Saturday, August 4, 2012

Webinar discusses how to leverage big data for a competitive advantage

GE takes on Industrial Big Data challenges

GE's Virtual Briefing Center
GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of The Rise of Industrial Big Data,” the company’s latest webinar. GE shares insights into how industrial businesses can maximise the full potential value of their process data and use that insight to drive real-time improvements. The participants discuss advanced software technology that offers an effective, simple, and easy way for companies to efficiently leverage Industrial Big Data for optimised decision support.

“Massive amounts of operational data are coming online with the increasing set of advanced devices and equipment, a movement often referred to as the Industrial Internet,” said Brian Courtney, General Manager Operations Data Management, GE Intelligent Platforms and a webinar featured speaker. “We discuss how industrial businesses can leverage Big Data to create a competitive advantage.”

Discussion topics include:
The challenges of harnessing industrial big data.
What critical information can be obtained by managing big data.
How advanced historians provide critical insights for faster operational decisions and continuous innovation.

Additional speakers include Justin Eggart, GE Energy Executive Engineering; and Kareem Aggour, GE Global Research Senior Computer Scientist.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Improving FPGA design productivity

National Instruments has announced the LabVIEW FPGA IP Builder add-on, which uses leading Xilinx Vivado High-Level Synthesis technology to simplify high-performance field-programmable gate array (FPGA) algorithm design. This new LabVIEW add-on enhances productivity by reducing the need for manual optimisation of high-performance algorithms. Instead, users specify functional behaviour along with design constraints and the software automatically generates a hardware implementation to meet requirements.

The new add-on tightly integrates with LabVIEW and the LabVIEW DSP Design Module, a LabVIEW module that helps researchers and system designers in the RF and telecommunications space quickly create communication links and multirate digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms on FPGAs. 

“Our vision for the LabVIEW platform is to empower domain experts to represent their algorithms using natural programming paradigms and provide a seamless path for deploying to high-performance hardware,” said David Fuller, Vice President of Applications and Embedded Software for NI. “High-level synthesis technology is central to this vision – it empowers system designers to spend less time optimising their FPGA algorithms and more time innovating.”

Rendering landfill sites safe!

Part II A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (GB) sets the minimum standard for contamination when land is redeveloped - as a minimum, sites must not qualify as contaminated land once they have been developed.

The utilisation of brownfield sites therefore necessitates environmental investigation work, but Matthew Penfold from Geotechnical and Environmental Assessment Associates (GEA) says “Made ground and greenfield sites can also reveal surprising levels and types of contamination. For example, site investigation can reveal problems that were not anticipated following a desktop study. Similarly, gas can migrate from an old landfill site and affect nearby development, and if this issue is not identified at an early stage, it can result in substantial extra costs later in the project.”

Site investigation is a key aspect of GEA’s work, so the company owns a number of portable gas analysers including PID detectors for the measurement of volatile organic compounds and a landfill gas analyser for a range of common gases. However, the company’s in-house instruments are regularly supplemented by gas analysers rented from Ashtead Technology. Matthew believes that this provides GEA with a high degree of flexibility; “Hiring instruments when we need them means that we can use exactly the right instruments, just for the time we need them and no longer, which saves costs and ensures that we have the best kit for every job.”

Ashtead Technology operates a large fleet of the latest environmental testing and monitoring instruments, which are maintained and calibrated in-house so that they can be delivered ready for use at any European location within 48 hours. The landfill gas analyser routinely rented by GEA is a Geotech GA2000, capable of measuring CH4, CO2, O2, CO and H2S. However, Will Russell, one of Ashtead’s technical support engineers says “We are delighted to announce the introduction of the new GA5000 into our fleet, which is not only Ex approved but also provides highly accurate readings (+/-0.5% for CH4 and CO2) in half the time of its predecessor. It is smaller and lighter with a new colour screen that works in all light conditions and features new intuitive menus, with a choice of languages, which guide users through the measurement process.”

As a result of the technical support, service and calibration facilities that Ashtead Technology provides, the company has been appointed as a rental partner for Geotech, the manufacturer of the GA5000. This is welcome news for Matthew Penfold who says “The release of a new landfill gas analyser exemplifies the benefits of instrument hire because it provides continuous access to the best available technology.”

MMI/HMI distribution in Europe

IGT Industries (part of Acal plc). have announced a strategic distribution agreement which allows Acal BFi to become IGT Industries’ first ever distributor.
(L to R)  Derek Mclaughlan (IGT Sales Director), Terry Moss (IGT Sales & Marketing Manager), David Draper (Acal Product Manager HMI Products), Mike Walker (Acal Sales Application Specialist)
The new agreement, which was effective from July 17th, will provide design engineers access to IGT’s custom made MMI/HMI control panels in Britain and across Europe, supported by the technical expertise and valued added services available from Acal BFi’s specialist sales teams. IGT Industries have been at the fore-front of Man Machine Interface technology for more than twenty years and have been responsible for many technological innovations now in common use. These include numerous backlighting techniques, integral RFI screening and most recently the development of capacitive switching systems, both touch screen based and single press control panels with optional back-lighting.

Terry Moss, IGT Industries’ Sales & Marketing Manager says, “IGT has now been established for twenty five years and this appointment is an important step in our growth strategy for the UK and Europe. Acal BFi’s level of expertise and knowledge relating to the HMI market make them an ideal distribution partner. This cooperation will enable us to increase our product offering to a wider market and territory. We expect to work closely with the Acal BFi’s local specialists to increase market share and expand our overall presence in the market.”

David Draper, Acal BFI UK HMI Product Manager says “The introduction of IGT Industries enables Acal BFI to offer a significant range of HMI solutions to our customers, including custom capacitive touch panels complete with LED backlighting in a highly competitive package.  These panels can be sealed against water ingress, vandal resistant and operated by gloved hands making them ideal for our customers demanding applications.”

Commenting on the recent signing Paul Webster, Acal plc’s Group Product Management & Operations Director said, “IGT Industries is an established leader as an HMI solutions provider whose product range will enhance Acal BFi’s ability to provide custom and design supported solutions to our customers. We are delighted that IGT Industries have chosen Acal BFi as their distributor to assist them in developing this rapidly growing technology area.”

