Saturday, November 5, 2011

Environmental organisation on board!

Environmental Protection UK (EPUK) has agreed to support AQE 2013 by running a major conference on air quality alongside the show in Telford (GB) (13-14 March 2013)

EPUK is a membership based organisation working to develop and influence environmental policy at national, local and European levels.

Previous MCERTS events have focused on the emissions of major industrial processes regulated by the Environment Agency, however, the inclusion of EPUK will ensure that AQE 2013 appeals to everyone with a professional interest in air quality and/or emissions.

AQE 2013 will include an exhibition featuring most of the world's major participants in the air quality market, so it will be of interest to international visitors. In addition, the subjects addressed by the AQE 2013 conferences and workshops will be of interest to almost every industry sector.

Short range radio appointments

LPRS has appointed Sandie Sharples to the board of directors to take on the role of Client Services Director. This new position reflects the great importance LPRS puts on customer service, from design to delivery and beyond.

Sandie commented: “Our customer surveys show that it is our service that really sets us apart from our competitors. We can assist our customers with design, implementation and manufacturing and like to be full partners in every project we undertake.”
She will manage key accounts and oversee the recruitment of additional distributors worldwide to further grow sales of their market leading eRA wireless communication modules.
(left to right) John Sharples, MD of LPRS
congratulates their new design engineer
Srikanth Ganji.

To further support the high sales growth experienced during 2011 an additional design engineer has also been recruited. Srikanth Ganji has recently graduated from Glyndŵr University with an M.Sc. in Advanced Electronics having completed his thesis on a GPS navigation system for the blind using speech recognition with voice playback and an obstacle detector. Ganji’s expertise includes embedded systems electronics design and testing, RF systems, advanced control systems, advanced CAD and project management and research methods.

“Ganji is joining our design team to continue new product development and get involved with customer projects."
said John Sharples, Managing Director of LPRS. “Our latest generation easyRadio products are now in full production and our recent outsourcing of procurement and manufacturing to specialist organisations in the UK have increased our competitiveness and improved lead-times. Our sales continue to grow and our 2012 order book is very healthy. Our focus will now be on growing export markets in Europe, South America and Asia where we are actively seeking representation.”

In addition to its own easyRadio Advanced (eRA) wireless modules the LPRS product range now includes, narrow band long range wireless modules from CDT, the IQRF range of wireless networking components, the IQVC range of visual control panels together with antenna, wireless key fobs and a wide range of sensor products.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Automation at science & engineering event

The Automation Federation and the International Society of Automation (ISA) is to exhibit at the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival (28–29 April 2012 in Washington, D.C.,USA). The festival is a celebration of science and engineering and will feature more than 1500 hands-on activities and more than 75 performances.

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is America's largest national science festival. It was developed to increase public awareness of the importance of science and to encourage youth to pursue careers in science and engineering by celebrating science the same way people celebrate Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and pop stars.

“AF and ISA have chosen to exhibit at the festival because we are committed to promoting science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) to youth and to building the next generation of automation professionals," said Mike Marlowe, Automation Federation managing director. “Careers in automation are exiting, rewarding and important to our future, ” he added. “Through our exhibition, AF and ISA aspire to increase awareness of the importance of automation and engineering among young people and to invite them to explore the fascinating career paths in automation.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New sensor catalogue

In recent years, the range of piezoelectric sensors from Dytran Instruments has increased dramatically and all of these products are now covered in their latest catalogue just released.

Their web site has until now been the main source of information on these new products, but the new publication draws together their entire current product offering in one 170 page catalogue, which can therefore be used for reference from your bookshelf.

Within the catalogue can be found detailed information on piezoelectric and DC MEMS devices for the dynamic measurement of acceleration, force, pressure vibration shock and acoustics. These sensors and associated instrumentation will find use in the testing fields of aerospace, defence, automotive, laboratory and many other industries.

Engineers will find of particular use the appendix which is a glossary of terms used in the piezoelectric world and a page of useful formulae and conversion factors.

Increasing the tempo in car factory

Just as with road traffic, planning, movement and tempo are also decisive when manufacturing cars. Volvo Cars is using Beijer Electronics' HMI solution iX to optimize the flow and thus rationalize its bodywork factory. The intuitive iX system is being used not only by operators and other production staff, but also in administration.

