Friday, July 26, 2013

Reliable RH measurement in ultra-harsh conditions

When a European OEM customer needed a reliable RH and temperature probe that would stand up to highly challenging and corrosive conditions, they contacted Michell Instruments for a solution.

Michell’s PCMini52 RH and temperature probe is designed specifically for harsh environments. Its electronics are potted to provide protection from the surrounding atmosphere which means it can survive for longer in aggressive atmospheres than comparable products. However, the OEM customer wanted to provide extra reliability and low-maintenance for its customers so they asked Michell to adapt the measuring element filter of the PCMini52 to meet its specifications.

While the calibrated performance of a sensor is important, in practical factory-floor applications, mechanical protection and strength of the humidity filter around the measuring elements also play a vital role in successful measurements, and this is what Michell’s team of custom-build engineers focused their attention on. They designed a simple, mechanical protection system to enable the PCMini52 to withstand the ultra-harsh conditions demanded by the OEM.

The application involved high levels of condensate surrounding the probe, so the main challenge was to prevent ingress into the probe at the joint of the filter assembly. The solution was deceptively simple: an alternative filter guard for the sensing head was engineered to reduce the possible points of ingress for condensate and provide extra strength and protection. The filter protection cap was also designed to visually indicate contamination, which acts as an additional fail-safe for the process.

The new filter is now available as an option on the RH probes from Michell Instruments.

• Mitchell Instruments are marketed in Ireland by Instrument Technology.

British robot sales much improved in half year to date.

Despite slower sales of robots in quarter one compared to an outstanding record year last year, robot sales for quarter two of 2013 have accelerated and almost matched the level for the entire year of 2011. David Manby, Managing Director of Aylesbury Automation commented ‘we are pleased to see that the sales of non-automotive sector robots are double what they were in 2009’.

In the first quarter of 2013, robot sales of 374 units were recorded compared to 912 in the second. The half year figures were 1286 robots sold compared with a phenomenal 2000 robots in the record year of 2012. However, automotive and automotive component orders contributed 79% of the orders compared with 87% for the first two quarters of the year in 2012. Whilst in most other sectors robot sales are increasing, the growth still remains much more conservative and in some sectors even declining.

Mike Wilson, British Automation and Robot Association Chairman said "whilst we welcome the level of robot orders from the automotive sector largely driven by product demand in global emerging markets, it is an on-going concern that some sectors are still not understanding the potential implications of not automating. Other countries such as China, Germany and most of the major European manufacturing nations, even countries that are not original equipment manufacturers, are investing heavily in automation to create competitive advantage.
“Part of the problem in the UK is a short term approach and the perception that the pay back period is considerably longer than it often is”.

Automating British manufacturing:
The government’s recent drive to automate British manufacturing under the automating manufacturing programme is nearing completion. According to Grant Collier, Head of Marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations, managing the programme "this has been a tremendous success with over 360 manufacturers around the UK taking up the Government funded Automating Manufacturing Programme which shows manufacturers how they can benefit from automation. Applications to date have come from a wide range of industries, including over one third from the food sector which is surprising since this has traditionally been an area very slow to adopt automation". He added, “it is frustrating to hear time and again, that many of the food sector companies are reluctant to automate due to the shortness of contracts and the ability to withdraw them with little notice from the major supermarkets. Hopefully this will improve with the recent appointment of the groceries code of conduct adjudicator – a regulator that will monitor relationships and practices within the grocery supply chain”.

Inspection camera adapted for anaerobic digestion tank

When a British local utility company needed to conduct a routine surveillance check on one of its anaerobic sludge digesters, the specialist company Hayes GFS  contacted Ashtead Technology in its search for an intrinsically safe-rated inspection camera. Following discussions with Ashtead Technology’s engineers a suitably certified push-rod camera was deployed from a customised access point that enabled the Hayes’ staff to produce comprehensive images and videos showing the condition of the digester’s roof and walls.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is becoming increasingly popular in Britain because it diverts biodegradable wastes from landfill, reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and generates biogas, which can be used as an energy source. This has resulted in a significant growth in business for Hayes GFS Ltd, a specialist provider of Glass-Fused-to-Steel Tanks and ancillary items.

GFS is a unique tank finish that has been used widely in the agriculture and water industries for decades. The two materials are fused together to achieve the best properties of both – the strength of flexibility of steel combined with the corrosion resistance of glass. GFS is therefore ideal for aggressive environments such as those inside anaerobic digesters with high temperature, high humidity, methane and hydrogen sulphide. However, this also presents a significant challenge for internal inspection.

Most of Ashtead Technology’s push-rod cameras and remote-control crawlers are employed for the inspection of drains, culverts and pipes. However, these environments can also be potentially explosive due to the accumulation of methane, so Ashtead also stocks intrinsically safe instruments and a Pearpoint P374 camera system in conjunction with a digital video recorder, was recommended for the AD application.

Commenting on the success of the project, Hayes GFS Managing Director Stephen Skinner said: “The camera which Ashtead Technology recommended proved to be ideal for this job. We built a customised ‘launch tube’ on one of the purge points on the roof and attached nylon to the camera tip so that we could video every surface once the probe was lowered into the ‘live’ digester.