IGT Industries has recently gained a Bronze Award under the SC21, 21st Century Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industry Supply Chain Programme, organised by A|D|S. IGT offers its customers a time and cost saving single source for complete in house control panel design and manufacture. IGT Industries’ HMI products may be specified for use in environmentally hostile conditions and are suitable for use in Marine, Aviation, Railway, Medical, MIL, Industrial, Fire, Security, Telecom and most other electronics applications.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

WiFi dataloggers

The new iDAQ range of Wi-Fi enabled dataloggers, from Auden Electronics are shortly to be featured in the 2012 IET Innovation Awards. The iDAQ range comprises Voltage input, 4-20mA input, PT100 thermometer input and a combination voltage and pulse counter input units in both 4 and 8 channel versions.

The range offers high resolution, high accuracy readings and are compatible with a wide range of analogue and digital sensors. iDAQ units have Wi-Fi connectivity and incorporate a built-in web-server so no PC application software is required. Readings can be viewed in real time in tabular or chart recorder format using any tablet, PC or mobile device via a web browser. Readings can also be logged in the internal 256kb memory for download at a later date. Log rates from once every 5 seconds to every 24 hours can be set.

iDAQ can also be configured to issue email alert messages on alarm; for example, an alert could be issued if a water pipe temperature falls below a critical set-point (i.e. to prevent burst pipes etc). Another use for this alert feature is to monitor window and door contacts; an alert could be issued if they open.

The USB2.0 interface allows the user to write their own applications to control the unit or to take measurements. It also allows them to configure the unit using any third party terminal software

Application areas include:
• Smart metering (electricity, gas and water)
• Eco-home monitoring (central heating, humidity control, PV output, etc)
• Environmental monitoring
• Weather stations (iDAQ can provide live and historical weather trends)
• Industrial temperature monitoring (supports platinum resistance temperature sensors)

US Sales manager for European IR innovator

Xenics has appointed Stuart Cohen as new sales manager at Xenics USA, Inc. A 100% subsidiary of Leuven, Belgium-based Xenics nv. Xenics USA, Inc., of Beverly (MA USA),  provides sales and application support to its U.S. and Canadian customers. By attracting the renowned IR expert, Xenics is strengthening its presence on the industrial and governmental security markets throughout North America.

Stuart Cohen
Stuart Cohen comes to Xenics USA, Inc. with many years of managerial experience in the infrared industry. In his last position as product manager and sales manager of North America for NEC-Avio InfraredTechnologies/NEC Corporation of America, he was mainly responsible for governmental security and surveillance markets, developing a customer base of system integrators, with a special focus on LWIR OEM modules. Prior to that he spent a substantial part of his professional career in similar technical sales positions at Ericsson, based in the U.S., and at Texas Instruments.

"Foremost on my agenda at Xenics USA, Inc. is accelerating the expansion of our sales and support organization," Cohen said. "We see a significant potential for growth and additional revenue in the scientific, industrial and security markets in North America. We are investing in these markets by hiring additional employees for technical and sales support, thereby strengthening our regional presence. We will also substantially grow our network of sales representatives in dedicated regions."

Stuart Cohen's long-term experience and well established connections in the U.S. will help guide Xenics' entry into the OEM core business segment. "We have the broadest range of technologies in the industry covering the entire infrared realm," he said. "We offer the highest-speed InGaAs cameras, and process capabilities that many of our competitors don't have. We are very well equipped for complex custom projects. And we offer utmost flexibility in these dedicated markets."

Xenics USA was founded last year to facilitate sales of the company's broad spectrum of advanced IR products and solutions and provide support to industrial and institutional customers throughout the U.S. and Canada, especially in the rapidly growing segments of security systems and in the institutional and OEM markets for governmental projects. Xenics USA is headed by Luc DeBrouckere, a well known industry expert with 35 years of experience in infrared imaging.

"North America is a very important strategic market for us," says Xenics founder and CEO Bob Grietens, President of Xenics worldwide. "Of course, we are facing embedded competition. But Xenics is well prepared to tackle these challenges based on our advanced products and solutions that need strong local support."

Practical thermocouples..

A new edition of Practical Thermocouple Thermometry, Second Edition, by Thomas W. Kerlin and Mitchell Johnson has just hit the shelves.

Practical Thermocouple Thermometry, Second Edition, focuses on practical aspects of how thermocouples work; how they go bad; how to access measurement accuracy; and how to select, install and operate them.

Updates include:
real-world case studies demonstrating solutions of thermocouple problems
• properties and performance of all commonly used thermocouple types
• innovative applications of thermocouples
• expanded information on thermowell selection for required reliability and much more
"The second edition updates the book with increased coverage of topics related  to thermocouple applications. It provides new solved sample problems that  include illustrations of the use of the thermocouple loop analysis method. It  includes new or revised sections to discuss new developments and to expand treatments of important technologies. It includes case studies of real-world problems and their solutions.

"Part of the motivation for preparing this second edition is the apparent lack of  widespread use of thermocouple loop analysis to characterize thermocouple  performance and problems. We contend that this method is an essential tool  for those who are responsible for measuring temperature with thermocouples."

In this edition, Dr. Kerlin, professor emeritus from the College of Engineering at The University of Tennessee, was joined by Mitchell Johnson, president of JMS-Southeast, in preparing this second edition to include the latest in thermocouple technology. They called upon their 60 plus years of collective experience in theory, research, teaching, manufacturing and real-world applications to produce this edition.

    Fibre optic sensor gains medical approval

    FBGS has gained EN60601 medical approval for its fibre optic interrogator FBG-Scan 804D.

    According to sales manager (Europe) David Johnson, “we are now authorized to supply a medical declaration of conformity for our instrument in medical applications when used in combination with a medically approved power supply. The instrument achieved the highest performance levels in all tests undertaken and we can also claim the highest immunity level at 10V/m, which is only normally required for life support equipment.

