Friday, December 7, 2012

New fixings for housings

New fixing elements for full metal housings extend flexibility of DIN 41612 connector family

Harting has added a range of new fixing elements to extend the flexibility of the D20 full metal housings used with the company’s DIN 41612 connector family.

In developing the Harting D20 full metal housing for DIN 41612 connectors, the company has concentrated on flexibility and handling convenience. For example, where components are installed in difficult-to-reach or confined spaces, internal hexagonal screws are used as fixing elements for the D20 housing to ensure that they can be screwed in easily. Even if the angle is less than 25°, a ball-head screwdriver can still be used.

These new fixing elements not only extend the range of housings available: they also offer further locking options. The new fixing elements create a robust mechanical connection thanks to their established screwing technology combined with a recently developed alternative screwless locking option. The D20 full metal housings can be secured manually with an audible click – no additional tool is needed. This makes locking and unlocking more convenient and faster.

The locking levers simplify operation significantly, and can also be used to aid insertion or removal of daughter cards in a 19-inch rack. When a large number of tightly packed daughter cards are used, this easily accessible removal aid is a great help because less force is needed.

The permanent electrical connection provided by the fixing element ensures that the housing and the racking system are always in contact, giving enhanced screening properties with attenuation of over 30 dB via the D20 housing.

The robust and vibration-proof D20 housing range is the system of choice for railway applications. The new fixing element is designed to be vibration-proof, and the plastic used for the ejection lever has the fire classification and smoke index suitable for railway applications: I2/F1 under NFF 16-101.

Safety ensured in nuclear plant

Portable hydrogen detector protects safety of welding process

A nuclear power station in Washington, USA, recently purchased a portable hydrogen analyser from H2scan for the detection of hydrogen during a cask storage welding process. The analyser is able to provide immediate indication of any hydrogen leak and as such represents a vital component of the plant’s safety strategy.

The analyser, a HY-ALERTA™ 500 (available this side of the Atlantic from Quantitech),  is highly sensitive to hydrogen and provides an almost instantaneous warning of any hydrogen leak with a unique visual LED array on the sensor probe. Readings are taken every 10 minutes for the duration of the lid to shell welding process, which typically takes 14 hours.

As a result of a recent procedural change, nuclear facilities are required to purge with an inert gas during welding operations and argon is used during the cask welding process. Importantly, the HY-ALERTA™ 500 is unaffected by argon; it does not require oxygen to operate and is able to function correctly in a wide variety of environmental conditions.

With two sensing elements on the same semiconductor die, the HY-ALERTA™ 500 can detect hydrogen leaks as low as 15 ppm and will not saturate or be destroyed when detecting high concentrations of hydrogen up to 100%. The solid-state sensor does not incorporate any consumables or moving parts and provides a 10 year expected lifespan.

Explaining the advantages of being able to monitor for hydrogen without oxygen, the power station supervisor of reactor maintenance, said “H2scan’s HY-ALERTA™ 500 was very reliable, easy to use, and improved our cask welding process. Without this instrument it would not be possible to detect a hydrogen build up during the cask welding process. A flash or burn-through is not only dangerous; it would cause a stoppage of the entire facility.

“Implementing H2scan’s analyser allowed operators to closely monitor the hydrogen concentration in real-time and halt the welding process if hydrogen was present.”

600 Watt PSU

1U single and dual output versions, up to 89% efficiency

Gresham Power Electronics has announced its new eFO600 range of 600W low profile, high power density power supplies.

Designed in a rugged 1U high chassis the eFO600 measures just 98 x 173 x 38 mm, features a universal 85–264VAC input with PFC and is RoHS compliant. The output provides for active load current share and has an on-board O-ring diode for N+1 parallel operation.

The primary output voltage features remote sense and may be specified as 12V, 24V, 28V, 32V, 48V or 56V with an optional second output available at 3.3V, 5V, 12V or 24V, up to 5A or 50W maximum. A further option is a 5V standby output.

The Gresham eFO600 meets full international regulatory and EMC approvals (with external line filter), and has a typical full load efficiency of 89% at 230VAC. All models have over temperature protection and system signals and commands including inhibit (on/off), output fail, input fail and an optional I²C bus output. Operating temperature range is -40°C to +50°C with linear de-rating to 50% output power at 70°C and MTBF is calculated as 500,000 hours (300,000 hours on 12V version) minimum, per BELCOR 332, issue 6 specification @ 30°C.

Gareth Owen, Sales Manager at Gresham Power Electronics, says: “Providing 600 watts in a space saving 1U form factor our new eFO600 power supply offers system designers a flexible, space saving power solution.”

Atomic absorption analysis: Application Notes

Analytik Jena has published two application notes highlighting the capability of the direct solid sampling technique for the atomic absorption analysis of nickel based alloys. The analysis of specific trace elements in alloys that are used to manufacture aircraft turbines is critical in ensuring the reliability of these components.

The two application notes are available on reques. One covers the determination of Ag, Sn, Cu, Mg and Cd in a nickel-based alloy and the other covers the determination of Pb, Bi and Se in a nickel-based alloy. Both reports highlight the use of the solid sampling techniques in conjunction with the contr®AA 600 high resolution continuum source furnace atomic absorption spectrometer.

This combination brings a double benefit for rapid, accurate analysis. Firstly, the use of a single high intensity continuum radiation source in the contr®AA 600 makes all atomic absorption lines from 190 – 900 nm available, allowing the sequential analysis of each element without the need to change lamps. In addition, direct solid sampling speeds up analysis by eliminating the need for time-consuming conversion into liquid samples. Direct solid vaporisation combined with a powerful background correction, allows interference-free and precise determination of trace elements in the alloy material.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marine & coastal business!

