Wednesday 31 August 2022

Drive systems for transportation & mobility.

Gefeg-Neckar Antriebssysteme GmbH is a drive systems expert for transportation machinery and materials handling equipment applications in mobility, medical, logistics and many other branches of industry. The German designer and manufacturer, represented in Britain by motion specialist Mclennan, includes a custom designed drive systems capability specifically aimed at integration on Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs). 

Supplied as complete Vulkollan™ equipped wheel assemblies with mechanical interfacing adapters, these modular systems include brushless DC geared motors, feedback encoders, optional dynamic or holding brakes - and are supplied with integrated on-board motor controls or for use with external motor controls and optional Safe Torque Off (STO).

Extensively used in production and warehousing settings for transportation, loading and retrieval of pallets, crates, boxes, and components etc., all types of AGVs can be equipped with Gefeg-Neckar’s drives up to a maximum power of 1.5 kW. Powerful brushless DC motors provide maximum efficiency for battery operated AGVs as well as extended life with low maintenance. With load carrying capability per wheel up to 1000 kg, three outline drive models are available for customisation with the nominal wheel diameter between 160 and 230 mm. These are variously equipped with 24 or 48 VDC geared motors with maximum torque output of approximately 16, 27 and 88 Nm, and respective maximum speeds of 244, 182 and 78 rpm. This equates to nominal AGV cart speeds of 2.0, 1.5 and 0.9 m/sec respectively. The modularly designed models can be flexibly adapted to match application specifics with alternative gear unit technologies (planetary, worm and spur), adjusted motor characteristics and tailored componentry to suit the performance required. For medical or high hygiene environments, stainless steel motor, gear unit and hardware versions are available.

Gefeg-Neckar designs and manufactures many other specialist drive transmission systems including wheelchair mobility, wind turbine rotor adjustment, solar panel actuators, rehabilitation equipment, home automation, machinery for wood and metal working, packaging and more.

@mepaxIntPR #McLennan #gefeg_neckar #Transportation #Motion

Appointment in photonic and microelectronic leader.

Mr. Thorsten Scheidler has been appointed managing director for Palomar Technologies' operations in Europe (HQ: Erlangen D), effective October 1, 2022. Mr. Scheidler replaces Mr. Josef Schmidl who is retiring after more than 30 years with Palomar Technologies. 

Thorsten Scheidler
“It’s with sad hearts that we announce the retirement of our long-time colleague, Mr. Josef Schmidl, yet welcome Mr. Scheidler to his new position as managing director for Palomar Europe,” said Bruce Hueners, President and CEO for Palomar Technologies, Inc. “We wish Mr. Schmidl a long, healthy and happy retirement and wish Mr. Scheidler great success in his new role and look forward to working with him.”

Over his 30+ years with Palomar Technologies, Mr. Schmidl was instrumental in opening up the European market to Palomar semiconductor packaging equipment and building the market. He joined Hughes Aircraft in 1986 as a service and applications engineer. In 1995, Mr. Schmidl moved to sales and two years later, he established Palomar GmbH in Erlangen, Germany, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Palomar Technologies. Since then, Mr. Schmidl has grown Palomar GmbH into an organization that provides sales and service support to customers in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Mr. Thorsten Scheidler, Sales Director Europe for SST Vacuum Reflow Systems has over 15 years of sales and technical support experience within the power electronics and semiconductor industries in Europe. He has been instrumental in implementing sales strategies for Palomar’s wholly owned subsidiary, SST Vacuum Reflow Systems in the EMEA market.

@PalomarTech #Pauto #Europe

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Gas analysis centre helps plants meet sustainability aims.

Scotland-based centre to develop and provide training for next-generation gas sensing technologies used for emissions monitoring, process control and safety.

LtoR: Phillip Bond, vice president of Emerson’s measurement solutions business in Europe; Kelly Klein, vice president & general manager of Emerson's Rosemount analytical and detection business; Jon Stokes, group president of Emerson’s measurement solutions business; Jason Stokes, site director of Emerson’s Gas Analysis Solutions Centre; Beth Clark, vice president of human resources for Emerson’s measurement solutions business; Iain Howieson, vice president & general manager of Emerson’s Rosemount gas analysis business.
A new facility equipped with engineering, development and manufacturing resources for sensor, mechanical, electronics and software design for Emerson’s gas analysis portfolio has been opened in Cumbernauld, Scotland. Spurred by demand to reduce the environmental impact of industrial process facilities, the new gas analysis solutions centre will produce more than 10 different sensing technologies that can measure more than 60 different gas components, delivering on Emerson’s commitment to supporting customers’ decarbonisation efforts.

“The mission of our new gas analysis solutions centre is to support industrial manufacturers in achieving their decarbonisation and environmental sustainability goals, including the deployment of low-carbon fuels and power sources, reducing emissions and decreasing waste,” said Jon Stokes, group president of Emerson’s measurement solutions business. “It’s the latest addition to our investment in innovation that will help to achieve a more sustainable future.”

As a global hub for the production and distribution of gas sensing technologies, the 62,000-square-foot facility will engineer and manufacture Emerson’s Rosemount™ continuous gas analysers and gas chromatographs, which are used to improve emissions monitoring, plant safety, quality control and operational efficiency. These tools are critical to helping process plants meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations and ensuring process control in hydrogen, biofuel, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and aerosol manufacturing, as well as reducing waste and scrappage to foster sustainability

The centre includes a training space and offers training options for customers, including classroom, on-site and web-based courses, giving Emerson greater ability to demonstrate how the latest gas analysis technologies can help customers run their operations reliably, safely and efficiently. It is certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and complements Emerson’s global network of facilities certified by ISO standards for quality, occupational health and safety, and environmental management systems.

The facility is also equipped with a gas extraction system, an environmental chamber and external gas storage to facilitate gas analyser testing and application research and development. Combined with calibration capabilities, a dedicated area for performing factory acceptance testing, and a customer collaboration space, these capabilities will help assure product performance and integrity and streamline the customer experience.

@EMR_Automation @Emerson_News @EmersonExchange @HHC_Lewis #PAuto  #Scotland

Pioneer installation in digital mining.

The enterprise-grade digital platform ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite is being installed to enable Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project in Chile to drive efficient, sustainable and remote operations.

The gold and silver mine is located in the Atacama Desert, among the highest peaks of the Andes mountain range with elevations of between 4,200m and 4,900m. It is 1,300km from the Chilean capital of Santiago where the ABB Ability™ Genix suite is located in a remote monitoring center for the mine. With the technology, Gold Fields will gain data insights that will help them to increase industrial productivity and operational excellence, while reducing costs. Remote connectivity will help reduce the number of people needed at the actual mine location, thus improving safety.

ABB Ability™ Genix combines the power of industrial analytics and artificial intelligence to integrate 25 engineering, operational and information technology systems across different functional areas, including the mine, processing, geology and exploration, asset management, finance, legal, and human resources.