The heart of the Swedish car industry is in Västra Götaland. Here Volvo Cars builds larger cars such as the XC90, S80 and V70. The smaller models in its range, such as the C30, V50, S60 and XC60, are manufactured at the plant in the Belgian city of Ghent. This factory, which currently employs around 3,000 people of 41 nationalities, actually consists of three closely interconnected factories. The first one manufactures the bodies, which are painted in the next one before moving on to final assembly. Volvo Cars' production is order-based. Following a few tough years for the car industry, there is now a tangible increase in demand. A recovering economy and a new owner, combined with the promising new V60 model, are contributing to the sense of positivism that permeates the air. "Even though we have small buffer stocks in various places, the flow through the factory is absolutely decisive for the production tempo, and thus also for profitability," says John Selander, who explains that it takes about three days, one for each factory, to produce a car.

Together with Andreas Pettersson and Thomas Bernhed, John Selander maintains and further develops the bodywork factory's automation systems. This means that these three colleagues have a major, important role to play in the team effort that has to produce 160,000 cars every year that are both safe and enjoyable to drive.

Optimized flow
John Selander points up to the ceiling of the bright, surprisingly quiet bodywork factory, where a two-shift system operates. To judge by the 46-inch monitors, which show all stations colored green, right now everything's just as it should be. All in all, a dozen or so large screens have been installed at various places around the factory. It is strategically important that all employees can easily monitor production status: "By being able to quickly identify any possible problems and bottlenecks in the production lines, we can reduce setup times and optimize the flow."
From the "bridge" Andreas Pettersson
monitors the bodywork factory closely

The large screens are one effect of the technology shift that took place in autumn 2009, when iX from Beijer Electronics replaced an ageing SCADA program of the SattLine type as the master system.
The upgrade took place to keep up with the times - and to facilitate development and support:
"It's become increasingly difficult to find programmers who master SattLine, and at the same time we were attracted by features such as the vector-based graphics in iX," explains Thomas Bernhed.

Full control
The entire manufacturing process in the bodywork factory is monitored from the permanently staffed "bridge". In the past this was simply a bridge that was raised above the factory floor to provide a view over the whole plant. Today's bridge is a normal office, albeit crammed with technology, where the operator has full control via monitors and video cameras. "The operator's summary screen is the same one as is shown on the big screens out in the factory," explains Thomas Bernhed, who was responsible for HMI programming, as he shows us how easy it is to click down to a detailed level for various stations.

Using the Windows-based development tool iX Developer, an intuitive master system has been created for production monitoring. The ease of use is proven by the breadth of use. Administrative staff and managers also log in to monitor the production status via the internal data network. Thomas Bernhed gives iX Developer top marks. He describes the tool as structured and easy to use for programmers. "It only took us a couple of weeks to create an initial version of the application, which we then supplemented and extended with more functions and screens."

Andreas Pettersson explains that Volvo Cars was invited by Beijer Electronics to be 'test pilots' even during the development phase for iX. Impressed by the inbuilt opportunities offered by iX, they started immediately to build this application. "Our stringent demands for operational reliability probably say it all about how well we thought that iX worked even then."

Profitable standard
Operational reliability and quality explain a relationship between Volvo Cars and Beijer Electronics that spans several years. The bodywork factory's first PLC from Beijer Electronics was installed back in 1993 – and the number that has broken down over the years doesn't take much counting.
The factory's robots, pressing and welding stations, and transport systems are now controlled by around 350 PLC units from the MELSEC family. These are controlled via more or less the same number of operator terminals. "We've standardized around MELSEC and have everything from small FX units to System Q," says Andreas Pettersson, who explains that operator terminals and frequency inverters are also bought from Beijer Electronics. Even if the PLC environment in this particular case is extremely uniform, the open architecture also favors iX. This HMI solution works on both operator panel and PC monitor, and together with a wide range of control systems. Data sharing in real time with SQL databases and OPC communication with third-party equipment and other IT systems are also no problem at all. There is no doubt at all that the "sneak preview" of iX whetted the appetite: "Many of our wishes have been met in the finished product. We've had and continue to have a good, open dialogue with Beijer Electronics and have received good support," says Thomas Bernhed.

One call is all it takes

The fact that the car company, with its skilled automation engineers as beta testers, has also made an important contribution for all of the other companies now using iX is evident. Erik Odhed is an account manager at Beijer Electronics' office in Gothenburg: "Our close collaboration and the opportunity during the development phase to try out iX in such a demanding, complex environment as car manufacturing was incredibly valuable," he says, explaining that the iX HMI solution was launched officially in spring 2010 and that it is now being used all around the world in a wide range of industrial environments.