Water monitoring specialist Xylem Analytics has appointed David Goldsmith as Director of Marine and Coastal Business.

David has extensive experience in marine technologies, having worked closely with AADI for many years in the oceanographic sector.

 He will be responsible for bringing the YSI, SonTek and AADI brands together under the Xylem Analytics umbrella and says "This is an exciting opportunity because each of these three brands is a major player in the oceanography market and the new division will therefore provide a broader capability to meet the marine monitoring requirements of our customers."

Humidity in harsh environments

Accurate relative humidity and temperature measurement for harsh environments

Maintaining reliable RH measurements in harsh or corrosive environments is notoriously difficult as the conditions themselves degrade the sensors and equipment, often in short time-periods. Michell Instruments’ DT722 RH and temperature transmitter provides a solution to this problem.
To best meet specific application needs, the DT722 series is available in digital (DT722) and analogue (DT722-X18) models. The digital electronic platform version of the DT722 gives high performance measurement with excellent RH accuracy and delivers reliable, consistent and accurate results even over changing ambient conditions.

The DT722-X18 is an analogue through path measurement device with exceptional mechanical toughness. Field adjustment is remarkably quick and easy, making it a good choice for use in all types of aftermarket service and a robust favourite with the nuclear industry. Quick and simple serviceability and high stability add to the appeal of this sturdy device.

The DT722 transmitters have been designed for use in severe industrial environments. They are exceptionally reliable and robust with a strong, stainless steel housing providing protection against rough handling or accidental damage, IP65 (NEMA 4) ingress protection and a probe which can withstand temperatures up to 150°C.

The transmitters are for duct mounting in the most suitable place for the application. They have excellent chemical resistance for longer use in contaminated areas and are available with a selection of filter materials to afford best protection to the sensors based on specific environmental conditions.

Michell products are designed for high performance, long term stability and flexibility in application – all to provide the user with exceptional peace of mind to keep processes efficient and quality high. Reduced calibration requirements keep the cost of ownership low compared with many equivalent technologies and minimal self-heating within the instruments ensures high precision measurement and low errors due to changes in temperature. Configurable outputs and a wide range of options give the user the flexibility to get the best match for a process.

Michell has a successful history of working closely with its customers to provide customised solutions where needed. Michell delivers innovative solutions that meet real-world needs and the DT722 series is truly designed to give assured, reliable performance in robust packages for the harshest of industrial environments.

Michell Instruments is a pioneer of relative humidity (RH) and dew-point measurement technology with continued development programmes and over 35 years of experience. It offers a wide range of RH measurement products to best suit specific process requirements along with in-depth application support and customisation services if needed. They are represented in Ireland by Instrument Technology.

Tar tank level

Rosemount® Guided Wave Radar diagnostics identify potential degradation of signal in challenging tar tank level application

Red Arrow Products Company LLC has replaced unreliable capacitance-based level measurement devices with Guided Wave Radar (GWR) transmitters from Emerson Process Management. The Rosemount® 5300 Series GWR is used to monitor the level of wood oil in a process tank and features advanced diagnostics that continuously monitor the GWR probe for signal degradation caused by product build-up. The accurate and reliable data provided has enabled Red Arrow to schedule its maintenance to clean the probe, reducing costs and increasing throughput by avoiding unexpected shutdowns.
Red Arrow produces natural smoke condensates and flavourings at its manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, (WIS USA)

"In the past, occasional unplanned shutdowns due to probe failures or coating issues would upset our process – reducing product throughput and increasing energy use," said Barry Schardt, Red Arrow Equipment Manager/Electrical Engineer. "Since we installed Emerson’s Guided Wave Radar transmitters about one year ago, we have not had premature shutdowns during a production run due to level probe failure."

Red Arrow produces natural smoke condensates and flavourings at its manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, USA. The wood oil is held in a 1.5-meter-tall collection tank that must maintain a constant level in an evaporation process. The level in the tank was being measured using a sensor based on capacitance technology. Although this technology usually performs well in applications that operate at high temperatures and with viscous/sticky products, coating issues were causing unreliable level measurements that resulted in unplanned shutdowns.

This is a particularly challenging level application, as the tank operates under vacuum conditions and the measurement device is subject to vapours and mist that normally cause level measurement problems. Red Arrow also had concerns about the problem of build-up of a sticky tar-like substance on the probe in the tank, which could cause signal degradation.

To address these issues, Red Arrow upgraded the capacitance-based device to a Rosemount 5300 GWR with a single rigid probe and Signal Quality Metrics (SQM). GWR devices are unaffected by changes in pressure and vapour space conditions, and SQM provides diagnostic information that relates directly to the coating on the probe and to changing surface conditions. These values can be assigned as process variables and tracked over time.

Red Arrow personnel can track the Signal Quality Metrics and use the data to maintain ideal operating conditions, improving product quality over extended continuous run periods. The reliable level measurements have reduced operational costs by minimising the risk of unscheduled shutdowns or equipment damage caused by inaccurate level measurements. Maintenance costs have also been reduced by enabling a preventive maintenance programme that extends the period between shutdowns to carry out cleaning of the probe.

