Friday, November 11, 2011

Contactless torque sensor

The Type 4520A contactless torque sensor from Kistler costs less than £1,500 (€1750 today!), the same as many slip-ring types, and is exceptionally robust and very low maintenance. Non-contact, frequency modulation signal transmission, used to transmit the torque signal from the rotating shaft, virtually eliminates wear leading to a long life, even in continuous use applications. A TTL speed signal at 60 pulses/rev. and an external 100% range check input are provided as standard.

Ten models are available with rated torque from 1 to 1,000 Nm each with industry standard ±10 V signal output. Class 0.5 accuracy at speeds of up to 10,000 rpm is combined with a maximum overload capacity of 150%.

The Kistler Type 4520A torque sensor range is ideal for static and dynamic torque measurement in production, quality control and research and development applications.

Process visualisation software

Siemens expands WinCC by adding a flexible notification option

The Siemens Industry Automation Division has expanded its Simatic WinCC V7 process visualization software with the Simatic WinCC Event Notifier option.  With this option, notifications and persons to be notified can be planned for any time slot and for different escalation levels.  The recipients are then automatically informed by e-mail or SMS about the occurrence of an event selected from the WinCC message system, such as an operational fault or machine failure.
The Simatic WinCC V7 process visualization
software expanded with the Simatic WinCC Event
Notifier option for notifying selected persons
of events in specified time slots.

The Simatic WinCC Event Notifier option of the Division is directly connected to the WinCC message system. The clear calendar display makes it particularly easy to set a time slot and select the persons to be automatically notified when an event occurs. The user can define the reason for a notification based on the WinCC message system using various parameters such as location, priority, message class or message block content. If an event occurs during multi-shift continuous operation, for example, the Event Notifier is ideal for informing technical support about the exact location, machine involved and type of problem.

The persons to be notified can be directly selected in the application from the existing contacts of the WinCC User Administrator. Secure operation of the plant is ensured since the Event Notifier takes the various authentication levels into account. If several persons or groups of persons are set up for the same time slot, assigning different escalation times allows the user to implement individual escalation levels. If there is no reaction to an event notification within a specified time, persons belonging to the next higher level are automatically notified. As soon as a recipient responds to the event or the plant personnel themselves acknowledge the message, all previously contacted persons automatically receive a final acknowledgment message.

The Notifier provides freely selectable calendar views in which users can edit the individual time windows easily and define recurring events as serial events with any necessary exceptions. The calendar can be integrated as .Net Control in WinCC screens which allows clear representation and intuitive operation even during runtime. The flexible Event Notifier can be used for all typical WinCC plant configurations whether single-user, client/server, redundant system or in conjunction with the Web Navigator. The functions of the new option are based on the WinCC Calendar control.

New tool detects blocking in test probes

A new tool for the detection of blocked or tight plungers in the test probes used in automatic test systems has been introduced by Peak Test Services.

With the new Peak blocking tester, the correct functioning of the contact probes built into ATE test modules or fixtures can be tested very quickly and simply using minimal spring force.

The tester incorporates a Peak P201/G switch probe integrated with an LED display which illuminates if the plunger is stuck. The test height is adjustable by a threaded sleeve, and the spring force can be adjusted by changing the integrated probe. The maximum spring force is restricted to 6.0 N: a value which eliminates any potential damage to the connector element

IR thermomenter effectively free of charge!

Fluke is offering a new 1735-IR Kit in Britain until Until 31st March 2012.

The kit contains a rugged Fluke 1735 three-phase portable Power Logger, designed for commercial electricians and industrial maintenance engineers, plus a Fluke 561 Infrared (IR) Thermometer which can be used to check for overheating cable connections at a safe distance. The power logger can be installed in seconds and is easily downloadable in the field. The kit is priced such that the Fluke 561 is effectively free.