As well as gaining a modern master system in iX, John Selander, Thomas Bernhed and Andreas Pettersson mention an additional benefit: "Having one single supplier for all key components, from PLC to HMI, means that one call is all it takes if you need help with any problems that may occur."

10 years pressure/flow/level

This year, Emerson Process Management is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Rosemount 3051S Series of Instrumentation, the world’s first scalable platform for integrated pressure, flow and level solutions.  Since its introduction, the 3051S has delivered many innovations including new levels of performance, capabilities and diagnostics.

The 3051S was the first scalable WirelessHART® (IEC 62591) pressure transmitter. WirelessHART allows new measurement points to be added without the hassle and cost of wiring, reducing deployment time by up to 75%. Proven success has occurred across the globe in applications such as monitoring steam injection flow for enhanced recovery oil fields, greenhouse gas emission monitoring and optimisation of compressors and heat exchangers. 

Advanced Diagnostics, another 3051S innovation, allows users to analyse changing process conditions and take corrective action for abnormal situations such as plugged impulse lines or unstable furnace flames. After Mitsubishi Chemical adopted Advanced Diagnostics in their Kashima, Japan, ethylene plant, Takayuki Aoyama, team leader of their instrumentation group, said, "We have been able to predict and prevent potential problems by monitoring advanced diagnostic information from field devices, such as the statistical process monitoring (SPM) capabilities of Emerson's Rosemount 3051S transmitter.” 

More recent 3051S Advanced Diagnostics can monitor the integrity of the electrical loop, including detecting water in the terminal block, ground loop issues, or an unstable power supply. “The loop integrity monitoring capability of the 3051S will help to increase the overall integrity of our safety system loops in the harsh and humid offshore environments,” said Deon Rae, Technology Manager of Process Automation at Chevron.

The 3051S MultiVariable™ Transmitter provides differential pressure, static pressure and process temperature measurements, along with advanced compensation techniques to provide fully compensated mass and energy flow outputs. The 3051SMV provides full compensation of over 25 different parameters to achieve a 5x improvement in flow performance compared to an uncompensated differential pressure flow measurement. By using 3051SMV technology, a natural gas distributor saved $80,000 (€57,000) in installation and calibration costs when upgrading a storage facility to improve operations.

The flowmeters combine industry-leading transmitters and primary element technologies to create accurate and reliable DP flow measurements. They have made DP flow installations simple by integrating all of the required components into a single assembly with options for low permanent pressure loss with the Annubar®, or short straight requirements with the Conditioning Orifice Plate.

Rosemount 3051S Electronic Remote Sensors, the most recently introduced innovation, are an industry-first technology that replaces mechanical impulse piping with two 3051S pressure sensors linked together digitally for the measurement of level or differential pressure. Ideal applications for the 3051S ERS™ System include tall vessels, distillation towers and other installations that have traditionally required excessive lengths of impulse piping or capillary. With over ten patents involved in its development, it improves performance, simplifies installation and maintenance routines, and provides additional process insight and diagnostics.  Chevron Phillips Chemical installed a 3051S ERS System on a 9 metre outdoor tank and achieved over two years of maintenance-free operation and better level control.

“The 3051S raises the bar significantly regarding the expectation for pressure, DP flow and DP level instrumentation,”
said Mark Schumacher, president of Rosemount Pressure. “The level of security, reliability, performance and features brought forth in the 3051S allows our customers to push their processes harder, with more time between maintenance and downtime. Our customers are safer and more profitable. With our continued focus on research and development, we are committed to ensuring our customers’ future success.”
Birthday Cake at this years Emerson Exchange on Jim Cahill's Blog

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Automation e-books now available

eBooks are now available from ISA. Initially they had a soft launch during ISA Automation Week 2011, where conference attendees had an opportunity to win Kindles loaded with ISA eBook titles. EBooks are available for sale here from ISA Publications, and also from Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and several other eRetail stores.

“We are pleased to be launching eBooks and adding a new online format to our extensive automation library,” said Susan Colwell, manager, publications development at ISA. “The demand for this format has grown tremendously and offering eBooks is a must in today’s publishing environment."