Light harvesting research

Researchers at the University of Connecticut have been using the LP920 flash photolysis spectrometer from Edinburgh Instruments as part of their research into plant light harvesting complexes1. A paper has been published with collaborators at Kwansei Gakuin University  (JAP) examining the efficiency of variants of the Peridinin-Chlorophyll a-Protein (PCP) complex in providing photoprotection from singlet oxygen formation. PCP’s highly effective protective capacity against these photodynamic reactions is extremely important since singlet oxygen can directly provoke cellular damage in plants by rapidly oxidizing cellular components.

The LP920 was used to record transient triplet-minus-singlet absorption spectra of chlorophyll a with different peridinin molecular analogs in polar and non-polar solvents, allowing the dynamics of the reactions to be investigated. Although the results showed that the spectral bands are shifted depending on the molecular analog used, the dynamics of triplet state decay remain very similar for each analog meaning that there is no marked difference between them in terms of their ability to protect against singlet oxygen formation.

The LP920 is a computer-controlled, fully automated flash photolysis spectrometer, equipped with a large sample chamber to house a variety of sample holders. Excitation pulses at 660 -670 nm for these experiments were provided using an Nd:YAG-pumped laser light source. A pulsed, high-intensity 450 W Xenon lamp was used for the transient absorption spectral

Flowmeters aid shampoo products!

Coriolis flowmeters provide high accuracy results under vacuum conditions in challenging two-phase flow (entrained gas) applications 

Unilever has installed six Micro Motion® ELITE® and F-Series Coriolis flowmeters from Emerson Process Management to measure the mass flow of silicone feedstock used to manufacture shampoo products. The flowmeters’ highly accurate mass flow measurements have improved product quality and reduced production time by 10–15 per cent at the Unilever facility in Gebze, Turkey - one of the world’s largest manufacturing plants for detergent, household and personal care products.

A new automatic silicone mixer line for shampoo products is part of a major investment programme by Unilever to meet increased demand for these products, including its Clear®, Clear Cosmo, Dove® and Elidor® brands. The accuracy of the blending process on the mixer line is critically important to the quality of the final products, but after the new mixing line was started, Unilever discovered that the original Coriolis flowmeters (which were not Emerson products) were unable to measure feedstock flow because of entrained gas in the silicone.

To ensure production could continue with the best product quality, Unilever decided to use a process of weigh scales and load cells to replace the unsuccessful flow measurement system. However, the resulting handling, transport and storage of over 7000 barrels of silicone per year increased production time, operating costs, and health and safety risks. Wastage increased because 1–2 per cent of the silicone was left in the empty barrels. The equipment used to handle the barrels also increased plant energy usage and costs. Most importantly, the silicone measurement accuracy from the weigh scales was lower than expected and not sufficient to meet Unilever’s exacting quality standards.

To eliminate the weighing process, Unilever required a highly accurate measurement system based on mass flow. However, the presence of entrained gas in the silicone feedstock used in the blending process made this a challenging application - as demonstrated by the failure of the previous Coriolis meters. This challenge was compounded by the need to operate at a vacuum of -700 mbarg, to help separate bubbles from the silicone and improve the quality of mixing. Unilever evaluated several types of Coriolis flowmeters supplied by various vendors, but the tests were unsuccessful under these extreme operating conditions.

To address these issues, Emerson worked with Unilever to investigate how Micro Motion ELITE Coriolis flowmeters, which were not included in the previous evaluation, would perform in the same conditions. Emerson’s Micro Motion ELITE Coriolis flowmeters feature low-frequency flow sensors that increase flow accuracy in the presence of two-phase flow. MVD (multivariable digital) technology considerably improves the accuracy and stability of the Coriolis signals from the flow sensor. Enhanced signal processing, as well as sensor stability and design, ensures accurate measurements even under entrained gas conditions. Extensive onsite tests proved the performance of the Micro Motion ELITE Coriolis flowmeter.

"Our tests concluded that Micro Motion ELITE Coriolis flowmeters are the only meters that can successfully measure silicone feedstock flow with high density bubbles," said Atilla Bozkaya, Unilever project control and system design engineer. "The meters maintained measurement accuracy despite operating in the -700 mbarg vacuum needed in this application."

Installing the Micro Motion flowmeters enabled Unilever to eliminate the process of weigh scales and load cells, reducing operating costs by 17 per cent. In addition, the reduced handling of the silicone feedstock has reduced health and safety issues and minimized the risk of accidental spills that could damage the environment.

Based on the performance of Emerson’s Coriolis flowmeters, Unilever installed an additional 12 Micro Motion ELITE and F-Series Coriolis flowmeters at Gebze when the capacity of the line was increased with two more mixers. Unilever is also expanding the use of Micro Motion products to other similar harsh applications and locations. For example, a Micro Motion ELITE Coriolis flowmeter was recently installed at a Unilever plant in Nigeria to measure detergent slurry.

Requirement definition

Autoscribe has launched a new ‘Requirements Definition’ service to help in the early stages of choosing the most appropriate LIMS for a particular application. This new service will deliver a comprehensive User Requirements document at an extremely competitive price compared to large consultancy companies.

Autoscribe’s founder and CEO, John Boother, explained: “One of the key aspects of a LIMS project is the definition of requirements, which should be produced in collaboration with all relevant departments and personnel that will be involved in the project. With our wealth of expertise in LIMS projects, we take great care to ensure that the report produced is balanced and independent and does not contain recommendations for any commercially available systems, thereby allowing the customer to be free to approach any LIMS vendor to see how their system would fulfil the requirements.”

