between abstract mathematical theory and practical implementation through hands-on experimentation with a working communications system. The NI USRP devices feature a software-tunable front end ranging from 50 MHz to 2.2 GHz or the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz ISM bands. The hardware also integrates a software reconfigurable RF transceiver with high-speed A/D and D/A converters, which makes it possible to stream baseband I and Q signals to a host PC over Gigibit Ethernet at up to 20 MS/s for real-time access to the spectrum.

Undergraduates have already proven NI USRP technology as ideal for use in the lab as part of a pilot electrical engineering course at Stanford University. The spring 2011 class gained a deeper understanding of engineering concepts through hands-on projects in which they designed a complete communications system.

“We want to expose students to real-world signals early in their academic careers,” said Sachin Katti, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University. “With the NI USRP and LabVIEW, we can now provide this exposure in RF and communications courses for the first time, which adds depth to both teaching and learning theoretical concepts.”

Educators can use the NI USRP platform to teach courses and topics such as digital communications, communication system design, antenna theory, digital modulation, wireless communication, software-defined radio, digital signal processing and information theory. Additionally, the new USRP educational platform functions as a scalable solution for communications experimentation, research, and rapid prototyping.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Analysing milk!

OPTIQUAD-M is a new analysis system used for the continuous, non-contact measurement of protein, fat and lactose in milk products. The system, which is introduced by Krohne, offers operators of dairies and cheese dairies new opportunities when it comes to process optimisation and quality improvement.

Unlike sampling with laboratory analysis, in which case the data is only available after a delay and where any intervention into the process is also correspondingly late, the OPTIQUAD-M analysis system measures the ingredients continuously and without contact using optical spectroscopy. In this principle, light of different wavelengths is coupled into the product through an optical window. The system simultaneously measures the values of up to four optical effects (transmission, scattering, fluorescence and refraction) which, depending on the substances in the product, manifest in different ways, and then uses them to calculate the amounts of protein, fat and lactose. As soon as the values change, the operator can intervene in production and take steps to counteract. The result is consistently high product quality. Typical applications include the increase of protein content in the cheesemaking milk/vat milk, standardisation of fat content in drinking milk or setting a constant ratio of fat to protein in cheese production.

Unlike bypass devices, the OPTIQUAD-M measures without contact directly in the pipeline: the system is connected to the process via a standard VARINLINE connection. The measuring section complies with the FDA and can be cleaned using SIP/CIP. There is no need for daily recalibration thanks to the long-term stability of the optical measurement, which does not contain any moving parts. In addition, operating and maintenance costs are lowered as there is no need for chemicals, reagents or cleaning agents.

Communications organisation in Japan

In an ongoing effort to meet the growing needs of industry users worldwide, the HART® Communication Foundation has opened an office in Tokyo, Japan with Mr. Kaoru (Carl) Sonoda as General Manager, HCF Japan Operations. The Tokyo office provides users and Foundation member companies with application assistance, information and technical support on the HART Communication Protocol that includes an understanding of Japanese process industry requirements.

“Our focus is always on the global perspective. Think global, act local. So, it has always been our plan to establish satellite offices in major world areas,” says Foundation Executive Director Ron Helson. “Carl Sonoda is a welcome addition to the Foundation. He has 30 years of field communication expertise and will help us better support and promote HART Communication in Japan. His knowledge and experience have already proven invaluable in our commitment to the Japanese market.

Sonoda will be the focal point for Foundation activities in Japan. He will coordinate with the Foundation’s staff in Austin, Texas, to provide marketing and technical activities on the world’s leading field communication protocol including educational programs, seminars, training, trade shows, documents and website content in Japanese language.

Sonoda is recognized as an expert in digital communication, instrumentation design, new product development and product management / marketing. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Meiji University and has published numerous papers and magazine articles on digital communication and field devices.

Sonoda has been involved in Foundation marketing activities and working groups and has made valuable contributions to Foundation programs for the past 11 years. He recently retired from Yokogawa Electric Corporation.

