Tuesday 31 January 2012

Monitoring bridges in all weathers

RDP products are frequently used to measure movements in the structure of bridges caused by the weight of traffic, environmental conditions and other factors.

Higher traffic loads and corrosion can lead to increased strain in bridge components, such as suspension cable fixing points. It is important for engineers to understand movements and loads imposed on the structure in order to predict potential problems and to maximise the safe working life of the bridge. Ageing bridge structures may be reaching overload due to the effects of increased weights and traffic volumes on steel structures that may be also weakened by corrosion or suffering early metal fatigue.

Very often the transducers used to monitor movements are installed on structures in coastal regions where the rain water must be considered saline and transducers are also exposed to chemical pollutants created by road vehicles. RDP Electronics Ltd offers many different types of products with a very high water ingress protection rating. Transducers can be supplied that are moisture resistant or fully welded for submersible applications. Thanks to a stainless steel construction these transducers are suited to operation in marine environments and also resist the corrosive effects due to winter road treatments for ice.

The LVDT monitoring approach is relatively inexpensive particularly when several points on a bridge need to be monitored, calling for long cable runs. By using a 4-20mA 2 wire loop, the wiring installation cost can be considerably reduced, as well as this offering the best interface to use with long cables for temperature drift reasons.

Outdoor Cabinet Installations made easy

Rittal's pre-cast concrete base/plinths for their range of outdoor free-standing enclosures have been developed to simplify installation and eliminate the need to pour concrete on site.
Manufactured from a specially developed light, untreated concrete, the units are 1M high when assembled and ideally fit a 700mm deep excavation. The front and rear plinths are screw fastened from inside and can be quickly and easily fitted together in situ.

For installations in remote locations, where delivery or mixing of fresh concrete is difficult, the pre-cast units, supplied in sections, can be installed in a trench or hole, around the cable ducts, and then back-filled with the soil from the hole and tamped firm. Outdoor enclosures, from Rittal’s stock or custom ranges can then be lowered either directly onto the concrete plinth, or attached via an additional plinth, depending on the model and application.

Even in less remote locations, Rittals pre-cast concrete base/plinths can save time, reduce material and delivery costs and provide an extremely practical solution, requiring a minimum of material to finish or restore the surface around the enclosure on completion of the installation.

Outdoor Cabinet Installations made easy

Rittal's pre-cast concrete base/plinths for their range of outdoor free-standing enclosures have been developed to simplify installation and eliminate the need to pour concrete on site.
Manufactured from a specially developed light, untreated concrete, the units are 1M high when assembled and ideally fit a 700mm deep excavation. The front and rear plinths are screw fastened from inside and can be quickly and easily fitted together in situ.

For installations in remote locations, where delivery or mixing of fresh concrete is difficult, the pre-cast units, supplied in sections, can be installed in a trench or hole, around the cable ducts, and then back-filled with the soil from the hole and tamped firm. Outdoor enclosures, from Rittal’s stock or custom ranges can then be lowered either directly onto the concrete plinth, or attached via an additional plinth, depending on the model and application.

Even in less remote locations, Rittals pre-cast concrete base/plinths can save time, reduce material and delivery costs and provide an extremely practical solution, requiring a minimum of material to finish or restore the surface around the enclosure on completion of the installation.

Custom control panel solutions

IGT Industries offers its customers a time and cost saving single source for complete in house control panel design and manufacture. IGT-Industries HMI products are suitable for use in Marine, Aviation, Railway, Medical, MIL, Industrial, Fire, Security, Telecom and most other electronics applications.

As experienced manufactures of complex and innovative switching products IGT Industries can use their expertise to benefit control system designers with multi-technology integration into a complex sub-assembly or fully assembled and tested control unit. IGT Industries offer a complete design, prototype and production manufacturing service incorporating keyboards or other interface switching technologies, various display and illumination technology and electro-mechanical devices.

“Outsourcing a complete designed and manufactured sub-assembly or control panel for manufacture by IGT Industries greatly simplifies our customer’s procurement and logistics management by reducing their supplier base and delivery times.” Comments Terry Moss, Sales & Marketing Manager of IGT Industries. “Installing a completed assembly also removes the need for further integration, complex testing and multi-vendor liaison in the event of any functional problems.”

IGT Industries HMI assemblies may be specified for use in environmentally hostile conditions in military and industrial control applications. One such application is for Dynamic Positioning Systems for use on ships and oil rigs. These back-lit control panels are used for data positioning of vessels and offer complex switching, control and display integration, adjustable control panel illumination, PS/2 USB compatibility, are waterproof to IP67, RFI/EMC compliant and specified to meet approvals of Lloyds Register for Equipment used in shipping and American Bureau of Shipping. IGT Industries is also a signatory to 21st Century Supply Chains (SC-21).

Box aids

Robust box aids mounting of data cabling in industrial or building networks

The new Ha-VIS preLink® AP box from Harting is a robust housing unit that aids the installation of data networks by allowing cabling to be mounted on walls or pillars in industrial or business premises.

The box provides protection to the IP 20/30 standard for mounting on walls and pillars, and can also be mounted on DIN EN 60715 "top hat" rails. It consists simply of two housing sections and two preLink RJ45 HIFF modules.

The AP Box is pre-assembled and is quick and easy to install. Cables can be fed in from above or below. Both RJ45 ports have angled outlets and can be labelled.

Harting Ha-VIS preLink® is an installation concept for data network cabling based on the ISO/IEC 11801 standard. The system combines pre-fabricated preLink(R) cabling links with a wide range of preLink(R) connectors.

Free membership upgrade on offer!

For a limited time, users, vendors, OEMs and systems integrators who want to reach the motion control market can join MMA for free.

The Mechatrolink Members Association (MMA) recently announced a membership drive with significant benefits for prospective members. Any end user, machine builder, robot builder, systems integrator or supplier of motion control systems and equipment can join the MMA as a Regular Member for free. Membership confers a number of benefits, chief among them preferred access to the fast-growing motion control markets of China and other parts of Asia.

Entry Level membership has always been free, but this drive allows companies to join at a higher grade of membership—as a Regular Member—with added benefits. An annual Regular Membership in MMA normally costs $1,500 (€1140.00), but until March 31, 2012, it’s free. The free membership is good until March 31, 2013, at which point it can renewed on an annual basis.

A Regular membership allows members to purchase Mechatrolink ASIC chips and sample kits, submit their products for certification test, and introduce and advertise their product on the Mechatrolink website. Regular members can also participate in subcommittees and general meetings, make technical inquiries by email and telephone, and receive product development support.

Mechatrolink is the most widely used motion control network in Asia, and is steadily gaining ground in the U.S. Mechatrolink connects devices such as servo motors, servo amps and I/O to each other and to motion controllers such as PLCs, PACs and motion controllers. Mechatrolink is available in both RS-485 and Ethernet versions, operates at speeds up to 100 Mbps, and can support up to 62 simultaneous devices. 

For any company who wants to participate in the Asian motion control market, membership in MMA can be very beneficial.