The Requirements Definition service includes customer site visits, detailed discussions with all the appropriate personnel to identify all of the essential components as well as the desirable ones, before the production of an initial User Requirements document including, where needed, flow diagrams related to the work patterns and responsibilities. This is then reviewed by the customer and revised through several iterations if necessary before the final document is delivered.
Failure to adequately define user requirements can result in a LIMS project collapsing or failing to deliver the expected benefits. Even worse, it can result in projects going over budget, with additional non-budgeted ongoing costs for IT consultants on site for many months after delivery of the system.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Twister turns!

Unique robotic tube bending system can dramatically speed production

A unique robot-based CNC tube bending machine that provides metal fabricators with unprecedented flexibility for manufacturing complex preassembled tubular parts is now available from Unison.

Known as the 'Twister', the machine combines a high performance multi-axis industrial robot with an exceptionally compact and versatile all-electric tube bending station. It is ideal for companies seeking to streamline their manufacturing operations by eliminating process stages, or wishing to accelerate small batch size production of specialist parts by minimizing tool changeovers.

The Twister robotic tube bender has been launched following the new joint sales and marketing initiative announced by Unison and Rosenberger, which aims to provide customers with the widest choice of all-electric tube bending and allied processing automation on the market, backed by extensive applications support expertise. Both companies are renowned innovators of tube bending automation, and their combined range of all-electric, servomotor-controlled machines now covers tube diameters from 16 to 200 mm.

Conventionally, most tube bending operations are performed on straight sections of tube, and other components that make up the final assembled product such as tube fittings or other rigid tubes or hoses are added after bending in subsequent process stages. To a large degree, this manufacturing sequence is dictated by the tube bender, which grips the tube with an in-line collet to progressively push it past the bending head and rotate it for any out-of-plane bends. As a consequence, the tube material needs to be straight and free from obstructions, and bends can only be made in an order that corresponds to the direction of tube advancement.

Developed by Rosenberger specifically to provide a more flexible solution than conventional systems for bending preassembled tubular parts, the Twister uses a fully articulated six-axis industrial robot for all tube transport, material feed and rotate functions. The robot arm is equipped with pneumatically-powered gripper fingers - which are part-specific and exchangeable under program control - and handles all X, Y and Z axis movement of the tube as it is being bent.

All axes are driven by servo motors and capable of extremely precise positioning - tubes can be bent to within 0.05 degrees, with a repeatable feed accuracy of just 0.01 mm. Unlike conventional tube benders, the grippers can relinquish their hold and reposition during the bending cycle while the tube is clamped - for example, to hold the other end of the tube - enabling complex shapes to be formed in any desired sequence.

The pedestal-mounted bending station can be equipped with up to five bending heads to facilitate uninterrupted production of parts with multiple bend radii, and is capable of right and left bending to any angle up to 210 degrees. Changeover of tools and part programs is simple and can be accomplished in less than five minutes. Like the robot, the bending heads are driven by high accuracy, energy-efficient servo motors, and offer fully programmable speed profiles for optimum control of material flow.

All machine setup and operation is controlled via an ergonomic HMI, based on a mobile touch-sensitive panel with an integral PC. Part programs can be generated using the panel PC or any standard office computer, and verified before downloading to the bending machine's PLC-based CNC controller. The
software provides a unified environment, capitalizing on the tight functional integration of the robot and bending station to ensure that its programming is as simple as a conventional all-electric bending machine.

According to Alan Pickering of Unison, "Rosenberger has an installed base of over 1000 bending machines, with a particularly significant presence in the automotive industry. To date, the company has supplied 40 Twister machines to this sector, for manufacturing a wide range of parts including seat brackets, head restraint frames and preassembled components such as hydraulic power transmission lines. We believe that the machine's use of a robot as an intrinsic part of the bending process, rather than just for handling, has considerable merit for a wide range of tube bending applications. The Twister can easily be integrated with other process automation such as cutting or end-forming machines, and is readily scalable to suit large automated manufacturing cells."

Unison currently offers three versions of Twister, capable of bending steel tubes with outside diameters of 20, 30 and 50 mm. The 20 and 30 mm models can handle tube thicknesses up to 2 mm, while the larger model can accommodate a tube thickness of 4 mm.

Foil seal integrity inspection

A novel multi-camera, multi-illumination high speed inspection system, has been developed by Olmec-UK, to check the integrity of the foil seal on the plastic lids that are used to seal a wide range of glass and plastic containers in the food, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. These foil seals provide an air-tight seal to protect against contamination, humidity, tampering and leakages in order to maintain product freshness and increase shelf life. This type of lid and seal are used on a wide range of products from milk bottles to sauces such as ketchup, powdered drinks and tablet containers.

The foil is inspected to make sure that there are no blisters, dents or creases in it and that it has not lifted from the rim before the lid is sent to the induction heated container sealing station. This inspection is a critical part of the quality control process.

The lids are produced with the foil sealed into the lid ready for subsequent sealing to the container. Damage to the foil can occur during transit. The challenges faced in designing a high-speed vision solution included the highly reflective nature of the foil material, the variety of possible defects and their random orientation as well as the depth of the foil inside the lid.
In order to capture all of the defects, the foil needs to be illuminated from different directions and imaged by 3 cameras positioned at different angles to the foil. The lighting runs in a sequence of 3 illumination combinations for each of the three cameras, thus producing nine individual images for each lid inspected. Full frame images are captured using Genie HM 1400 cameras from Teledyne DALSA, allowing the 9 images to be captured for analysis in just 48 milliseconds for high volume inspection.