Self-sufficient control devices for explosion protection

The control devices in the Steute Ex RF BF 80 series, that have been designed for use in explosive zones, are now also wireless and self-sufficient. They will be shown at the SPS/ IPC/ DRIVES exhibition 2011.

In order to assemble these control and command devices, the enclosure merely has to be affixed to the wall or machine. No power or signal cables are needed because signals are transmitted by radio. The switching device generates the required energy all by itself. Or more accurately: the user generates the energy all by himself when he actuates the switch. A miniaturised electrodynamic energy transformer mounted on the switch plunger transforms kinetic energy to electrical energy and a signal is sent to the receiver unit by radio.

This wireless technology has long been tried and tested in both industrial applications and building automation, and has now begun to assert itself in the field of explosion protection. The steute "Energy Harvesting" technology has been approved by the appropriate authorities – with the result that the command devices in our Ex RF BF 80 series are certified for use in gas-Ex zones 1 and 2, as well as dust-Ex zones 21 and 22, in accordance with the ATEX guidelines. The plastic enclosure of our new command devices is very robust. Variants for one, two and three control elements are available, with users being able to choose from among a wide range of pushbuttons, mushroom pushbuttons, selector and key switches. The wireless protocol guarantees a high degree of transmission safety over distances of up to 30 m (indoors) or 200 m (outdoors). Several »Wireless Ex« systems can be operated within one transmission area; the exact assignation of command device to receiver unit is performed in a few simple steps during the teach-in process.

Like all steute switching devices, the Ex RF BF 80 series is extremely durable. The switching insert with its electrodynamic energy generator has been developed especially for rough industrial applications, achieving a mechanical lifetime of over one million switching cycles. At the SPS/IPC/DRIVES exhibition, steute will also be presenting other self-sufficient switching devices. And our range of Ex-switchgear has also been expanded – e.g. to include a new series of position switches for universal use.

Testing magmeters without process interference

Emerson Process Management has expanded its suite of Smart Meter Verification technology products to include Rosemount® magnetic flowmeters. Smart Meter Verification delivers complete, on-line verification of device performance, saving significant expense by reducing labour and outsourced calibration service costs, while eliminating process interruption.

This easy to operate technology is embedded in the transmitter functionality to verify calibration and the complete health of the sensor, electronics, and analogue loop. Measurement integrity feedback is delivered in under two minutes and can be set to run continuously in the background or on-demand at the touch of a button.

With no need to remove the meter from the line or stop the process flow, Smart Meter Verification increases availability and reduces costs by minimising manpower and services to check or calibrate meters. Reduced trips to the field improves the safety of plant personnel; and because there is no need to break process seals to check on the health of the device, Smart Meter Verification technology reduces environmental impact.

Rosemount magnetic flowmeters lead the industry in measurement performance and reliability, and are part of Emerson's broad range of intelligent, digital field devices that power the PlantWeb™ digital plant architecture. Further cost savings, increased plant availability, and enhanced safety and environmental compliance are achieved when the flowmeters are integrated into the PlantWeb digital plant architecture.

Reduced price offer for thermal imager

The entry-level Fluke Ti9 Thermal Imager is targeted at electricians and industrial maintenance technicians, at a reduced price for orders placed before 31st December 2011 - £2090 instead of £2490 in Britain. During the same period, Fluke is offering a no obligation 'Try & Buy' promotion, an on-site 2 day trial of the Ti9 for professionals who have no, or limited, experience of using thermal imagers to inspect, repair and verify electrical infrastructure and electromechanical equipment. Rated to IP54, the rugged Fluke Ti9 is optimised for work in harsh environments.

The Ti9 Thermal Imager, with 160 x 120 pixel resolution, delivers clear, crisp images to find problems fast, revealing the smallest details with the widescreen format colour LCD display. Featuring an intuitive three-button menu, users simply point the instrument from a safe distance and pull the trigger to capture the full image. That saves valuable time and greatly increases the speed of inspecting, repairing and verifying electrical and electromechanical equipment. Over 1200 full radiometric images can be captured on its removable SD memory card.