This three-phase Power Logger, with a 600V CAT III safety rating, records power, energy, and basic power quality parameters for power load studies. It logs electrical power parameters and harmonics for up to 45 days, and captures hard-to-find voltage events. Used in conjunction with the latest Fluke iFlex™ series flexible current probes, it is easy to take measurements in large cables and bus bars. The Fluke 561 is a rugged, precision, thermometer combining an IR non-contact thermometer with a plug-in, K-type thermocouple for contact measurement.

In load studies, the Fluke 1735 verifies electrical system capacity before loads are added. For energy assessments, it quantifies energy consumption before and after improvements to justify energy-saving devices. The instrument also uncovers harmonic distortion that can damage or disrupt critical equipment, and it captures voltage events, such as dips and swells that cause spurious resets or nuisance circuit breaker tripping. This data makes it possible to take measurements to improve equipment reliability. The in-built colour screen provides instant information that connections were made correctly. The collected data can be easily downloaded, either locally to a laptop or back in the office. Fluke Power Log software is included for viewing graphs and generating reports.
Besides characterising basic power quality and power consumption, the 1735 also logs RMS voltage and current, phase angle, voltage events, voltage and current THD, voltage and current harmonics up to the 50th harmonic, active and reactive power, power factor, active and reactive energy, and more. It also monitors maximum power demand over user-defined averaging periods. As a 4-channel device, the Fluke 1735 measures all three phases plus neutral.

The Fluke 561 two-in-one thermometer offers ±1% accuracy infra-red temperature measurement for instant readings of electrically charged and hard-to-reach, or rotating, hot objects, allowing measurement at a safe distance and usually without the need for a ladder. A single laser pointer provides accurate target sighting. A large number of objects can be scanned quickly and efficiently. A useful applications guide encourages use of the thermometer to its maximum potential.
A Velcro-covered, K-type thermocouple pipe probe enables contact measurement of pipes, metallic surfaces and air streams, with a built-in differential temperature function providing quick and accurate measurements for superheat and sub-cooling pipes. Other industry-standard K-type thermocouples can be also used with the Fluke 561 for specific applications.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New MD appointed

Andy Anthony has been appointed to the position of Managing Director of Monitron.

Andy Anthony
Andy joined Monitran in 2006 as Operations Director, having previously worked in the papermaking industry (one of many that make extensive use of sensors for monitoring purposes). Tasked with revamping Monitran’s manufacturing processes, Andy implemented ‘lean’ practices across the board, from raw materials through to delivered products.

In addition, Andy has been the driving force behind the OEM’s move into ‘turnkey projects’, rather than just the provision of products, and the company is proud to have played a key role in a recent maintenance overhaul of the Thames Barrier.

Andy comments: “I’m delighted with my promotion to MD and, having completed the revamping of the manufacturing processes, which I set out to do as Operations Director, I’m keen to move Monitran forward as a professional, customer-facing organisation. We’re already the UK’s leading OEM of vibration sensors, but we’re certainly not resting on our laurels.”

Andy intends for customer satisfaction, through greater levels of interaction during product selection and project specification, to be a top priority in the future.

Andy concludes: “I firmly believe that customers are increasingly making their choices of preferred supplier based on three things: how innovative the OEM is (as also-rans are followers not leaders), the pedigree of the company (the longer they’ve been around the more problems they’ve seen and solved) and the levels of professionalism that reside with the customer-facing teams.”

Ethernet-based switches for industrial automation

Harting has added three new models to its Fast Track Switching family of Ethernet-based switches for industrial automation applications.

The configurable unmanaged FTS 3100s-A optimally combines Fast Track Switching functionality with extremely simple operation. The unmanaged switch can be set up with a free software tool which allows the speed, duplex settings and mirroring to be defined per port. The existing PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and Modbus/TCP profiles can also be selected. The switch recognises these automation profiles and accelerates them in cut-through mode, allowing them to overtake non-automation protocols.