Award winning eBook
Three books have currently been published as eBooks: Sell More Through Effective Technical Presentations, 2nd Edition, by Paul Gruhn; MES Guide for Executives: Why and How to Select, Implement, and Maintain a Manufacturing Execution System, by Bianca Scholten; and Control Loop Foundation - Batch and Continuous Processes, by Terrence Blevins and Mark Nixon. (This book won the  Raymond D. Molloy Award as the best selling ISA Book in 2010 at the Authors' Award ceremony at Automation Week'11)

“We had a humble goal of having one eBook title ready to go in time for ISA Automation Week 2011, but in fact, we ended up with three titles ready and three more just around the corner,”
commented Eoin Ó Riain, ISA publications department vice president. “Launching eBooks is a major step for ISA. It demonstrates our enthusiastic commitment to offer our members and customers timely products at a lower price level, and to making our valuable resources more accessible to members throughout the world.”

Pressure transmitter portfolio extended

The Siemens Industry Automation Division is extending its pressure transmitter portfolio to include devices with fixed measurement ranges. The Sitrans P200/P210/ P220 is ideally suited for applications involving defined measurement ranges in the process industries. These compact devices can be quickly integrated into an existing process, and feature a handy plug-in connection for rapid commissioning. This transducer series is aimed predominantly at machine builders, system suppliers to the process industries and also the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry.

The new instrument is suitable both for relative and absolute pressure measurement, and covers measurement ranges from 100 millibar up to 600 bar.

With a negligible end value measurement error of just 0.25%, these transmitters respond with the utmost precision to process changes. This consistently high level of measurement accuracy coupled with good overload resistance (up to 4 times the measurement range) makes for a highly diverse application scope – particularly in fields such as refrigeration technology, power engineering and hydraulics. Versions are available with oil-filled measuring cell and stainless steel diaphragm, as well as with abrasionproof ceramic diaphragm. Fully welded measuring cells without internal sealing are offered for high-pressure applications. The transmitters come with an array of process and electrical connections, making them adaptable to a wide range of different mounting situations.

As these measurement transmitters are typically connected to automation systems, operating and monitoring elements have been dispensed with. Siemens PressurT

Valve actuator performance

Rotork Controls has established a global reputation for robust and reliable valve actuators, operating in some of the world’s most demanding and critical applications. Thorough testing of the motors used in the actuators is one of the keys to this assured performance, with TorqSense transducers from Sensor Technology playing a vital role in the test process.

Rotork is perhaps the world’s leading manufacturer of electric, pneumatic and hydraulic valve actuators and associated control systems, valve gearboxes and valve accessories. The company’s electric valve actuator division offers an electrical solution to industrial valve control and actuation applications of virtually any size, description and complexity.

Its capabilities encompass actuators and control systems for new plants, plant extensions and upgrades, together with life-of-plant support. The division’s unrivalled range of products offers a robust and economic solution for every valve duty and operating environment.

Rotork Controls chief development engineer Geoff Beeho comments: “If you look at something like an oil line, then any failure of the valve actuator could potentially be costing millions of dollars a day. We have to be able to guarantee the performance of the actuators in the most demanding conditions, so testing is vital. TorqSense torque transducers from Sensor Technology are a key element of our test rigs.”

Companies and businesses around the world rely on Rotork actuators, in applications as diverse as power generation, water and sewage, industrial processes, subsea, marine, HVAC, incinerators and cement plants. Common features in many of these applications are challenging environmental conditions, extremes of temperatures, and high costs associated with any downtime. Because of this, absolute reliability of the valve actuators is vital.

They  designs custom actuator designs built around motorised gearboxes, using non-standard open frame motors. “We use a variety of motors depending on the particular application, including DC motors, single-phase motors and three-phase motors, but we don’t rely on off-the-shelf products. Instead, we use open frame motors that we integrate directly into our own systems.

“Performance testing is very important,” he continues. “The duty cycle is atypical – our motors are not in continuous use, only running intermittently and for short period. What is important to us is the short term ratings, and this data isn’t always readily available. We have to have performance data that will tell us exactly what we need to know about the motors in these most demanding applications.”

The company designed its own rig to test the motors, with Sensor Technology TorqSense transducers at its heart. “We needed non-contact torque sensors in the rig. The early design used magnetically coupled torque sensors but we were never completely happy with these. So when we upgraded the rig to be able to perform a wider range of tests, we took the opportunity to look around the market and we found the TorqSense transducers.”

These transducers are non-contact devices that operate using surface acoustic wave (SAW) principles. In a TorqSense transducer, surface waves are produced by passing an alternating voltage across the terminals of two interleaved comb-shaped arrays, laid onto one end of a piezoelectric substrate. A receiving array at the other end of the transducer converts the wave into an electric signal.