The Fluke Ti9 helps extend equipment lifetime, avoid electrical fires, and validate installation, repair and maintenance procedures. It can detect problems in a wide range of equipment including switchgear, motor control centres and lighting systems. Even small temperature differences are visible in components like transformers, panels, controls, fuses, receptacles and bus bars. Hot spots regularly indicate an imminent problem or equipment failure in electrical equipment. Infrared thermometer measurements show only a single hot spot at a time, which is not enough for an accurate evaluation. Thermal imagers show the full picture instantly, with different colours representing different temperatures.

The Fluke Ti9 incorporates a thermal imager lens with adjustable focus and detects a wide -20˚C to +250˚C temperature range. There is a 23º x 17º viewing angle and a minimum focus distance of 15cm. Small details are visible in a perfectly focused image. The IP54-rated Fluke Ti9 resists dust and water, and withstands a drop test of 2 metres.

Fluke SmartView® software, featuring 3D imaging capability and options for optimising and organising thermal images and creating professional reports, is included with the product as well as a 2GB SD memory card, a rugged hard carry case, a soft transport bag, an adjustable hand strap (for right- or left-handed use), a rechargeable internal battery, AC power supply/battery charger (including mains adapters) and a training DVD. The 'Try & Buy' promotion is supported by a free 72-page booklet – 'Introduction to Thermography Principles'.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Network connectivity for CAN-enabled devices

HMS extends network connectivity for CAN-enabled devices

Extended release of the Anybus® Communicator CAN™ enables CAN-devices to be connected to CC-Link, ControlNet, Modus RTU, EtherCAT, Modbus TCP and Profinet IRT.

The Anybus® Communicator CAN™, enables communication between any industrial device with a CAN interface and a chosen industrial network. Following the initial release in July which offered connectivity to 5 networks, HMS can now offer a complete solution for 11 major fieldbus and industrial Ethernet networks. 
- CANopen
- CC-Link (new)
- ControlNet (new)
- DeviceNet
- Modbus RTU (new)
- Profibus
- EtherCAT (new)
- EtherNet/IP
- Modbus TCP (new)
- Profinet
- Profinet-IRT (new)

Typical users and applications
The Anybus Communicator CAN makes life easier for system integrators and network designers enabling quick and easy connection of CAN-enabled devices to a higher level network. Typical devices include frequency drives, sensors, actuators, human machine interfaces, barcode readers, RFID readers, weighscales and other types of industrial machinery.

True Anybus: connectivity to any fieldbus or Ethernet network
"There is a great need to connect industrial automation devices running CAN to different industrial networks. The initial market response after the first release in July confirms this and the product is already being implemented on a wide scale by customers. The networks in highest demand so far have been EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet, but we have also seen an increase in orders from Profinet users. With the new release, we now realize the full Anybus promise offering connectivity to any fieldbus or Ethernet network,” comments Martin Falkman, Product Line Manager Gateways at HMS.

Technical highlights

Any device with a CAN 2.0 A- or B-based protocol can be connected without any hardware or software changes to the CAN devices. This allows automation devices, even those with slower CAN communication, to be integrated into high-speed fieldbus/Ethernet networks without any restrictions to the upper network.

Included with the Communicator CAN is the Anybus Configuration Manager enabling visual CAN frame building without any programming or scripting skills needed.

Sub-miniature micro switch

A new ultra-miniature micro-switch from Omron Electronic Components B.V. features a unique mechanism to enhance switching reliability as well as a two-stage bottom housing with different levels designed to prevent flux penetration during manufacturing.

Their D2F micro-switch is just 6.5mm (h) x 12.8mm (w) x 5.8mm (d) and incorporates insertion moulded terminals and a unique snapping mechanism. This is constructed with two highly precise split springs to ensure a long and reliable service life.

Andries de Bruin, Omron European Product Marketing Manager, Switches, said, “Omron’s D2F micro-switch range meets the requirements of a wide range of market sectors including security, vending, industrial, process control and embedded applications. The micro-switch product line-up includes industry standard types, low torque sealed switches and a number of industry specific models.”