    With immediate effect we can market our strain and temperature measurement solutions into the medical industry, where miniature FBG based sensors are used for diagnostics and monitoring. This opens up potential for many innovative applications including a unique fibre optic catheter. This device, used by gastroenterologists use an array of fibre Bragg gratings to measure the complex muscular contractions that transport food through the digestive system”

    The FBG-Scan 804D is a dynamic, high precision measurement device for use with Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors. The system can measure up to 4 optical channels with 40 FBG sensors per channel and all sensors can be monitored at a scan rate of 500Hz.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Where 1 + 1 can equal 3!

    The Transformation of MESA and WBF.

    The fundamentals of MESA's strategy are: Relevance to the Enterprise; Defining the Real Time Operations Space through Education, Certification, World Class Content, and Networking; and Growing MESA membership and revenue. The recent merger between MESA and WBF is explained in a recent communication to the MESA community from Chairman John Southcott.
    There were several drivers for the merger, all of them positive and leading to an even better merged organisation.

    First, MESA and WBF have the same target audience, the real-time operations space, but each had a different focus. MESA's focus was broad content, education, and certification. WBF's focus was on promoting the best practices for various ISA standards, ISA 88 Batch, ISA 95 MES, ISA 99 Security, and others. MESA and WBF had similar end users and sponsors, with MESA having more discrete manufacturing companies and WBF having more process industry companies. The combined organization now covers the full range of industrial companies; and can even be used in other industries because the best practices and world-class content can help any company that is trying to improve its operations and increase its productivity.

    A second driver was the fact that both organisations were at an inflection point and were defining their strategy for moving forward. MESA has embarked on an education initiative, focused on developing world-class MES/MOM professionals across a range of industries globally. WBF had, as some had said "solved the batch problem" and was expanding into the MOM/MES, Security, and Procedural Automation areas. Both organisations had met their original goals, but realised that there was much more that could, and should, be done to bring best practices and knowledge to its members. The future directions of both organisations aligned in a perfect match for a merged organisation.

    There was also a practical reason for the merger, both MESA and WBF have been using the same support organisation, and using the organisation in the same way. MESA and WBF needed to run their businesses better, and a merger just made good business sense.

    MESA and WBF were both in the process of embracing the "voice of the customer." Our customers were demanding to know the technologies and best practices that they need to compete, and they were demanding to know the business values and benefits that they could expect to achieve. The new MESA is the one place they can go to get this vendor-independent, high value, reviewed and verified information.

    He sees several significant benefits our members will receive as a result of the merger:

    Education: The addition of WBF experts in ISA 88 Batch and ISA 99 Security will allow the new MESA to develop certification programs. If you want to help share your experience with others, please consider volunteering to help develop and review new educational material and certification programs.
    Standards Development: WBF's B2MML, Business to Manufacturing Markup Language, is the industry standard for ERP to MES integration. The WBF XML technical committee has been merged into the MESA technical committee and will be releasing a new version shortly that incorporates the latest additions to the ISA 95 standard.

    Content: WBF brings hundreds of papers, from 15 years of conferences, and 4 books into MESA. This content represents some of the industry's best practices and provides a valuable source of intellectual property with great value to our members.

    Networking: The new MESA will also provide conferences and professional networking opportunities that you cannot get anywhere else. You can talk to other users with similar problems and with other solutions. You can talk to users about their different vendor experiences, and vendors can demonstrate their solutions to a wide range of end users. The connections you make at the conferences, and mini-conferences (such as the Day 0 event at the recent OSISoft user conference and the planned one-day session at the Yokogawa user group meeting), will help you learn from the successes, and mistakes, of other MESA members.

    "We are confident that the pooling of our collective energy and resources is a win-win for all members and for the future of the organization," concluded John Southcott.  "Simply put, our vision and our strategy can be better achieved together than apart. The new MESA organisation is the place for learning from others and sharing what we know.

    Mission critical control systems

    The PACSystems® RX3i Power Sync and Measurement module from GE Intelligent Platforms is designed for use in facilities such as data centers, banks, hospitals and e-commerce businesses, it is an advanced power management solution that integrates power grid synchronisation and measurement directly into mission critical control systems, enhancing the ability to maintain continuous operations.

    As a multifunction RX3i module, the Power Sync and Measurement module consolidates in one module all of the advanced power management functionality needed to ensure continuous uptime and power quality, including power phase detection, integrated ANSI protection algorithms and integrated power calculations. The module maximizes asset performance through automated grid synchronisation to a backup power source, and ensures reliability with available simulation of grid and equipment outage scenarios.

    The addition of the RX3i Power Sync and Measurement module to GE’s portfolio of PACSystems control components provides additional flexibility to OEMs designing backup power systems for paralleling switchgear and generator sets. This system design flexibility provides advanced power management functionality including power grid synchronization, integrated ANSI and power calculations, and waveform capture, in a common architecture for high reliability and low total cost of ownership as well as a single point of configuration for easy deployment.

    “In a digitised economy, reliable backup power delivery and critical cooling systems are the backbone of many enterprises,” said Mark Reitzel, Mission Critical Segment Leader, GE Intelligent Platforms. “Mission-critical facilities with multiple onsite backup power sources require advanced power management to effectively manage these electrical power systems. GE Intelligent Platforms is a leader in supplying highly reliable and innovative high availability control solutions that help customers achieve new levels of performance. GE's solutions - including patented technologies such as Quad PAC that are built on 20+ years of expertise in the mission-critical backup power and critical cooling space - offer the ideal combination of reliability, scalability, performance and flexibility.”

    Measurement of power factor and reactive power metrics by the PACSystems RX3i Power Sync and Measurement module provides the ability to collect and analyze power consumption of the elec­trical power systems over time. This critically important data can be used to avoid peak demand charges and to shed loads during peak operating periods to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

    System configuration validation and power quality monitoring is easier and faster with the module’s waveform capture function and real-time outage simulation for system reliability tests. The module’s built-in detailed fault condition view, harmonic power analysis, and capture of transient voltages and currents eliminates the need for external measurement devices enabling flexibility in system design and lower total cost of ownership.

    Safe decentralised drive system

    Metronix has launched safety-equipped versions of its unique decentralised drive solution DIS-2, which can be used as a smart drive or mounted on a servo to create a standalone smart motor. The compact new module provides a versatile and cost-effective drive and control capability for automation engineers and machine builders.