Starting with data capture and integrating cross-functional data, ABB Ability™ Genix connects operational, business and engineering systems. It then collects, contextualizes and converts data through advanced analytics into meaningful information to unlock productivity improvements by driving smart business decisions.

ABB Ability™ Genix will help visualize and analyze all information required to support Gold Fields’ reporting and drive its environmental commitments, helping the company to make a world of difference by achieving its vision of becoming the global leader in sustainable gold mining.

“Salares Norte deploys a high level of digital industrial software and technology. This is critical to this project due to its remote location – the nearest town being Diego de Almagro, 180km away, the altitude of the project and adverse weather conditions which make site access and fieldwork challenging,” said Max Combes, Project Director of Gold Fields. “It demanded a solution for the remote monitoring center in Santiago that could integrate and contextualize information from many systems, including some common to Chile, as well as perform data analytics. ABB is already a proven digital partner and ABB Ability™ Genix will further unlock the power of data at this project.”

“ABB will deliver a comprehensive integrated electrification, automation and digitalization solution at Salares Norte,” said Iván Villegas, Hub Product Marketing Manager Automation - South America, ABB. “ABB Ability™ Genix, set to be fully commissioned in record time, will help Gold Fields to use their data from operations better, by combining it with engineering and information technology data for multi-dimensional decision making.”

The ABB Ability™ MineOptimize solution has already been deployed to supply an integrated power and automation system at Salares Norte comprising six electrical rooms and a suite of process and power controls, all under ABB Ability™ System 800xA distributed control system (DCS). These include Power and Process Control Library and Camera Connect (the ABB video system embedded in the control platform for optimized process monitoring). ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager is also used to manage information production through Plant Information Management System (PIMS), alongside ABB Ability™ Asset Vista Condition Monitoring.

ABB's scope includes Dynamic Process Simulator, which reviews plant control logics, reducing commissioning times and allowing Gold Fields to train operators to acquire the skills required to achieve high-quality operations.

Salares Norte is expected to produce 3.7 million ounces of gold over an initial mine life of 11 years. The operation involves drilling, blasting, loading, and hauling methods for ore extraction, and has an installed production capacity of two million tons per annum.

@ABBgroupnews @abb_automation @GoldFields_LTD #PAuto #Chile

Position indicator with I-O interface.

SIKO is presenting the AP05 as the most compact version in the segment bus-compatible position indicators for monitored size changeover and now with an integrated IO-Link interface. As the core element of monitored size changeover, networked position indicators have become an indispensable part of mechanical engineering. Their ability to display the setpoint and actual value on the adjusting spindle to the machine operator greatly increases comfort for the setter.

This greatly simplifies the process of refitting a production machine for a new product. At the same time, feedback on the positioning status to the machine controller increases reliability for format changes and optimizes set-up times. Incorrect settings are prevented, which avoids rejects and damage to tools. In short, it boosts efficiency and reduces setup times.

New: IO-Link interface for swift integration.
• Position display with innovative IO-Link interface
• Two-line LCD with backlighting
• Setpoint and actual value display with integrated comparison
• Loop positioning for clearance compensation
• Positioning status and rotational direction display using 2x red/green LEDs
• Stainless steel hollow shaft with 20 mm diameter
• Protection rating up to IP65
• Magnetic absolute encoder
Above all, thanks to smart communication with the higher-level machine control system, the AP05 position indicator ensures that product changes and size changeovers are implemented safely and ergonomically. Setpoints, actual position values and the positioning status are exchanged, which converts the manual spindle adjustment into a monitored process. In addition to the proven serial interfaces, the AP05 now deploys the innovative IO-Link interface. This interface enables fast and cost-effective integration via a point-to-point connection using uncomplicated I/O connection technology. Thanks to the open, manufacturer-independent standard of the IO-Link interface, convenient integration options are available for machine control systems from all leading providers. IO-Link Master Islands can be used for the modular networking of several AP05 position indicators. Complexity and cabling effort are thus drastically reduced, as are commissioning times. The straightforward wiring, combined with additional diagnostic features, improves serviceability and lowers downtimes in the event of errors.

Backlit LCD display with high display accuracy.
One key element of the AP05 is the inverted backlit LCD display. The backlighting ensures that the position values are very easy to read, even in places that are difficult to see in or in low light conditions. The LCD is designed as a two-line five-digit 7-segment display. As a result, the adjustment tracks can still be displayed with high display accuracy. The 7-segment display also allows for the additional display of alphanumeric characters, which simplifies configuration, commissioning and error diagnosis.

In addition to the directional arrows on the LCD display, the AP05 position indicator also provides clear visual user guidance via two dual-color status LEDs. These not only signal the positioning status (InPos or OutPos) but also indicate the required rotational direction for direct access to the desired point. The AP05 also deploys loop positioning to compensate for mechanical spindle play.

Mounting compatible with mechanical SIKO meters.
Like all SIKO position indicators, the AP05 also features a hollow shaft, guaranteeing the easiest assembly possible for standard adjustable axles. With regard to the high compactness and the optional cable outlet, the display also finds ways to be used in tightly confined spaces. The clearance of the torque bracket guarantees mounting compatibility with the world's best-selling SIKO counter DA04. This means the AP05 can be used to switch from manual adjustment with mechanical position indicator to monitored size changeover without changing the machine frame. Thanks to the high protection class of IP65 and a hollow shaft made of stainless steel or plastic, the AP05 is also suitable for applications in the food industry, in beverage production, or in the pharmaceutical sector. The display can also be used without any problems, however, for dated applications that pose difficulties, thanks to the carbon fiber reinforced plastic housing and display with impact protection.

@SIKOglobal @mepaxIntPR #PAuto #Manufacturing

Friday 26 August 2022

Forward focus...

In-person conference to bring together industry’s leading automation professionals to share insight on innovations in sustainability, safety and production performance

For the first in-person Emerson Exchange (EMREX) since 2019, Emerson will bring together customers, experts and industry leaders for a four-day conference to share the latest innovations across process, hybrid and discrete industries. The conference will be held during the week of October 24, 2022, at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Centre in Grapevine, (TX USA).

Registration is now open to Emerson customers. Early bird registration ends on August 31.

Emerson Exchange 2022 offers a unique opportunity for automation professionals to engage with their peers, broaden their knowledge base and gain valuable insight on the latest market trends, technological breakthroughs, and project success stories from around the world.

Keynote presenters include Mark Bulanda, executive president of Emerson’s Automation Solutions business; Mike Train, Emerson senior vice president and chief sustainability officer; and AspenTech CEO Antonio Pietri.

A comprehensive agenda of more than 300 presentations, technology exhibits and educational courses will focus on a broad range of topics relevant to today’s energy, life sciences, chemical, refining, food and beverage, power generation, renewables, hydrogen, biomass, water and mining industries.