The new system can be readily integrated into a production line environment, with an air knife mechanism or similar used to fire rejected lids from the line. The system features Olmec’s new modular user-interface for Windows®, which is designed for use by production engineers rather than vision experts. This new interface, which provides multi-level security, allows easy review of images from failed components and can also be set up for remote diagnostics, if required.

Olmec Technical Director, Robert Pounder said: “Olmec is frequently asked to provide solutions of this nature by a wide range of customers who need to integrate vision into their production lines. For this reason, we have very recently developed our ‘Quality Station’ product. This can be configured for a wide range of inspection applications and features an integral transport and reject mechanism. With a footprint of just 1.2 m x 0.7 m, the Quality Station can be easily added to the manufacturing environment to provide in-line inspection.”

Accelerating results!

On-line Process for Supplier Selection

ARC STAR (Solutions That Accelerate Results), a domain-specific supplier selection service has been launched by ARC Advisory. This on-line, cloud-based, hosted solution provides easy-to-use tools that define a process and selection criteria for making strategic supplier selections. ARC clients can now make use of ARC’s proven supplier selection process, in an on-line, hosted, and guided environment. ARC STAR will be available for most key enterprise, automation, and manufacturing software application areas. At this release, ARC STAR is available for Advanced Process Control (APC), Analytics for Operational Excellence, Batch Control Systems, Collaborative Production Management/MES (for Discrete and Process Industries), and Distributed Control Systems (DCS).

ARC STAR – Supplier Selection Service guides users through a step-by-step process selecting and evaluating suppliers and their products against specific application and cultural requirements. The process guides the user through the project and team definition, reviewing and editing ARC-provided selection criteria and supplier questions, weighing selection criteria, developing a supplier Request for Information (RFI) list, evaluating supplier responses, and developing a final ranking of RFI results. ARC STAR then fully documents the process and results for management review and approval. ARC STAR helps ensure inclusive, fact-based, impartial supplier evaluations and selections, free of the user bias issues that typically hamper these activities. In addition, ARC estimates that ARC STAR can reduce the cost and effort of a supplier selection process by well over 50 percent.

“ARC STAR is a new area of value for ARC end user clients. We have been involved in many custom supplier selection processes over the past 25 years and have used this expertise to create a simple, cost-effective service, for others to use,” says ARC President Andy Chatha. “The ARC STAR offering will expand from the current six domains to over a dozen in the coming months.”

Breakthrough in augmented reality contact lens

Strictly speaking this is hardly automation but it is a fascinating glimpse into work on LCD displays and applications in the development of contact lenses.

The Centre of Microsystems Technology (CMST), imec’s associated laboratory at Ghent University (B), has developed an innovative spherical curved LCD display, which can be embedded in contact lenses. The first step toward fully pixelated contact lens displays, this achievement has potential wide-spread applications in medical and cosmetic domains.

Unlike LED-based contact lens displays, which are limited to a few small pixels, imec’s innovative LCD-based technology permits the use of the entire display surface. By adapting the patterning process of the conductive layer, this technology enables applications with a broad range of pixel number and sizes, such as a one pixel, fully covered contact lens acting as adaptable sunglasses, or a highly pixelated contact lens display.

The first prototype presented today contains a patterned dollar sign, depicting the many cartoons that feature people or figures with dollars in their eyes. It can only display rudimentary patterns, similar to an electronic pocket calculator. In the future, the researchers envision fully autonomous electronic contact lenses embedded with this display. These next-generation solutions could be used for medical purposes, for example to control the light transmission toward the retina in case of a damaged iris, or for cosmetic purposes such as an iris with a tunable color. In the future, the display could also function as a head-up display, superimposing an image onto the user’s normal view. However, there are still hurdles to overcome for broader consumer and civilian implementation.

“Normally, flexible displays using liquid crystal cells are not designed to be formed into a new shape, especially not a spherical one. Thus, the main challenge was to create a very thin, spherically curved substrate with active layers that could withstand the extreme molding processes,” said Jelle De Smet, the main researcher on the project. “Moreover, since we had to use very thin polymer films, their influence on the smoothness of the display had to be studied in detail. By using new kinds of conductive polymers and integrating them into a smooth spherical cell, we were able to fabricate a new LCD-based contact lens display.”

Prof. Herbert De Smet, who is supervising CMST’s display group further comments: “Now that we have established the basic technology, we can start working towards real applications, possibly available in only a few years time."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New chairman

Richard Barnes is the new Chairman of the Fieldbus Foundation UK Marketing Committee (FFUKMC). Currently AMS Consultant - Strategic Services Group Europe, at Emerson Process Management, he replaces Mike O’Neill of R.Stahl who stepped down from the position after nearly two years, following a career move.

Mike Keightley of Yokogawa has taken over the position of Vice-Chairman from Barnes.

The FFUKMC was formally established in 1999 to promote an increased awareness and adoption of FOUNDATION™ technology throughout Great Britain and Ireland through a range of end user focused activities including technology seminars and roadshows, technical demonstrations and support, and trade show and conference participation. Barnes has been an active member of the FFUKMC since June 2011 when he took over the position of Vice-Chairman.

Fully supported by the Fieldbus Foundation EMEA Executive Advisory Council (EAC) and the Fieldbus Foundation EMEA Steering Committee, the FFUKMC plays an important role in promoting the primary value propositions of FOUNDATION technology, which include process integrity, business intelligence and open, scalable integration of information across process manufacturing plants.

Marc Van Pelt, Vice-President – Fieldbus Foundation EMEA Operations, welcomed Barnes into his new role. “I am delighted that Richard has offered to take on an increased role within the UK marketing committee. His enthusiasm will continue to build on the achievements of the past few years. We are very grateful to Mike O’Neill for his contribution to these efforts and we wish him well in his new role.”