Monday 30 January 2012

Intelligent universal stator

The new Kistler KiTorq torque measuring flange system operates without an antenna ring and has standard flange geometry conforming to ISO7646 for easy installation. The open stator design allows faster installation whilst minimising the risk of damage and easier visual inspection during testing. The universal, intelligent stator may be used with any KiTorq rotor of the same speed rating for greater operational flexibility. A choice of 500, 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 Nm measuring ranges is available each with an accuracy class of 0.05% of range. The system has an excellent torque signal bandwidth of up to 10 kHz and a 60 pulses per revolution speed output.

A single, intelligent stator can be used with any KiTorq rotor of the same speed rating and will automatically recognise the rotor measuring range. This minimises hardware investment as one stator may be used with rotors of differing ranges for different applications. Installation is simplified by the contactless, digital telemetry that does not require an antenna ring. The lack of an antenna ring has not reduced the precision of the sensor which has an excellent signal bandwidth of 10 kHz and accuracy of better than 0.05%.

The stator supplies frequency, analogue and digital signals outputs that are fully scalable via an RS-232 or USB interface. When needed, the rotor's original measuring range may be overridden to allow the full output signal to be available over a defined range. A second, freely selectable measuring range may also be defined at each output.

The solid measuring flange is extremely robust and has been tested to EN 60068-2-27 for mechanical shock, EN 60068-2-6 for triaxial vibration loading and EN 61326-1 for interference immunity. The KiTorq system is supplied as standard with SensorTool configuration and diagnostic software and calibration certificates. Several calibration options are available for the configurable output signals of the KiTorq system and when replacing an individual rotor or stator, the notional calibration values can be calculated to avoid the need to have the unit recalibrated by the manufacturer.

The KiTorq measuring flange is ideal for use in test rigs for electric motors, internal combustion engines, transmissions, pumps and compressors.

Friday 27 January 2012

Forum sponsorship

Siemens is a sponsor of the ARC World Industry Forum due to be held in Orlando, Florida, from February 6th to 9th. The theme of the event is: “Transforming Industry through New Processes and Technologies”.

Keynoting the event will be Dr. Helmuth Ludwig (CEO, Siemens Industry Sector North America), discussing how manufacturers are achieving sustainable levels of productivity and efficiency through the use of industry-specific intelligent technologies. Siemens will have an exhibit at the event manned by several spokespeople, offering customers the opportunity to discuss a range of topics including manufacturing operations management, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and MES (Manufacturing Execution System) integration, drives technology, digital manufacturing, plant engineering and the integration of PLM and Motion Control. 

In addition, Siemens will host event attendees for a special performance on “The Importance of Sustainability” at SeaWorld Orlando Resort

Advice for Irish students!

IDA Ireland CEO Barry O’Leary has advised those students who will complete their CAO applications in the coming days, on where the greatest job opportunities will lie in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) companies in the future. Ireland’s availability of skilled labour is one of the primary reasons cited by IDA clients for establishing their operations in Ireland. The recently published IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011 ranks Ireland 1st in the world for the availability of skilled labour and 3rd in the world for availability of financial skills.

The MSD Pharma plant in the Suir Valley!
The Irish Management Institute/National Irish Bank Survey of Multinational Companies in Ireland 2011 recently revealed that nearly half of all multinationals based in Ireland expect to grow employment in the next 12 months.

Mr O'Leary said, ‘‘There is a strong trend for FDI companies in Ireland winning new mandates which will require an increase in their employment levels in the future. Students planning now for their future careers need to take this growth into account and consider in which sectors the greatest FDI job opportunities will be in the coming years.’’

In the last 12 months there has been a strong performance in job creation by multinational companies with export-led growth creating in excess of 13,000 new foreign direct investment jobs. A large number of FDI companies seek graduates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and maths. In addition many FDI jobs also require multi-lingual skills.

Ireland’s academic institutions provide a wide variety of courses which qualify graduates to meet industry needs to match with employment opportunities. These include technology programmes in computer science, software engineering and computer applications and support. Universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland offer, for example, computer science courses with a foreign language, accounting, finance and international business courses with languages, supply chain/logistics programmes, science qualifications and chemical, electronic and mechanical engineering degree courses.

IDA works closely with industry and academia, facilitating collaboration between both to ensure the skills requirements of multinational companies are met. By looking at the future skills requirements of these FDI companies, which continue to locate and expand in Ireland, students making their CEO applications can advance their career prospects while maximizing their opportunities for diversity within innovative global corporations.

3-phase power quality analysers

Fluke has introduced the new 430 Series II three-phase Power Quality Analysers, the first tools to use a patented algorithm to measure energy waste and quantify its cost. The 430 Series II helps facilities reduce electrical power consumption and improve the performance and lifespan of electro-mechanical equipment by providing the ROI justification to mitigate power quality distortion. Long the most popular three-phase power quality analysers on the market because of their simultaneous display-and-record capabilities, the updated 430 Series II models feature three new measurement functions as well as hardware, software and firmware improvements.

Previously, only experts could calculate how much energy was being wasted due to power quality issues. With the new, patented Unified Power function of the handheld Fluke 430 Series II, electricians, utility technicians, electrical engineers, field service technicians, and energy consultants can automatically determine how much power is being wasted and calculate exactly what the extra consumption costs.

In particular, the Fluke 430 Series II power quality analysers allow facilities to assess the impact of new energy-efficient, electronically-driven systems from lighting to motor controls to HVAC. While these new systems consume less energy as individual installations, they increase the level of power quality disturbance in the overall electrical system, increasing waste energy due to harmonics and reducing the total potential energy savings. The Fluke 430 Series II calculates the monetary cost of that waste energy.

Most popular power quality analyzer made better
The Fluke 430 Series II offer up to 32GB (8GB standard) memory, a swappable SD memory card and USB connectivity for longer power and energy logging and faster data download. Screen quality and battery life are both improved and the accompanying software has been redesigned to give users more options to analyse both power quality and power consumption. Both new models, the Fluke 434 and Fluke 435, are fully compliant with the stringent international IEC 61000-4-30 Class-A standard. Each one can monitor systems with up to ten power quality parameters on one screen and can record up to 150 parameters on 4 phases simultaneously, in accordance with the EN50160 standard, and are safety rated 600V CAT IV/ 1000V CAT III.

NEW, patented, Unified Power measurement function
From an algorithm first developed by Vincente Leon and Joaquín Montañana of the University of Valencia Polytechnic as an extension to the  IEEE standard 1459, the patented Unified Power function on the 430 Series II was developed in cooperation between Fluke Corporation engineers and University of Valencia scientists. Unified Power marks the first time that any test tool has provided the ability to automatically quantify the energy wasted by harmonics and imbalance, and, by inputting the utility rate structure, the user can even calculate the monetary cost of the wasted energy.

NEW Inverter Efficiency measurement function
The 430 Series II Inverter Efficiency function simultaneously measures the input and output power of inverters in solar systems, wind turbines and uninterruptible power supplies, allowing the operator to see how much electricity the inverter itself is consuming and whether it is operating efficiently. The measurements enable operators to adjust settings or make a case for a replacement unit.

