Saturday, June 16, 2012

Engine Control

National Instruments has released six Drivven C Series engine control modules, which provide engine researchers with rugged, modular engine-specific I/O for interfacing directly with internal combustion engine subsystems and actuators. Using these modules, which are programmed with LabVIEW FPGA, engineers can rapidly prototype engine control algorithms without having to create custom hardware or request lengthy code changes.

"The Direct Injector Module from Drivven enabled us to get the piezoelectric injector working well in a very short time,” said Jason King, Chief Engineer of Gasoline Engines at Ricardo. “We also created novel injection strategies because Drivven programmed the control aspects easily and quickly. The cost versus capability of Drivven products are superior to anything else on the market.”

Drivven C Series Module Features
· LabVIEW FPGA drivers: Engineers can easily adjust injection timing and software parameters using an open, intuitive programming language.
· Modular I/O: Engineers can rapidly prototype all the I/O necessary for a production engine controller.

New Servo Press Module for clean room applications uses wireless

Suitability for use in cleanrooms to ISO standard and wireless telemetry of the force signal are just two of the outstanding attributes of the new Kistler Type 2157B NCFT electromechanical, servo press module. These new features make the new module particularly suitable for use in processes with small test and joining forces, such as sensitive press-fit operations and test routines in the medical and precision product sectors.

The compact mechanism, integral piezoelectric force monitoring in the ram and two predefined measuring ranges from 0.05 kN to 1.5 kN make the new modules ideal for use in assembly and joining processes monitored by force-vs-displacement. Advantages include easy selection of the ideal measuring range, a high overload factor and modest user spare parts inventory. Complex drive profiles with a maximum speed of 400 mm/s and displacement repeatability of 0.002 mm can be achieved.

The new NC servo press module provides ultra-high precision measurement of extremely small forces directly on the tool holder under actual process conditions, without the need to mount a sensor on the ram. This eliminates any possibility of the measurement signal being impaired by dynamic characteristics of masses or moving cables.

Many medical consumables are required to be manufactured under cleanroom conditions. The NC joining module Type 2157B meets the stringent, cleanroom production environment requirements defined by ISO 14644-1 Class 8 as standard and Class 7 conditions can be met with minor adaptation.
The new NCFT augments the range of NC servo press systems from Kistler. Five series now provide seamless coverage of measuring ranges from 0.05 to 600 kN. They are available not only as a system subassembly but also as complete manual workstations for development, prototyping or small-batch production.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Angled connector with crimp connection

Harting M12 connectors with crimp connection technology are now available in flexible angled versions, with a changeable outlet direction giving a choice of several mounting positions.

Both male and female connectors will initially be available in the A-code version, followed by the male connector in the D-code version.

The M12 circular connectors are mainly used for the cabling of sensors and actuators. Their versatility is greatly enhanced with a wide selection of solutions for the device side including panel feed-throughs, PCB adaptors and gender changers.

Simplifying analysis and reporting of engineering data

National Instruments has announced DIAdem 2012, the latest version of the software tool specifically designed to help engineers and scientists interpret and share data. Analysing and reporting time-based measurement data presents unique challenges that DIAdem overcomes with an off-the-shelf solution. DIAdem is optimised to operate on large data sets, includes engineering-specific analysis functions, features a powerful drag-and-drop report editor and runs scripts for automating repetitive tasks.

“With the launch of DIAdem 2012 we can move from data to decisions faster,” said Ray Almgren, Vice President of Core Platforms Marketing at National Instruments. “DIAdem is the only comprehensive configuration-based software specifically designed to help engineers and scientists quickly locate and process measurement data using one software tool.”

DIAdem 2012 Features
· Object-oriented VBScript API for reporting, significantly reducing programming time and effort
· Performance improvements for reporting, especially for multipage reports, and new analysis functions
· Ability to check for updates to DataPlugins within DIAdem
· Updated DAC dialog boxes for easier configuration of data-logging applications
· Added support for LIN and FlexRay databases
· Scalable background images for 2D charts

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New website communicates strategic vision

Having recently announced a new strategic vision for the company, FBGS, supplier of innovative FBG’s for sensing of strain and temperature will communicate these changes to their customers and partners through a new website.