Roundtable sessions led by industry experts and Emerson executives will explore how advanced automation technologies are helping companies make measurable progress in energy source decarbonisation, emissions management, electrification, energy efficiency, and other areas involving environmental and economic sustainability.

This year’s event will also feature in-depth panel discussions on industrial cybersecurity techniques, digital transformation case studies, decision-making strategies, project execution roadmaps, safety and operations best practices, as well as live product demonstrations, an opening night networking event, music jam, collaboration forums and much more.

• Details of EMREX EMEA conferences through the years may be found her.

@EmersonExchange @EMR_Automation @Emerson_News @HHC_Lewis #EMREX22 #PAuto #Americas

Thursday 25 August 2022

Towards an instrumentation device profile for OPC UA Field eXchange.

The OPC Foundation (OPCF) and the FieldComm Group (FCG) are collaborating to drive multi-vendor interoperability of instrumentation devices based on OPC UA and the extensions for the field level, named OPC UA FX (Field eXchange). This development will incorporate preliminary work by both organizations. This will ensure that the market will have only one single standard. The aim is to provide an interoperable interface between PLC / DCS and instrumentation devices, such as transmitters, instruments, and actuators. The solution shall support different industries such as oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, energy, water & wastewater, and pulp & paper.

To begin this work, a new OPC UA Instrumentation Working Group is being hosted by the OPC Foundation, under the leadership of the Field Level Communications (FLC) Initiative. Participation in the working group is open to members of the OPC Foundation, as well as corporate entity members of the FieldComm Group. Many well-known manufacturers in the process and factory automation industries are represented within this working group to ensure a uniform, worldwide, and coordinated standard for OPC UA-based instrumentation devices.

In order to achieve inter-vendor interoperability of instrumentation devices, the working group will add to the UAFX base specifications the definition of interfaces and behaviors which are typical for instrumentation devices, including:

  • commonly used interfaces and data types for the industries mentioned above including functional safety,
  • diagnostic information specific to instrumentation devices,
  • operation modes of instrumentation devices,
  • state machines and timing models for instrumentation-specific functionality, where appropriate.

The new instrumentation device profile specification will use PubSub and can be combined with different underlying communication protocols (e.g. UDP/IP) and physical layers (e.g. Ethernet-APL) to support all relevant use cases in discrete and process manufacturing, including safety instrumentation based on OPC UA Safety and deterministic data exchange based on Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), where appropriate.

The Instrumentation Facet shall be complementary to the jointly-owned OPC 30081 / FCG TS10098 “OPC UA for Process Automation Devices (PA-DIM)” and other Companion Specifications. The working group will also strive to manage overlap with other information models already released or under development. Examples include, the models for “Calibration” (a Harmonization sub-group) and “Laboratory and Analytical Devices” (LADS working group).

Thoralf Schulz (ABB), Chairperson FCG says: “OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group joining forces in the Instrumentation Working Group is a significant milestone. This collaboration unifies separate volunteer initiatives previously underway in each organization, and creates the basis for a broadly accepted single standard. It will harmonize device integration while supporting the transition of existing device technologies and their installations into the future. Combined with FDI-based device management and the Advanced Physical Layer (APL) for the lower-layer connectivity, this is a major milestone towards a harmonized data exchange infrastructure, which will benefit both users of process automation as well as vendors of process automation products and solutions.” 

Thomas Hahn (Siemens), Vice President OPCF says: “Digitization needs interoperability. Interoperability needs standards. Extending the OPC UA framework to include an information model for instrumentation devices is important to ensure cross-vendor interoperability and common semantics. No single organization can achieve this alone! Therefore, cross-organizational collaboration is essential - from process automation to discrete manufacturing, from customer to provider, from machine tool builder to solution partners, and so on. Through this collaboration, an important step towards meeting the needs of our customers and the industry is achieved.”

“Extending the OPC UA Framework with an information model for instrumentation devices is important to ensure – in combination with OPC UA Safety, Deterministic Communication, Motion and Ethernet-APL/SPE – cross-vendor interoperability and common semantics, not only for the Controller-to-Controller and Controller-to-Device use cases in Factory and Process Automation, but also supporting OPC UA as a fully scalable technology from the sensor across all levels to MES / ERP and also to the cloud,” stated Peter Lutz, Director FLC Initiative at OPC Foundation

@OPCFoundation @FieldCommGroup #PAuto #Communications

Multi-functional shut-off valve.

A new shut-off valve for pipelines has been tailored by WIKA for applications in the process industry. The model PBV-FS with flange connection is suitable for controlling media flow, for the combination with pressure measuring instruments and as a connection between piping systems.

The shut-off valve is designed with a floating ball and with either a full or a reduced bore. Users can choose between block & bleed or double block & bleed configuration. The model PBV-FS operates with low torque and low wear, and its surface is also corrosion-resistant.

The compact design of the valve enables installation that saves space and minimises leakage. The model PBV-FS prevents any fugitive emissions (leak test in accordance with EN ISO 15848-1). The valve is also tested for fire safety in accordance with API 607, ISO 10497 and BS6755-2.

WIKA also offers a customer-specific assembly of valve and measuring instrument. Such an “instrument hook-up” is delivered ready-to-install and leak tested.

• WIKA products are marketed in Ireland through Instrument Technology.

@WIKANews #PAuto #Pharma

75 years monitoring and analysing ndustrial temperature measurements.

75 years of producing innovative systems and solutions for industries including metals, glass, hydrocarbon processing and power generation is being celebrated by AMETEK Land .

First Pyrometer SP & Cambridge Indicator

Founded in 1947 by Tom Land, AMETEK Land now employs around 150 people worldwide, supporting customers with industrial temperature measurement, combustion efficiency and emissions monitoring.

The company has seen many notable milestones in its history; Land launched its first surface pyrometer in 1958, followed by its first non-contact infrared pyrometer along with a blackbody calibration source in 1965. This was a game-changer in safety and accuracy, allowing for faster and more efficient temperature readings in industrial operations.

Looking to the future, AMETEK Land is continuing its innovation and technological advancements, to enable its customers to meet the highest standards of plant safety, process control and product quality.

David Primhak, Director of Sales and Product Management at AMETEK Land commented: “As a company, we are incredibly proud of our contribution to industrial manufacturing. We have a magnificent team leading the way in product development and advanced technologies, developing new solutions and updating existing systems to help improve safety, increase yields, and reduce carbon footprints.

“Decarbonisation is top of the agenda for us all, and we’re working closely with our customer base to understand their needs and help them achieve their decarbonisation goals as the world becomes greener.”

AMETEK Land offers a range of products used by industrial manufacturers worldwide, including the SPOT range of non-contact pyrometers, the NIR-B thermal imaging borescopes, as well as supporting software including the latest IMAGEPro.

This is backed by a team of experts including physicists, research and development professionals, and production teams, all of which contribute to the success of the business.

Land became part of AMETEK, Inc. within the Process & Analytical Instruments Division in 2006. This business alliance means that Land benefits from being part of a corporation with global supply chains and business functions.