    The new Safe Torque Off functionality (PLe category 3 according to ISO 13849-1) provides machinery and automation builders with a highly-affordable means of delivering advanced machine safety features to their customers. This safety feature is also becoming highly valued in the machinery marketplace as it typically increases machine uptime.

    Since its launch the DIS-2 has become one of Metronix's most popular products. The rugged decentralized positioning control and drive module has also become a favourite option in this segment of the motion control market as it does not restrict users to particular brands of servo motor, and it can be mounted either directly on the motor or remotely to suit the available space.

    Many machine builders like decentralized motion control solutions because they simplify machine design and assembly. For example, by integrating the motor and encoder connections inside the module, DIS-2 reduces the cabling normally required. When used as a decentralized drive it also allows machine builders to reduce the size of automation control cabinets.

    DIS-2 drives can be used for speed, torque and positioning control to provide very cost effective solutions to many common processing and packaging requirements. The range of potential applications is very broad and includes simple automation solutions for common manufacturing functions such as synchronizing and sorting, materials handling and conveying systems, robotic unmanned trucks, and axes that automate auxiliary functions such as set up and guarding on machine tools or printing presses. Modular machinery or plant automation - which can be assembled easily to suit specific applications by combining modular elements - are also common applications for this form of decentralized motion control technology.

    The DIS-2 can be easily integrated in automation solutions by digital and analog interfaces as well as by exploiting DIS-2's integrated field bus communication interface. To realize multi-axis systems for higher performance and more complex movements such as interpolated motion, CANopen, PROFIBUS and EtherCAT fieldbus networking interfaces are available.

    As standard, DIS-2 modules are available with two choices of output ratings: 2A continuous/6A peak with a 230/115 VAC power supply, or 15A continuous/40A peak with a 48 VDC power supply, and come with built-in digital and analog I/O, Safe Torque Off capability, an RS232 port, plus a universal encoder interfacing capability that allows connection to Hall sensors, resolvers, analog/digital incremental encoders, or single/multiturn absolute encoders with HIPERFACE. Users can also select any one of three fieldbus options: CANopen, EtherCAT or PROFIBUS. A powerful Windows-based programming, configuration and diagnostic software tool is available to users to create embedded drive and machine control software for Metronix DIS-2 systems.

    The modules are very robust and are protected up to IP67, and can be supplied standalone, or ready-mounted onto the user's choice of brushless synchronous motor. DIS-2 is very compact, measuring 5.6 x 8 x 11.2 cm (2.2 x 3.15 x 4.4 inches). Metronix offers mounting adapter plates for numerous brands of servo motor - making it possible to configure systems for lowest cost or optimum dynamic performance. The footprint of the new safety-equipped DIS-2 is identical to previous modules, making it simple for existing users to upgrade machine designs to take advantage of the new functional safety capability.

    Metronix has been producing motion control technology for industrial machines and automotive applications for over 30 years. Its product range includes smart servo drives with integrated positioning capability, plus motion controllers and accessories that provide cost-effective solutions for multi-axis motion control and automation, and decentralized machine control requirements. A key feature of Metronix's motion products is their rich networking and encoder interfacing capability, which ensures that drives can be integrated easily into virtually any industrial system or machine - even if an OEM has custom PLC or control hardware. This feature is highly valued by many OEMs as it allows them to create and continue developing innovative brands of machine offering unique features. Metronix complements this capability with what is probably the most sophisticated and capable custom drive engineering service on the market today. Motion control products designed by Metronix are marketed under its own brand, and in custom forms by a number of well known industrial OEMs.

    The company additionally makes geophysical instruments and customer-specific digital controls for measurement and control applications. Metronix is part of the Apex Tool Group, headquartered in Sparks, Maryland, USA. The Apex Tool Group has more than 7,600 employees in over 30 countries. Metronix's design and manufacturing facility is located in Braunschweig, Germany.

    Powerful, professional looking day-to-day reports facilitated

    MatrikonOPC™ has expanded the functionality of its OPC Excel Reporter software by adding support for Microsoft™ Office 2010. Engineers, operators, and analysts can now easily work with live and archived data to create reports directly within Excel – regardless of the MS Office 2010 version or OPC connectors used. It is now easier than ever to create powerful, professional looking day-to-day reports without leaving the Excel environment.

    OPC Excel Reporter can access live data from RTUs, PLCs, and other OPC-enabled data sources and makes it directly accessible in Excel. With native support for all real-time OPC DA specifications – OPC Excel Reporter users can easily access all their real time OPC data regardless of what OPC DA server it arrives from. OPC Excel Reporter makes it equally simple for users to work with their historians and/or database archives using OPC Historical Data Access (OPC HDA) specification. By leveraging the latest Excel functionality and the power of OPC, authorized professionals can access all their data anywhere they want.

    "Getting the right information to people at the right time and in a format that helps them make better decisions is important for businesses,” said Jeff Gould, general manager at MatrikonOPC. “OPC Excel Reporter provides users with a fast, pragmatic method to do analysis for on-the-spot decisions.”

    Additional features include:
    Windows 7 compatibility
    Pre-filtering historical data for easy event analysis
    Faster performance when connecting to remote systems

    Production aids for SMEs

    CLIFF Electronics manufactures a wide range of production aids suitable for SME’s and micro-businesses.

    Widely used for electrically testing or servicing electrical and electronic products in factories or laboratories the Cliff Quicktest enables fast connection to mains power without requiring the device under test to be fitted with a plug or connector. Available without a power cord the Quicktest may be bench or rack mounted singly or in multiples for test or burn-in applications. For portable use the Quicktest is also available with a mains lead fitted with a British, European Schuko or USA Plug.