The brief given to the website developers was to reflect the highly innovative technology the company has become known for and secondly, to demonstrate to solution providers that draw tower grating technology (DTG™) offers advantages over traditional FBG’s.

According to European Marketing Manager David Johnson “Although the process is well established, the application of this technology is new to many of our customers in optical sensing. Because it offers a new approach to solving some very demanding problems, it is imperative that in the early stages especially they get the right support from the website.

Fortunately the process of firing a laser at a moving target of optical fibre offers good opportunity for graphic illustration and this has not been missed by our website developers. To demonstrate the benefits of DTG’s, the automated process of writing and then covering gratings has been achieved through the use of some very effective graphics.”

They mantain that they have effectively raised the performance bar in this technology and the new website will act as a central information portal for informing and supporting our customers. Also, potential new customers should be able to easily grasp the reasons why this technology is able to achieve all that we promise through this website.

Their draw tower process is cutting-edge and marks a step-change in optical sensing. A number of European manufacturers of traditional sensing systems have already committed to this technology and are employing it in their own range of sensing products.

CEO FBGS Hugo Mertens commented, “Whilst we have our own plans for product development, it is our customers that drive innovation as they are the ones asking us to provide more and more technically demanding solutions. With 30+ year’s collective experience of the industry, it is important that we bring this to bear through the new website and ultimately better support customers using our technology.”

Lifetime achievement in HR

ABB’s head of Human Resources honoured by University of Michigan and Linkage consultancy

Gary Steel, head of human resources at ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has received a lifetime award from the University of Michigan (USA), and US consulting company Linkage in recognition of his work to integrate human resources in the company’s global business strategy.

“Gary Steel is receiving recognition for the tremendous impact he has had over the course of an outstanding career in HR. Gary sees issues of talent and leadership through the eyes of a global business leader. He has had tremendous impact on both business results and the lives of people around the globe,” said Noel Tichy, Professor of Management & Organizations, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

“ABB is a technology business with high ambitions,” said Joe Hogan, ABB’s chief executive. “Our success depends on attracting, inspiring and empowering the right people, and our human resources strategy has been tailored to achieving these goals. Gary deserves the recognition.”

ABB’s people strategy underpins the company’s goals for the years 2011-2015. During this period ABB is aiming to increase revenue at twice the pace of global economic growth, a target supported by a strategy for the development, retention and recruitment of talent.

Gary Steel joined ABB in January 2003 from Royal Dutch Shell as member of the Group executive Committee for Human Resources and Sustainability. He also serves as Chairman on the Boards of ABB India and Sweden.

Steel has been instrumental in the company’s profitable growth over the last nine years. He has established a performance-focused global human resources organization that puts a culture of accountability, people development and professional processes at its core. ABB generated net income of $3.2 billion in 2011 compared with a net loss in 2002, and revenues more than doubled in the period.

ABB enjoys one of the best retention rates in the industry and has been voted employer of choice for engineering students several times in Switzerland and Sweden. In China, ABB is recognized as one of the leading employers in its sector. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people.

User conference for Nice

Yokogawa is calling for registrations for its 6th User Conference, scheduled to take place in Nice, France from 26th – 28th September 2012. Yokogawa, one of the world’s leading suppliers of industrial automation equipment for the oil & gas, petrochem and power industries, has lined up an impressive series of events that enables Yokogawa equipment users to look into the future of process automation with hands-on workshops as well as presentations from some of the world’s entrepreneurs in process automation technology.

“This will be Yokogawa’s 6th European and African User Conference and promises to the biggest and the best.” says Martin Ward, Managing Director at Yokogawa UK. “Not only will we introduce our customers to the latest and future developments from the company, but many users will benefit from networking with their industry peers, away from the pressures of work.”

The full agenda and registration details or online. Attendees registering before August 10th eligible for an early bird discount.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Distributed safety system with high availability

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the PACSystems VersaSafe machine safety solution, which adds SIL3 safety capabilities to GE’s high performance platforms strategy. By combining secure network connectivity, certified safety function blocks, and an easy to use graphical programming environment, users can efficiently integrate standards-compliant safety capabilities to equipment while meeting increasingly stringent regulatory requirements.