“We were delighted with the results of the survey because we were able to demonstrate the condition of the tank very effectively, without having to decommission the digester.

“We were very impressed with Ashtead Technology because they ensured that we utilised exactly the right kit, and it was delivered and collected very quickly, which helped to keep our costs to a minimum.”

Festo is headline sponsor of Appetite for Engineering #PAuto #Food

Festo is the headline sponsor of Appetite for Engineering (A4E), the major food and drink manufacturing conference taking place in Kenilworth (GB) on 25 September 2013.

Andy McPherson
“Food and drink manufacturing and processing is a key industry for Festo and it is important to see the sector thriving in automation and building trust from farm to fork,” says Andy Macpherson, Industry Sector Manager – Food and Beverage at Festo. “We are proud to be supporting the event and building the skills in the sector to use the latest automation methods.”

The event will provide lively debate on food and drink manufacturing within Britain and beyond, around the three key themes of integrity, efficiency and responsibility. Festo’s involvement shows the company’s commitment to maximising productivity and improving efficiency in food processing.

“The event is an excellent opportunity for food and beverage industry leaders to get together to discuss innovation, automation, engineering, production and skills for the future of the sector,” continues Andy. “Manufacturers need flexible, versatile automation machinery to operate more efficiently and maximise profits, and this means applying the latest technology to solve today’s production challenges.”

• The A4E event is expected to be attended by Britain’s leading food manufacturers, brands, supermarkets, academics, government bodies and researchers and is taking place at Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth on 25 September 2013.

KPI’s on the move!

SolutionsPT has announced it is now the sole distributer of the Smartglance mobile reporting product in Great Britain and Ireland, which is now wholly owned by Invensys.

SmartGlance, is an industrial mobile reporting business tool delivering secure, on-demand access to rich, graphical KPI’s from any operations data source via mobile devices, allowing industrial personnel to make smarter, faster decisions.

Providing connectors to access data from different manufacturing sources, including both Wonderware and non-Wonderware systems, it offers users access to important business data alerts and notifications. This information is available in a native mobile application optimised for any mobile device.

This new technology supports quick and more accurate decisions, the ability to take prompt action, and to share data with colleagues. Additionally, it can push data from virtually any source, including popular process historians and any SQL database. As well as its fast and simple implementation, it has only a small installation footprint and no additional hardware is required.

Sue Roche, Business Manager, Wonderware UK and Ireland, SolutionsPT, explains: “Mobile industrial data reporting is an emerging trend in industrial IT and we wanted to ensure our customers have the option to keep up with the latest advances in technology and be able to access to their information, analytics and KPI’s to the mobile device of their choice. Having access to the right information at the right time, means customers will be able to assign resources and resolve issues quickly”.

Cybersecurity assessment service

Invensys has a new cyber security assessment service to help its customers understand the risks that might impact the safety and reliability of their operations. The assessment is a key part of any security best practice program, helping to ensure critical infrastructure protection and compliance with corporate, industry and/or government mandates. Performed on-site, the control system assessment provides a baseline of the user’s current security position, and it can be used as the starting point to develop a strategy to meet the challenges of reducing and managing security risks.

The assessment, which includes the following service elements, allows Invensys to develop a unique and customized approach to addressing security issues:
Site and system assessment: A site review and system-specific vulnerabilities. The results of the assessment are provided in a conclusive report highlighting critical assets, vulnerabilities and risks.
Compliance assessment: Invensys addresses compliance status by reviewing operations and processes against required corporate compliance standards.
Establish security baseline: A security baseline allows customers to gauge progress against current status and operating models for security.

Invensys is at the forefront of automation and information systems and their intricate integration. The company has been in the controls industry for over 100 years and has pioneered many of the technology shifts that have allowed the modern control system to be so diverse, flexible, and open.

Service Overview:
• Comprehensive approach is the vital first step in determining your security requirements;
• Baseline and benchmark the security of your critical assets;
• Appropriate and applicable industry standards, government regulations and mandates;
• Identification and assessment of the risks that could impact your control system operation;
• Gap analysis highlights and recommends mitigation necessary to improve security;
• Assess policies, procedures and technical measures;
• Vendor-neutral and applicable to all control systems and their interconnections.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Electric vehicle charging stations at US automation vendor facilities

Yokogawa US is now offering electric vehicle charging stations to employees at its Newnan, GA USA facility. ECOtality -  a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies– has installed two Blink® Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations at Yokogawa Newnan as part of its Electric Vehicle Project. The EV Project is a public-private partnership with the Department of Energy that evaluates the effectiveness of EV charger infrastructure. Yokogawa Newnan is the first in the area to participate in the program and install EV charging stations.