Two versions of the managed switches in the Fast Track Switching range are also available: one with ten ports executed as RJ45 and one with eight RJ45 ports and two SFP slots for sliding into SFP modules in order to connect optical cables. The devices have the PROFINET I/O stack and LLDP, so that they can also be planned as PROFINET Conformance Class B devices using Step7 software.
All other switch functionalities can be set up in parallel via the web. EtherNet/IP applications are also optimally supported with IGMP snooping and DHCP Option 82, and the FTS switches also support functions such as VLANs, RSTP for redundant topologies, 802.1x as a security mechanism and all common management functions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Expansion in industrial software!

Siemens expands its industrial software portfolio with the acquisition of Vistagy,  a leading supplier of specialized engineering software and services with emphasis on designing and manufacturing structures made of advanced composite materials. An agreement to this effect was signed in early November. This acquisition allows Industry Automation, a Division of the Siemens Industry Sector, to continue to enhance its position as the world's leading supplier of industrial software. The parties agreed not to disclose the terms of the acquisition. The transaction is subject to customary approvals, and is expected to close before the end of 2011. 

Companies that use composite materials like carbon fiber components in their products are faced with the task of further reducing costs and time-to-market in order to sharpen the competitive edge composites offer. With their unique combination of low weight, high strength, and durability, composite structures are already used extensively in the aerospace industry and for rotor blades of wind power turbines. Composite materials will continue to experience more widespread use – primarily in the automotive and marine industries – as the complexity and time required for developing and producing composite structures is reduced.

This is precisely the aim Siemens is pursuing by adding industry-specific engineering software to its industrial software portfolio for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Already today, the company is among the technology leaders for the automation of production lines for carbon fiber components. With the acquisition of Vistagy, they will become the only company worldwide to support the whole value creation for carbon fiber components with its software tools – from product definition and development to manufacturing and service.

"Advanced software solutions tailored to specific industry requirements are vital for companies to achieve the next level of performance in their products. This type of industry focus will be the differentiating factor for success in the industry software market", said Anton S. Huber, CEO of the Siemens Industry Automation Division. "The planned integration of our PLM Software business with Vistagy's universally acknowledged expertise in industry-specific software, such as composites, will make us the partner of choice in this market today and well into the future."

Vistagy, Inc., is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA. Around 300 customers worldwide are applying Vistagy's software products for a variety of applications ranging from composites engineering and design and manufacture of complex assemblies and large aerostructures to design and manufacture of transportation seat systems and interior components. Siemens is planning to integrate the software supplier and its products, services and support into its PLM Software Business Unit, a part of the Siemens Industry Automation Division. Siemens PLM Software is a leading global supplier of software and services with the capability to optimize the entire lifecycle of products and radically reduce their time-to-market. The company's well-established open business model that serves the needs of all customers regardless of their mix of IT solutions and CAD platforms will help ensure the ongoing support and satisfaction of all Vistagy customers.

"Vistagy has spent the last 20 years supporting the engineering and production work of its customers by providing robust solutions and excellent service," said Steve Luby, Vistagy, Inc.'s President and CEO. "We have been working successfully in partnership with Siemens PLM Software for a long time. And now we are looking forward to becoming a part of Siemens' comprehensive offerings and to significantly expand our current customer base."

Recent years have seen a number of acquisitions by the Siemens Industry Automation Division, in each case involving leaders in their respective field of industrial software: UGS in the United States (2007), Innotec in Germany (2008), Elan Software Systems in France (2009) and Active SA in Brazil (2011).

Fault insertion

Pickering Interfaces is expanding its range of over 20 PXI Fault Insertion solutions with the introduction of the 40-199. Fault Insertion (FI) modules are used within an Automatic Test System to simulate common fault conditions such as an open, short to ground or a short to other connections in a device under test.
The 40-199 provides 10 fault insertion channels that can be connected to either (or both) of two fault bus connections. Each fault insertion channel can switch up to 125VDC with powers up to 300W or 250VAC at up to 2500VA. Each channel can carry and hot switch 10A . Both fault buses are rated at 20A enabling the support of two 10A fault conditions from each one.