    To operate the lid is opened and the wires of a plug-less connecting lead are inserted. When the lid is closed current is passed to the equipment on test and a neon indicator shows that the connector is live and ready for use. The Quicktest is made from robust and safe materials and can be wall or bench mounted. The Cliff Quicktest is available direct or from Farnell, Conrad, Comptel, JPR, Rapid, RS Components, Buerklin , Conrad ,elfa -Distrelec and TME

    The Cliff PM-1 component forming machine is designed to cut to length and pre-form axial leaded components ready for mounting on to PCBs. Components may be fed into the machine in bandolier form or loose via the chute slots. Forming adjustments are made at the top of the machine where simple to follow instructions are displayed. The PM-1 is constructed of anodised aluminium with heavy steel sides. The cutting and bending wheels are manufactured from high carbon steel and are hardened and tempered for long life. The Cliff PM-1 can cut and bend 40,000pcs/hour and a motorised version is also available.

    The company also manufactures a range of flexible PC Workframes. Designed to facilitate component loading and soldering of small batch assembled PCBs three size options are available which will accommodate most Euro-norm sized PCBs in one or two rows depending on the PCB dimensions and size of frame. Components are held in place by anti-static foam and PCBs are retained by spring loaded bars.

    The Cliff PM-1 and Workframes are available from Rapid, Farnell and JPR components.

    The Cliff PC Rack is designed to safely hold PCBs at all stages of assembly, cleaning and testing. The width of the standard rack is adjustable between 0-270mm and additional lengths of extrusion are available to allow the width to be extended to 970mm. The PC Rack module is stackable in all directions offering no limit to the height and depth which may be constructed. A conductive version is available for use when electrostatic sensitive components require protection during handling while being assembled and tested. Cliff PC Racks are available from Rapid Electronics.

    For use in small manufacturing or prototyping facilities Cliff manufacture an economical and compact bench top Fumes Extractor. Primarily designed to be used adjacent to hand soldering and gluing operations, the on-board activated charcoal filters are cost effective and easy to replace when required. The Cliff SFE/1 is supplied with a stand for angling the machine for the most effective fumes extraction. The SFE/1 is available from JPR

    To complete their range of production aids Cliff offer a wide range of hand tools including pliers, cutters, nippers and bending tools. Manufactured with tempered steel and insulated grips the full range or tools is available through Farnell and Rapid

    Melvyn French, Sales Manager at Cliff Electronics, comments, "We have first-hand knowledge of what is required for safe and reliable manufacturing processes and our UK manufactured production and test aids are put to daily use in our own facility. Ideally suited to the large number of SMEs in the UK, customers for our production aids regularly come back for more as their own businesses grow.”

    Flow computer for Canada

    - Accurate measurement and control using field digital communications –
    Yokogawa Electric Corporation announces that the STARDOM FCN autonomous controller has been certified for use as a flow computer by Measurement Canada. This certification is based on the determination that the STARDOM FCN autonomous controller has the same accuracy as a conventional flow computer.

    Measurement Canada is an agency of Industry Canada, a department of the Canadian government. Charged with ensuring the integrity and accuracy of measurement in the Canadian marketplace, the agency is responsible for approving and certifying measuring devices for trade measurement in Canada. Devices subject to its approval are used to measure gas, electricity, mass, and volume, and are tested on a broad range of criteria including design, construction, marking, accuracy and sealing method.

    In recent years, attention has turned to natural gas because it is a clean and safe energy source. As more gas wells are brought on line, the management of production volume becomes a challenge. While conventional flow computers meet all metering requirements, there is now a trend toward embedding this functionality in PLCs and RTUs, which are highly valued for their durable construction and versatile control capabilities.

    In addition to conventional analog transmitter signals, which can be affected by noise and variations in the ambient temperature, the STARDOM FCN autonomous controller supports field digital communication protocols such as HART®, Modbus, and FOUNDATION™ fieldbus for use with a wide range of transmitters. Taking advantage of the benefits of digital communications, Yokogawa’s PRM asset management system increases maintainability while reducing both engineering time and the cost of monitoring widely distributed facilities.

    Takashi Nishijima, Director and Senior Vice President of the Industrial Automation Platform Business Headquarters, comments: “With field digital technologies that make effective use of plant information through the digitization of communications between field devices and control systems, Yokogawa is helping its customers realize the VigilantPlant concept. Yokogawa has a strong focus on gas field development and production, and this flow computing approval by Measurement Canada will allow our customers to install STARDOM units in gas fields that are spread out over a wide area, with less engineering time and a reduced maintenance workload. Field digital technology can be utilized to realize increased accuracy in gas measurement and improved controllability. This will truly enable assets to be used to maximum effectiveness.”

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Excellent Automation leader!

    Paul J. Galeski, CEO and Founder of Maverick Technologies, is to be presented with the ISA Excellence in Leadership Award during its 50th Annual ISA Honors and Awards Gala, 24 September 2012 in Orlando (FL USA).

    The Excellence in Leadership Award honors an individual who has made significant contributions to advance industry and the automation profession. Galeski, a licensed professional engineer and a Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®), is recognized for creating a paradigm shift in systems integration by establishing and leading two cutting-edge firms to global prominence in less than 10 years.

    Galeski founded Maverick Technologies in 1999 with the intent of becoming a global resource dedicated to helping manufacturing businesses reach new levels of success. Over the past decade, Maverick has worked with hundreds of world-class clients to devise unique approaches, enhance productivity, reduce costs and improve safety through the innovative application of industrial automationenterprise integration and operational consulting.

    The company traces its roots to Magnum Technologies, which Galeski co-founded in 1989. Under his leadership, Magnum grew to national US prominence in less than a decade, and was acquired by General Electric in 1997. Galeski applied this successful enterprise experience to the development of the Magnum business plan, which quickly garnered global growth and recognition. Within six years, he was able to buy back Magnum and the other constituents of the General Electric Automation Services (GEAS) group: Team Controls, Instrument Control Services and C.F. Picou Associates. In addition to its organic growth, the acquisition of GEAS, helped the company expand its business in key vertical markets and became the largest privately held, independent control systems integrator in the United States.

    As of today, Maverick has successfully completed more than 10,000 projects in 45 countries across six continents and has grown to over 500 engineers and 19 US based locations. In July 2012, they unveiled their latest innovation—PlantFloor24, the world’s first full-service, platform-independent, 24/7 hardware, software and process support solution.