“Production has to become more efficient by enabling the operator to work closer to the process without compromising operator safety,” said Karl Pickan, Product Manager Machine Safety for GE Intelligent Platforms. “In addition, meeting increasingly stringent regulatory requirements, such as the Machine Safety Directive in Europe, requires improved safety measures.”

The VersaSafe distributed safety system provides a TÜV-certified SIL3 machine safety solution that focuses on the critical control requirements of the production environment: safe operation and greater uptime of manufacturing equipment. High availability is delivered by integrating industry-proven PROFINET with optional media redundant protocol (MRP) and multiple cable media options. Machine repair times are reduced by the ability to put a machine in a safe state without fully powering down the equipment, which, in turn enables faster start-up after a repair.

VersaSafe is part of the PACSystems family of control systems that delivers increased performance, greater uptime and lower total cost of ownership compared to traditional safety systems. Leveraging PACSystems’ distributed I/O architecture and single point of connect capabilities, VersaSafe enables efficient development of high-performance modular machines. A single network carries standard and safety I/O; this simplifies wiring without compromising safety.

To minimize engineering efforts, GE provides a comprehensive set of tools and services as part of the VersaSafe solution, including a library of certified safety function blocks, the ability to seamlessly integrate safety and standard capabilities, and a robust set of integrated development and commissioning diagnostic utilities.

With VersaSafe, GE has eliminated the need for a separate safety CPU, enabling a highly-distributed safety I/O configuration that is both cost effective and maintains highest levels of performance as the system grows. In addition, companies can make online changes to safety logic. Large production lines, in particular, will realize considerable benefit in the ability to update a portion of the safety logic without stopping the controller. Smaller machines benefit from right-sizing the safety I/O needs without bearing the overhead of a separate safety controller.

“The VersaSafe family of PROFINET-based safe I/O is part of GE Intelligent Platforms’ High Performance Platform strategy that leverages industry standards plus the combination of our experience in embedded technology and automation to deliver long-life, high- performance solutions that are easy to configure, manage and upgrade,” continued Pickan.

VersaSafe is available for new and retrofit applications, building on GE’s commitment to long-term partnerships with its customers.

Widescreen HMI

GeCma components GmbH, the HMI division of MTL Instruments now has a 22” wide screen option for its  Challenger range of remote HMI data terminals. GeCma is the recognized market leader for visualisation systems in hazardous areas as can be seen from its installed base of over 15000 units worldwide.

Being based upon the range of HMI’s of the same name, this unit offers the same advantages which make the Challenger range the market leader it is today. Features such as IS (Intrinsically Safe) data transmission between the safe area and the hazardous area and IS construction of the components based within the hazardous area allow the user to maintain, move and modify the unit with their process running, thus negating the need for costly shutdown of the production line when the need arises to disconnect the HMI. Customers can also count on GeCma’s usual high standard of construction and durable finish with an IP rating of IP66 that allows GeCma HMI’s to still be functioning in hazardous areas after more than 10 years of use. The new display provides the user with a true 22“ colour display running at a resolution of 1680 x 1050 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10. The display will also be available with a resistive touch screen option making it ideal for environments where protective clothing and gloves are a necessity.

GeCma will also be offering the Challenger 22i as an upgrade package which will allow current GeCma users to upgrade their existing screen and housing whilst keeping their existing supporting infrastructure in place; therefore offering a very cost effective route to widescreen visualisation. The upgrade kit is also targeted at users who are migrating to a new Process Control System that requires a higher resolution and demands a bigger (wide) screen to display more information without the need to replace their existing visualisation solution in the field.

The new display is backwardly compatible with other models in the range, there being only the need to replace the display and housing in order to upgrade to the new screen. This operation is completely plug and play with no re-termination of cabling required and does not affect the certification of the system.

GeCma also offers a wide variety of special, customised housings tailored to applications in hazardous areas where space is limited or various control elements must be integrated into the visualization solution, thus requiring a completely customer-led bespoke solution.

Automation solution for bags!