The 40-199 uses a switch design based around high quality electro-mechanical relays and in addition to being supported in any PXI compliant chassis, it can be supported in Pickering Interfaces Modular LXI Chassis’.

Pickering Interfaces offers the widest range of fault insertion modules available in the PXI platform, allowing users to choose the size and rating of the fault insertion channels they need from 2A to in excess of 30A. All fault insertion solutions are compatible with the most common real time operating systems

New Low-Power, Wireless Remote Monitors

Following the acquisition of ADCON Telemetry, the Austrian low power wireless communications specialist, OTT Hydrometry has launched a suite of instrument 'bundles' that bring new levels of simplicity to the remote collection of environmental monitoring data.

OTT Hydrometry already offers a variety of wireless communication options, however UK Managing Director Simon Wills says, "The ADCON equipment is extremely low power and does not require a housing, so it is ideal for remote monitoring applications. It is also low cost and enables the utilisation of mixed communications technologies within the same network.

"The main advantage will be the quick, easy, low cost utilisation of radio telemetry and for applications in which radio cannot reach the required destination; we will be able to include any of our other telemetry options."

The ADCON equipment can also be easily retro-fitted to existing monitoring stations from which data is collected manually, thereby saving significant labour costs and providing access to live data with GPRS/GSM or radio telemetry.

OTT has announced that the first instrument bundles to be launched with the ADCON technology will be for water level, rainfall and water quality monitoring applications. These include:

  • OTT RLS (Radar Level Sensor)

  • OTT PLS (Pressure Level Sensor)

  • OTT SE200 (Shaft Encoder Float Sensor)

  • Pluvio2 precision rain gauge

  • Hydrolab Multiparameter Water Quality Sondes
  • Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    New members announced!

    McEnery Automation, St. Louis (MO US) recently became CSIA Certified and MAVERICK Technologies, Columbia, (ILL US)., recently became recertified with The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA).

    New associate members include
    Acadeus, Overland Park, Kan.
    Autopro Automation Consultants Ltd., Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada
    Corpus Christi Electric Co., Inc., Corpus Christi, Texas
    Deterministic Systems Inc., Walnut Creek, Cal.
    Downey Engineering, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
    NE Tech Solutions S.A., San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

    To become a CSIA Certified member, a member company must pass an intensive audit process with stringent performance standards categories in nine categories: general management, financial management, project management, quality management, technical management, human resources management and marketing, business development and sales management.

    Certified members are re-audited every three years and recertified if they meet current performance standards. The certification criteria is spelled out in CSIA’s Best Practices and Benchmarks, the accepted roadmap for system integrators committed to delivering the level of quality, performance and long-term support their customers expect.

    Safe transfer of flammables!

    An innovative new truck mounted Static Ground Verification System – the Earth-Rite® MGV from Newson Gale - enhances safety during transfer of flammable or combustible materials. In cleaning, maintenance or spill control operations in the petrochemical industry, vacuum trucks are often used to collect waste or contaminated products for disposal. With the operation taking place in a hazardous area, the need to control all types of ignition sources is absolutely paramount however the vacuum transfer process of potentially low conductivity liquids or highly resistive loose solids can generate large amounts of static electricity, meaning that all equipment, including the truck should be properly bonded to a verified earth point (ground).

    API and NFPA guidelines recommend that such bonding connections are tested to verify an adequately low resistance to earth/ground prior to starting up the recover/transfer process, however until now the equipment required to do this required specialist training and may not always have been suitable for safe use within the hazardous atmosphere. Furthermore, long delays and downtime can sometimes be experienced while waiting for a qualified electrician to sign off that the truck is properly bonded and grounded before the operation commences.

