Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IFM Electronic has introduced the AL-3 monitor, which complements analogue signalling devices by allowing the user to set switchpoints and compare or combine values and scaling ranges. The AL-3 monitor is a programmable, two-channel analogue threshold relay with two inputs for analogue standard signals (0/4...20 mA).

It picks up the current signals on separate inputs, compares them with the set limit values and switches the outputs according to the set switching functions. The input signals can be scaled to the measuring range of the sensor or transmitter so the measured values are indicated on the front display corresponding to their physical unit.

The AL-3 features an output relay with changeover contact and a transistor output for each channel. The user can monitor values that exceed or fall below the limit values and window function. In the comparator operating mode, a differential pressure can, for example, be determined from the two input signals, monitored and provided as an analogue value.

Schunk Intec has created the PZB-plus series of three-finger centric grippers with a central bore designed as a fitting. The central-bore feature is equipped with female threads for customer-specific add-ons and can be used as an ejector or to supply material. The PZB-plus can also be used to monitor the handling or assembly process with a camera system or to pick up workpieces and centre them using the fitting during the gripping process.

There are also threads integrated on the upper face of the gripper and on the cover plate to facilitate mounting customer-specific add-ons. The PZB-plus is available in two different stroke-length versions; the smaller stroke results in approximately double the gripping force. The six sizes, ranging from 64mm to 200mm, are fitted with multi-tooth guides, as is the case in the PGN-plus and PZN-plus ranges.

Compared with the PZB series, the PZB-plus can pick up 100 per cent-higher torques in directions at right angles to the gripping motion. This makes it possible to use smaller grippers than before, which allows the system to work more economically.

An optional gripping force safety device is available for the PZB-plus, working with an inner or outer lock. The position is monitored either via a magnetic switch or inductive proximity switch and the hose-free direct connection is claimed to simplify assembly and installation. The accessories available for the other '-plus' ranges will also be available for the PZB-plus series. This includes force measurement jaws, quick-change jaws, valves, sensors or jaw blanks.

Aalborg Instruments has introduced direct-reading scales for Models P, S and T flowmeters. Direct-reading flow-tube scales are designed for a specific gas or liquid at a given temperature and pressure, valid only for the associated units of flow. Flow rates for a specified set of parameters are clearly indicated in specific engineering units, such as ml/min or scfh.

Using correlating tables and graphs to determine flow rates is no longer necessary. NIST-traceably calibrated for specific liquids and gases, these units are ideal for OEM applications and processing industries. Direct-reading scales are available for argon, carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen, hydrogen chloride, methane, nitrous oxide, oxygen and propane.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Megger has introduced the Freja 306 protection relay test set. It provides an economical system for testing protection relays, including differential types, and has six independently controlled current outputs. The Freja 306 features extended Hi-Current outputs, rugged construction and a wide operating temperature range, making it ideal for field use.

It is suitable for use as a stand-alone device, or in conjunction with a PC running the Freja WIN software package. In either case, the operation of the instrument is straightforward and intuitive, with Freja WIN adding the benefits of a highly intuitive graphical user interface, as well as enhanced options for automated testing. The outputs of the Freja 306 can be configured as 3 x 15A plus 3 x 35A, or as 1 x 100A.

The outputs with a 35A rating are particularly useful when testing 5A relays, while the capability of these outputs of generating up to 50V eases the testing of many types of electromechanical relay. The Freja 306 also provides low-level analogue inputs, designed for transducer measurements, and high-level inputs for normal voltage and current measurements.

Static and dynamic tests can be performed with the instrument including, for example, pre-fault and fault generation, simultaneous ramping of multiple quantities and waveform editing. The Freja 306 can also be used, in conjunction with Freja SIM software, as a disturbance simulator with the capability of importing recorded disturbances.

It complements the Freja 300 protective relay test set, which will continue to be available. Users of Freja 300 instruments can upgrade them to the full Freja 306 specification simply by adding an auxiliary CA30 amplifier module that attaches easily and neatly to the bottom of the instrument.

SKF has launched Windcon 3.0, the third-generation version of its wind turbine condition monitoring system. SKF Windcon 3.0 is designed to enable wind farms to extend turbine maintenance intervals, manage resources more effectively, and avoid downtime. The new Windcon system features CAN-bus interconnectivity to a number of systems typically found in modern wind turbines, such as centralised lubrication, blade monitoring, and gearbox oil condition systems.

These elements can be remotely monitored at any maintenance centre with internet access, using SKF Webcon software. Using vibration sensors mounted on a turbine's main shaft bearings, drive train gearbox, and generator, SKF Windcon 3.0 collects, analyses, and compiles a range of operating data that can be configured to suit a wind farm's specific requirements. The collected data enables root cause failure analysis to eliminate recurring failures and keep costs down.