US site implements sophisticated multi-level IT architecture with Werum's PAS-X

B. Braun's facility in Irvine (CA USA) is currently installing a new, highly automated production line, with Werum's PAS-X as a core component. The line, designed to produce a variety of IV Solution bags for hospitals and clinics, will manufacture the empty bags, fill them, sterilize them, and package them, all under full automation. To achieve such a sophisticated approach, B. Braun has defined a multi-level IT architecture that links ERP to PAS-X to the equipment controllers.

"PAS-X plays a key role for us," explains Imran Rauf, the Engineering Manager for the project. "The MES is our main link to the overall order and inventory data controlled by the ERP, triggers the correct recipe execution at the equipment level, and consolidates all of the key production data into our final electronic Batch Record."

The most unique feature of this project was the high level of integration between PAS-X and a large number of equipment types, resulting in PAS-X supporting 25 different message types.

The expected benefits to B. Braun of this architecture is streamlined batch production execution, final batch review, and product release. Additionally, the captured process data will be used for ongoing process improvement.

This highly integrated approach has already been proven in the LIFE and LIFE Nutrition sites at B. Braun in Melsungen, Germany.

Faster latch response..

Small, sensitive, versatile devices provide a faster latch response time

Honeywell has expanded its magnetic position sensor product portfolio with the SS360NT/SS360ST/SS460S High Sensitivity Bipolar Latching Digital Hall-effect Sensor Integrated Circuits. Bipolar latching magnetics make these products well-suited for accurate speed sensing and revolutions-per-minute (RPM) measurement.

For brushless DC motor manufacturers that need latching sensor ICs with reliable, consistent performance for efficient and small designs, Honeywell’s family of new High Sensitivity Latching Digital Hall-effect Sensor ICs respond to low magnetic fields and offer consistent repeatability while providing the fastest response to a change in magnetic field for enhanced motor efficiency. These new sensors offer reliable switching points with high magnetic sensitivity of 30 G typical (55 G maximum) without using chopper stabilization on the Hall element, resulting in a clean output signal and the fastest latch response time in its class.

“Brushless DC motor manufacturers need sensors with high sensitivity, stable magnetics, and very fast response times to commutate the motor as efficiently as possible,” said Josh Edberg, global product marketing manager for Honeywell Sensing and Control. “By designing high-sensitivity sensor ICs without chopper stabilization, this family of sensors enables faster response times, which ultimately means more efficient motors.”

These small, sensitive, and versatile devices are operated by the magnetic field from a permanent magnet or an electromagnet. They are designed to respond to alternating North and South poles.

The sensor can be used in a wide range of applications. Potential industrial/commercial applications include brushless dc motor commutation, flow-rate sensing for appliances, speed and RPM sensing, tachometer/counter pickup, motor and fan control, and robotics control. Potential transportation applications include speed and RPM sensing, tachometer/counter pickup, motor and fan control, electronic window lifts, and convertible roof position. Potential medical applications include medical equipment that utilizes electric motors.

These devices operate over the full temperature range of -40 °C to 150 °C [-40 °F to 302 °F]. Two package styles are available: Subminiature, SOT-23 surface mount package (SS360NT/SS360ST) supplied on tape and reel allows for compact design with automated component placement; the small, leaded, flat TO-92-style package (SS460S) allows for a compact PC board layout.

The SS360NT/SS360ST/SS460S offer a wide operating voltage range of 3 to 24 Vdc, allowing for potential use in a wide range of applications. Built-in reverse voltage enhances the protection of the sensor and the circuits. Their durable design allows operation up to 150 °C [302 °F]. Additionally, RoHS-compliant materials meet Directive 2002/95/EC.

Back manufacturing and then?

Only half the story!

Manufacturing is re-emerging as a leading economic growth engine after a rather quiet summer. However this sector alone is not big enough to pull the whole of the Britain back into good times.

So says Mark Ingham, sales manager at Sensor Technology Ltd in Banbury GB), one of the innovating yet commercially aware companies identified by politicians as vital for ‘rebalancing the economy’.

It is clear that we need to rebuild the national base of manufacturing, engineering, science and technology companies. These create wealth, rather than just redistributing it. However, this is not an overnight project; it will take literally decades."

Sensor Technology has been hard at developing sensing solutions for a number of industries for twenty years or more, and still fits comfortably into the ‘Small to Medium Enterprise’(SME) classification. However it has spun out another company to serve particular markets, including Automotive.”

