Monday, January 28, 2008

A five-star hotel on Germany's Baltic coast is using high-tech industrial controllers from Mitsubishi Electric to run its luxury spa and wellness centre. Ordinary saunas can get by with just a few switches and a three-point temperature controller, but modern spas need sophisticated control systems and operating terminals. At the spa centre of the Yachthafenresidenz Hohe Dune hotel, control systems unobtrusively help to create a stylish atmosphere.

The wellness centre offers guests a wide selection of saunas, steam baths, massage jet showers and an ice machine. Aromas, light effects and music complement the experience. The control systems work unobtrusively in the background to keep all the spa equipment and facilities operating perfectly. The system monitors the fully-automated jacuzzis and hydro-massage jet showers, regulates the humidity and temperature of the various saunas and baths, controls the steam generators, ventilation fans, water and aroma pumps, adjusts the electric heating and hot water supply system and even takes care of providing suitable mood music and lighting.

All the control systems were delivered by GridControl of Ruhpolding, a specialist in software for process visualisation and control in spas and wellness facilities. Frit Grubl explains: 'The key components of the automation system are the PLC (programmable logic controllers) and their control terminals'. 'We source these from Mitsubishi Electric'. 'Normally with spa projects, the team only has four to five weeks to prepare and install the fully configured and equipped switchgear cabinet on the construction site or on a cruise ship'.

'Co-ordination is vital and efficient delivery of equipment from Mitsubishi is a pre-requisite'. 'Before the finished switchgear cabinet is delivered the staff first perform a comprehensive quality test'. 'Every single function is exhaustively tested before an automation system leaves our premises' according to Grubl. 'Any failure - for example a failure at sea on a ship system - could be very expensive for the company'. 'If a big spa system has to shut down even for a single day that can generate damages claims of Eur 20,000 or more'.

'The GridControl engineers chose the modular Melsec System Q as the foundation for the control systems to be installed the Hohe Dune's multifunctional spa'. 'This versatile programmable logic controller (PLC) is the most powerful model in the Mitsubishi Electric range; among other things, it can accommodate up to four different processor modules on a single backplane'.

'This was necessary because of the very large number of inputs and outputs' Grubl said. 'With earlier systems GridControl has tended to use the more modest FX series'. 'The operator of the hotel in Rostock opted for a centralised system with conventional wiring that would allow all functions to be controlled easily from a single location'.

'Nearly 200 outputs had to be connected so that the controller could switch all the spa systems, which range from the heating and steam generators for the saunas and baths to water and aroma pumps, ventilation and lighting systems'. 'Thermometers were installed in 64 locations throughout the complex to measure the temperatures'. 'Other sensors measure the humidity in the saunas and steam baths'.
'Pumps, fans, steam generators and other devices are connected via digital inputs and outputs to the controller, which automatically registers status and error messages'.

Like all Mitsubishi Electric's compact and modular controllers, the System Q PLC is programmed under Microsoft Windows, using one of two software packages: the modern GX IEC Developer or the GX Developer. GridControl chose a control terminal from Mitsubishi Electric's E1000 series for operation and visualisation of the spa systems. The E1071 terminal has a high-resolution TFT (thin film transistor) liquid-crystal display with a diagonal width of 6.5in and a touch screen interface. It is an extremely slim unit with a minimal installation depth.

The control terminal is installed in the reception are of the spa, giving staff direct access to all the system's functions. The multilingual menu intuitively guides the user through the individual levels and components of the spa systems. Photos, graphics and floor plans provide visualisations of the sauna cabins, steam baths and showers, along with all the individual components and their functions.

All messages and alarms can be confirmed on-screen and can also trigger automatic emails, SMS text messages or faxes, which are sent by the controller via a connected modem. For example, if the aroma fluid in a steam bath runs low the controller automatically sends an order to the supplier. The new canister of fluid arrives in time, without any action being required on the part of the hotel staff. Remote access to the controller is equally simple - the staff at GridControl can check the status of the entire system from their desks.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Machine Building Systems' new item transport track allows heavy goods to be transported easily and quietly. The transport track system tolerates soiling and is easy to assemble and can be added to any profile construction. Elevated transport tracks and suspended constructions are also possible.

A typical assembly would comprise an aluminium-profile constructed carrier onto which is mounted four D60 PU roller units, which run in a parallel pair of track profile 8 80x40s. The modular design means that the carriers can be made to any size and the track profiles placed accordingly.

The roller units (each with a load-bearing-capacity of 800N) are fitted with ball-bearing mounted polyurethane-tyres for smooth and quiet running and with spring-loaded lateral guide-wheels to provide sideways support.

The roller units offer a choice of fixing positions which can provide either a ride height which is flush with or 4mm from the track profile. The rollers can be used independently of the roller units and will run easily without the track profiles on level surfaces.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Flir Systems became the majority shareholder of Cedip Infrared Systems on 4th January 2008. Cedip Infrared Systems' infra-red camera operations will be integrated into the thermography Division of Flir Systems and trade under the Flir brand name. The acquisition will provide greater R and D capability, enhanced core competence and greater production and distribution ability.

Flir Systems will now have the capacity to develop R and D Systems that are application-specific with a greater range of cooled detector combinations. The centre of excellence of these high-end cameras will remain at the Cedip Infrared Systems base in France.

'The combined forces of Flir Systems Thermography Division and Cedip Infrared Systems will take infra-red technology into a new league on many fronts and result in development excellence to the benefit of all our customers', according to Arne Almerfors, President of the Flir Systems Thermography Division.

'Teaming up with Flir Systems Thermography Division is a great opportunity for the development of Cedip Infrared Systems high end thermography products'. 'The combination of the international sales network and global expertise of Flir Systems together with the technology of Cedip Infrared Systems, will immediately benefit all the customers and markets we serve' according to Pierre Potet, President of Cedip Infrared Systems.