A brochure is available to accompany the solution, which explains the functionality of the Windcon 3.0 system in detail and includes information on SKF's Windlub automatic lubrication solution. Additionally, SKF has launched an engineering consultancy service for wind farms, which helps ensure new turbines are able to deliver optimum productivity and reliability, and provides support with troubleshooting a range of design-related problems.

Hepcomotion has introduced the PDU2M to its Profile Driven Unit (PDU2) belt-driven linear motion system. The company said the PDU2M delivers a 200 per cent increase in moment load capacity and 1000 per cent uplift in moment load stiffness compared to a standard PDU2. Direct load capacity is also 50 per cent greater. In practice this means, for example, that designers can use a single PDU2M unit as a horizontal axis in an X-Z system, where previously two PDU2 units working in parallel would have been required to provide the necessary rigidity and strength.

Key to this capability is the high-performance Hepcomotion Herculane wheels that are mounted on adjustable eccentric studs. These wheels run virtually friction-free on the inside of the profile, providing stable support for the carriage plate. Felt wipers sweep debris from their path. The unit is available with a number of carriage designs to allow the quick and easy construction of multi-axis systems with a minimal requirement for brackets and other hardware.

In common with its forerunner, PDU2M comprises a rigid but lightweight aluminium slotted profile into which fits the toothed belt drive and carriage, an arrangement that effectively encloses the unit. It is rated for operating at speeds of up to 6m/s and available with a choice of motors providing driving forces up to 280N. The options include a Smart Drive Taranis stepper-motor drive and control package for multi-axis applications.

Left, right or double drive shafts can be specified together with a range of options such as brakes, positioning encoders and mechanical or inductive limit switches. End-of-stroke protection is provided as standard at both ends by internal buffers. PDU2M is fully compatible with the company's MCS aluminium machine-construction system and is expected to find its niche as a replacement for failing ball-based systems.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The steering system of the two-wheeled Segway Personal Transporter (PT) utilises an angular position sensor from Novotechnik to aid balance and acceleration of the vehicle. The second-generation PT is a self-balancing transportation device with sophisticated motion and stabilisation technology that uses the rider's natural body movements to propel and steer the vehicle.

The vehicle can hit 12.5mph and covers a range of 24 miles. The Segway PT uses its Leansteer steering system to allow the riders body movement to guide the vehicle, while the Segway Smart Motion (SSM) controller uses the same information to maintain motion and direction with complete dynamic stability through its balance sensor assembly (BSA), which has integral solid-state rate gyro and tilt sensors.

In operation, the rider simply moves forwards, backwards and to each side to propel and steer the PT in the corresponding direction while the control system ensures that bumps, camber or uneven slopes, which may affect the riders body position, are fully compensated to ensure completely smooth operation. To guarantee the safe operation of the PT and maintain its total reliability, long life and costs, the choice of components are of paramount importance.

The Leansteer system uses the compact and robust SP2880 angular position sensor from German manufacturer Novotechnik, represented exclusively in the UK and Ireland by Variohm Eurosensor. The SP2800 is located at the pivoting base of the handlebar shaft, providing high-bandwidth angular position feedback that effectively measures the rider's body angle, which is used as a reference to generate the lateral acceleration required to balance the PT and its rider.

For this application, the conductive plastic technology SP2880 sensor is a fully redundant design for maximum reliability featuring two completely independent measuring systems, each with precious metal wipers and dual voltage outputs. The sensor provides a 140deg electrical range with a resolution of less than 0.01deg, linearity to +/- 0.3 per cent and repeatability of 0.03deg.

The 28mm-diameter sensor is 17mm long, built from temperature resistant plastic and features a push-on shaft coupling and slotted flange mounting. The durable housing is IP65 rated for dust and water spray protection and has an operating temperature range of -40 to +150C, allowing its use in extreme weather conditions.

The rated life is over 50 million cycles and with a current consumption of less than 1mA, the SP2880 sensor satisfies the requirements for minimal energy use on the battery-powered Segway PT. The Novotechnik 2880 series is a part of a wide range of contacting and non-contacting angular position sensors available from Novotechnik that are stocked and fully supported in the UK by Variohm Eurosensor.

The Full Picture is a published leaflet that provides a quick overview of all Huco Dynatork product divisions. In addition to couplings, the company now also designs and manufactures a range of floating piston air motors. The leaflet also outlines the products in the motion control, power transmission and assembly components ranges. This four-page leaflet is available from the Huco Dynatork sales office.

SMC has appointed Idac to develop a macro that will allow SMC engineers to predict the deflections and stresses seen by the telescopic communication masts the company manufactures. SMC is regularly required to design and manufacture telescopic communication masts, which are customised to handle customer-specified load configurations. The deflections of the mast must be kept within a very tight tolerance for proper operation.