    “Paul is an industrial automation visionary. He combines technical acumen with strategic focus and business intelligence, leading not one but two successful automation companies in less than a decade,” commented 2012 ISA President Robert E. Lindeman, CAP, PMP. “Paul is innovative, driven and passionate about the solutions that MAVERICK offers, but he’s also dedicated to the development of MAVERICK’s employees. He has been a contributor to several important initiatives to advance the profession of automation, including the Automation Federation’s work on the Automation Competency Model and ISA’s Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) certification program. I had the opportunity to teach a CAP preparation course at MAVERICK, and was impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of his employees. Paul has every characteristic we look for in a leader, and we’re proud to honor him with this award.”

    Galeski, who is an ISA Fellow, also holds a Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from Southern Illinois University, and is a graduate of the GE Executive Management School and the Harvard Business School Presidents' Program.

    Great place to work!

    The Great Place to Work® Institute named National Instruments number six among the top 25 best multinational workplaces in Europe. 

    José Tolovi Jr, Chairman,
    Great Place to Work Institute
    Being named among the top workplaces in Europe recognises the commitment NI makes to its employees, which directly impacts the company’s key stakeholders and is essential to the long-term growth and success of the company. At NI, the 100-year plan is built on the principle that the culture and employees are a key differentiator and long-term competitive advantage. The unique corporate culture and being honoured as a great place to work is a worldwide standard at NI. Several NI branches in Europe have been recognised as best places to work by the Great Place to Work® Institute, including NI Germany (2004-2005, 2008-2011), NI Italy (2007-2011), NI France (2009-2011) and NI UK (2006-2012). (See report on this recognition in Britain in 2010 Best place to work for five years.) 

    “We have been successful in establishing a strong culture that not only helps foster innovation but maintains a positive work environment and a business built to last in a tough economy as well as in times of growth,” said Francis Griffiths, Vice President of European Sales and Marketing for NI. “NI employees have been working hard to achieve the best for our customers and are the reason we are a great company.” 

    As NI has grown from a three-man operation to a multinational organisation, it has maintained its entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative nature that spurs innovation in every area of the business. NI also holds the philosophy that a well-balanced work environment improves employees’ well-being and inspires excellence. 

    “All companies which have been recognised as one of Europe’s Best Workplaces have established trust-based work cultures that set the standard not only in Europe but around the world,” said José Tolovi, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Great Place to Work® Institute. “This achievement is a testament to the strength of the organisations’ leadership and their commitment to building a great workplace regardless of country, industry or size. Whether economies are growing or under strain, these great companies recognise the importance of a workplace culture based on trust, pride and camaraderie and the positive impact this can have on business performance.” 

    LVDTs well suited to capture high speed and high frequency movement

    Due to their fundamental design and mode of operation LVDT's are very suitable for measuring high speed and high frequency movements on mechanical structures.

    Applications calling for high frequency movements include switch testing, recoil testing, blast testing and high frequency component testing. It is important not to confuse sample rate with frequency response. The parameter being measured is the analogue frequency response, so that, for example, a mechanical oscillation of 500 repetitions per second would be faithfully reproduced by the LVDT output. A typical RDP LVDT and amplifier combination can have a mechanical frequency response of up to 500 Hz. Where applications need to go faster, this can be enabled by modifications to the signal conditioning electronics.

    LVDTs are available in ‘spring return’, ‘guided’ and ‘unguided’ mechanical configurations which determine the LVDT frequency response. A spring return type is limited by the ratio of the mass of the amplifier compared to the strength of the spring which typically on a short transducer imposes a limit of the order of 10 Hz. A captive type transducer is not restricted in this way but since it contains guidance bearings if exposed to multi-millions of cycles, will eventually show signs of wear. Consequently the preferred transducer configuration to use for high frequency applications is the unguided type. This version can be arranged to make physical contact between the armature and the body of the transducer and so can operate indefinitely at high frequencies.

    Air monitoring consumables price reduction

    In response to public sector cutbacks, instrumentation company Air Monitors has announced that it will lower the cost of ambient air monitoring consumables until the end of 2012.

    Managing Director Jim Mills says “Our customers in the ambient monitoring market are going through a tough time, so we believe it is our responsibility to help them out; we already sell filters and other consumables at substantially lower prices than our competitors, but for the rest of this year we will make a further reduction of 10%.”

    In November last year Air Monitors issued a warning concerning the appearance of sub-standard filters on the market and Jim Mills suspects that these filters are still being offered in some places. He says "I hope that our low prices will ensure that customers are not tempted to try these poor quality imitations, because the use of genuine Thermo Scientific parts protects the quality and reliability of data from the UK's TEOM and TEOM/FDMS particulate monitoring systems.

    “Sub-standard filters have resulted in poor monitoring performance that is characterised by noisy data, offsets and erroneous concentrations."

    Best in automation

    WirelessHART products fulfill users’ requirements for simple, reliable and secure wireless automation

    Two WirelessHART® products have been named by industry users as the best among automation, control and instrumentation products introduced during 2011.

    The products, recognized as being exceptional for technological advancement, service to the industry and market impact, are the Rosemount 708 wireless acoustic transmitter from Emerson and the RAD-WHA-1/2NPT WirelessHART adapter from Phoenix Contact.

    “We are pleased by users’ recognition of these WirelessHART products and by the overwhelming industry acceptance that WirelessHART technology is receiving around the world,” says Foundation Executive Director Ron Helson. “The WirelessHART standard is a major innovation for the industry that introduced a new era for process automation and has made a significant impact on the global market.”

    Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) facilities provide optimal connectivity and easy integration

    GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of its latest manufacturing software solution, Proficy® Plant Applications 6.1. The product includes the best practices the company has implemented at many of the world’s leading companies to provide a manufacturing solution that is best-in-class. In addition, the solution’s Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) facilities provide optimal connectivity and easy integration for standards-based third-party applications. It enables users to be equipment, product, and people-centric – all on one platform.

    Proficy Plant Applications is a proven, comprehensive Operations Management software solution built on GE’s Open & Layered architecture providing modular and scalable capabilities for all types of production environments in a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) package. It is built on a foundation of 15+ years of continuous experience in solving the world’s toughest manufacturing challenges. GE’s expertise in Six Sigma and LEAN, combined with the best practices of its own manufacturing operations facilitates uncompromising quality.