“This is an advantage to me and future EV owners because it extends the range of our cars,” says Jimmy Newman, Engineering Manager for Yokogawa Corporation of America, who owns a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

The charging stations installed at Yokogawa are part of ECOtality’s nationwide Blink Network. They are Level 2 stations (240 volt AC input) and will charge any vehicle that uses a standard SAE J1772 connector. Some examples of vehicles using this standard are the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Ford Focus Electric, Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid, Tesla, Mitsubishi I MiEV, and Fisker Karma. Level 2 stations can fully charge a vehicle like the Nissan Leaf, which has a range of about 75 miles, in about 4 to 5 hours.

The installation supports Yokogawa’s “Go Green Initiative” and enhances the Newnan facility’s ISO1401 requirements. Based on the Yokogawa philosophy which states, “Our goal is to contribute to society through broad-ranging activities in the areas of measurement, control, and information,” one of the Group Green Promotion Committee’s role is to promote environmental conservation and monitor environment data related to CO2 emission and promote CO2 emission reduction."

Equipment effectiveness software designed to speed continuous Improvement initiatives for manufacturers!

Out-of-the-box solution speeds deployment and lowers total cost of ownership

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the immediate availability of Proficy® OEE, a software solution that provides a critical link between measurement and improvement of manufacturing processes. This scalable solution is designed to continuously monitor and improve equipment performance, providing manufacturers an analysis tool which can increase efficiency and productivity on the shop floor. And, because Proficy OEE is completely turnkey, companies can implement it quickly so as to maximize its return on investment and minimize total cost of ownership (TCO).

“Manufacturers are being asked to do more with fewer resources,” said Don Busiek, General Manager Manufacturing Software for GE Intelligent Platforms. Overall equipment effectiveness, OEE, provides a way for these manufacturers to make the most of what they already have by ensuring their equipment is running at top levels of performance.”

OEE quantifies how well a manufacturing unit performs relative to its designed capacity, during the periods when it is scheduled to run. A well-understood tool to support continuous improvement and a commonly used key performance indicator (KPI) in conjunction with lean manufacturing efforts, OEE breaks performance into three separate but measurable components: Availability, Performance and Quality. Each component points to an aspect of the process that can be targeted for improvement. OEE may be applied to any individual Work Center or rolled up to the department or plant levels. This tool allows for drilling down for very specific analysis such as particular part number, shirt or any of several other parameters.

Proficy OEE is an “out-of-the-box” software package powered by GE’s award-winning Proficy Software, for a competitive, yet scalable solution to address efficiency needs. Proficy OEE leverages a number of Proficy Software applications designed to provide a manufacturing intelligence layer for every day operations by transforming plant data into meaningful information. OEE information is delivered through a powerful operational dashboard that provides a role-based environment simplifying real-time decision making.

“Measuring makes it easier to improve, and improving productivity by eliminating waste is a core objective of lean manufacturing,” continued Busiek. “This is a common practice at GE, and this package has proven itself effective in the company’s world-class manufacturing operations, as well as those of other global manufacturers who have reported upwards of 10% increases in efficiency by utilizing OEE solutions."

High-speed wireless Ethernet solution designed for plant-floor automation!

The 802.11abgn Fast Industrial Hotspot (RLX2), from ProSoft Technology, is an advanced, high-speed wireless Ethernet solution designed for plant-floor automation, SCADA systems, mobile worker Wi-Fi infrastructure and process control systems. This Hotspot offers a broad range of industrial wireless capabilities including unique features such as Fast Roaming and has excellent packet-per-second performance and robust communications in demanding industrial environments.

This Hotspot features breakthrough advancements in client/bridge fast roaming between access points, Ethernet packet optimization, and enhanced diagnostics.

These new capabilities provide seamless high-speed Ethernet connections for moving machines and vehicles traveling long distances in assembly plants, crane systems and mining. The secure, high speed wireless network reduces project costs, while improving productivity by eliminating mechanical festooning, rails and slip rings for economical and reliable mobile applications.

The radio’s Fast Roaming technology uses less than 50msec time between access points and provides full device bridging. The module provides secure 802.11i and 128-bit AES Encryption and operates securely in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. It also has advanced management tools. These tools include IH Browser Utility, web server and OPC server. The microSD card will automatically store/load configurations, reducing down time.

The Hotspot is designed for extreme environments and hazardous locations, including oil and gas systems. It is an ideal wireless solution for Producer/Consumer PLC/PAC networking, remote I/O, safety I/O, plant backhaul networking, remote video and mobile worker connectivity. The Hotspot utilizes extended operating temperatures of -40 to +75°C (-40°F to +167°F) and has agency approvals and certifications with Class1, Division 2 and ATEX Zone 2. The module is high shock/vibration tested. The Shock IEC is 60068 2-6 (20g, 3-Axis) and Vibration IEC is 60068 2-27 (5g, 10-150 Hz).

Universal Power Cell for motor load control

The innovative range of UPC high performance "Hall Effect" power sensors designed specifically for motor load control applications, is available from Vydas International.

The New "Universal" Power Cell range manufactured by Load Controls Inc has been designed specifically for precision process monitoring & control and is particularly suitable where variable frequency drives are fitted.