Barnes studied electrical and electronic engineering and has worked with Emerson Process Management for over 25 years in various roles with Rosemount and Fisher-Rosemount system projects and asset optimisation business units. In his present role at the Nottingham facility, he supports the asset management and optimisation strategies of his European customer base.

Over the next 12 months, Barnes is keen to clarify to users and prospective users of FOUNDATION technology how effective the technology can be in process plant control and monitoring solutions – especially in the significant reduction of capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX). He is also committed to promoting the importance of up-front project planning and the adoption of industry best practices in order to maximise the success and maintenance of a FOUNDATION project implementation.

They havw announced the first of its 2013 schedule of end user events – a study day in London on Tuesday 26 February, 2013. With a morning session focused on an introduction to FOUNDATION technology, a lunch break with tabletop displays and additional break-out sessions, and an afternoon session offering a more advanced programme, delegates will be able to tailor the day to suit their own requirements. Visit the FFUKMC events webpage for more information.

The FFUKMC recently welcomed Rotork and Beamex as member companies, bringing the total membership to 16 companies. Rotork is a British-based manufacturer of electric, pneumatic and hydraulic valve actuators and associated control systems, and Beamex is a provider of integrated calibration solutions. The FFUKMC membership now includes: ABB, Beamex, Beka Associates, Emerson Process Management, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, MTL –Cooper Crouse-Hinds, Moore Industries, Pepperl+Fuchs, Rockwell Automation, Rotork, R.Stahl, Smar, Turck, Vega and Yokogawa. Membership enquiries are always welcome.

Cost effective variable speed drives

A new cost-effective range of inverter drives that gives exceptional performance for three-phase induction motor control has been launched by WEG. The CFW500 range features state-of-the-art technology to deliver a high level of control, but at an affordable price, enabling industrial manufacturers to improve processes and make significant cost savings.

This new range of CFW500 inverter drives is robust, flexible and smart, and available in power ratings from 0.18 kW up to 22 kW. It has been designed to be versatile for many industrial automation applications including centrifugal and process pumps, fans, compressors and conveyors.

The CFW500 drives are based on modular plug and play design, extremely easy to use and program. The drive includes a built-in micro-PLC, which can be programmed according to standard protocol IEC 61131-3. It also comes with pre-programmed macros for a range of applications, for example positioning, timer and acceleration. Users can simply program the drive using the LCD HMI display, or via a computer through a variety of interfaces (RS232, USB, RS485). In contrast to other providers, WEG offers its WLP software for programming and monitoring to customers free of charge.

Designed with simplicity of installation and operation in mind, it can identify up to 64 different plug-in modules. CFW500 is ideal for supporting decentralised automation concepts and is easy to connect to all the major fieldbus systems including Profibus-DP, DeviceNet and CANopen. The drive features expansion plug-in modules, which makes it easy to customise even for bespoke applications.

The simple-to-use and intuitive LCD HMI gives indication of up to three simultaneous variables, such as speed, as well as indication of the main units and performance statistics of the inverter. The inverter drives are reliable and can operate in ambient temperatures up to 50°C.

“Our CFW500 range has been developed to be extremely easy to use and operate,” says Paulo Krüger, European Automation Centre Manager at WEG. “I’m delighted that our customers can now benefit from advanced programming and control features to increase productivity and improve the quality of their processes, but at a cost-effective price. Typically applications do not run at full load all the time and by installing the CFW500 drive customers can save money by controlling the speed of their process and adjusting it to the specific load at any time.”

New drive concept!

The focus of Festo's Bionic Learning network has shifted from the well-known flying AirPenguin and Jellyfish to an innovative flying kinematic structure called SmartInversion. Based on the studies of 20th century Swiss mathematician Paul Schatz, the new flying object is a stunning visualisation of this unique geometric structure that will excite engineers.

While linear and rotary movements are familiar and well understood, inversion is a third and far more complex principle which, when seen in the form of the SmartInversion, is both fascinating and inspiring.

SmartInversion is a lighter-than-air, helium filled structure which utilises a smart phone app to remote control three miniature closed loop servo motors. The result is a large 4.75 metre structure that can propel itself by self inversion through the air in an intriguing and beguiling way.

“The Bionic Learning Network concepts are developed as a collaboration between our research, development, corporate design teams and leading universities and research establishments,” says Steve Sands, product manager at Festo GB. “They always provoke discussion and are a great way for us to gauge reaction to ideas and innovations inspired by nature and applied to automation. We also use the Bionic Concepts to inspire young engineers; changing their perceptions by displaying complex engineering in novel ways.”

“We reinvest more than 8.5% of our turnover into future developments through research and development. It is important that we use a small part of this budget to explore completely new ideas; nature inspires us with so many ideas for improved efficiency, optimised movements and improved communications.”

Sparkle lights the castle gardens!

Energy efficient feature lighting extends the season at historic British visitor attraction

Marl International has just completed a £100,000 (€123,310) project to install feature LED lighting at The Alnwick Garden, one of the England's top visitor attractions adjoining Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Alnwick Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in Europe and has been home to the Duke of Northumberland's family, the Percys, for over 700 years.

The castle garden is a public attraction founded by the Duchess of Northumberland and the new LED lighting is the first phase of Sparkle, a new permanent lighting installation conceived by the Duchess herself. This project completed by Marl is specifically designed to focus on the central area of the garden, the Hornbeam Arbours and the Grand Cascade, which are the most prominent features when visitors first enter the garden. There is also lighting all the way up the central part of the garden from the steps, through to the dramatic archway at the very top of the garden, which can just be seen from the Pavilion area, about 200m away.