The D2F micro-switch has an operating voltage of 125VAC at 3A and 30VDC at 2A, an insulation resistance of 100M Ohm and an operating temperature range of -25°C to 85°C.

The D2F supports a wide variety of terminal types and configurations including self-clinching PCB, right-angled, left-angled, and solder terminals. For high volume applications the operating lever, wire cable, terminals and housing can be customised to meet specific customer requirements. The D2F product family is RoHS compliant.

PXI test solution for RF power amplifiers

NI PXI RF Power Amplifier Test Solution Accelerates Test Throughput by 10X

National Instruments is to demonstrate a complete PXI-based solution for RF power amplifier (PA) validation and production test at European Microwave Week in Manchester (GB). The PXI solution exemplifies the the company's commitment to meeting engineers’ needs for fast, efficient and accurate test and measurement solutions. It also comes at a time when, according to Frost & Sullivan, a leading global market research firm, the PXI market is expected to cross the $1 billion mark by 2017, and NI is paving the way with its continuously advancing PXI modular instrumentation.

“The PXI market is growing, gaining share over rack-and-stack instruments, and National Instruments is the undeniable leader in PXI-based test and measurement equipment,” said Jessy Cavazos, industry manager for measurement and instrumentation at Frost & Sullivan. “This is not surprising considering the breadth and depth of its PXI product portfolio.”

The NI PXI solution for power amplifier test integrates a variety of mixed-signal, high-performance instruments to meet the demanding requirements for fast and precise PA test in validation and production environments. The demonstration features the latest NI PXI instruments including the NI PXIe-5665 14 GHz vector signal analyzer, the NI PXIe-6556 digital per pin parametric measurement unit (PPMU), the NI PXIe-4154 battery simulator and the NI PXIe-5186 12.5 GS/s, 5 GHz digitizer. With these PXI-based modular instruments, engineers can perform a wide variety of PA tests and measurements such as power versus time (PVT), error vector magnitude (EVM), adjacent channel leakage ratio (ACLR), current leakage, harmonics and open-shorts tests.

The solution joins an expansive selection of NI PXI tools, which currently includes more than 450 different PXI modules to address virtually any engineering challenge. It builds on this success and on the technical advantages of the PXI platform, including advanced timing and synchronization capabilities, which make it possible for engineers to share triggers and clocks between instruments. Such features, combined with the solution’s high-speed PXI Express bus, result in test speeds that are up to 10 times faster than traditional box solutions. National Instruments also provides software to address the wide variety of RF standards including LTE, GSM/EDGE , WCDMA, WLAN, WiMAX, ZigBee and Bluetooth.

Additionally, in July 2011, National Instruments completed its acquisition of AWR, a leading supplier of electronic design automation (EDA) software, including AWR Microwave Office, for designing RF and high-frequency components and systems. The acquisition strengthens both the NI PXI and AWR Microwave Office platforms as complementary solutions for the entire RF development spectrum, helping increase productivity from design through production test, including power amplifier design and test applications. AWR will be demonstrating its latest design tools at European Microwave Week booth 103.

Leading supplier of enterprise asset management software solutions

ARC Advisory Group market study names ABB #1 EAM supplier in Asia and Latin America; #1 worldwide in power generation, transmission and mining sectors

ABB has been ranked as a global leader in Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software across significant regions and market sectors, according to a recent research study by ARC Advisory Group, a leading research and advisory firm. The findings are part of ARC’s comprehensive market and technology analysis entitled “Enterprise Asset Management and Field Service Management Solutions Worldwide Outlook”.

Mincom, acquired by ABB in July 2011, was ranked the leading global EAM supplier to the mining and minerals, and electricity transmission and distribution sectors; and ranked second EAM provider to the aerospace and defense sector. Mincom was also named lead EAM provider in Asia and Latin America.

Ventyx, acquired by ABB in June 2010, maintains second position among EAM vendors serving the global electric power generation, refining, and water and wastewater sectors. It has also been rated the second-leading EAM market leader in North America.

With the combined business of Mincom and Ventyx, ABB is now the world’s largest supplier of EAM to the electric power generation market.