The frequency is dependent upon the spacing of the teeth in the array and as the direction of wave propagation is at right angles to the teeth, any change in its length alters the spacing of the teeth and hence the operating frequency. Tension in the transducer reduces the operating frequency while compression increases it. To measure the torque in a rotating shaft, two saw sensors are bonded to a shaft at 45deg to the axis of rotation. When the shaft is subjected to torque, a signal is produced which is transmitted to a stationary pick up via a capacitive couple comprising two discs, one of which rotates with the shaft, the other being static.

“The TorqSense transducers immediately struck us as being a much more robust solution, better suited to handling the torques we were subjecting them to,” comments Beeho.

The common practices of over-specifying a motor that guarantee reliable operation in standard applications simply don’t apply in valve actuation. “Motor sizing is critical,” says Beeho. “If we put in a motor that is too big, then we can risk damaging the valve. We can use motors that appear to be under-rated, but because our duty-cycle is so short we can get better performance from the motor. But the performance data to support this sort of motor use isn’t always available, or isn’t always reliable, so we need to perform our own tests. We also need to know how our motors will handle extremes of temperature in given applications so that reliability is never compromised. The TorqSense transducers allow us to make all the required tests.”

An advantage of the TorqSense transducers in the Rotork test rig is that they provide both analogue and digital outputs. “This has proved to be a real bonus,” says Beeho. “Not only can we use one output to check the calibration of the other, but it also means we have the flexibility to use both outputs performing different tests. For example, we might use the analogue output to feed torque and speed data into the power analyser during a performance test, and then use the digital output for a temperature test. Here, we run the motor for 15 minutes at constant torque and see how hot it gets. The output from the TorqSense transducer allows us to close the loop so that we can keep the torque constant.”

In any application, the fundamental considerations are the actuator’s ability to overcome the resistive forces of the valve, and the dynamic performance requirements to enable the valve to adequately meet the process demands. With its comprehensive testing procedures built around the TorqSense transducers, Rotork Controls has the confidence that its electrically operated valve actuators will always meet the application requirements.

Photoelectric sensor with longer sensing distance & high-speed detection

New cost-reduced PA-18 series delivers longer sensing distance, high-speed detection and improved LED diagnostics, in space saving and easy-to-clean housings

Carlo Gavazzi has introduced its third generation of M18 compact photoelectric sensors, bringing superior performance and higher functionality alongside lower cost and reduced sizes. Available in diffuse reflective, retro-reflective, polarised and through-beam variants, with axial or radial housing options, the new PA18 range of M18 photo sensors offer twice the performance of previous generations at 25percent lower cost. The new sensors are ECOLAB certified as resistant to high temperatures, high-pressure cleaning, and strong cleaning agents and disinfectants, to ensure reliable detection in the harshest environments.

The PA18 series features an optimised aspherical lens design that provides a wide sensing angle and significantly longer sensing range. Thanks to a built-in microprocessor that guarantees advanced filtering and detection and also allows flexible customized solutions, sensing distances are more than doubled. Maximum range is extended to 1m for diffuse reflective types, 6.5m for retro-reflective and 20m for through-beam models. Polarised reflective version can detect up to 5m, representing a 150percent improvement over existing sensors.

From close distances to full range, the sensors' highly precise and linear sensitivity adjustment together with a manual potentiometer provides accurate and easy setting. A new green signal quality/power indicator supplements the familiar yellow target-detection LED, making it easier to set up and adjust the system.

Electrical performance is also enhanced throughout the family. Detection speed is 500 impulse/s - a 400percent improvement on previous sensors. Plus, supply voltage has been reduced to 10- 30 VDC, whilst load current is halved to 100mA. Available as PNP or NPN versions, the PA18 sensors offer the freedom to choose between a normally open and normally closed output in the same sensor, dramatically easing the demands on inventory, storage capacity and stock control.

The PA18 sensors offer high immunity to light and electromagnetic disturbances, with an early warning LED to indicate dust accumulation. Together these features reduce the need for system maintenance and promise higher uptime throughout a longer operational life.

In addition, the PA18 series comes with a new mounting accessory to facilitate quick and easy mounting. The smart and simple mounting accessory, along with robust design of the sensors, makes cleaning easier and more efficient. The detectors are built to withstand cleaning with water at 80°C, high-pressure washing up to 100bar and resist alkaline and acidic cleaning agents, exceeding the requirements of IP69K tests according to DIN 40050-9 as tested by their ECOLAB certification.

Furthermore, the PA18 series sensors carry CE and UL marks, and meet the Low-Voltage Directive 2006/95/EC as well as EMC Directive 2004/108/EC.