NEW Power Wave measurement function
The 435 model includes PowerWave, a “fast capture” system that displays waveforms and half cycle RMS voltage and current values in full detail so motor and generator operators can measure the interaction during switching operations. This allows facility and utility service electricians, electrical contractors, and generator suppliers to easily gather measurements with one tool for load profiling, to prevent motor/drive/load mismatches, and for motor and generator commissioning and start-up testing.

Precision power supplies offer wider programmability

Aim-TTi has revised their QL series high precision laboratory power supplies to add new features and extra models. The QL Series II incorporates new functions, higher output power, and enhanced bus interfacing.

The new PSUs retain the true linear regulation of their predecessors and offer extremely low noise of less than 350 microvolts. Output power is up to 112 watts per output and includes a dual range capability which provides higher current capability at lower voltages.

Setting memories have been extended enabling quicker recall of stored sequences, and operating security has been enhanced by adding keypad locking. All QL-P models now incorporate a LAN (Ethernet) interface in addition to USB, RS232 and GPIB. The interface is fully conformant with LXI (LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation).

Triple output models now have fully variable voltage on the auxiliary output with an increased current capability of 3 amps. Voltage can be set between 1V and 6V with a resolution of 0.01V and voltage and current can be viewed at the touch of a button. QL-TP models have extended bus control of the auxiliary output including programmable voltage and read-back of voltage and current.

The QL Series II incorporates eight models with one or three outputs and power ranging from 105 watts up to 242 watts.

Testing WLAN

National Instruments has announced early access support for testing next-generation 802.11ac WLAN chipsets and devices. This announcement exemplifies how NI’s modular, software-defined wireless test platform continually expands to address the latest cellular and wireless connectivity standards including 802.11ac. 

NI’s 802.11ac WLAN test solution provides flexibility in testing 802.11ac devices in addition to testing 802.11a/b/g/n devices. It works with a wide range of signal bandwidths including 20, 40, 80 and 80+80 160 MHz for both Tx and Rx for up to 4x4 MIMO configurations. 

“By supporting the latest WLAN standard, 802.11ac, we are demonstrating the power of NI’s software-defined, modular test systems,” said Dr. James Truchard, President, CEO and Cofounder of National Instruments. “Our modular test platform delivers faster test times and lower total cost of ownership, and by combining it with LabVIEW, we help engineers address the latest emerging wireless standards. 

802.11ac Solution Features 
• Modulation formats up to 256 QAM 
• 4x4 MIMO for both Tx and Rx 
• Signal bandwidths including 20, 40, 80 and advanced 80+80 160 MHz 
• Optional MAC features such as LDPC, STBC and AMPDU 
• Automated test system development using NI LabVIEW, C or Microsoft Visual Studio 

NI is working with several early access partners, including silicon suppliers, OEMs and electronic manufacturing services (EMS) providers, to test the latest 802.11ac devices. 
NI will be exhibiting the new 802.11ac test solution at Mobile World Congress (hall 2.0, booth 2B93) in Barcelona, Spain, from Feb. 27 through March 3. 

Power-quality testing

A Yokogawa DL850 ScopeCorder is playing a key part in tests on synchronised switching devices in power systems being carried out by Harmonizer Power Quality AB: a Swedish company that provides power-quality services for industrial and utility customers.

Among the services provided by Harmonizer are measurements of active and reactive power, power factor, current and voltage variations, harmonics and transients. Typical applications include analysing the best location for reactive power compensation in a network, calculating regulation cycles for optimum harmonic- and power-flow control, sizing capacitor banks for shunt or series compensation, calculating and designing harmonic filters for the suppression of harmonic distortion, and sizing surge arresters for transient overvoltage limitation.

The application for which the Yokogawa DL850 ScopeCorder is used relates to the synchronised switching of high-voltage filter banks: in particular, programming and checking the functioning of the synchronising device and the circuit breaker. Unsynchronised switching of capacitor and filter banks often results in high-voltage and high-current transients that can have adverse effects on power systems performance and reliability. In order to eliminate these high switching transients and the resultant power-quality problems, the closing and opening operations of the circuit breaker have to be synchronised, which requires accurate monitoring of the relevant electrical parameters.

In the ideal scenario, the circuit breaker should be closed when the voltage across the load is close to zero and opened in such a way as to avoid short arcing times which can lead to re-ignitions or re-strikes. To check that these requirements are met, it is necessary to carry out measurements on the circuit-breaker closing and opening times while recording the network voltage and filter current during opening and closing operations.

These criteria impose stringent requirements on the measuring instrument involved. A typical test might require measurements on five voltage channels and three current channels in an environment where voltages can be several hundred volts. More significantly, the operating times that need to be measured mean that the instrument has to have a resolution as low as 1 µs.

Previously, the Harmonizer engineers had used test instruments such as conventional network analysers and digital storage oscilloscopes (DSOs), but found that these were not adequate for this particular application because of their limitations in terms of time resolution, accuracy and numbers of channels.

"What we needed was an instrument combining multi-channel capability with high measurement accuracy, high sample rate and time resolution along with good display quality and the ability to zoom in on the fine detail of measured waveforms", comments Natan Gothelf, Managing Director of Harmonizer: "After evaluating the available products on the market, we decided that the Yokogawa DL850 ScopeCorder was the one that best met our requirements."

A further benefit of the ScopeCorder is that it has isolated inputs that enable it to be used for high-voltage measurements using standard probes with no additional signal conditioning hardware. In addition, the instrument's powerful display and zoom capabilities make it very easy for the user to examine very short events in recordings taken over a longer period of time.

Harmonizer's tests are typically carried out in the field on a number of different sites, so that the instrument's portability is a further benefit. After field testing, measurement data can be downloaded via the ScopeCorder's various communications interfaces - including a USB connection to a PC - and analysed using evaluation software also supplied by Yokogawa.

The Yokogawa DL850 ScopeCorder is a versatile measuring tool that combines the benefits of a high-speed oscilloscope and a traditional data acquisition recorder in a single, portable instrument. The DL850 incorporates high vertical resolution, channel count, isolation, filtering, and abundant acquisition memory compared to general-purpose oscilloscopes. This makes it ideal for viewing small changes, even across large dynamic ranges, while monitoring more signals simultaneously

Thursday 26 January 2012

Energy management system for LPG powered ferry

An energy management system for one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly cruise ferries is being supplied by ABB. It is due to be delivered to Viking Line in 2013. The ship is being built in the STX Yard in Turku (FI).

The new cruise ferry, a 218 meter vessel with a top speed of 22 knots, will have the capacity to carry 2,800 passengers and will serve the route connecting Turku and Stockholm (S). In line with Viking Line’s environmental commitments, the new generation ferry will use liquefied natural gas as its fuel, which will be a first for a passenger vessel of this size. Through efficient use of this fuel, the ship will have extremely low emissions and virtually zero marine emissions.