@landinst @codacomms #PAuto 

Machine visualisation solution.

PACSystems RXi HMI delivers visualisation for the digital age: intuitive graphics, smartphone-like usability, collaboration from anywhere and industrial ruggedness.

Machine builders in any industrial application can now use Emerson’s PACSystems™ RXi HMI, a next-generation machine visualisation solution designed to help set their systems apart for customers. The new system easily helps users overcome the limitations of lower budgets, fewer people and higher productivity demands. This highly intuitive human-machine interface (HMI) addresses the needs of today’s industrial workforce with easy-to-use, smartphone-like graphical displays without sacrificing rugged, industrial performance.

“Machine builders and OEMs are no longer ‘one and done’ suppliers to their customers. Today, they become long-term collaborators by developing new and better ways to solve customer problems,”
said Jeff Householder, president of Emerson’s machine automation solutions business. “The new PACSystems RXi HMI is an easy, cost-effective way to add significant customer value to a system by enabling new levels of ease of use, increasing productivity, speeding communications, improving analytics and business intelligence capabilities, and easing the move into IIoT. In every way, the RXi HMI is built for real industrial environments as well as the next-generation of industrial workers.”

Unlike traditional resistive displays, PACSystems RXi HMI is designed with projective capacitive touchscreen technology that allows users to interact with the visual display with 10-point multitouch capabilities like swipe, pinch or zoom to move to the next screen or expand a chart, enabling easy operation by a wide range of personnel with varying levels of training and experience.

The system comes pre-loaded and pre-licensed with the advanced Movicon™ WebHMI software, so the device is conveniently ready to operate out of the box, saving customer time. PACSystems RXi HMI is HTML5-ready which allows users to collaborate from anywhere, so that the operations, management and maintenance teams can all view the same screen at the same time, no matter the distance. This immediate sharing of information and access to expertise reduces maintenance costs and improves productivity.

In addition, customers will value the faster access to data-based operational insights to maximise overall equipment effectiveness. The PACSystems RXi HMI, with Movicon WebHMI at its core, is IIoT-ready for data analysis, troubleshooting and diagnostics, placing the operational insights customers need at their fingertips. A data trending tool provides a clear snapshot of productivity and quality. The SQLite database tool and PAC analyser help users troubleshoot problems and minimise downtime. In addition, it provides extensive protocol support with OPC UA for better data contextualisation and MQTT for easy cloud connectivity, so the solution goes far beyond visualisation.

PACSystems RXi HMI protects against both physical and digital risks. It offers protection in wet applications with certifications for both high-pressure water jets and marine use with an IP66 water resistance rating, as well as being approved for use in a wide range of temperatures from minus 20 to 65 degrees Celsius. In addition, the device is resistant to chemicals, impact, scratches and dust. It is also designed in accordance with IEC 62443 Global Automation Cybersecurity Standards to support end users’ overall digital security strategy.

@Emerson_News @EmersonExchange @EMR_Automation @HHC_Lewis #PAuto #Machine

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Colaboration to lead to global leadership in large-scale green hydrogen production systems.

ABB and Hydrogen Optimized Inc. (HOI) have signed an agreement to expand the companies’ existing strategic relationship. This includes an investment by ABB into Key DH Technologies Inc. (KEY), the parent company of HOI, as they seek to accelerate the fast-emerging green hydrogen production segment with unique large-scale architecture. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

LtoR: Justin Trudeau, PM Canada, Olaf Scholz, Bundeskanzler BRD, Joachim Braun, President ABB Process Industries and Andrew TB Stuart, President & CEO KEY & HOI.

The signing follows the two companies’ showcase of their green hydrogen technologies at the August 23, 2022 German-Canadian Atlantic Renewable Hydrogen Expo in Stephenville, Newfoundland (CDN), which was attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Hydrogen produced with low-to-zero carbon dioxide emissions is widely recognized as essential to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

By accelerating the strategic collaboration between ABB and HOI launched in 2020, the two companies are advancing the deployment of economic large-scale green hydrogen production systems to decarbonize hard-to-abate industries that address a wide range of essential needs – energy, metals, cement, utilities, ammonia, fertilizers, and fuels for aircraft, ships, trucks and rail.

The companies will leverage their respective capabilities and resources to rapidly commercialize HOI’s patented RuggedCell™ high-power water electrolysis technology for the world’s largest green hydrogen plants. Water electrolysis is the process of applying electrical energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. RuggedCell™ technology converts renewable electricity such as hydro, solar and wind power into green hydrogen for industry.

“We look forward to building on our companies’ two-year working relationship to pursue the enormous global opportunity of green hydrogen,” said Joachim Braun, Division President, ABB Process Industries. “Following a rigorous validation of the RuggedCell™ technology, we are confident that, in combination with ABB’s high-power rectifiers, it can become a category leader in the large-scale green hydrogen segment. Our complementary technologies will strengthen the Hydrogen Optimized value proposition and fast-track the commercialization of the RuggedCell™.”

“This agreement positions us for success in the large-scale segment with customers requiring installations in the hundreds of megawatts to multi-gigawatts,” said Andrew T. B. Stuart, President and CEO of KEY and HOI. “ABB’s global footprint, commercial relationships and technology leadership in high-power rectifiers, distributed control systems and manufacturing automation provide us with the market reach and capabilities to achieve our company’s goals.”

Global electrolyzer capacity will reach an estimated 3,100 gigawatts by 2050, according to a June 2022 report published by DNV. The group forecasts that electricity-based green hydrogen will be the dominant form of hydrogen production by the middle of this century, accounting for 72 percent of output.

The proceeds of ABB’s investment into KEY, led by ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), will be used to advance HOI’s intellectual property development, build up corporate capabilities for increased business activity and introduce automated manufacturing and robotics. This will accelerate the rollout of gigawatt-scale electrolyzer manufacturing.

@ABBgroupnews @abb_automation @h_optimized #PAuto #Canada #Germany

Photometric gas analyser.

A new analyser promising to deliver their most advanced photometric gas analysis solution to date has been launched by Servomex.

The new SERVOTOUGH SpectraExact 2500 is built on the proven legacy of its iconic, industry-leading predecessor. Designed around an easier-to-use digital platform, the new analyzer is a rugged and reliable product ready to handle a wide range of industrial applications, including ethylene production, carbon capture, ethylene dichloride production, and the direct reduction iron process.

Rhys Jenkins, IP&E Spectroscopic Product Manager, said: “Built on a trusted pedigree of photometric analyzers, the new SpectraExact 2500 features some unique enhancements and connectivity options to ensure easy-to-use, next generation performance in a flexible, rugged and robust platform.

“This is an advanced, updated version of an existing, trusted analyzer that is well-known and widely used across a variety of industrial processes. It is a true next-generation product.”