Web-based sizing tool

Thomson has launched a new version of Linear MOTIONEERING®, the company’s powerful, free of charge web-based sizing and selection tool. Linear MOTIONEERING® calculates safety factors that help direct customers to an optimised linear motion system for their machine in just minutes by entering a few key application parameters.

The new version includes a number of market leading innovations to simplify this process even further. A new sort and filter feature allows users to organise all the solutions that fit their individual requirements quickly and easily, while an upgraded graphics and user-interface makes it easier to get to preferred solutions. The revised version also now includes global product offerings from Thomson such as its linear units. Outputs include application parameters such as linear bearing load/life, ball screw critical speed, specific movement profiles and radial/axial forces. The tool then produces a set of product solutions tailored precisely to the application requirements. Once a product solution is selected, a wide assortment of accessories, motors and motor mounts can be selected. In addition to this, the program offers interactive 3D models, list prices, delivery times and ordering information.

Also available on the website are the new and improved interactive 3D models offering a three-dimensional representation of every Thomson product, which can be observed from all angles. The dimensions and all other essential data are also displayed. Graphics can be downloaded in all common image and CAD formats.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pharma background of new executive

CFO from pharmaceutical industry  enhances Werum's executive team 

Richard Nagorny (40) is in charge of the newly established central business unit "Shared Service Center" at Werum Software & Systems AG. He is responsible for Finances, Controlling, Procurement, Human Resources, Internal IT, and Infrastructure. He reports directly to the Executive Board. Nagorny held the CFO position at the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca Germany in Wedel before joining Werum.

"We are delighted to have Mr. Nagorny on board for this executive position,"
says Hartmut Krome, Chairman of Executive Board at Werum Software & Systems AG. "We will greatly benefit from his many years of experience in the international pharmaceutical industry and from his comprehensive management expertise."
The new business unit was created to meet the requirements arising from Werum's steady growth over the recent years.

Fieldbus training facility in Europe!

The Fieldbus Foundation has announced that the STC-Group has opened new and renovated facilities at its premises in Brielle (NL). The improved process and maintenance industry training facilities at Brielle will enhance the training experiences of delegates attending the fieldbus training courses offered by STC-Group under the FOUNDATION™ Certified Training Program (FCTP).

In 2009, STC-Group's Brielle facility was one of the first educational institutions worldwide to offer fieldbus training courses certified under FCTP. This program establishes uniform standards for fieldbus educational curriculum around the globe, and defines acceptable levels of learning for students of the technology.

Earlier this year, the Fieldbus Foundation certified Dr. Bindert Douma as a FOUNDATION certified instructor on behalf of STC-Group. Dr. Douma has an extensive process automation background at Shell Global Solutions, a leading global energy company.

Recognition under the FCTP means that FOUNDATION fieldbus training courses are taught at a certified training site, by a certified instructor, using certified curriculum. The core instructional content, developed by a team of qualified instructors from various institutions worldwide, is consistent across all the training facilities. Through the program, educational institutions, curriculum and instructors are all audited to ensure they meet standardised educational requirements.

The FCTP currently offers three types of certification: FOUNDATION Certified Professional, FOUNDATION Certified Support Specialist, and FOUNDATION Certified Technical Specialist. Additional certifications may be added in the future. Any certified trainer can teach all of these certifications.

For educational institutions, there are rigorous procedures for gaining FCTP status, and for certifying course instructors and curriculum. Certified training centers are required to maintain multiple hosts and devices onsite in order to demonstrate competence with fieldbus technology. They are also audited to ensure their course material adheres to set instructional standards covering fieldbus segment limits; device replacements; commands, icons, menus and screen designs of different software packages; and communication, scheduling and function block assignments enabling configuration.

In addition, certified instructors are audited to see if they have achieved specified Fieldbus Foundation training goals. Instructors must demonstrate expertise in areas such as Human-Machine Interface (HMI) tools, fieldbus troubleshooting, simple device configuration, and device deployment and functionality across a fieldbus network

At its facility located in Brielle close to the Rotterdam-Europoort industrial areas, STC-Group has established a unique training centre for process control and automation. The combination of complex simulation facilities and hands-on training gives students a chance to enhance their theoretical knowledge and gain user experience by working on real fieldbus equipment and configurations. Dr. Douma commented, "Certification is important for STC-Group because we are recognised by the foundation as a high-quality training centre. This gives our customers a guarantee that the content of our courses, the materials used, and the knowledge of our trainers are up to date. For most of our customers, it is essential to be certified because of the value in their professional environment." He added, "It's a rewarding experience to be making a significant contribution to the skilled industrial automation workforce of the future!"