The product is designed to cope with the most difficult of motor load sensing tasks when other power sensors and motor load controls are unable to function reliably. The control of many process machines such as grinders, mills, mixers, rollers, pumps, compressors, conveyers etc may be improved dramatically by sensing true power instead of just current.

There are various models allowing the product to be used in a large number of industries, in fact anywhere that electric motors are used such as the food industry, pharmaceutical, chemical, gas, oil, water treatment, building industries, machine tools and many more. Applications include mixture viscosity, tool condition, optimum feed rate, pump or fan flow, beginning or end of processes, detecting obstructions & overloads or loss of load (prime).

The Universal Power Cell Series includes the original standard UPC with analogue outputs but also the UPC-FR (Fast Response) for machine tool or very fast applications as well as the UPC-E (Ethernet) which has an Ethernet Connection and an analogue output. In addition the UPC-LB is suitable for applications where large cable holes are required.

The standard UPC is particularly suited to mixer "process endpoint detection" where by measuring the power drawn by stirrer or paddle drives, the Power Cell is sensitive enough to detect minute viscosity changes on machines ranging from laboratory sizes to large production machines. Power changes may be used to indicate the start or end of a cycle, viscosity end-point or overload.

In combination with associated KWH3 energy meter and DM100 load meter, the UPC-KWH is suitable for many applications such as “Batch Mixing”, where the sensor accumulates the total power absorbed in the mixing process for consistent production batches. Examples of this are processes such as the mixing of rubber, dough and clay which all respond to energy control.

The UPC is truly "Universal and is unique, and is suitable for any 3 phase, single phase AC or DC motors. The UPC uses fast "Hall Effect" devices and does not use CT’s (current transformers) or external VT’s (voltage transformers) where power measurement errors may occur.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

PLC extended with Ethernet Embedded CPU

Mitsubishi Electric has extended the capability of its MELSEC FX3G Compact PLC with the release of a new Ethernet embedded CPU – the FX3GE. This comes in addition to the standard USB and RS422 communication ports. Further, the new CPU also adds two analogue inputs (0-10V DC or 4-20mA) and an analogue output (0-10V DC or 4-20mA). These new analogue and network features, combined with the power and expandability of the unit mean the new Compact PLC can meet the needs of a wider range of applications.
The FX3GE is ideal for food and beverage applications, for example where flow control or level monitoring might be important or where control of pumps is required.
Further features of the new MELSEC FX3GE include the ability to set two user keywords for secure PLC access, built in high speed counters and interrupts for system feedback and control, built-in 2-axis positioning capability with dedicated inverter protocol, and a choice of models offering 24 or 40 I/O as standard, expandable to 256 I/O. The FX3GE offers all the power of the FX3G, including large program memory, ample space for data storage, logging or recipes, plus high speed execution to enhance system productivity. The FX3GE can also use all of the expansion modules and special adapters in the range.

With the embedded Ethernet capability, users can take advantage of remote monitoring, maintenance and data sharing with HMIs and higher level systems over high speed 10Base-T/100Base-T communications. This also adds the facility for web based data monitoring as standard, enabling users to read PLC information from any networked device using a standard web browser. The keyword protection prevents unauthorised PLC access. The inclusion of analogue I/O enables the FX3GE to meet user needs for voltage or current inputs without the need for expansion modules, so reducing overall system costs.

These new features extend the reach of the MELSEC FX3GE into new applications where previously users would have needed to add expansion modules or standardise on a higher base cost PLC. The FX3GE is ideal for food and beverage applications, for example where flow control or level monitoring might be important or where control of pumps is required. The FX3GE could also provide analogue data management for injection moulding machines, smooth production control for wood cutting machines, and meet the needs of label printing machines thanks to the embedded network functionality.

Flexible Frequency Testing!

The Matrix Gemini Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) from Autoscribe allows laboratories to accommodate a very flexible testing regime. The frequency testing feature of Matrix Gemini allows complete flexibility in the setting of the frequency with which each test should be performed on a particular product type. Some tests may be required for every sample, while other tests may only be needed for every second or third sample registered, for example. Allocating individual test frequencies is made possible since each time a product sample is registered in the system a counter is incremented on the appropriate specification record for the type of product.

The system also offers further options to provide even greater flexibility. For example it is possible to ensure that the first ‘n’ samples registered for a new substance are registered with the full complement of tests before reduced testing begins. Full testing can also be specified if it is more than ‘n’ days since the last sample of this type was registered. Similarly full testing can be requested after ‘n’ samples of a product have been registered.
These further options also allow the allocation of special “Force” test types to the testing regime. These tests that have been marked as being “Force” type tests would not normally be involved in the reduced testing schedule. The addition of these tests allows the product occasionally to be submitted to more rigorous testing.

High speed torque sensor for electric motor & generator testing

As rotational speeds increase, electric motor and generator manufacturers need a reliable and versatile method of measuring torque accurately for both product development and quality control in production and assembly applications. To meet this need, Kistler designed the Type 4503A torque sensor to provide a flexible instrument for use at rotational speeds of up to 50,000 rpm with a choice of fourteen measuring ranges from 0.2 to 5,000 Nm.
Additional benefits are two, switchable ranges, with the second range being either 1:10 or 1:5 of the rated torque, integral digital signal conditioning providing both analogue and digital outputs, contactless signal and power transmission and a speed sensor output of up to 360 pulses per revolution.