Mark cites Sensor Technology’s experience this year, saying Spring was good, Summer was great, September saw a slowdown and October a pick up. This contrasts with official figures that suggested manufacturing fell right back in May-August and recovered in September.

“When a sector is made up of a large number of small companies, each one’s individual progress can be very different. So calculating a meaningful average is very difficult.

“However I am increasingly confident that our technical industries are coming along. Sensor Technology is supplying its TorqSense torque sensor products to many fields, particularly green power generation and energy efficiency, while LoadSense our new wireless load monitor is expanding from its original application of helicopter cargo hooks to diverse new uses.”

Direct exports are also doing well, with North America accelerating all year, regular activity in the Eurozone, Japan and Australia. India and China tend to place fewer larger orders, rather than many small ones, perhaps reflecting those countries’ distribution models of large local stockholding. Mark is hoping to appoint a specialist supply company to serve Russia soon, and feels that, like Brazil, with that in place business will become self-supporting.

“We are exporting to many regions, which looked another way implies many regions are backing technology and manufacturing as economic backbones. Ten years ago there was a fear that all manufacturing would end up in China. We now see that is unlikely, but we have to expect fierce global competition if we are to succeed.”

So Mark’s advice to government is that we need to rebuild all technical industries, as they are the best wealth generators. Automation can help reduce labour costs and ensure product quality; innovation must be nurtured and supported, and a new generation of scientists, engineers and technicians brought on. But this cannot be achieved overnight and we also need a wide spread of other sectors and efforts to reduce the boom and bust cycle. Significantly, it must be realised that international competition is going to keep on getting tougher as more emerging nations establish sustainable economies.

“The old rules are changing: the defining qualities for future well being will include innovation and responsiveness. Young countries are often very good at these, which is why education is vital to UK plc.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

A new standard in enclosures

Tried and tested a million times over, the Rittal TS 8 section is now the standard system enclosure solution platform, for both the reliable and bayable Rittal TS 8 and Rittal SE 8 enclosure systems. Its infinite possibili-ties mean exceptionally wide-ranging benefits for both ranges of enclosures:
As the same 3D data can be used, one engineering solution for both platforms means reduced planning costs. Also one set of system accessories for the TS 8 and the SE 8 equates to lower storage costs, easier ordering and secure and simple system configuration.

Both the TS 8 and the SE 8 share the same climate control platform, from fan and filter unit to chiller, allowing simpler ordering and assembly due to cross-platform common mounting dimensions and output categories. The TS 8 modular climate control concept can be used without any limitations.
Taking this two-level approach offered by Rittal can make effective use of internal space and allow greater interior installation options.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

One thousand companies network on motion!

The MMA is now the largest motion control networking group in Asia as MECHATROLINK becomes the de-facto motion network in Asian markets.

The Mechatrolink Members Association (MMA) announced that its membership topped 1,000 in March 2012, and continues to increase.

Recently, memberships from the four countries of China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan have been increasing at a particularly fast rate. At this point—42% of all members are Japanese companies, 26% are Chinese companies, 20% are Korean companies, 6% are European companies, and 6% are American companies, for a current total of 1,015 companies.

The rapid spread of MECHATROLINK has been especially remarkable in China, where 260 companies have joined the MMA. The MMA is now the largest association in Asia promoting and supporting an open motion control network.

The MMA was established in October 2005 to promote the open motion network MECHATROLINK, with 124 original member companies. Since then, 900 companies joined the MMA in the first six and half years, with 115 more joining in the past year.

The MMA exhibited MECHATROLINK compliant products at SEMICON China 2012 in Shanghai for three days last March. As a result, 37 companies joined the MMA during this exhibition, which made the MMA an association of more than 1,000 member companies.

The 1,000th member is a CNC controller manufacturer in Beijing, and the MMA secretariat, Takeshi Tanaka, visited Beijing in May to welcome its 1000th member.

The MMA will further accelerate the promotion of MECHATROLINK, and cement its status as the de-facto motion network in Asian markets. With strong growth anticipated for the foreseeable future, the MMA expects to reach the next milestone of 2,000 members by the end of 2014.