As adoption of FOUNDATION technology expands throughout the process industries, there is a corresponding need to train plant personnel on its use and implementation. Fieldbus Foundation-certified training courses and workshops are offered at certified centres located around the world and through certified trainers at other nominated locations. To ensure complete accessibility to certified training, the use of portable FOUNDATION systems allows certified trainers to conduct training courses for multiple students at a company's own premises or appropriate venue.

Detecting any gas!

New portable FTIR Gas Analyser detects almost any gas

Quantitech has launched a new version of the Gasmet portable multiparameter FTIR gas analyser which has brought laboratory grade gas analysis into the field.

The new instrument, the DX4040, is lighter, easier to use and more flexible than its predecessor. However, Quantitech's Dr Andrew Hobson says: "The most important development lies in the ability of the device to identify unknown gases in the field (at the touch of one button) when using a new version of the unit's Calcmet™ software on a Windows tablet pc."

Users of the DX4040's predecessor will be pleased to learn that the unknown gas identification capability is retrospectively applicable to existing DX4030 analysers when using the new software and tablet PC.

Whilst the new DX4040 is able to identify literally thousands of different gases; for those users investigating known species the unit can be used with a handheld Bluetooth PDA incorporating a 3G modem, camera and GPS so that time and location are assigned to each analysis. Dr Hobson says: "The PDA is particularly popular because it enables the simultaneous display in almost real-time of up to 25 gases."

As a consequence of the enormous number of gases that the DX4040 is able to measure, the device is suitable for a wide variety of applications, including chemical spill, security, forensic investigation, occupational health, anaesthetic gases, research and many others.

Ultimate Storeroom Control And Information

The latest version of its Pro-Pod automated storeroom portal, which uses advanced RFID (radio frequency identification) technology and incorporates twin interlocking doors for enhanced control and performance was launched recently by Propeller GB. Used as the entry/exit point for an enclosed storage area of any size, Pro-Pod Version 7 restricts access to the stores area and tracks users, automatically captures stock movements without need for physically booking items out, provides instant status reports on inventory within the area and allocates withdrawals to specific cost centres. This in turn ensures fully automated parts re-ordering and eliminates stock-outs, downtime and delays.

Developed in-house and built in this country, this solution is considered the best of its type on the market and forms part of a suite of products that can be networked together, including Propeller’s lineside industrial vending machine, Pro-Vyda. ‘Access anywhere’ web-based software enables current stock levels to be viewed and interrogated remotely, making Pro-Pod ideal for large manufacturing or service sites, multi-plant operations and global enterprises. Installations of earlier versions have achieved 99.976% stock accuracy, 87% faster parts retrieval times and stock checks of 15,000 line items completed within 2 hours.

Developed over a four-year period to meet customer demand for greater control over stores facilities and improved inventory management information, the Pro-Pod series was launched in 2007 and has been installed at a number of client sites across Britain, notably in the automotive, electronics, engineering, food and pharmaceutical sectors. Attachable to any size of store, each portal incorporates the very latest RFID Generation 2 hardware that, unlike barcode readers, provides data capture at a distance, without line of sight or human intervention, and the capacity to read literally thousands of transponder tags simultaneously, enabling truly automated inventory tracking.

Industry-standard Squiggle inlays allow the RFID-enabled tagging of any asset, either incorporated in header cards, bags and cartons or embedded into products, making the technology suitable for tracking MRO (maintenance, repair and operation) consumables, engineering spares, PPE, electronic equipment, hospital supplies and pharmaceuticals, and all types of inventory held in controlled storage areas.

As part of an ongoing inventory procurement contract, Propeller provides the Pro-Pod and installs purpose-designed high density racking in the customer’s stores area, for optimum visibility of stock. It ‘bags and tags’ items in anti-static, food safe or other appropriate packaging and attaches RFID-enabled header cards to each, then subsequently replenishes the stock according to reports generated whenever transactions occur.

The latest of seven different Pro-Pod models, which variously feature rotary turnstiles, telescopic elevator-style doors and pass-through configurations to suit different footprints, the new model features a two-door ‘airlock’ arrangement and a fully enclosed Faraday cage to shield the interior from RFID signals within the main store. Thus, unlike other RFID systems that read more than just the required tagged parts, the patented Pro-Pod V7 reads only those items that have been picked, greatly accelerating transaction speeds and maximising data accuracy.