The option of two, switchable ranges allows precise measurement of both peak and operating torque with the same sensor. In applications with a high peak but moderate operating torque, a sensor with only one measuring range would have to be selected to withstand the peak torque which would compromise measurement accuracy at the lower operating torque.

The contactless power and signal transmission between the rotating shaft and the stator, combined with precision manufacturing, and high grade shaft balancing, essential for reliable, high speed operation, ensure that the sensors maintain calibration over a long life in both laboratory and production environments. Typical applications include testing of electric motors, generators and drive performance and measurement of transmission or spindle drive friction at manual workstations or networked, automated production cells.

Connecting honing machines to any industrial network

If you create world-leading industrial honing machines like Nagel’s, you will get requests from factories all over the world for your equipment. The problem is that this requires you to be compatible with the different industrial networks used in these locations. Developing connectivity can be a time-consuming and resource-demanding task. Nagel Precision found an easier solution in Anybus X-gateways.

Nagel Precision Inc. in  Michigan (USA) create machines for honing, superfinishing, and deep hole drilling which are used to manufacture engine blocks, transmissions, pinion gears, valves and other metal artefacts which require a very smooth surface. The machines are installed in manufacturing plants around the world by companies such as GM, Chrysler, KIA, Hyundai, and Ford to name but a few.

The network dilemma
Nagel Precision’s machinery is built on an EtherNet/IP-based control system with an Allen Bradley PLC, often with the Rockwell Kinetix 6000 Multi-Axis Servo Drives as the pivotal core. However, since the honing machines are exported to factories all over the world, Nagel was faced with the problem of how to communicate with other networks – especially PROFINET which is frequently used in car manufacturing plants.

“We first started out with third party network cards,” says Jim Saule, Information Technology Director at Nagel Precision Inc. "However, these were a bit cumbersome since they required a lot of configuration and were also quite expensive. It was also sometimes hard to find the correct card. That’s when I started investigating into the Anybus X-gateway from HMS. I liked the fact that you could support several different networks with the same configuration – something which would save us a lot of work.”

Costs cut in half
About two years ago, the first Anybus X-gateways were installed in Nagel Precision’s systems. The solution was delivered by HMS’s distributor in Michigan – McNaughton McKay Inc. The possibility to focus on the core business instead of network connectivity has been an important decision parameter for choosing Anybus – not to mention the fact that the gateways are half the price of the third-party cards.

“We don’t want to understand every type of controller out there,” says Jim Saule. “We’d rather focus on perfecting our honing machines. Anybus X-gateways has allowed us to do just that. Furthermore, the third party network cards cost us about 1200-1500 dollars each, now we’re down to around half that cost for a gateway.”

How it works
If the honing machine is to be installed in a factory that runs EtherNet/IP, it can be connected directly and communicate on the network. But if the factory runs another network (for example PROFINET), an Anybus X-gateway is needed. The gateway works as a translator between EtherNet/IP and the factory system and “translates” parameters such as positioning data, status of the drives, start/stop commands etc. The communication stream is transparent on both sides of the gateway making the honing machine a separate node on the factory floor, fully able to communicate with the plant-wide network.

“We’ve been using the Anybus X-gateway for more than two years now and it has been flawless. I have been designing these types of systems for more than 20 years and really appreciate the fact that we can support several different networks with the Anybus X-gateway. This enables us focus on our core business – building honing machinery – rather than working with compliance for different networks. I would definitely recommend any machine builder to look into Anybus, the variety is great and there are substantial savings to be made,” finishes Jim Saule.
The Anybus X-gateway allows Nagel’s Allen Bradley PLC to communicate with any other industrial network. The above example uses a Slave-Adapter X-gateway between the EtherNet/IP-based equipment on the top rack and the PROFINET-based equipment on the bottom rack.
Schematic showing how it works!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

October training schools in US

Endress+Hauser has announced its October 2013 schedule of instrumentation training courses in the US.

Classes typically are a combination of classroom and hands-on training on either the Endress+Hauser Process Training Unit (PTU™), a full-scale, working process skid with on-line instrumentation and controls, or live instruments in training stands, both designed to simulate operating conditions.

For details of these and other events including seminars and exhibitions go to our Events Page.

New venture launched by respected journalist

Process Industry Match (PIM) has been launched by Patrick Raleigh with support and guidance from a number of like-minded journalists and media professionals in the process industries.

PIM addresses the need for better dialogue and communication between investors, engineering firms, specifiers, integrators, suppliers and end users in the industrial process sector –  in Britain, Ireland and throughout the world.

Patrick Raleigh
To achieve this, the PIM Website and Newsletter majors on developments that enhance the performance of process facilities. There is, therefore, a particular focus on investment, engineering & construction and plant upgrade activities, as well as on new operational and maintenance programmes.