Viking Line chose ABB’s energy management system for marine applications software - EMMA, which is a part of ABB’s marine automation and control offering, to help manage energy-related processes, practices and decisions on the new ferry, to use fuel efficiently from the very first day of operation.

“One of the top priorities at Viking Line is to lower the emissions and fuel consumption on our fleet . We were looking for a good monitoring tool that automatically regulated power consumption and was as easy to operate as a traffic light as a result ABB’s EMMA became our first choice,” said Kari Granberg, Project Manager at Viking Line Abp.

EMMA is based on ABB’s field-proven process automation software for energy management, which has been deployed to more than 60 process industry customers.

“We are committed to the development of cutting-edge technology for our marine customers so that they can meet their operational efficiency and environmental goals,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “EMMA is a tool that draws on the successes of energy management systems in the process industries and applies them to the specific challenges faced by ship operators.”

ABB’s scope of supply to Viking Line includes EMMA software, which compares and analyzes the historical and current operational data of the vessel, then calculates and advises on areas for improvement with easy-to-understand displays. It also includes an extended energy management tool that models energy consumption and calculates optimal operating conditions, so that ships can perform at the highest possible fuel and energy efficiency.

ABB’s Process Automation division delivers industry specific solutions and services for industrial automation and plant electrification. These solutions help customers meet their critical business needs in the areas of energy efficiency, operational profitability, capital productivity, risk management, and global responsibility. Available industry specific solutions include process control, instrumentation, analytics, safety, plant optimization, telecommunications, energy management and power distribution.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Things going well in loadcells provider

Load cell manufacturer LCM Systems has announced an increase in output, bucking the trend as recent figures announce a slowdown in output from the manufacturing sector. The company finished its 2011 financial year 15% up on 2010 figures. Managing Director, Steve Sargeant says the company’s key to success is being able to convert orders that need a quick turnaround, while managing customer expectations.

“With budgets tight, many companies are waiting until the last minute to order their load cells, so they can hold on to their cash for longer. This means we are often presented with very short deadlines. Handling the manufacturing here in the UK enables us to keep a close track on all throughput, at the same time being able to monitor and ensure the best possible quality of build and performance. Managing customer expectation is also important as although our load cells can be a small part of a larger system, they are often ‘mission critical’. This means that misleading customers on delivery dates can cause them serious problems.”

Steve says that although enquiry levels have been even more unpredictable than in the past, there has been a general increase, especially for custom, specialist products. “We have also taken an aggressive marketing approach to ensure that the message gets out to anyone looking for load cells and complementary instrumentation."

A combination of PR and an internet strategy that makes it easy for all customers in Britain and overseas to get clear and precise information from the website, with a straightforward response mechanism, has seen the level of enquiries grow.

“We also have a dedicated and knowledgeable design team that can answer customers queries and help them chose the best load cell for their particular application. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for customers to deal with us.”

Following a factory extension in 2011, 2012 will see LCM Systems’ most popular load cells will be offered from stock, so customers enjoy lower prices and faster delivery.

Greater support for reliability/high power device test

Keithley Instruments has upgraded the capabilities of its Automated Characterization Suite (ACS) Test Environment. ACS Version 4.4 is designed for use with a number of the company’s instrument and system configurations used mainly for automated device characterization and reliability analysis. It supports a newly enhanced reliability test option (Model ACS-2600-RTM), as well as expanded ultra-fast bias temperature instability (BTI) testing capabilities, high current testing of power components, and new project libraries designed for high voltage reliability, charge pumping, pulse-stress reliability, and stress migration testing applications. The latest revision also adds support for Windows® 7 operating systems, which simplifies staying current with a facility’s PC/system OS requirements.

New Reliability Test Option
ACS V4.4 supports an updated optional reliability test module (Model ACS-2600-RTM) that simplifies creating and executing complex stress-measure-analyze test sequences used in device reliability tests, such as HCI, TDDB, NBTI, J-Ramp, and more. This updated software module gives semiconductor test engineers doing device reliability testing and analysis in R&D or production test environments the tools they need to test more productively, whether they’re characterizing single devices or managing high device count test applications. ACS helps users manage complex system instrumentation configurations, quickly define test parameters common to large groups of devices or many sub-groups, execute tests with run-time results feedback, and begin analyzing large datasets of measurement results sooner.

In order to respond to the high-speed behaviors associated with semiconductor device failure mechanisms and produce the masses of data associated with reliability testing of multiple devices in parallel, each source measurement unit http://www.keithley.com/products/dcac/currentvoltage (SMU) instrument in a test configuration must not only be fast, but all SMU channels working as a group or several sub-groups must be fast as well. For reliability test applications of this type, the Model ACS-2600-RTM is designed to maximize the performance of Keithley’s Series 2600A System SourceMeter® instruments, which combine powerful embedded scripting capability (through the use of on-board Test Script Processors) with multi-unit integration via the TSP-Link® high-speed inter-unit communication bus. ACS leverages the inherent speed of Series 2600A instruments, accelerating the system reconfiguration process, uploading test conditions and scripts to the embedded processors in individual instruments, and beginning execution quickly. Test engineers have the flexibility of using ACS and the optional Model ACS-2600-RTM with individual Series 2600A units or with Keithley’s S500 Integrated Test Systems.

The updated reliability test module also provides other important advantages for device reliability testing. For example, dynamic limit current protects devices under test from severe damage by reducing the maximum breakdown current possible during the progress of the test sequence. In addition, device reliability test sequences can require hours, days, or even weeks to complete, producing enormous amounts of measurement data. The Model ACS-2600-RTM reliability test module provides compression techniques that allow the test system to capture the most important measurement results while continuing to make measurements over these extended periods.

Support for Additional Pulse-Measure Units for Ultra-Fast BTI Testing
Owners of Keithley’s Model 4200-SCS parameter analyzer can now make use of all six of the pulse-measure units (Model 4225-PMU) that system supports for ultra-fast bias temperature instability (BTI) testing. Previously, ACS supported operating a maximum of four units at once. The ACS V4.4 update allows testing more devices in parallel for higher system utilization and faster acquisition of BTI data.

Support for Keithley’s Newest SMU, Optimized for High Power Testing
The ACS V4.4 upgrade provides support for the Model 2651A High Power System SourceMeter instrument, the latest addition to the Series 2600A line. This instrument’s high current capability (up to 50A at 40V) is critical to labs and fabs involved in the development and production of vertical structure power components like insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs http://www.keithley.com/data?asset=55786 ) and double-diffused metal-oxide semiconductors (DMOSs).

New Projects for Emerging Device Technologies
ACS V4.4 includes several turnkey test projects designed to address high voltage reliability, charge pumping, Wafer Level Reliability (WLR) with specified pulse/AC stress, and stress migration (reliability) testing. Many users will be able to employ these projects as provided; for others, they offer a starting point that can help them develop their own custom test projects more quickly.