It delivers flexible, real-time, on-line process analysis capability in corrosive, toxic, and flammable gas streams, making it ideal for an extensive variety of process and emissions gas analysis applications.

With a new, feature-rich design, and trusted non-depleting sensing technologies, the new SpectraExact 2500 offers extended maintenance intervals and dramatically reduced ongoing costs.

Enhancements include industrial-leading Infrared technology, a larger screen, more intuitive interface, simpler navigation and CE approval for the European market.

Designed using the latest standards and components, giving maximum longevity to the product, there is an onboard SD card to store data and improve customer support. The new model has also been designed using the footprint of the former model, with compatible wiring, to ensure simple and easy installation for customers.

@Servomex @codacomms #PAuto 

Test and Registration Services for Ethernet-APL.

FieldComm Group provides conformance testing and registration for leading industrial instrumentation technologies for the process automation sector, now Ethernet-APL solutions join the portfolio of registered products with the availability of physical layer conformance testing for Ethernet-APL infrastructure products — power switches and field switches.

Ethernet-APL is an enhanced physical layer for single-pair Ethernet (SPE) based on 10BASET1L. This new physical layer provides end-users with a resilient, isolated and powered Ethernet network for process automation. Ethernet-APL enabled field devices connect directly to this network. Switches registered with FieldComm Group undergo conformance tests for crucial aspects of the physical layer of the new technology: EMC, Data and Power.

Gunther Rogoll, Manager of Fieldbus Technology for Pepperl+Fuchs expressed excitement for this milestone. “We are thrilled to have the first registered Ethernet-APL switches, the Rail Field Switches including up to 24 intrinsically safe Ex ic spur ports, with FieldComm Group. We have recently been working with FieldComm Group to create test policies and procedures for infrastructure products like field switches and power switches usable by all test and registration authorities in the Ethernet-APL consortium, including ODVA, OPC Foundation, and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International. This effort will ensure conformance to the Ethernet APL standards independent of test agency.” 

FieldComm Group has worked closely with ODVA, OPC Foundation, and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International in a concerted collaboration in developing the test specifications and processes for Ethernet-APL products.

“Conformance to the Ethernet-APL standard strengthens the process automation industry as a whole,” explains Ted Masters, President, and CEO of FieldComm Group. “We are excited for this opportunity to provide testing and registration of Ethernet-APL Infrastructure Products, a major component of the Ethernet-APL ecosystem. This is the first step towards a complete suite of registration services from FieldComm Group for Ethernet-APL products to fulfill the field-to-cloud initiative brought forth by Ethernet-based technologies.”

He continued, “As additional innovative products join the digital evolution of process automation we will see HART-IP field devices and other infrastructure products completing our registration process, expanding the breadth of fast and secure process data delivery for cloud-based analytics and optimization.”

FieldComm Group has developed a conformity assessment system to support Ethernet-APL switching hardware. FieldComm Group assesses products for overall conformity to the Ethernet-APL standards using a combination of test results from specialized laboratories and in-house testing services. Products are evaluated against the latest test specifications to ensure consistent EMC immunity and emissions of products; the functionality of the PMA, PCS, PHY Control, and Auto-Negotiation sublayer; and the correct implementation of Port Profiles electrical characteristics such as noise and power for Intrinsic Safety. Product owners who submit conformant Ethernet-APL infrastructure hardware receive a conformance report, certificate and listing on the FieldComm Group Product Registry.

@FieldCommGroup #PAuto #Communications

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Water, wastewater & emissions returns to life!

WWEM 2022 will take place live at the Telford International Centre (GB) on 12th and 13th October. This follows last years hugely successful virtual event. Covering regulations, standards, process control, pollution prevention, test methods and monitoring, WWEM will focus on Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring in both process water and natural water resources.

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to return to live events again,” says organiser Marcus Pattison. “Last year’s virtual event enabled a broader group of people to access the presentations, but the pandemic prevented all of us from exploiting the advantages of face-to-face meetings. As a focused event, WWEM therefore offers everyone the opportunity to meet a lot of key people in a short space of time, whilst accessing an enormous amount of the latest information.”

The WWEM presentation programme is supported by a comprehensive range of seminars, and two major international exhibitions featuring most of the world’s leading suppliers of environmental monitoring equipment, analytical testing instrumentation and support services.

Registration for both WWEM and the co-located AQE Air Quality & Emissions show, is free and available on-line here. By registering prior to the event, visitors will be entitled to free parking, free refreshments and complementary access to both events.

The overall objective for 2022 will be to focus on learning and development. “There will be over 100 hours of free content available,” explains Oliver Grievson, who helped to organise the programme. “We have involved several key professional organisations such as CIWEM, the IES and the IMC to ensure that the content is relevant and appropriate for professional development. WWEM 2022 therefore represents a great opportunity for everyone from the newest apprentices to the most experienced industry experts.” Oliver is the founder of WIPAC (Water Industry Process Automation & Control), the LinkedIn Group, which currently has over 11,000 members.

A Pollution Forum will focus on a recent investigation from the Environment Audit Committee (EAC) into river water quality and the new monitoring requirements outlined in Section 82 of the Environment Act 2021.

Effluent and river water quality will also be addressed by speakers from the Environment Agency, CIWEM, United Utilities and the Southern Water Storm Overflow Taskforce. In the afternoon, the Rivers Trust will host a major session focusing on citizen science; looking at the ways in which any interested individuals can help improve the spatial and temporal monitoring of Britain's rivers.

A Flow Forum will run on the first day of WWEM, featuring speakers from the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Morrison Water Services and the Coal Authority, with presentations covering the latest requirements and practical insights for installers and operators of flow monitoring equipment.

Within a Digital Zone, BIM4Water will run a series of presentations and workshops designed to share knowledge and enhance skills in the digital transformation of the water sector through better information management. BIM4Water is a cross industry not-for-profit group which is open to all organisations involved in the management and delivery of water and wastewater assets and services. A series of SWAN (Smart Water Networks Forum) workshops will also bring together key players to collaborate and accelerate the use of data-driven solutions in water and wastewater networks. The second day of the Digital Zone will see presentations by technology experts from within the supply chain.

A Communications Zone will focus on digital transformation. Developments in communications technology are the enablers of the advantages that are now being realised, and speakers will describe the latest advances in a range of communications technologies. Vodafone will explain how narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), a wireless communications standard, is ideal for devices that handle relatively small amounts of data with a low bandwidth and a low power requirement. Ground Control will describe the application of satellite communications, Siemens will explain the role of EDGE in IoT, and advances in radio communications will be described by Radio Data Networks.

The hugely successful Instrumentation Apprentice Competition will again operate throughout WWEM. The competition is free to enter, with teams generally coming from utilities and service providers. All competitors are invited to the Gala Dinner (12th Oct) and receive free membership of the Institute of Measurement & Control.

WWEM has partnered with the Future Water Association to run a ‘Water Dragons’ heat on 12th October, during the conference/exhibition. Water Dragons provides a unique opportunity for companies to pitch product, service or process innovations to a panel of senior water company executives and industry specialists.