The editorial spans the key verticals – chemicals, energy, food & drink, life sciences, materials, oil & gas, pulp & paper and water – and technologies, including control & automation, instrumentation, field comms, pumps, valves, compressors, mixing, heat transfer and solids handling.

Based in London, Patrick Raleigh was previously editor of Process Engineering and is still an associate editor of that magazine.

He previously held senior editorial roles on a range of industry titles, including European Rubber Journal, Urethanes Technology, European Plastics News and Plastics & Rubber Weekly. His career includes several years as a section specialist at Derwent Communications, a leading company in the field of patent information.

Patrick's academic background is in industrial materials science. He is an MSc in Polymer Science & Engineering from the University of North London, and holds a degree (GradPRI) in Plastics Engineering, awarded by the Plastics & Rubber Institute (now within the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining).

Focus on Manufacturing Intelligence

SolutionsPT, has appointed a new Product Manager to drive the sales performance of its portfolio of Manufacturing Intelligence) products and services.

Michael Charles has been appointed to the role of Manufacturing Intelligence Product Manager to increase revenue growth for SolutionsPT by connecting the company’s technology solutions with common business problems within the marketplace.

Prior to joining SolutionsPT, Michael was a product manager for Manchester based Outsourcery’s Business Applications portfolio, before being promoted to managing O-Cloud – the company’s cloud services platform.

Michael commented: “There has been a blurring of lines between production and IT and there’s currently a big push in IT departments to add ‘visible value’. My first priority is to review with fresh eyes the current MIS marketplace, to see what’s out there and what opportunities are available for SolutionsPT to add value.”

Phil Gillard, SolutionsPT, General Manager, added: “We are delighted to welcome Michael to the team. His previous experience will add a valuable new dimension to the team and we’re excited to see how he will develop our sales activity in the Manufacturing Intelligence area.”

Wireless mast tracking under sail!

In the marvelous weather we've been having here in Ireland we see many sailing boats enjoying the freedom of Galway Bay from our windows here in Caorán na gCearc on the coast of Conamara. This story from the antpodes is therefore very apt.

The T24 wireless instrumentation system from Mantracourt has been used by New Zealand based Southern Spars, a world leader in the development and manufacturer of carbon spars and rigging for superyachts.

Using custom load cells designed to measure multi-directional connection forces between the sail and their sophisticated sail rolling mast-track system, the T24 wireless telemetry system was used to relay real-time data whilst under sail.

Each load cell was interfaced with Mantracourt’s T24-SA strain gauge acquisition module and the data was streamed to a T24-SO serial output interfaced logger, located on a nearby spreader. The T24-SA modules were fitted into slender sail battens with long custom made antennas to transmit data from each channel at 50 data samples per second.

"This has been an exciting and rewarding application for us," said Jonathan Purdue, Business Development Manager at Mantracourt.

"This project really does highlight the innovation that wireless instrumentation is enabling; the collection of real-time high speed load data from a mast that is more than 50 metres high, whilst at sea and under sail, is quite a feat, and we are very proud of the contribution that our T24 system has made to this project."

The benefits of the wireless T24-SA system meant 50 m lead wires were not required, as they would be fouled by the damaging marine environment and by the sail furling structures. The system channels were powered on and off over a period of 3 months using the sleep/wake command on the T24-HA hand-held controller and display. This permitted all project objectives to be achieved and real-time sailing loads could be viewed for instant system feedback whilst conserving batter life when not in use. The T24 wireless load system delivered a discrete and unobtrusive method of obtaining data once highly difficult to obtain.

Southern Spars’ spar and rig packages feature on many award winning racing and luxury superyachts and the company has recently been selected as a finalist in two categories for the Auckland Export Awards 2013.

“We really appreciated Mantracourt’s support on this project, their engineers were highly responsive to the issues we faced and committed to helping at all times,” said Carrick Hill at Southern Spars. “It made all the difference in solving the problems we faced and I’m sure contributed to their product development also.”

New funtionality for 3D sensors

New functionality for Gocator 3D distance and profile sensor ranges

New functionality can be added to the Gocator 1 and 2 series of self-contained 3D sensors from Stemmer Imaging. Gocator Firmware Release 3.5, now available for download, brings performance improvements for both the Gocator 1 displacement sensors and the Gocator 2 profile sensors.

Version 3.5 includes a new Strip Measurement Tool (for Gocator 2), ASCII Protocol Support for greater connectivity to PLCs, robot controllers and scripting programs, and a new dynamic 3D point cloud viewer with pan, orbit and zoom control.

The strip measurement tool measures the geometry of raised strips on a flat surface. The tool can compensate for tilt and noise on the surface. This is well suited for inspecting small scale edge features on surfaces such as rubber or metal sheets. Limits can be set to establish pass and fail conditions for inspection decisions.

A flexible ASCII protocol on both Ethernet and Serial outputs means that users can control the sensor and evaluate measurement results using terminal applications (e.g. telnet) without any programming effort. The format of the ASCII protocol is customisable and can be configured to talk directly to a wide variety of PLCs, robot controllers and scripting programs.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Protect IT applications

Under the theme "Make IT easy", Rittal has bundled together all 2013 product highlights in a new brochure.