ACS Test Environment Background
ACS combines multiple instruments used for semiconductor device characterization and parametric measurements into a unified test environment optimized for flexibility, speed, and productivity in testing and analysis. Its intuitive GUI helps novice users test devices productively almost immediately, regardless of their level of test programming experience. The GUI simplifies configuring test instrumentation, setting measurement parameters, making I‑V measurements, and displaying results. Even infrequent users can go from creating a new test setup to characterizing new devices in a fraction of the time older test development approaches require. Just as important, ACS provides all the tools needed to set up tests, analyze data, and export results—without ever leaving the ACS environment. ACS also simplifies integrating a variety of popular semiautomatic and fully automatic wafer probe stations into a test setup.

Transducers in space!

With the growing importance of Britain's expanding space and satellite industry, demand for specially manufactured transducers from RDP Electronics is increasing.

The completely sealed transducers use low outgassing materials to standards specified by NASA for applications in space. In particular avoiding the potential for contamination of other components on a space vehicle for example optical devices such as mirrors or cameras, due to expelled gases from transducers.

RDP’s manufacturing process mimimises the risk of damage to the transducer by means of slow pressure changes and also by modifications to ensure that there are no sealed cavities in which a pressure differential could cause damage. Out-gassing into the vacuum of vapour escaping from internal adhesives and varnishes is reduced by controlled ‘baking’ of the transducer to thoroughly dry out such materials.Transducers for the space industry are also fully welded ensuring any residual vapours are sealed inside the unit.

According to a report by the British Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, “UK companies have developed significant competitive advantages in different segments of the space value chain which enable it to successfully compete in global markets. Like other technology intensive sectors, the space sector exhibits above- average innovation, skills and productivity levels.”

Brazil to host world fieldbus function

The Fieldbus Foundation (FF) is to hold its 2012 General Assembly from March 6-8 in São Paulo, Brazil. This key automation industry event attracts the world's leading suppliers and end users of FOUNDATION™ fieldbus.

Host hotel: Sheraton São Paulo
The 2012 General Assembly, themed, "In a World of Choices, FOUNDATION™ Brings it all Together," will include a comprehensive, end user-oriented agenda consisting of fieldbus project case studies and tabletop exhibitions from leading automation vendors across the globe, as well as a demonstration of the new FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management technology.

The FF End User Advisory Council (EUAC) will meet Tuesday, March 6, to discuss and offer direction for FOUNDATION technology. Wednesday, March 7, will feature a keynote address by a prominent executive from the Brazilian industrial sector, FOUNDATION technology updates, and presentations by key process end users, followed by a networking reception. On Thursday, March 8, the Fieldbus Foundation will conduct its annual business meeting for members.

According to Fieldbus Foundation President and CEO Rich Timoney, São Paulo was selected as the site of this year's General Assembly due to its status as one of the world's fastest growing industrial regions, and the overwhelming demand for FOUNDATION technology within the area. He said, "Brazil has been experiencing rapid growth in automation projects utilizing FOUNDATION technology and is arguably the central hub of the process automation industry in all of Latin America. Petrobras, Brazil's largest oil producer, has been integrating FOUNDATION fieldbus into their plants for some time, and is in the midst of a large expansion project utilizing the technology."

Timoney added, "The 2012 General Assembly program will highlight the advantages of FOUNDATION fieldbus as a world-class solution for improving plant asset management, reliability and economic performance. FOUNDATION technology is advancing to meet the needs of the process industries, including developments such as FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management, FOUNDATION for Safety Instrumented Functions (FF-SIF), control in the field, field diagnostics and wireless."


Maple Systems has introduced a revolutionary new product called the HMC (Human Machine Controller). The HMC is cost effective, efficient, and compact, combining an HMI and PLC into one unit. Simply put, HMC=HMI+PLC.

With customizable I/O, the HMC accepts up to five plug-in I/O modules with varying configurations of digital and analog inputs and outputs. Choose a 3.5-inch or a 5.7-inch touchscreen display, each equipped with six function keys adjacent to the screen.

One software application is used to program both the graphic interface and the ladder logic resulting in improved performance and efficiency. Besides offering a stand-alone solution, the HMC can integrate with an existing system serially and supports many popular communication protocols.

The HMC’s durability and performance are backed up with a Class I Division 2 rating as well as cULus, NEMA 4, CE, and RoHS certifications.

Peri metering pump

The A2 is an all new addition to ProSeries® Flex-Pro® Peristaltic Metering Pump line from Blue-White Industries. Compact and with lower feed capability than Flex-Pro A3 and A4 units, the A2 is well suited to smaller capacity municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment applications. An excellent alternative to Solenoid pumps.

A2 features and benefits Include:
Blue-White are regular advertisers
with Read-out and on the signpost!
Peristaltic technology at an affordable price; self- priming, no valves to clog;
One button prime mode; gentle and efficient smooth pumping action;
de-gassing design eliminates gas and air accumulation in the pump head; Maximum feed of 33.3 gph/126 lph, maximum pressure 125 psi/8.6 bar; Automated PPM dosing;
dual 4-20mA input (primary speed control / secondary trim), pulse inputs, and remote start / stop;
No maintenance, brushless, variable speed motor; gentle and efficient smooth pumping action;
Built-in, patented, Tube Failure Detection; NEMA 4X/IP66 Wash down;
no costly rebuild kits required; generous two year warranty.

Control in Chilean copper facility

ABB has supplied a vast array of power and automation solutions for Antofagasta’s new flagship Esperanza copper mine in Chile. The solutions include three of the world’s largest gearless mill drives, process and electrical control systems, power quality systems, a substation and a System 800xA integrated operations center that controls the entire production process, including onshore facilities at a purpose-built port 145 km from the mine.

The mine’s conveyor belt system is dynamically
controlled by ABB medium-voltage variable
speed drives.
Image courtesy of Antofagasta.
Officially opened in April 2011, Esperanza is renowned for its deployment of cutting-edge technology.

It is, among other things, the first large-scale mine to use raw seawater in its metal-producing processes - the water is pumped from the coast through a 145-kilometer pipeline to the mine, 2,300 meters above sea level.

Helping the mine perform at the peak of productivity and efficiency is a vast array of ABB products and systems, which drive the huge grinding mills, control the mine and power the purpose-built port and seawater pumping station on the coast.

Esperanza has a daily throughput capacity of 97,000 tons of ore. After extraction in the open-pit mine, the ore is crushed in a huge 40-foot semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill and two 27-foot ball mills, all three of which are driven and controlled by ABB gearless mill drive systems with a massive power output of 22.4 and 18.6 megawatts respectively.

When the contract for the mine’s gearless mill drive systems was awarded to ABB in 2007, Esperanza was only the second mine in the world to install a SAG mill - and the first to install ball mills – with these capacities and power ratings. These records have subsequently been superseded by ABB at other mines, but at the time they were at the technological limit of what SAG and ball mills were mechanically capable of achieving.

The gearless mill drive systems enable the grinding mills to achieve the best possible grinding results and process efficiency by adjusting the speed or direction of the mega-sized mills and ensuring a constant particle size, regardless of changes in the size or hardness of the ore.