The Duchess of Northumberland commented: “Phase one of Sparkle has transformed dark evenings into a stunning spectacle of light and colour. The Alnwick Garden was designed 17 years ago with lighting in mind. When I saw the original drawings I immediately recognised the huge opportunity for a dynamic lighting programme. This is the first phase of a permanent, flexible installation which will bring the garden to life in the evenings and during the winter months. It will be magical at Christmas and the lights can be enjoyed from The Pavilion without needing to go outside.”

She continued, “LED was the only viable light source for the illumination needed to interpret my long standing vision for the lighting scheme. Marl LED technology is highly reliable, offers full intelligent control over individual lighting fixtures and is both energy efficient and environmentally friendly when compared with traditional light sources.”

Commenting on her decision to appoint Marl, the Duchess added, “Following my visit to Marl in July 2012, I could see that they were an exceptional company. Not every engineering company has a collection of six grand pianos on site! I was impressed by their capability, expertise and approach. The enthusiasm, energy and creativity of its young team was inspiring, and the fact that they are located together on a single site convinced me that they would work together effectively to realise this very complicated project. They have more than fulfilled that promise. On 24th November the system was ready to be switched on, less than five months after that initial visit, and took just six weeks to install.
“I believe that when the lighting programme has been completed, visitors will come to Alnwick to see the lights during the shoulder months which will benefit not just The Alnwick Garden but also the town of Alnwick and other service providers. This first phase is stunning and I have worked closely with the specialists, Marl International, to ensure it matches my expectations.”

Adrian Rawlinson, Managing Director of Marl International, said, “The Duchess of Northumberland visited Marl Business Park in Ulverston in July 2012, and offered us the chance to demonstrate our capability to provide a fully controlled lighting system. Marl can design and manufacture new LED lighting products entirely in-house. Marl has the benefit of over 100 committed, clever and resourceful team players to draw on to get on with the delivery of the project – and it is fair to say that everyone was totally committed to this project from Day One. We were extremely excited to be offered this unique brief to design a dynamic, powerful light scheme, for this exceptional situation.”

The Duchess needed a lighting system that is extremely flexible to meet all the different requirements to support activities within the garden, providing lighting that might add a touch of magic and sparkle, whilst remaining stylish. Sparkle phase one was funded by a generous silent donation from a US Trustee of the Garden and took just six weeks to install.

Marl International supplied and controlled the whole of phase one of the Sparkle installation, excluding the electrical ground work required for the installation. This included over 90 individual light fittings, the hardware cabinets, mains and DMX cabling, IT communications systems, software control, design of the lighting scheme, installation, programming, commissioning and will also now provide on-going support for the team at The Alnwick Garden. To create the effects the Duchess sought, Marl designed and manufactured five new products consisting of special 6m, RGB flexible strips, specifically to maximise performance in this type of large scale outdoor lighting application. Marl added high performance RGB floodlights, customised 'Orion' blue linear strip lights, white up-lighters and step lights. The custom lighting hardware was designed, manufactured and assembled by Marl at its manufacturing facility in Ulverston. Suitable standard fittings to complement them were sourced by Marl where available, modified and integrated into the whole system.

The brief also called for a number of pre-set programmes in order to demonstrate total capability of the system, and to provide a wide variety of lighting styles including mood lighting for special events. Marl integrated its hardware with 'Colour-Tramp' DMX based software control, provided by London based Artistic Licence, acknowledged industry experts. ‘Colour-Tramp' allows the user to literally 'paint with coloured light', record and then play back a programme of lighting control sequences. Sparkle has a 60 colour lighting programme enabling literally millions of possible lighting combinations, allowing for unique corporate events, themed wedding parties tailored to the bride and groom, as well as a magical evening experience for all visitors.

The Alnwick Garden Sparkle lighting installation relies entirely on LED lighting technology. According to Rawlinson, “The Marl lighting system at The Alnwick Garden has been configured using white and RGB fixtures in such a way that conventional white flood and task lighting is not required. Existing conventional flood lights in place were removed, as they were no longer needed and ruined the effect.”

Commenting on the environmental impact of the system, he continued, “It is hard to quantify how much energy would be needed to power a similar system built using other technologies, but as a general rule an architectural LED system comprising of RGB fixtures and associated hardware and electronic control will save between 20% and 50%, but it can be more. For example, LEDs can be switched on and off instantly, which allows them to be controlled using pre-set timers or to respond to many types of sensors, creating further opportunities to save power."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Enhancing business in England

The team at Eplan UK are now registered on MAS (the Manufacturing Advisory Service). MAS aims to enhance business growth and innovation in the manufacturing sector by providing business support for companies based in England.

MAS ensures that all registered personnel have both 'hands-on' experience and management skills. Advisors work with you and your workforce to ensure that your business is run in the best way possible. If you’re a small or medium sized manufacturer in England, many of their services are free and supplemented by appropriate grant funding.

Since its’ launch in 2002 MAS has been a huge success. Working with thousands of companies MAS plays a vital role in helping manufacturers to share knowledge, improve productivity and achieve success in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Small load cells

Very small RDP load cells are big value when size matters

When small load cells are needed for measurement of tension or compression forces, then RDP Electronics Ltd has a range of miniature and sub-miniature transducers available for a variety of applications.