The "IT News 2013" brochure contains 85 pages of Rittal's latest product innovations, providing detailed descriptions capable of providing the right solution to suit every IT application. Products and solutions range from RiMatrix S data centres, optimum IT climate control through to compact modular safes and intelligent monitoring systems.

A clear focus of the brochure is the 30-page section on RiMatrix S which truly represents a paradigm shift in the IT world and opens up new perspectives for standardised data centre construction. "IT News 2013" is rounded off by a large range of water-based and coolant-based climate control solutions, security safes used as compact data centres through to fire alarm and extinguishing systems, as well as monitoring systems.

Instrumentation fittings catalogue

Brennan Industries has introduced a new instrumentation catalogue for its complete line of instrumentation fittings.

The new catalog has all Brennan instrumentation tube fittings and their specifications in one place and includes tubing selection guides, tube-working pressure tables, sizing charts and other helpful information for selecting the right fittings for each application. Brennan instrumentation tube fittings provide leak-proof, torque-free seals at all tubing connections and eliminate leaks in instrumentation, process, pneumatic, hydraulic, gas and other tubing systems.

“Brennan instrumentation fittings are constructed and tested to provide the quality products that our customers expect,” said Bill Jarrell, vice president of marketing and operations, Brennan Industries. “The new category-specific catalog makes it faster and easier to make the right selections.”
Brennan’s complete line of instrumentation fittings includes plugs, nuts, back and front ferrule, connectors, unions, reducers, caps and several other styles.

Optimising HVAC/R systems

When summer heat hits, HVAC/R systems need to operate at peak efficiency

With the summer heat, HVAC/R systems should be tuned-up to run at maximum efficiency to avoid wasting energy, system downtime, and expensive emergency maintenance. An efficient way to start is to make a quick visual inspection of the system with a visual IR thermometer to identify potential issues that need further investigation.

The Fluke® VT02 Visual IR Thermometer, a troubleshooting camera with an infrared heat map, combines the convenience of a single-spot IR thermometer with the visual insight of an infrared camera. The thermal heat map quickly detects the exact location of potential problem areas and gives you context with your findings.

Troubleshooting HVAC/R systems is much faster with the VT02 than an infrared thermometer. The VT02 instantly detects problems using blended thermal heat map and digital images. It displays and saves images as full visual, full infrared, or in three blended modes (25, 50, and 75%). Markers pinpoint hot and cold spots indicating the hottest temperature with a red box and the coldest with a blue box. A temperature reading is provided at the centre point. Images are saved to the micro-SD card, eliminating the need to write down single or multiple measurements.

Affordable, compact, and intuitive, the Fluke VT02 operates with focus-free simplicity, expanding the user base from senior to junior technicians. Images from the VT02 can be imported into SmartView® analysis and reporting software, included with the VT02, to produce professional reports that document problems detected or repairs made for management and customer review.

Keeping an eye on the ball!

Successful conclusion to school’s vision project for football tracking

Stemmer Imaging and a team of 4 students from Farnborough Sixth Form College have completed a 6 month vision project to develop a system for tracking a football’s trajectory during a penalty kick and investigate ways of implementing the technique into a smartphone and tablet app. This continues Stemmer’s commitment to support engineering education in Britain.

The project forms part of the Engineering Education Scheme in England & Scotland, an EDT Programme which links teams of four Year 12 or S5/S6 students and their teacher with local companies to work on real, scientific, engineering and technological problems. At the recent regional ‘Celebration and Assessment Day’ held at BP Sunbury, the panel of judges awarded the Farnborough team 91 marks out of a possible maximum of 104 (the top mark in their group) based on technical skills, communication skills and project management. (EDT operates a range of work-related learning schemes to provide opportunities for 11-21 year olds to enhance their technical, personal and employability skills and careers awareness through industry-led projects, industrial placements and specialised courses.)

The judges rated their 55 page report as ‘at least undergraduate level, more like professional level’. They also received the only two ‘outstanding’ marks awarded (one for how they responded to being interviewed about the project, the other for their innovation and enterprise).

Dr. Jon Vickers, Technical Manager at Stemmer IMAGING UK, co-ordinated the technical aspects of the project. He said: “With the recent announcement by the English Premier League that they will use ‘goal line technology’ in season 2013-14 and the likely uptake of similar technology by FIFA for the 2014 World Cup, football trajectory tracking is highly topical. In this project, the students had to consider the theoretical requirements of capturing 3D data describing the trajectory of the ball and then put that into practice to evaluate the cameras, lenses, software and lighting needed. They also had to take account of effects on the ball such as spin. They then looked at how the techniques could be translated into a game and came up with 4 possible ideas, before deciding on an app that would allow players to score points by trying to hit different targets in the goal. They were able to produce some very encouraging prototype ideas.”