    The new truck mounted Earth-Rite® MGV (patent pending) derives its power source from the vehicle battery, and uses certified Intrinsically Safe monitoring techniques to verify not only a good bond to a valid ground point, but more importantly confirmation that the ground point to which it is attached represents a satisfactorily low resistance to true earth. The unit is simple to install and operate and provides confirmation of positive bonding and grounding to the operator by way of a bright flashing green LED cluster. It also provides a pair of change over contacts (DPDT) for connection to additional safety devices (strobe lights, audible alarms) or for interlocking with the vacuum pump or control valve. The “business end” of the system employs a heavy duty stainless steel clamp with universal clamping jaw which can be connected to flat or rounded surfaces, including directly to ground rods.
    Units have obtained Intrinsically Safe certification for use in the Global Petrochemical Industries, according to the requirements of IECEX, ATEX, CSA/US and NEPSI (China), and may be used in all common gas, vapour or dust explosive environments.

    Several sites in Europe, North America and Australasia are already using the system for their hazardous area vacuum truck operations with reports of enhanced safety, improved productivity and robust product reliability. The system is also useful for flammable liquid or combustible bulk material delivery tankers involved in chemical distribution and similar operations.

    Software &engineering services improve plant operability and safety

    Qatargas Selects PAS for Site-wide Alarm System Improvement Project

    Qatargas, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer, has chosen PAS’ PlantState Suite™ alarm management software and engineering services for an improvement project across all their units.

    “We chose PAS to optimise our alarm systems.  With this project, we expect to reduce operator loading and facilitate plant safety, all in service of continuity of customer shipments.”;
    said Alae Sadic Al Hassan, Acting Chief Operating Officer – Engineering & Ventures, Qatargas.

    PAS’ PlantState Suite™, which is a comprehensive alarm management and operations support software suite, will be utilized on the project to provide event analysis, documentation and rationalization, auditing and enforcement, and dynamic alarm management. Post-project, the software will then be used to properly monitor and maintain the alarm system.

    “We are honored that Qatargas chose PAS for this important project to extend their leadership in process safety, reliability, and performance,”
    said PAS President, Chris Lyden. “We are proud to be their partner in this endeavor.”

    SCADA/HMI to Brazil!

    AFCON is expanding its operations in Latin America. The company reports it has signed a distribution agreement with Altus, a Brazilian company, to distribute its SCADA/HMI software Pulse in Brazil.

    Under the agreement, Altus became the exclusive distributor of AFCON in Brazil.

    The agreement with Altus enables AFCON to expand its product offering in Latin America and to improve service to its extensive customer base. This agreement is a major step for AFCON in expanding its presence in Latin America, following its already successful presence in Argentina and other countries in the area.

    Pulse is a SCADA/HMI software that offers optimal solution for controlling and monitoring industrial control systems, building control and security systems into a single integrated system. The software is successfully marketed worldwide.

    Digital recorders

    Pentek has released the first in a new family of COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) turnkey high-speed digital recorders, the Talon™ RTS 2715. Available with either magnetic or solid-state disk drive arrays, the RTS 2715 can continuously record up to two 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) data streams to a RAID array without data loss.

    According to Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek, “Many of our customers have sensors and computer systems communicating massive amounts of digital data over a network and they need a way to capture that information for archiving or post-mission analysis. Our new Talon line of digital recorders addresses that need. The first in the family, the RTS 2715, handles 10GbE with a variety of data protocols and physical interface types in a commercial-grade configuration. Ruggedized versions and other configurations are on the horizon.”

    The RTS 2715 can capture one or two simultaneous 10GbE data streams, guaranteeing zero data loss with an aggregate recording rate up to 2 Gbytes/sec. It accepts either TCP or UDP data packet protocols and stores data to files on a RAID disk array. The RTS 2715 can also play data back from its drives, streaming it over the 10GbE channels using either protocol. An optional GPS module provides time and position stamping during data capture.