Ralph Rio, ARC’s author of the study comments-“Mincom and Ventyx have complementary strengths across many key industries and geographies. The combination of these two impressive vendors has catapulted ABB into a leadership position for EAM solutions across many significant segments.”

“The addition of market-leading solutions from Ventyx and Mincom to our existing offering provides ABB with an unparalleled portfolio of enterprise asset management solutions,” said Jens Birgersson, head of the Network Management business, a part of ABB’s Power Systems division. “These solutions are aimed at enhancing asset health and productivity, and improving the overall business performance of customers.”

As processes that drive mission-critical physical assets become ever more automated, software is becoming a key enabler and an essential management tool in asset-intensive industries. The benefits of real-time information management and enterprise-wide visibility are key differentiators in a highly competitive sector.

EAM solutions facilitate the management of an organization’s fleet of physical assets over their entire lifecycle, from design and production, through commissioning, operations and maintenance, to decommissioning and recycling. Managing these aspects on a company-wide basis reduces downtime, optimizes investment and maintenance costs and extends the operational life of installations, thereby enhancing operational performance and minimizing total cost of ownership.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saudi automation contract

ABB has won the Main Automation contract for Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara), a joint venture (under formation) between affiliates of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) and The Dow Chemical Company (Dow).

Work is underway on establishing Sadara and the related integrated chemical complex in Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia. When fully operational in 2015, the facility will be the largest plastics and chemicals production complex ever built in a single phase. All parties have agreed not to disclose the amount of the order.

ABB was selected as the project's Main Automation Contractor (MAC). The scope of supply includes process automation systems, safety systems, project management, project engineering, commissioning assistance, post-commissioning site support, as well as engineering, operator, and maintenance technician training.

“ABB's combination of leading-edge technology and extensive global and regional resources help it consistently execute large, complex projects like this one, so that our customers can operate successfully from the outset,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation Division. “Our competitiveness, long-term customer relationships and commitment to providing solutions achieving the highest levels of safety and efficiency were key factors in winning this order.”

Saudi Aramco is a leader in oil exploration, production, refining, distribution, shipping, marketing and petrochemical manufacturing. Owned by the Saudi Arabian Government, it manages the world's largest proven oil reserves (260 billion barrels, nearly one quarter of the world’s total), and the world's fourth-largest gas reserves.

Dow is a leading science and technology company and the foremost supplier of specialty chemicals, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics. Dow manufactures more than 5,000 products at 188 sites in 35 countries across the globe, and employs about 50,000 people.

New plc manufacturing facility for China

The Siemens Industry Automation Division is further expanding its position in the Asian growth market: In a new factory to be built in Chengdu in the Chinese province of Sichuan, Siemens is to develop and manufacture high-end Simatic controllers and automation components from the middle of 2013. The corresponding agreements were signed with local authorities today. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new factory is scheduled for February 2012

With its new Chengdu electronics factory, Siemens is striving to satisfy the growing worldwide demand for modern and energy-efficient automation solutions. "This investment will further strengthen our presence in one of the world's most dynamic markets", according to  Eckard Eberle, head of the Industrial Automation Systems business unit. "The rapidly increasing number of manufacturing companies in Asia tightens the competition between each other, thus making technical solutions necessary to produce more quickly, at the highest quality standards and also cost-effectively."

From 2013 mainly Simatic S7 programmable logic controllers (PLC) will be manufactured in Chengdu. During an initial expansion phase, the new factory in Chengdu will comprise approximately 3,000 square meters. Depending on future market growth, the factory can be expanded to a total of 10,000 square meters and a workforce of more than 1,000.

The new factory in Chengdu will be designed as an affiliated factory of the Electronics Manufacturing Plant (EWA) in Amberg, where Siemens has already been developing and manufacturing a major part of its controllers for several decades. As in Amberg, the Chengdu plant will also be organized as a "digital factory" where the development and manufacturing departments are completely interlinked. The consistent flow of information provides the basis for both extra-high product quality and optimized transportation and delivery processes.