Mark Williamson, Director – Corporate Market Development at Stemmer, said: “The UK engineering industry in general and the vision industry in particular will be best served in the future by engineers whose skills include practical experience and understanding of the needs of business as well as their theoretical knowledge. We are delighted to be able to make a small practical contribution to this process through this project, following on from our previous support of EDT with a cash donation in 2011. Although there was a good deal of technical content to this project, there was also a strong business element, with students investigating what was already on the market and learning about the costs of developing a product and the impact they have on profitability.”

Piston ring inspections

PSA carries out automatic piston ring inspections using Keyence laser displacement sensors. These accurate measurements have been made continuously and successfully for several years

The Trémery factory, set up in 1979, is located 20 kilometres from Metz (F) and has a staff of 3,740. It specialises in assembly of 4-cylinder diesel engines and has a daily production of 6,500 units, which makes it the biggest diesel engine assembly factory in the world, and the fourth largest taking all power sources together.
The piston rings are fitted by a robot. The rings feature a gap and when they are expanded, they slide into grooves which have been created into the piston to house them. The pistons are critical components whose main purpose is to prevent combustion gases from escaping into the engine crankcase, so as to avoid loss of gas pressure and engine power. They also help to keep the engine´s lubricating oil out of the combustion chamber, while leaving a lubricating film of a predetermined thickness over the full surface area of the cylinder walls. Correct fitting of these moving sealing parts is essential to keep the engine running efficiently.

Pistons are fitted with 3 rings: the scraper ring, which is the most critical in regards to inspection because it is very thin and has a small spring that breaks easily, the compression ring, and lastly the top or "fire" ring that is 3 mm high and is the easiest to inspect. The piston rings are checked automatically at the Trémery PSA factory. A robot places the piston on a turntable, and four sensors are located on each side of the piston, opposite the first two rings. Each sensor inspects half of a ring. An initial rotation through 180° is made to check the first two rings with the 4 sensors. The turntable then rises along the Z axis. A second rotation is made in the opposite direction to inspect the third ring, using 2 sensors. If a ring is found to be nonconforming, it is inspected again, and then a third time. If the defect is confirmed, the piston is sent to an operator for further analysis.

"The displacement sensors measure all the dimensions of each of the half-perimeters that they are analysing. About 2,500 measurements are made per full turn, giving a pitch of less than one tenth of a millimetre. An inspection cycle of the 3 rings takes about 5 seconds.

¨We have determined thresholds to check the presence and the position of the 3 rings in the middle of the groove, together with the size and position of the gap. We also check the spring on the scraper ring via its gaps. To do so, we have selected the Keyence LK-G32 high-precision model with a small, 30-micron spot, as otherwise the spot was too big to enter the gaps", explains Claude Tritz, an assembly maintenance technician at the Trémery PSA factory.

Two LK-G models are used: 2 heads with small spots 30 microns in diameter (LK-G32) to inspect the scraper and compression rings, and 2 LK-G82 heads to detect the top ring.

The LKG sensors are laser displacement sensors. They provide a sampling speed of 50 kHz with a repeatability level of 0.05 µm for the most accurate models. Piston rings are reflective parts, and this affects the measurements. The LK-G range enables stable detection of transparent plastic and metal objects, thanks to its correction functions. The ABLE (Active Balanced Laser control Engine) technology detects the surface of a target and adjusts the laser light intensity to the optimum level. ABLE intelligently controls three parameters: laser emission time, laser power level, and gain (CCD amplification factor), thus providing a wide range of light intensity adjustment that is up to 90 times greater than that of conventional models. The MRC (Multiple Reflection Cancel) algorithm enables elimination of multiple reflections from a metal surface. When at least two peaks are generated by multiple reflections, the algorithm compares the wave forms with the last light wave form received and determines which one shows the greatest similarity with the "correct wave form".

"We have been using this solution for years now; in comparison to the previous solution, we have considerably reduced the numbers of false defects. It is to be noted that 3,000 engines are assembled on a continuous basis every day on the lines inspected by the LK-G sensors, in a very difficult environment. Nonetheless, the LK-G sensors stand up to the conditions very well", concludes Claude Tritz.

Industrial connector housing up to IP 67

Harting has introduced a bulkhead-mounted version of its proven Han® B industrial connector housing providing improved protection against water ingress up to protection level IP 67.

The new housing incorporates a special flange which prevents water from penetrating into the connector and consequently offers ideal protection for the contact points in the housing interior. A circumferential collar also prevents the seal from sliding off inwards or outwards, and consequently offers solid support. The use of a stable seal offsets the effect of uneven sections and provides additional protection against water penetration.

No extra costs are incurred when the IP 67 bulkhead-mounted housing is installed, as the cutout corresponds to the dimensions of the existing Han® housing portfolio. The new bulkhead-mounted housing is locked with the Harting Han-Easy Lock® levers, which allow a high contact pressure level when closed and also provide optimal sealing between the hood and the bottom housing.

The new IP 67 flange is the latest addition to Harting’s comprehensive range of housings for use in industrial environments. Potential applications are in any industrial sectors where operational reliability is required under extreme conditions, such as wind turbines, cranes, electricity substations and the rail industry.