Summarising the plans for these two events, Marcus Pattison says: “It is tremendously exciting to be able to run a physical event again – everyone keeps telling me that they can’t wait to meet again! This year the volume of available content is incredible – I would urge everyone to plan their trip very carefully so that they can jump in and out of their sessions of most relevance, to maximise the benefit of their visit.

“Can I also ask everyone to REGISTER NOW at – it’s free and only takes a few seconds. Registered visitors will be entitled to free parking, free entry, free lunch and refreshments, but most importantly, they will be provided with free access to all of the presentations (both AQE and WWEM), both exhibitions and all of the seminars and workshops that will take place!

“Telford benefits from easy access and the International Centre has hotels on site, so that visitors can stay for both days. So, as you can probably tell, we are really excited about this year’s events and we can’t wait to see everyone in Telford!"

@IET_online @_Enviro_News #PAuto #Water #Environment 

Protected from cyber attack!

Anglia Components has achieved Cyber Essentials certification confirming the quality and robustness of its IT systems. The British government-backed scheme provides independent validation of firms’ defences against common cyber-attacks. It also demonstrates a commitment to cyber-security.

Steve Rawlins
Anglia CEO Steve Rawlins commented, “We are delighted, though not surprised, that Anglia has secured the Cyber Essentials certification. Given the confidential nature of our contracts, cyber-security is something we have always taken incredibly seriously at Anglia. The certification provides valuable reassurance for all of our customers that data about their business and relationship with us is held securely. Cyber Essentials is a requirement for some customers working on government contracts. We hope this achievement will encourage more customers to collaborate with us on a wider range of projects.”

Cyber Essentials was launched by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre. It is designed to help businesses of any type or size protect themselves from the most common types of cyber-attack, such as ransomware, password guessing and network attacks. The scheme’s requirements are divided into five core themes: firewalls; secure configuration; user access control; malware protection and security update management. The assessment covers the entirety of a business’s IT infrastructure, including devices that are used for working remotely. Businesses that meet the criteria are added to a listed directory of certified organisations.

It is planned that the requirements for businesses will evolve to meet the ever-changing challenges of cyber-security.

@angliaComponent @NCSC @NeeshamPR #Cybersecuriy #PAuto

Monday 22 August 2022

Power connectors.

The latest addition to Schaffner's extensive range of IEC power connectors. The new IL13P-S is a C14/C20 IEC dual locking power connector offering an innovative solution to prevent accidental disconnection in data-centres, PDUs, servers, industrial equipment, medical devices, audio/broadcast and other critical power systems.

The C14/C20 IEC dual locking connector was designed to enhance Schaffner’s locking connector functionality with two locking mechanisms incorporated into one combined connector. This ensures compatibility with a wide range of standard non-locking C13 socket outlets including inlet filter types: IL 13, IL 13 P and IL 19. It will mate with any Schaffner IEC C14/C20 inlet filter and is a simple retrofit for any IEC C14/C20 inlet.

The new connector incorporates the following features:

  • The load side connector is a new IEC LOCK C13+ SLIMLINE version. It is a slimmer, more compact IEC LOCK C13+ connector with two locking mechanisms.
  • The line side connector is made from the field proven IEC lock C14 connector.
  • Rated current up to 10 A (C13 plug), up to 15 A (C13P plug), and up to 20 A (C19 plug)
  • Maximum pin temperature +70°C
  • Various power line plugs are available for international usage
  • The cable safety certifications are valid for Europe, USA, Canada and Australia making the assembly suitable for global applications.
  • Available with cable lengths of: 0.5 m, 1.0 m, 1.5 m, 2 m, 2.5 m, and 3 m.
  • 4 cable colours may be specified - black, white, red and blue.

The locking system has a tensile force of typically 200N and it is recommended to use it with flange mount filters. For more information refer to the Schaffner Application Note "Using IEC Lock Power Cords with IEC Inlets and Filters”.

@proactivefleet #Schaffner #PAuto #Electrical

Web browser application for LIMS.

Matrix Gemini version 6.5 has been released by Autoscribe Informatics. In a major upgrade to the underlying technology Autoscribe has introduced a new web browser application for Matrix Gemini known simply as the New Matrix Gemini Web application. By adopting the latest technologies and standards Autoscribe are ensuring that Matrix Gemini meets, and will continue to meet, the changing requirements of a modern laboratory informatics solution.
Simon Wood

“Managing configuration changes through an audit controlled graphical editor gives system administrators total control over the changes they make and provides a complete historical record of those changes,” 
said Simon Wood, Product Manager. “If necessary, updates can be revoked at the touch of a button. This is simply not possible in systems that use hard coded configuration. Having the evidence of changes built into the system means it is simpler and easier to answer questions auditors may have about how and when functionality has been modified.”

The LIMS workflow, screens, menus, lists and all other configurable options are available for the New Web application in the same way as the existing Desktop and Web applications. Configurations are created and modified using the built-in Matrix Configuration Tools and, after approval, are instantly available to the users in all three applications. 

The underlying software is untouched by configuration with configuration details held in a separate database. All configuration changes are recorded in an audit trail and released in a controlled way. Since a complete history of changes is always available users can revert to any previous version of any screen or workflow should the need arise. This functionality is unique in the world of LIMS. It ensures laboratories have a complete history of all configuration changes in much the same way as they have a complete history of all the samples and sample data that goes through the LIMS.

Customers upgrading from a previous version of Matrix Gemini will automatically be able to take advantage of the New Web application, exactly as they accessed their Desktop and Web configurations in previous releases.

The New Web application is available with immediate effect as a beta release in v6.5. Current customers are encouraged to load both the Web and New Web applications side-by-side and fully test their LIMS configuration using example typical test cases to ensure expected functionality.

“The introduction of the New Web application has significantly enhanced our product and ensures that it will continue to meet the needs of customers now and for the future”, continued Simon. “This, combined with significant performance improvements in key areas, will bring major benefits to users. Combine this with the new look and feel of the New Web application and it is easy to see why Matrix Gemini LIMS is the compelling solution for today’s connected laboratory.

@AutoscribeLtd @AutoscribeCorp #Laboratory #LIMS #TandM

Innovation in vacuum recognised.

The company Climeworks has been awarded with the Innovation Award by Busch Vacuum Solutions for its advanced use of vacuum technology. Climeworks is the first company to use Direct Air Capture technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In this way, the company is actively making an important contribution to reducing global warming.
Climeworks and Busch have a close partnership from the beginning. Climeworks has now been awarded the "Innovation in Vacuum Busch Award 2021" for its innovative use of vacuum technology in CO₂ removal. Managing Director and founder of Climeworks Jan Wurzbacher accepted the award together with other representatives of the company during a small ceremony at the headquarters of Busch Vacuum Solutions in Maulburg (D).