    “Faced with increasing global competition, evolving consumer and regulatory demands, increased raw material and energy costs shrinking profit margins, companies are being forced to deliver a growing mix of different products more quickly and at lower cost into the marketplace,” said Don Busiek, General Manager, GE Intelligent Platforms’ Manufacturing Software. “There is intense pressure to optimize production efficiency with greater agility and control than ever before, and without large capital expenditures.”

    Proficy Plant Applications now features a Unified Manufacturing Operations Database which allows existing operations to run as they do today while new features are “trialed” safely. Traditional users will appreciate the familiarity of Plant Applications and power users can architect the future. Other features of Proficy Plant Applications 6.1 include:
    • Software wizards automate business rules to speed system deployment;
    • User interfaces consolidate information according to the users situation to reduce information overload and aid mobile workforces;
    • Existing Plant Applications users will be able to upgrade to the newest version while retaining their existing standard Plant Applications functionality.

    “Now well into its second decade, the Proficy software suite has an enduring and enviable installed base of blue-chip companies,” said Greg Gorbach, Vice President, ARC Advisory Group. “For both new and seasoned users looking to control total cost of ownership, GE's Proficy Plant Applications V6.1 adds new capabilities to support Collaborative Production Management at scale.”

    Plant Applications’ SOA provides better connectivity and easier integration for standards-based third-party applications; integration and maintenance costs are more visible and manageable with the SOA architecture. It also enables organizations to stay current with architecture changes brought on by the massive demands for more data. SOA brings a new integration platform into Plant Applications and reduces risk for CIOs as the progressive global adoption of SOA results in the extensive service enabling of IT systems.

    For multi-site, multi-region enterprise-wide deployments, Plant Applications 6.1 features dynamic context based user displays enabling fewer “displays” to serve more people further reducing the total cost of ownership of Proficy software.

    “The next decade will see the impact of social applications, the hyper-connected workforce and the ‘Internet of Things,’" continued Busiek. “Changing demographics, social infrastructures, collaboration and mobility is changing the way we work. Plant Applications 6.1 supports the underlying structure for these rapidly evolving technologies and adds further agility to our customers’ manufacturing strategies.”

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Wire harness software

    Solution provider Eplan has taken over the development and sales rights to Harness Expert, the established 3D/2D software for wire harness engineering. The contract between software developer Linius Technologies and Eplan Software & Service was signed recently. This extension to its range will allow Eplan to offer its customers even more comprehensive support for all aspects of cable project management.

    What is a wire harness?
    A wire harness is a bundle of wires which normally have plugs or terminals at the end to create electrical connections to components and devices. It is considered a passive device. By fixing the wires together, e.g. by wrapping tape around, fitting them into protective sleeves or hoses or putting them in cable conduits, the individual wires are fixed in harness form and can be fitted in the same way as a single cable. The wires are also protected from dirt, heat and mechanical strain with a view to securing electrical properties such as insulation and conductivity throughout the service life of the product. Unlike conventional (sheathed) cable, wire harnesses are developed on a project or application-specific basis depending on the connections required. The benefits of this approach include optimisation of the space and weight within the installation space and ideal conditions for connection requirements. Also pre-fitting/mass production can be achieved even for small batch sizes.
    The strategic purchase of the Harness Expert software will provide considerable potential in the domestic and international markets. It will allow Eplan to tackle new segments of industry, including apparatus engineering, rail and specialist vehicle technology, aviation, telecommunications and medical technology. At the same time, there is an increasing demand from within its own customer base for the implementation of 1:1 connections via wire harnesses, as the number of circuit-board based units in control cabinets and devices is increasing constantly. This new software is the perfect complement to Eplan Electric P8, the company's own CAE solution which has previously handled the engineering of single wires and sheathed cables in the control cabinet and field components. Customers can benefit from this consistent process integration, as all phases of the engineering process are supported, from planning through engineering through to wire harness design and production. "The purchase of the Harness Expert software makes our portfolio broad enough to cover all engineering requirements within the global market. It also gives us a considerable competitive advantage, especially in the international market," said Maximilian Brandl, Chairman of the Executive Board at Eplan Software & Service. The solution provider is planning to distribute the software internationally under the name of "Eplan Harness Expert" from autumn 2012.

    Open for the IT market
    Harness Expert is an easy-to-use software suite which fully supports all aspects of wire harness engineering. Typical harness or wiring loom design processes are shown by the software in 3D. All 2D production documents are produced by the system, which allows comprehensive openness when it comes to the import and export of third-party systems in design, administration and production. Integration between Eplan Electric P8 and Harness Expert provides all relevant wiring information, such as wire specifications, source/target information and bundle and socket assignments. This integrative workflow reduces engineering time and costs.

    One workflow: design of mechanical systems and wire harness
    The software provides different flexible approaches to designing a wire harness. Typically, this involves importing a 3D model from a conventional 3D CAD system, which then checks both the routes and design aspects such as clamps, clips, safety measures required and length calculations within the digital model. This does away with the time-consuming and expensive construction of prototypes. As an alternative to importing, things can be done in a simpler way. For example, if a wire harness has been laid within an imported 3D model, the design of the 3D model and the wire harness can be passed back to the mechanical design department. The advantage: any impediments to the wire harness as a function of the design can be detected in the virtual model and measures taken immediately - with no need for physical prototypes at all. If 3D models are not available for process-related or organisational reasons, a wire harness can be designed quickly and easily within Harness Expert’s 3D editor.

    Reports and test runs
    Harness Expert uses the 3D or 2D wire harness layout to produce a wide range of reports required for quotation, ordering and production. Complete or individual parts lists, plug and splice lists, wiring and connection lists and reports on working processes in order to calculate time and costs. The data can be transferred directly to cable finishing systems such as Komax. In order to validate the wire harness design, the system has extensive, practical testing and checking functions for bending radii, fill levels, cable lengths, bundles without wires and connectors. The aim is to identify possible inconsistency and errors at an early stage, i.e. prior to prototype production and simplify corrections.