Where the load cell needs to be physically small for applications such as medical testing, the assembly of machined parts for small fixtures or even underwater equipment, then a transducer from the miniature Model RSL range will probably meet the need. With device length as small as 14.5mm and diameter just 25.4mm, loads of up to 4kN and best linearity of ±0.15% are achieved. Combined with signal conditioning units these small load cells can additionally provide local display of the test forces under measurement.

2000 smart device macros stem from partnership!

2,000 Festo devices macros developed for EPLAN users

Partners Festo and EPLAN are each pushing forwards with the aim of connecting the worlds of configuration in electrical and pneumatic engineering. A data package developed by Festo specially for EPLAN users with over 2,000 smart devices macros now gives extra strength to the mechatronic orbit of the CPX terminal. Users of the EPLAN Platform can use this to simply and easily create overview drawings, electrical and pneumatic circuit diagrams, and PLC overviews.
The new exclusive macro collection of over 2,000 device macros for valve terminals with Festo's CPX electric terminal brings together configurations in electrical and fluid project engineering. The device data is available in six languages and comprises intelligent module configurations that already contain their electrical and fluid engineering connection logic, including function templates. The final type code of the configured Festo valve terminal is the link. It comprises two ID codes, one for the electrical and one for the pneumatic section. The designer can use this ID code to select the most appropriate of the predefined device modules and place it by Drag & Drop, into the electrical or fluid engineering documentation. Users of EPLAN Electric P8 and EPLAN Fluid can use this to quickly create 2D overview drawings, electrical and pneumatic circuit diagrams and PLC overviews. The data can be downloaded from Festo's website at no charge with ease.

Versatile for any field of application
The benefits of guided configuration using Festo's tools are combined with logic-based documentation in EPLAN. Thanks to an individual combination of different functions, the valve terminal's configuration can be matched to the application precisely – wide ranges of application are guaranteed. The Festo CPX terminal is perfect here: electrical and open to all current field bus standards and all customer-specific installation standards. Customers benefit from ease of handling: out of the control cabinet into the plant, network electrics and pneumatics, saving installation effort.

Free download
The macros, available for all CPX terminals (electrical peripheral equipment and field bus nodes) and some MPA valve terminals, contain the following functions and can be used as parts master data in the creation of the parts lists:
• Structural overview with individual module feeds and ordering code
• Circuit diagrams in all-pole representation, terminal diagram and PLC overview
• Overview of control cabinet with type codes and in a scale of 1:1

The data is available for download at no charge as a complete package from and can also be downloaded from the Festo online product catalogue under 2D/3D CAD. Availability through the EPLAN Data Portal is also in preparation.

Common target: user benefit
For some years, Festo and EPLAN have worked together to develop solutions with the aim of making engineering easier for their common customers. For instance, Festo's mechatronic components can be designed and documented simply thanks to the direct connection between EPLAN Fluid and Festo's product catalogue. In addition, the subsidiary Festo Didactic has been distributing the EPLAN Education software for industrial foundation and further training for some years.

Most affordable oscilloscope series

Tektronix has introduced the TBS1000 Series of entry-level oscilloscopes, giving electrical engineers, educators and hobbyist an affordable, dependable and full-featured tool for a wide variety of general purpose electronics test applications.

With prices starting at just €389 (ca £343stg or $500us), the TBS1000 Series (for Tektronix Basic Scope) makes it easier than ever for educators to put an oscilloscope on every desktop, for hobbyists and tinkerers to enjoy Tektronix reliability and performance, or for companies to outfit their entire engineering and technical support teams with the powerful diagnostic tools they need. Designed and manufactured by Tektronix, and backed by a 5-year warranty, the new oscilloscopes deliver excellent performance and accuracy with 1 GS/s or 500 MS/s sample rates and 3 percent DC gain accuracy down to 2 mV.

“There continues to be a strong and growing need globally for lower price point oscilloscopes,” said Dave Farrell, general manager, Mainstream Oscilloscopes at Tektronix. “With the TBS1000 Series we are meeting this need with the lowest starting price for a Tektronix oscilloscope in recent history coupled with a capable feature set and a generous 5-year warranty. Now almost anyone involved in electronics can afford to step up to Tektronix quality for their testing needs.”

Compared to the previous TDS1000-EDU Series of oscilloscopes, the TBS1000 Series offers more bandwidth alternatives including new 25 MHz and 150 MHz models. A new waveform data logging feature allows users to save up to eight hours of triggered waveforms to a USB flash drive. Another enhancement is waveform limit testing that allows users to monitor signal changes and output pass/fail results. The TBS1000 is based on the same proprietary technology as the extremely popular TDS2000 Series , and includes the same versatile triggering, automatic measurements, USB connectivity, and FFT capability. Taken together the TBS1000 Series delivers an unbeatable combination of superior performance, unmatched ease-of-use, and affordability in an ultra-lightweight, portable package.

A particular strong suit for the TBS1000 Series is usability. The user interface offers intuitive operation familiar to engineers around the world, coupled with a full set of the most frequently used measurement types and analysis functions. Usability is further enhanced with a lightweight, compact design.

To meet the needs of educators, each TBS1000 oscilloscope includes an Education Resource CD offering a broad range of lab exercises, instructor’s guides and primers that cover the use of oscilloscopes and probes.

“There’s no question that Tektronix is the world standard in oscilloscopes,” said Yong-Beom Cho, Ph.D., Department of Electronic Engineering, Konkuk University . “From the most basic to the highest end, Tektronix scopes have always led the way in reliability, performance and quality. With the TBS1000 it looks like Tektronix is leading the way in value too.