In these unique plants, MINK claw vacuum technology from Busch is used to filter CO₂. Busch presents the "Innovation in Vacuum Busch Award" once a year. This award honors individuals or companies that make use of vacuum technology with particularly innovative ideas and thereby serve the well-being of people and the environment. The "Innovation in Vacuum Busch Award" was first presented in 2013 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Busch Vacuum Solutions.

The rise in temperature caused by climate change can only be limited by restoring a healthy balance in the CO₂ content of the atmosphere. This can only be realized if both current emissions are drastically reduced and unavoidable emissions that have already been emitted are removed from the air.

Using Climeworks' Direct Air Capture technology, CO₂ is filtered directly from the air. CO₂ collectors selectively capture carbon dioxide in a two-step process. First, air is drawn into the collector by a fan. The carbon dioxide is captured on the surface of a highly selective filter material located inside the collectors. After the filter material is filled with carbon dioxide, the collector is closed, and the temperature is raised to 80 to 100 °C - releasing and capturing the pure carbon dioxide. The filtered CO₂ is extracted using MINK claw vacuum pumps from Busch.

It is then mixed with water and injected underground into basalt rock by Climeworks' partner Carbfix. Over a period of a few years, the CO₂ mineralizes itself and is thus permanently and safely removed from the atmosphere and converted back into rock underground. Climeworks' technology is powered exclusively by renewable energy or waste heat, and the modular collectors can be combined to create systems of various sizes.

@Climeworks #Busch #Climate

The "ultimate sophistication" in level!

AMETEK Magnetrol’s new Pulsar Model R80 radar level transmitter exemplifies the famous line: “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Building upon the company's leading radar technology portfolio, Magnetrol now offers an 80 GHz radar transmitter for the industrial market.

FMCW technology and an 80 GHz operating frequency allow for superior performance, smaller antennas, better accuracy, and enhanced resolution. Additionally, Magnetrol’s configuration wizards and proactive diagnostics make commissioning and troubleshooting easier than ever. As is typical with Magnetrol loop-powered devices, the transmitter housing may be separated from the antenna without disrupting the process seal.

As for applications, the Model R80 is minimally affected by turbulence, foam, or excessive vapors as is often the case with ultrasonic transmitters and some radar products. The smaller antennas and narrower beam angles allow it to be installed into vessels with smaller process connections and those with internal obstructions that must be avoided.

Some highlights of the new Model R80:
  • 80 GHz signal with beam angles as narrow as 4 degrees
  • Process connections down to ¾ inch NPT
  • Measuring range of 30 meters (100 feet)
  • Software wizards to walk a new user through the commissioning process
  • Proactive diagnostics to not only advise what the problem is but also offers troubleshooting tips
  • Replaceable transmitter head without breaking the process seal (i.e., pressure boundary)
  • SIL 2 compliant with 92.3% SFF
  • Global hazardous location approvals
  • FCC, ETSI, and ISED communications approvals for use on both indoor and outdoor vessels

@MagnetrolGlobal @AMETEKInc #PAuto 

Friday 19 August 2022

"Robot leading the charge!"

Addverb Technologies has released a new sorter robot called SortIE – a fast-moving scalable solution for rapid and efficient order fulfilment. As a fully automated robotic put-to-wall sorting system, SortIE is capable of performing SKU-wise intelligent sortation at very high speeds and at different height levels.
Additionally, it enables easy and rapid picking. It can be easily integrated with existing conveying systems such as conveyors, robots, and manual transport with no impact on ongoing operations.

“We are excited for SortIE to reach the market because there is nothing like it,” says Pieter Feenstra, Addverb’s CEO of the EMEA region. "This robot increases productivity with up to 450 sorts per hour, meaning up to 250 orders fulfilled at any given time, and increases order cube utilisation by up to 20%. The entire sorting system is simple and fully automatic, which shortens the return on investment and requires no human intervention. We’re proud to have led the charge on a robot like this coming to the market.”

@Addverb_Tech @PRLab_Hub #Robotics #Warehouse

Thursday 18 August 2022

Throttle position sensors at Le Mans.

Gibson Technology, based in Derbyshire (GB), is a world leading manufacturer of motorsports powertrains encompassing engines, electronics, and electronic gearshift systems. In abundant action across the globe supporting teams in many major race series’, its latest development 4.2 litre GK458 engine is the exclusive choice for LMP2 class racing - competing amongst others in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) which includes the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hour Race where this year’s competition fielded no less than 28 Gibson Technology equipped cars.

Gibson's GL458 engine - 28 competed in the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hour Race

As part of the electronic fuel injection equipment on the naturally aspirated 90-degree, DOHC V8 engines Gibson Technology chose Variohm EuroSensor’s Euro-XPD series Hall Effect angle sensors (pictured below right) to provide precise throttle position feedback. As with all Gibson Technology powertrain systems, long endurance and extreme reliability are key factors and over the complete duration of this year’s 24-hour race, the 28 cars competed without any issues.

Based on Variohm EuroSensor’s motorsports-proven Euro XP range of Hall Effect non-contacting angle sensors., the Euro-XPD features an 8 mm diameter D-shaft drive which, without the need for a separate coupling, is easily adapted and extensively used for throttle position sensing in motorsports. The sensor is supplied as standard with an electrical angle of 360° or may be optionally ordered with a programmable angle from 30° to 360° in 10° steps. Its redundant CW and CCW ratiometric output has optional interfacing parameters of 5 to 95% or 10 to 90% of the 5V DC supply voltage with independent linearity to within +/- 0.5% of each signal range.

The non-contacting Hall Effect design offers an almost unlimited life with up to 50 million movements and, with the optimum magnet to sensing-element gap maintained within the IP68 sealed assembly, its extreme robustness is complemented with an extended vibration rating and operating temperature durability from -40° C to +125° C (short term to 150° C). These specifications combine with a choice of 32 or 38 mm PCD slotted hole mounting for M4 screws to provide wide-ranging application flexibility as well as form-fit interchangeability with competitive models. Electrical connection is via 500 mm long sleeved cable with customised connector options such as the motorsports industry standard Deutsch DTM available on request.

The Euro- XP family of Hall Effect non-contacting rotary sensors also include shaft driven Form ‘U’ and spring coupling alternatives as well as separate puck and magnet versions. This product family is widely used in motorsports for steering angle, ride height, pedal, and gear position as well as throttle position. Variohm EuroSensor also manufactures miniaturised sensors with Hall Effect technology as the Euro-CMR series offering similar specification characteristics in micro-sized packages as flange or screw-mount sensors in shaft driven and puck/magnet styles.

@Variohm @gibsontech1 @mepaxIntPR #Position #Automotive

Remote I/O Modules for RTD measurement.