In operation, authorised users gain access by means of a proximity badge, swipe card or biometric reader, external status lights indicating whether it is free to enter. Inside the well-lit Pro-Pod portal, a touchscreen search facility enables users to rapidly locate and retrieve stock, with prompt menus aiding selection, parts locations flashing up on screen and picking lists printed out for multiple items.

Once stock has been located and removed from the racks, the user exits the stores area and Pro-Pod automatically captures the data held on each RFID tag and decrements the inventory levels, with stock reordering reports generated for customer approval. Once through the portal, the user accesses the spend allocation interface where, using a graphical plant layout, parts are allocated to the appropriate sector or cost centre, providing valuable data on spend and usage down to individual asset level. In addition, Pro-Pod is bi-directional, so that stock deliveries by Propeller or other approved supplier are automatically booked in, quickly and efficiently.

The system is highly secure and very cost-efficient, with RFID tags recycled and reprogrammed for further use, with scope for recoding up to 10,000 times. Stock movements are updated ‘live’ and reordering reports automatically generated, with parts deliveries scheduled accordingly; this results in improved ‘physical vs system’ stock accuracy, opportunities for cost savings through optimum purchasing, and the elimination of downtime relating to non-availability of parts.

Propeller’s bespoke web-based software, advanced ‘cloud computing’ technology and ISO 27001 certificated cluster of dedicated servers, enables customers to interrogate stock data remotely from a desktop PC or tablet, anywhere in the plant or indeed anywhere on the planet.

“Pro-Pod is a British-made and developed automated stores management system that is the most advanced of its kind in the world,” says Propeller’s CEO, Tony Goodwin. “It is capable of controlling an infinite number of stock items within a stock area of virtually any size, providing complete scalability. It restricts removal of inventory by unauthorised individuals and provides up-to-the minute management information via our unique web-based platform, reducing unnecessary travel time to verify inventory availability and enabling full stock checks in a matter of hours.”

PSUs for medical applications

Excelsys Technologies  has successfully had its Xgen range of configurable power supplies approved to IEC 60601-1:2005 3rd Edition. This is in addition to the existing approval to the 2nd Edition and ensures full medical approval is maintained during the transition period from 2nd to 3rd editions.

Two 1U Excelsys Xgen platforms are available with the latest medical approvals. The Xmite offers output power over the range 200-750W and the Xvite provides 400-1450W output. Common specifications include leakage current <300uA, 4KV Isolation and efficiency up to 90%.

The Xgen configurable power supply range is made up from a number of 1U powerPac hubs to which may be added to one or a number of powerMods output converters to provide the required output configuration. PowerMods have isolated outputs and may be connected in series or parallel for further flexibility. Both families have internal cooling fans, a 5VDC bias voltage for system administration and front panel LEDs provide a visual indication of system status. A universal 85-264VAC input range is standard as is over voltage protection and the full load operating temperature range is from -20 to +70°C.

The Xmite family consists of 3 powerPac models in 200W, 400W and 600W power levels with the 750W XMDpowerPac completing the range, each Xmite powerPac model may be populated with up to 4 powerMods.

The Xvite family consists of 4 powerPacs ranging in power levels from 400W to 1200W and the high the high power1450W XVE. The Xvite series can be populated with up to 6 powerMods.

The standard range of PowerMods output converters for both the Xmite and Xvite platforms include nominal outputs of 2.5, 5, 12, 24 and 48VDC, and a twin 24V output module. All outputs have a wide range of adjustment.

The updated medical approvals for the Excelsys Xgen family includes ANSI/AAMI ES60601-1:2005, Medical electrical equipment– Part 1, General requirements for basic safety and essential performance, CAN/CSA-C22.2 No. 60601-1:08 Medical electrical equipment, Part 1: General requirements for basic safety and essential performance, IEC60601-1:2005 Medical electrical equipment– Part 1: General requirements for basic safety and essential performance

Dermot Flynn, Sales Director of Excelsys Technologies, comments. “Maintaining our approval status is vital to support our medical customer base and continue to grow into this important market. We have to ensure our products are future-proof to give designers and buyers the maximum confidence in our products. Our medically approved power supplies offer market leading power densities in a very small package size, with the added bonus of being totally user configurable. We have a proven online “configure and order” wizard making it very simple for our customers to specify and order project specific power solutions from our website.”

Typical applications for the medical approved Excelsys Xgen range include clinical diagnostic systems, medical imaging equipment, dialysis systems and medical lasers. The Xgen series of medical power supplies simplify system design without compromise.

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.