    Torque test ensures reliability of steerable drills

    Hydrocarbon drilling accuracy has been increased tenfold by using adapted advanced aerospace guidance systems. And an equally innovative torque sensor ensures efficiency during the equipment’s regular programmed maintenance.
    Gyrodata's high accuracy surveys assure precise wellbore targeting and reservoir delineation, and prevent costly problems such as missed objectives and wellbore collisions in multiwell structures. As the world’s leading supplier of precision wellbore survey services to the energy, mining, environmental and construction industries, the company maintains state of the art manufacturing and test facilities in Houston (TX USA), Aberdeen and Barrow-in-Furness (GB). Texas serves the Americas and Britain looks after the rest of the world.

    “We have about 60 Well-Guide RSS (rotary steerable systems) sets here in Barrow and dispatch them to oil field operations far and near, along with our specialist engineers,” explains Ian Carruthers of Gyrodata. “A typical job lasts about two weeks, and when the kit comes back there is an intensive two weeks completely rebuilding it.”

    A key operation in the overhaul process is torque testing the rotating parts using a specialist rig, at the heart of which is a TorqSense from Sensor Technology in Banbury (GB). Any variation from tight torque tolerance specifications suggest that there might be something needing attention, perhaps a sticking seal or a failing bearing.

    “Not even the smallest of faults is allowed. Failure halfway through a complex rotary steerable or surveying operation in a remote oil field would lead to enormous on-costs – so we don’t send out equipment unless we are 110 percent certain of its performance.”

    Well-Guide RSS is the industry's first and only fully automated rotary steerable drilling system with 3D automated control near the bit. The system can drill highly accurate trajectories using pre-programmed courses with full downhole closed-loop control that allows real time trim steering during the drilling operation.

    This technology makes survey and extraction drilling far more predictable and reliable, pulling huge amounts of time and cost out of the overall operation.

    “Similarly, we have to be very efficient at overhauling the returned equipment,” explains Ian. “Often it is due out again fairly promptly, plus there is a steady stream of urgent jobs that we have to rise to in order to maintain our service commitment to client companies.
    “TorqSense helps with this because it is a plug and play non-contact technology that saves the need to faff around setting up slip rings. Basically we load the Well-Guide into the rig, switch on and run a suite of tests at different speeds. The data is collected on the fly and fed straight into a computer for immediate analysis.”

    At its heart TorqSense uses tiny piezo-ceramic combs, known as Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) devices fixed to the shaft of the equipment under test. These distort in proportion to the instantaneous torque level in the shaft as it rotates. The distortion creates RF data signals that are transmitted via a radio frequency coupling rather than by slip rings or other mechanical contact.

    This data signal in turn is transmitted to the control unit, from which it can be read on an alpha-numeric display or, as Gyrodata do, transferred to a PC for analysis and profile building using a customised version of Sensor Technology’s TorqView software programme.

    TorqSense comes in a wide range of sizes, the larger being used in many applications at the heavy duty end of industry, while the smaller ones are found in applications such as fine chemical dosing and lab-based research. In all cases the reliability of collecting high speed real-time digital torque data and TorqView’s instant display makes analysis and data logging simple, fast and straightforward.
    Gyrodata originally trialled TorqSense in its British plant and was so impressed that it bought more and encouraged its American engineering colleagues in Houston, Texas to adopt the technology too.

    Ian says TorqSense fits well with the Gyrodata ethos: “Our role is to make life simpler for our customers out in the field. To do this we have to make life simpler for ourselves - and TorqSense fits this bill superbly.
    “We are expanding steadily and when we moved to new larger premises recently the TorqSense rig proved completely mobile and instantly reliable.”

    In search of the Higgs particle

    Siemens Scada system supports Cern

    The Cern European Nuclear Research Centre in Meyrin near Geneva (CH) is the site of the world’s biggest particle physics laboratory and accelerator centre. Cern is home to the world’s biggest particle accelerator, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Alongside the control, monitoring and documentation of experiments conducted in the LHC, since 2001 all technical processes at Cern have been monitored and controlled by a Scada system from the Simatic HMI family: Simatic WinCC Open Architecture (WinCC OA).

    The scientific community is making ever greater use of high-end industrial standard systems. The decision taken at Cern to use the Simatic WinCC OA was down to its extreme stability and connectivity, its open system architecture and its resistance to external disturbances, as well as its capacity for coping reliably with data overload situations.

    The demands made on the Scada system are enormous: Over ten million I/O (input and output) monitoring channels are processed by hundreds of computer systems using a widely distributed control system. Its ability to handle a large number of channels and high volumes of data makes the Simatic WinCC OA highly suited for networked and redundant high-end control systems. The Scada system ensures continuous, high performance communication right from the field level – in other words from the machine – to the control centre.

    The open communication concept behind WinCC OA permits the integration of the most diverse components using OPC (Object Linking and Embedding OLE for process control), different field buses and telecontrol protocols. WinCC OA can also be used alongside Windows on Linux and Solaris operating systems, and offers scope for long-term data archiving using database management system software Oracle RdB, which features hierarchical compression stages and balancing functions. At the Cern, for instance, 200,000 value changes are processed per second in an Oracle Cluster.

    Siemens subsidiary ETM professional control GmbH based in Eisenstadt (A) has developed and marketed the Scada system Simatic WinCC Open Architecture for over 25 years.  As part of their Simatic HMI family, the Scada system monitors and controls applications requiring a high degree of client-specific adaptability, large and/or complex applications and projects that impose specific system requirements and functions.

    Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is a large-scale research centre near Meyrin in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. Cern is concerned studying the basic constituents of matter and the interaction between elementary particles. This addresses the fundamental question of how the universe was formed and how it works. Large hadron colliders are used to accelerate particles to almost the speed of light and to cause them to collide with one other. A large number of different particle detectors are used to reconstruct the trajectory of the particles generated by these collisions. This allows conclusions to be drawn about the nature of both the collided and the newly formed particles. This process is an enormous technical undertaking, both in terms of the manufacture and operation of the equipment and also of the extreme demands made on computing performance for evaluating the large volumes of data. This is another reason why Cern is operated and financed on an international level.