The ore is transported to and from the grinding mills by long heavy-duty conveyor belts. The belt motors are driven by powerful ABB medium-voltage variable speed drives, which provide dynamic control of the motors and enable soft starting and stopping of the belts, thereby saving energy and minimizing mechanical wear and tear.

After processing, the concentrate is transported through the pipeline to the port where it is thickened and stockpiled, ready for loading onto ships. An ABB 110/23 kV substation connects the site and its onshore and offshore facilities to the power grid.

A mine and ore processing plant like Esperanza consumes huge amounts of electric power, and requires power quality equipment to maintain voltage stability and a high power factor. The site’s power distribution network is controlled by an ABB supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and is protected from destabilizing voltage spikes and harmonics-induced power losses by an ABB filter system.

One of the most impressive ABB solutions for Esperanza is the System 800xA distributed control system, which integrates all the automation systems - process, power distribution, gearless mill drive, motor and conveyor, pipeline, and port – into a common control environment and provides interfaces with the plant management and maintenance systems.

Full visualization and control of the whole process (crusher area, processing plant, pipelines and port) is provided by ABB’s EOW-x (Extended Operator Workplace) Integrated Operations Center - a unified and ergonomic control room environment that is designed to maximize operator efficiency

Rugged TFT display

High brightness and high contrast for harsh environments

Hitachi Display Products Group (DPG) have announced the latest addition to its growing range of Rugged+ TFT display modules. The new 7.0” TX18D35VM0AAB is designed and manufactured to function in challenging and harsh environmental conditions. IPS (in-plane-switching) TFT technology provides exceptional colour saturation, colour stability, contrast and black levels with a 170° wide vertical and horizontal viewing angle.

The 15:9 wide aspect ratio TX18D35VM0AAB features WVGA resolution (800 x 480 pixels). The display implements a LED backlight which provides a brightness of 800cd/m² and a half brightness lifetime of 70K hours. A contrast ratio of 600:1 ensures display images are clear, concise and easily viewed.

Mark Stephenson, Product Marketing Manager, Hitachi DPG commented, " Reliable and consistent operation under extreme temperature, mechanical shock and vibration are a necessity in many harsh environments. All of Hitachi's Rugged+ industrial displays are designed to operate under the severe and rigorous conditions found in some industrial applications and still provide exceptional optical performance.”

The ruggedized 7.0” TFT features an industry standard 40-pin, 6-bit RGB, CMOS interface which enables a colour palette of up to 262K colours. The display module has dimensions of 165.0mm (w) x 104.0mm (h) x 12.8mm (d) and an operating temperature range of -30°C and +80°C.

Hitachi recently announced the new line-up of Rugged+ TFT LCD display modules which are specifically intended for use in extreme environment applications. The entire range of Rugged+ displays feature industrial environment operating specifications with high brightness, long-life LED backlights and will provide dependable operation between -30°C and +80°C. Hitachi's Rugged+ TFT displays are designed for high reliability medical, marine, aerospace, automotive and industrial applications.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Smallest switch!

Omron Electronic Components  is supplying the world’s smallest sealed snap action switch which features an extra-long stroke, with an over-travel of 1.4mm, implemented without any additional internal mechanism, to ensure reliable and consistent on/off operation.

The D2HW ultra sub-miniature micro-switch has outer case dimensions that are just 78% of existing conventional models. The IP67 rated switch features compact dimensions of just 13.3mm (w) x 11.2mm (h) x 5.3mm (d).The basic sub-miniature switch is available with straight or angled terminal types and a choice of different actuator mechanisms including pin plunger, hinge lever and leaf lever. A maximum operating force of 0.75N is supported.

Andries de Bruin, Omron European Product Marketing Manager, Switches commented, “The availability and development of the D2HW emphasises Omron’s commitment to develop and produce high quality precision switches suitable for many electronics systems and applications.”

Supporting maximum voltage ratings of 125VAC at 0.1A or 42VDC at 0.5A and maximum operating current of 2A with an insulation resistance of 100Mohms, the D2HW will support up to 30 operations per minute and has an operating temperature range of -40°C to +85°C.

A proven product in the automotive industry, the D2HW is manufactured using environmentally friendly materials; all models are RoHS compliant and lead-free including moulded wire lead modules.

Wireless protection for industrial doors

System replaces cumbersome and easily-damaged spiral cables between controller and door in both internal and external locations

Carlo Gavazzi has launched the WSM wireless safety system for use with safety edges on large industrial doors, eliminating easily-damaged spiral cables between the door controller and door. Using an operating frequency of 2.4Ghz to prevent common radio interference, the system is compatible with a wide range of safety edges and delivers enhanced battery efficiency for a reliable and safe solution in applications such as high speed doors with frequent traffic, tall doors, megadoors and doors in public areas.
Delivering a 10 metre range for use in doors with opening heights up to 20 metres, each system comprises a main controller that connects to the door control panel and up to four wireless sub controllers that connect to the safety edge on the door. The IP66 rated system is suited for internal and external locations and will work with the Carlo Gavazzi photoelectric safety edge and many mechanical and conductive rubber safety edges.

The WSM2BA2D24 main controller with built in antenna features three SPST relay outputs; one normally closed (NC), one normally open (NO) 8.2kohms, and one normally closed for low battery alarm. A test input ensures verification of the sensor safety function and is also used for activating sub modules from battery save mode. Any loss of communication between the main and sub controller modules will immediately activate the safety output. 16 channels are available to eliminate cross talk and the sub controller’s active time can be set from 10 to 80 seconds.

The WSS2BA2BAT sub controller unit is able to handle two safety edges and one door-in-door limit switch, which allows for eight safety edges per system. It can control inputs from all standard NO 8.2kohms safety edges and all standard NC safety edges. Designed for exceptional battery performance, the sub controller is powered by a choice of one to four lithium AA batteries, with a minimum of one year life for one set of sensors.

The Carlo Gavazzi photoelectric safety edge consists of an emitter and receiver housed in 11mm rubber profiles. Providing a range of 15 metres and powered by the sub controller, the photoelectric beam is adjusted at each wake up signal from the main controller to ensure optimal detection performance.

NPI process optimised

São Paulo-based Sigma Technologies specialises in advanced technology services for Brazil’s leading OEM and EMS electronics manufacturing companies. Sigma recently purchased iLaunch software from Aegis after identifying that their NPI process would greatly benefit from improved speed, accuracy and control. Their review of offerings from Aegis Software and competing suppliers had indicated that only Aegis could deliver the speed of conversion and control of processes that they sought.

Sigma was looking for comprehensive CAD/BOM import with error corrections, rapid conversion to intelligent data, and revision control for documentation and programming. Accordingly, they found that Aegis’ iLaunch software allows rapid and accurate conversion of CAD/BOM data to revenue producing products with secure revision control.

iLaunch’s Juki IS interface and accurate Juki IS programming capabilities were major influences in Sigma’s decision. Juki IS is itself an intelligent manufacturing software package designed to optimize and streamline production on the shopfloor. The interface with iLaunch allows the Juki manufacturing environment to be closely integrated into Sigma’s NPI strategies.

iLaunch’s features optimize the assembly definition process, while generating quality information and manufacturing instructions from CAD/BOM data. Its single environment supports instruction sequences for system and mechanical assemblies as well as graphical visual aids for circuit card assembly. Product and version control is maintained, data integrity is verified and discrepancies are corrected before reaching production. Operators benefit from rapid, flexible generation of paper-based and paperless documentation and visual aids, and receive change notices, process deviations and quality alerts in real time.