Acromag’s newest addition to the Busworks® NT Series of expandable remote Ethernet I/O modules is the NT2620 Series RTD/resistance module. Designed to be a cost-effective modular solution, it supports four RTD/resistance inputs and two bidirectional discrete digital I/O channels to monitor temperature limits with conditional logic. NTE Ethernet I/O models have dual RJ45 ports and a webserver with Modbus TCP/IP or EtherNet/IPTM communication to monitor or control the internal I/O channels.

“Now Acromag can interface a wider variety of temperature sensors and offer discrete signals to monitor threshold levels or control alarms,” states Robert Greenfield, Acromag’s Business Development Manager.

The Modbus TCP/IP or EtherNet/IPTM communication is field-selectable saving costs of additional modules. An integrated DIN rail bus allows a connection of up to three NTX expansion I/O modules. The space-saving design requires only 25mm of DIN rail per module. Ethernet I/O modules distribute 9-32V DC power along the DIN rail bus to expansion modules. Hazardous location approvals, high noise immunity, and -40 to 70°C operation make this I/O ideal for use in harsh environments.

Profinet communication is planned for release soon. Each module will support all three protocols which are selectable using any web browser to configure the network settings and I/O operation. The modules typically function as a network slave, but also offer Acromag’s i2o® peer-to-peer communication technology to transfer data between modules directly without a host or master in between. Multicast capability is included.

@Acromag #PAuto #Communications

Sustaining a fen and capturing carbon dioxide.

In 2001, five organisations came together to set out a vision for the Great Fen, with the aim of providing a more sustainable future for the area. In many respects, this work focuses on restoration by managing water levels, so a network of monitoring wells has been established. In this article, Wendy Strain from OTT HydroMet explains how this monitoring program is helping to achieve the ambitious goals that have been set for the Great Fen.

The Great Fen is an expanse of nationally significant fen landscape between Peterborough and Huntingdon in the East of England. The area contains many farms and villages as well as two National Nature Reserves; Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen. Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen are both part of the Great Fen, a habitat restoration project, involving the local Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council and the Middle Level Commissioners.

The Great Fen covers 14 square miles of land that is being restored to wild fen over a 50-100 year timescale, creating a huge nature recovery network, providing a Living Landscape for fenland species including threatened fen wildlife, such as bitterns and otters. A mosaic of different wetland habitats has been established to support a wide variety of wildlife, such as dragonflies, butterflies and amphibians. This habitat is also suitable for flowers and other plants, some of which are found almost nowhere else in Britain such as the Fen violet and the Fen woodrush.

In 1630 a group of wealthy landowners, headed by the Earl of Bedford, set out to drain the fens for agriculture and to minimise winter flooding. Many of the local people were fiercely opposed to the draining, believing it would deprive them of their traditional means of livelihood from wildfowling, fishing and reed cutting, and a group known as the ‘Fen Tigers’ vandalised the dykes, ditches, sluices and reedbeds. Nevertheless, by the end of the 17th Century the drainage project was complete.

This drainage caused more problems, such as peat shrinkage, and more drainage projects followed. In the 1800s, conscious of the likely shrinking effect of draining the peaty soil around Whittlesea Mere, William Wells, another wealthy landowner, instigated the burial of a measurement post at Holme Fen, which was anchored in the bedrock and cut off at the soil surface. Today, around 4 metres of the post is showing above ground, recording the ground subsidence since 1852. The ground level at Holme Post is now 2.75 metres below sea level – one of the lowest land points in Great Britain.

Several issues have arisen as a result of the drainage. Firstly, there has been a huge impact in local ecology and biodiversity with the loss of a large area of wetland. Also, as the ground level subsided it became less sustainable to pump water up into the main drain. The loss of peat has become a major concern, because, as a carbon sink, peat is hugely important in the fight against global warming.

Peat forms in waterlogged, acidic conditions when layers of partially decomposed mosses and other bog plants accumulate. The process is very slow; it can take up to 1,000 years to form just one meter of peat. Nevertheless, around 60% of the world’s wetlands are made of peat. The plants which form peat capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and as a result, large quantities of carbon are trapped in the peat. However, if the peat is drained, it decomposes much faster; releasing the stored carbon. Peat burning has the same effect, but much faster.

It has been estimated that the reduction of peat loss in the Great Fen, coupled with the capturing of carbon by vegetation is saving 325,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released each year.

The project is also a good example of natural flood management (NFM) because it provides extra water storage after heavy rainfall, which slows water flow and helps to protect surrounding towns, villages and farmland from the risk of flooding.

Water level management.
The drainage of the fens incurred widespread ecological harm, but the solution is significantly more complicated than simply raising water levels to create wetlands. Henry Stanier explains: “There are a number of factors that impact the restoration process. Firstly, the geology of the area is like a layer cake, and each layer has different hydrological properties. Secondly, the Great Fen includes a number of commercial farms, so it is important to understand and manage their groundwater status. Thirdly, the surface water requirement varies according to the time of year, due to the needs of a wide variety of flora and fauna, including breeding birds. Fourthly, along with various partners, we are conducting numerous research programs, most of which are affected by water level. For example, we have trial plots with raised water levels, in which we are investigating the performance of different plant species. These include Sphagnum or ‘bog moss’ which stores water, prevents the decay of dead plant material and eventually forms peat, and we are also trialling the wetland cropping potential of Glyceria fluitans, a robust perennial aquatic sweet grass.”

Water level monitoring.
Working with a team of over 60 volunteers Henry delivers a monitoring program for the project area, which is currently around 3,700 Hectares. 40 wells have been installed in strategic locations, each to a depth of around five metres. 37 of these have OTT Orpheus Mini water level loggers, which record groundwater level every hour, every day of the year. Henry collects the data from these loggers once or twice per year, or more frequently where the data is of greater significance.

Three of the wells have been fitted with OTT ecoLog water level loggers. These devices have the ability to transmit both stored and live data to a secure website which Henry can access with any internet-enabled device at any time, and from anywhere. “This is a tremendous advantage,” he explains. “With such a large area to cover, field visits can be time-consuming and therefore costly, so we install the OTT ecoLogs in the wells of greatest interest, so that we can, for example, view the effects on groundwater levels when we transfer surface water into an area.”

Henry’s team operates a number of trial plots by the dipwells; investigating how the vegetation is changing. His team also correlates groundwater levels with vegetation growth, in order to better understand optimal growing conditions.

The Great Fen area includes a number of commercial farms, which operate both drainage and irrigation processes, so the groundwater monitoring program also helps to understand the effects of these activities. In addition, new farms are regularly acquired and incorporated into the Great Fen, so the monitoring work helps to manage the restoration of this land from agriculture to fenland.

Henry says: “Fenland restoration depends heavily on a deep understanding of the geology and the water table, and the effects of water status on the local ecology. The water level monitoring that we undertake provides the data that underpins the science that informs the important management decisions that are made. The quality and reliability of the OTT water level loggers is therefore vital, and we look forward to expanding our network of monitors as the project continues to grow.”

@OTTHydromet @WildlifeTrusts @_Enviro_News #Environment #Britain