    Multiple Interface and Recording Options
    The RAID drives are hot-swappable, allowing virtually unlimited data capture capacities. Because the files are stored in a NTFS (new technology file system) format, users can read the files on a standard Windows-based computer system, eliminating the need for file format conversion. Two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB ports and a built-in optical disk drive provide alternatives for off-loading data.

    Drives are available in several different configurations, supporting RAID levels of 0, 1, 5, 10, or 50 with up to 20 Terabytes (TB) of data storage. Single-channel recorders are available in 5 TB, 10 TB, and 20 TB versions using up to 24, 3.5” hard disk drives (HDD). A 2 TB version uses up to eight solid-state drives (SSD). Dual-channel recorders include 10 TB and 20 TB HDD and 3 TB SSD versions. Both 4U and 5U rack mount chassis configurations are offered.

    Customers can specify any of three popular physical interface options for the 10GbE connections. The CX4 interface supports Twinax copper cabling for run lengths up to15m. Optical interfaces operating at 850nm using LC connectors are available for either multi-mode fibre cables up to 300m long or single-mode fibre cables for run lengths up to 10km.

    Built-in Workstation
    The RTS 2715 is built on a server-class Windows 7 Professional workstation with a 1.8 GHz Intel® Core™ i7 processor and 2 GB of SDRAM. This workstation comes pre-loaded with Pentek’s SystemFlow Recording Software, which provides a simple and intuitive GUI (graphical user interface) for system configuration and control that shares the look and feel of other Pentek Talon recording systems. Users can store custom configurations as profiles for single-click setup, and use the Gigabit Ethernet interface for remote control of the recorder. The C-callable API (application programming interface) that comes with SystemFlow also allows users to integrate the recorder as a high-performance server front end to a larger system.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Enclosures catalogued!

    Rittal has released the latest main catalogue with over 800 pages of easy to read information on the extensive range of enclosures (both indoor and outdoor), power distribution, climate control systems, IT infrastructure systems, service packages and design and calculation software. The catalogue explains how the various products can be combined to form a ‘system’ approach to specification and installation. Published in hardback with a ‘fast find’ thumb index the catalogue is available free of charge.

    Smart camera for industrial inspection

    Stemmer Imaging now offers the BOA Pro smart camera from Teledyne DALSA. This new camera combines the robustness of the BOA hardware with the flexibility of the Sherlock inspection software to provide an extraordinarily versatile industrial vision solution for a host of applications.

    Key to the BOA Pro performance is the versatility of the Sherlock software, which offers machine vision system professionals extensive tools and capabilities for design, development, debugging, and user administration. Sherlock's extensive library of instructions, preprocessors and advanced algorithms can be combined in a variety of ways to solve simple or very demanding tasks. Maximum design flexibility is provided to allow users to customize algorithms, construct scripts and develop operator interfaces that best suit their factory environment.

    This rich range of capabilities include an extensive set of preprocessors that can be applied to a variable shape user-defined region of interest prior to analysis. A comprehensive range of measurement and analysis tools is complemented by advanced pattern recognition tools for object alignment and robot guidance, together with calibration correction facilities to convert pixels into real world co-ordinates. Other facilities include 1D and 2D code reading and verification and optical character recognition.

    All of this and more is underpinned by a versatile JavaScript based scripting tool, complete with drag-and-drop instruction editing, for the development of custom formulas or inline and background operations, as well as the ability to add custom algorithms into the development environment.

    With a choice of sensor resolutions from VGA to 1600 x 1200 pixels, an ultra small form factor of 44 x 44 x 44 mm and an industrial IP 67-rated housing, the BOA hardware platform is a compact, robust camera that can be mounted in the most demanding industrial environments. Ethernet and RS-232 connectivity, discrete and expandable I/O and vision lighting control ensure simple factory integration.

    The embedded software for the camera is setup via a local PC connection to BOA Pro using Ethernet for complete development flexibility. Once configured for runtime, the Ethernet link can be disconnected or used to communicate with other devices on the factory floor, such as PLCs, Robots and HMIs.