Sigma’s key commercial and personal electronics customers include Ericsson, Positivo and LG. The Company’s core business includes high-tech electronics assembly, and is now moving towards chip manufacturing to be used on memory products, such as smart cards, NAND flashes for mobile phones and flash memories for memory modules.

“Ultimately, our business growth depends on our speed and efficiency in converting design data into deliverable revenue-generating products” commented Wilcar Junho, President of Sigma Technologies. “Accordingly, we chose Aegis and their iLaunch software as the best available route to achieving these objectives”.

Irish & British support strengthened!

Lloyd Instruments, part of Ametek, has further strengthened its service and support team in Britain and Ireland with the addition of two further regional Service Engineers. As part of a financially sound, leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices that enjoys annual sales of $3 billion and a 1200-strong workforce,  Lloyd Instruments’ customer support structure has never been stronger.

The new Service Engineers bring over 20 years combined experience in electronics engineering support to the Lloyd Instruments regional Service team. Fast service response across the two territories is backed by an in-house technical support team which includes Jason Pearce, an engineer with more than 25 years service at Lloyd Instruments. All service engineers are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited. 

Lloyd Instruments’ in-house calibration laboratory has also been UKAS accredited for more than 20 years, offering UKAS approved verification and calibration of force measuring systems in tension and compression, including verification of machines from other manufacturers. The laboratory has issued more than 25,000 UKAS accredited (or their equivalent) calibration certificates to British customers alone. The calibration laboratory is also accredited to ISO 17025-2005.

Customers are fully covered with traceable UKAS certificates from installation of the machine through the length of its life. Installation and training is carried out at the customer's premises and a UKAS certificate issued. At the end of the warranty period customers are contacted concerning machine recalibration and the type of service contract required.

Monday 23 January 2012

New member to Wireless Institute

Perpetuum has joined ISA100 WCI as a supplier member.

“The benefits of wireless monitoring are rapidly becoming fully appreciated by users. The return on investment from the combination of  improved monitoring of assets and processes with the low installation costs and flexibility of wireless, is causing a major rethink in how to improve plant reliability, safety and profitability,” said Roy Freeland, President, Perpetuum. “The key remaining issue is the right power source for wireless sensing to ensure reliability without costly repeated battery changes. As an innovator in vibration energy harvesting, Perpetuum supplies a practical ‘fit and forget’ solution certified for hazardous areas which is being chosen by major manufacturers globally. We have long been a supporter of the ISA100 standard and look forward to the growth of the market for vibration energy harvesting power solutions for wireless automation.”

Perpetuum designs and manufactures the world's leading vibration energy harvesters delivering life-long power for wireless technology. A vibration energy harvester is one critical component of a sophisticated system of components that are used to create a reliable maintenance free wireless solution.

“Perpetuum is helping propel the wireless automation industry forward by providing key enabling technology. The vibration harvesting solution converts otherwise lost energy into usable electrical energy for powering industrial wireless sensor nodes,” according to Andre Ristaino, managing director of ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute. “We look forward to working with them and helping the industry take advantage of the benefits the ISA100.11a wireless standard has to offer.”

LED Divisional Marketing Manager appointed

Anglia Lighting has promoted Mark Pinkney to Divisional Marketing Manager, to lead the business into its next phase of growth. Anglia Lighting, the British distributor for Cree, specialises in energy efficient LED lighting for commercial and domestic buildings, including hotels, retail premises, restaurants and vehicles.

He sees significant opportunities to grow Anglia Lighting in a sector that has been relatively unaffected by the downturn. “Anglia Lighting will double its turnover this year, and I expect to see it double again next. LED lighting is extremely attractive, as it saves cost and carbon emissions, but is also quite complex. Anglia Lighting offers customers a 'wall-to-light' solution backed by an exceptional level of expert support. Working with us, customers can implement a lighting system that maximises light out, minimises energy in and provides the longest possible life from the LED itself.”

According to Steve Rawlins, CEO at Anglia, “Mark Pinkney has demonstrated outstanding business development skills during his eleven years with Anglia, and also has a background in the lighting industry. He is the ideal person to take this successful and strategic Anglia business forward to a new level.”

Unique test rig for mobile drilling platforms!

Froude Hofmann and its wholly owned subsidiary Go Power Systems, well known for its engine testing systems have developed a unique drilling test rig for Boart Longyear, an organisation providing mineral exploration services and drilling products for the global mining industry. This new test system is designed to test motors prior to final assembly as well as complete mobile drilling rigs including self propelled, stationary and truck mounted and is currently operational from Boart Longyear’s Adelaide facility.

Pit installation
Two Brakes form the basis of the torque measuring system, which are linked via a right angle drive 1:1 ratio gearbox and innovative alignment device to the drill rod of the drilling rig. The whole system is installed in a pit to allow the drilling platform truck to be positioned directly over the test rig, and the drilling rod connected vertically via a coupling & cardan drive shaft.  The rig was conceptualised by Froude Hofmann’s Australian office, designed and built at the Go Power facilities in Detroit, before being shipped to Australia, where a team from USA and Australia completed the installation and commissioning.

“This project demonstrates the depth of engineering skill and knowledge within our organization.” explains John Harris, Froude Hofmann’s Chairman and Operational Director. “Not only were we able to understand the complex technical and safety requirements of the project but we delivered on time and on budget. Also pivotal to the success of the project was the collaboration between our North American and Australian companies. All manufacturing was carried out at our Detroit factory, so we could guarantee optimum quality of work and ensure we met all deadlines”

Acquisition of this system allows customer rigs to be carefully load tested in the refurbishment process.  Given the remote locations in which rigs operate, the ability to load test at the shop greatly reduces the risk of unwanted downtime when the rigs return to service. With the new dynamometer system, sub-assemblies can be full load tested prior to final assembly which improves the build process.  Load testing and data acquisition can be carried out on the complete rig, collecting information such as bearing temperature, oil pressures and load charts, which the test system can provide in an automated and repeatable manner. 

Boart Longyear Vice President of Global Engineering commented, “In addition, the system is used in the New Product Development process to thoroughly test prototype rigs before sending them to field test – allowing a more comprehensive evaluation of the prototype in the controlled engineering environment.  This capability is part of our accelerated New Product Development process – accelerating time to market for our next generation drilling systems”. 

As pioneers in the drilling industry, Boart Longyear, once again, lead the field and provide their customers with an even better service for optimising and guaranteeing the performance of their rigs.

Energy efficient cooling using ambient air

Rittal continue to expand their range of TopTherm fan and filter units with a 230V AC 900m3/h variant. The entire range of fan and filter units utilise a diagonal fan to provide improved performance against increased static pressure difference. In turn, this offers greater energy efficiency and a more constant air throughput, effectively minimising the occurrence of hot spots. The new product is also fitted with an electronically commutated (EC) motor to further reduce power consumption.

Energy efficiency of the these an and filter units fitted with single-phase AC motors may be improved in operation by the addition of either a simple thermostat or more sophisticated fan speed control. Rittal’s speed controller adjusts the speed of the fan in accordance with the demand for cooling, reducing noise and energy consumption when cooling is not required. It also incorporates a fault alarm activated in the event of the temperature of the air inside the enclosure rising above a predetermined level, an interruption in the supply to the fan, a sensor short-circuit, or a failure in the supply to the controller itself. Not only does this device increase maintenance intervals and reduce energy consumption, it also alerts users to potential problems.

Most of the existing range of TopTherm fan and filter units are available with 24V DC motors, which exhibit a significant reduction in power consumption over the 230V AC and 115V AC motor variants.

Energy efficient cooling using ambient air

Rittal continue to expand their range of TopTherm fan and filter units with a 230V AC 900m3/h variant. The entire range of fan and filter units utilise a diagonal fan to provide improved performance against increased static pressure difference. In turn, this offers greater energy efficiency and a more constant air throughput, effectively minimising the occurrence of hot spots. The new product is also fitted with an electronically commutated (EC) motor to further reduce power consumption.

Energy efficiency of the these an and filter units fitted with single-phase AC motors may be improved in operation by the addition of either a simple thermostat or more sophisticated fan speed control. Rittal’s speed controller adjusts the speed of the fan in accordance with the demand for cooling, reducing noise and energy consumption when cooling is not required. It also incorporates a fault alarm activated in the event of the temperature of the air inside the enclosure rising above a predetermined level, an interruption in the supply to the fan, a sensor short-circuit, or a failure in the supply to the controller itself. Not only does this device increase maintenance intervals and reduce energy consumption, it also alerts users to potential problems.

Most of the existing range of TopTherm fan and filter units are available with 24V DC motors, which exhibit a significant reduction in power consumption over the 230V AC and 115V AC motor variants.

Europe most mature market for SGs

The market for signal generators (SGs) and arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs) in Europe is more developed and mature than elsewhere in the world, with the region ranking second globally in terms of revenue. 

Arbitrary Waveform (pic NI)
This is mainly due to the aerospace and defence (A&D) as well as communications industries in the region, which are expected to generate moderate growth for the market going forward.

According to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, (Analysis of the Signal Generator and Arbitrary Waveform Generator Market),  the European market generated €126.8 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach €153.9 million in 2017. The research covers radio frequency (RF) signal generators, microwave signal generators and arbitrary waveform generators.

Significant R&D and design activity, paralleled by the continued development of wireless standards, will promote uptake of SGs and AWGs.

“In the current scenario, the European market is tending to focus heavily on R&D,” explains Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Mariano Kimbara. “There are a number of lucrative market opportunities emerging for high-end and high-performance test systems.”

The continuous development of wireless standards has also contributed to the growth of the SG and AWG market in Europe. The next 10 years will be a ‘wireless decade’, marked by the launch of different types of wireless devices.

“The rapid development of standards such as wireless interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX), third-generation (3G) wireless, fourth-generation (4G) wireless, and wideband code-division multiple access (WCDMA) will support steady growth in the SG segment. The development of the 60GHz market and new wireless technologies in the A&D segment will provide impetus to market expansion.”

Even though SG and AWG technology is mature, efforts at product enhancement and new product introductions bode well for the future. Several leading players in the European market are engaged in R&D activity on high-speed bandwidth, which is boosting user confidence and creating growth potential.

However, the ongoing uncertainty in the European market is impacting capital expenditures of end users. Volatile economic conditions have led end users to reconsider acquiring new test equipment.

“Promisingly, however, the communications and A&D segments are set to augment growth opportunities not only in terms of revenues but also in terms of innovation and product capacities,” concludes Kimbara. “Projects in the A&D domain requiring high-end signal generators that were previously suspended are being reconsidered, signalling continued optimism about market prospects.” 

Saturday 21 January 2012

Plant of the year announced

The HART® Communication Foundation has selected the Shell Scotford Upgrader located in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada, as recipient of the 2011 HART Plant of the Year Award. The award showcases end users who have demonstrated creativity in the application of HART Communication.

The HART Plant of the Year award is given annually to recognize the people, companies and plant sites around the world using the advanced capabilities of HART Communication in real-time applications to improve operations, lower costs and increase availability. Previous recipients are MOL (Hungary); Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan); Petropiar PVSDA (Venezuela); StatoilHydro (Norway); BP Canada Energy (Canada); Sasol Solvents (South Africa); BP Cooper River (USA) and Clariant (Germany); Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (USA); and Dupont (USA)
Shell engineers utilized the full capabilities and advantages of HART Communication to facilitate device configuration, loop testing, startup checks, valve tuning, safety device SIL ratings, and real-time centralized device status and diagnostics in a 100,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) expansion to the existing 155,000 bpd capacity Scotford facility. The result was a safe and efficient start-up, continued safe and reliable plant operation, real-time daily instrument troubleshooting, and not only preventable but also predictive ongoing maintenance.

“Our decision to broaden the application of HART technology beyond the use of handheld device configuration saved us time and money in all phases of this project,” says Andy Bahniuk, Shell Instrumentation Technologist. “With all the HART data available in one centralized control room, staff in operations, maintenance and instrumentation had ready access to this valuable information which ensured total confidence for both the operators and engineers that all devices were functioning properly.”

According to Bahniuk, HART Communication helped them realize benefits and savings throughout the project and the plant’s ongoing operation:
  • fast and safe device configuration, programming and commissioning of 1,200 HART devices from 26 vendors;
  • loop function testing and process variable simulation performed in 30% of the time normally required without potential for human error;
  • simulation of critical and complex safety narratives involving more than 15 inputs and multiple outputs for more than 50% in overall time saving;
  • eliminated the need to add external hardware to more than 700 smart valve positioners saving approximately $2,000 per valve;
  • monitoring secondary transmitter temperature variables remotely to improve efficiency in preventative maintenance on heated instrument  boxes saving more than $200,000 per year; and
  • re-calibration, parameter checks and device diagnostics performed from central control room rather than at each individual transmitter location provides saving of $100,000 annually.

Bahiuk says one of the biggest benefits was that they did not have to do any special device testing for interoperability. “All our HART devices were plug-and-play, connected through an asset management system,. We are using the ability to open a virtual window and unlock all the power of HART Communication for any type of measurement device supplied by all of our manufacturers.”

Shell Scotford is home to three distinct operating facilities: Upgrader with 255,000 bpd total capacity (since 2011 expansion); Chemicals which manufactures 530kt/yr of styrene monomer and 604 kt/yr of ethylene glycol; and Refinery with a 100,000 bpd capacity. Total staff on site is more than 1,300 (plus contractors).