Stresses also need to be kept within specified limits. SMC required an automated procedure to analyse different design configurations based on a number of predefined design variables under a given set of loads. This would require a set of input design variables to be supplied by a 'user' to the Ansys software, which would then create the Finite Element (FE) Model to be analysed, solve the FE Model and post-process the results into a set of text files and graphical plots for final assessment by SMC.

Idac was required to develop a macro that would allow SMC engineers to predict the deflections and stresses seen by the communication masts they manufacture. The project to create this automatic procedure was split into the following phases: generation of the parametric Ansys macro; generation of the design variables input file; and generation of the automatic post-processing macro. A macro to generate the parametric model was written, so that a model consisting of a set of concentric tubes overlapping at the ends would be created in the Ansys software for analysis.

Examples of the variables required for input by the SMC engineers for each tube were as follows: length; thickness; diameter; and overlap distance. Each mast tube also had the option of being guyed. The tube guy sets could be either three or four guy rope arrangements. The guy ropes could be solid (where tension and compression could be supported) or cable-like (supporting tension only). The geometry was meshed with 1D pipe elements, element type Pipe16 and the guys were meshed with either Link8 (tension and compression) or Link10 (tension only) elements.

The overlapping of the tubes was modelled with coupling restraints between the tubes. A 3D nonlinear (large deflection) structural analysis was carried out. The mast will be fixed at its base and the free ends of the guys will also be fixed. The guys, if defined, were specified an initial pretension load. External loads can be defined as follows: horizontal and vertical point loads at the top of the mast with an offset axial torque applied at the top of the mast; internal pressure in mast; and wind pressure applied up the mast (defined by SMC based on an equation dependent on height).

Material input was required for each tube; this consisted of Young's Modulus, Poisson's Ratio and failure criteria for safety factor calculations. The post-processing procedure was automated by means of a macro. Running of the macro generated a tabulated text file containing the tip deflection, the deflected angle and safety factors, as well as all the input variables. A set of stress plots was also created. The figures to the left and right show typical deflection and stress plot graphical outputs.

Idac has created an Ansys application for SMC enabling its engineers and project managers to run full and rapid 3D nonlinear (large deflection) structural analyses, by entering mast parameter values as prompted. The application extends the use of Ansys structural analysis software within SMC to a rapid assessment tool allowing them to access the impact of various customer-driven loading scenarios on proposed mast configurations. This capability will improve SMC's ability to recommend the most reliable, safe and economical mast arrangements to satisfy the customer's various 'in-field' requirements in the shortest possible time.

This makes SMC's engineering and sales department more responsive to design requirements and/or requests by clients to assess the impact of changes to the payloads imposed on an existing mast.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fluke is offering free participation in industrial/building thermography, power quality and Leonardo Energy seminars via the internet. Each hour-long webinar explains the techniques used to carry out straightforward but powerful troubleshooting and preventive maintenance programmes using the latest handheld and portable instruments.

The webinars use many images captured in the workplace and explain how to interpret those images and what is going wrong to cause them. Participants will be shown how to recognise a power quality problem, how easy it is to measure power quality using the latest instruments, how to interpret the measurements efficiently, and how to determine the best troubleshooting strategy faster. There is a choice of two webinars - electrical energy management or power quality.

Dates and more detail about each webinar, and how to enrol, can be found via links on the Fluke homepage. Fluke is also running a programme of 'hands-on' power quality training seminars and thermal imaging training seminars throughout 2009 at locations around England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The seminars are designed to offer electricians, electrical engineers and industrial maintenance technicians the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of the latest power quality tools and handheld thermal imagers.

After an overview of what thermal imaging is and where it can be used, participants will be shown how it works, how easy a thermal imager is to use, how Fluke's IR-Fusion technology integrates infrared and visual (visible light) images in full-screen or picture-in-picture views for enhanced problem detection and analysis, how to interpret thermal images, the added value of software and, finally, how to choose the right thermal imager for the job. All seminars are based around real case studies; no previous experience is necessary. The programme can be viewed by visiting the Fluke website and clicking on Events/Seminars.

At each location, the Power Quality and Thermal Imaging seminars run consecutively for half a day each, at a cost of GBP50 for one seminar or GBP75 for both. Leonardo Energy is an initiative managed by the European Copper Institute, dedicated to building information centres to serve designers, engineers, contractors, architects, general managers, regulators, journalists, teachers and students, who are professionally or otherwise involved with electrical energy.

Festo has launched an intelligent multi-axis control module for electric drives. The CPX-CMXX module is a highly integrated unit designed for use with Festo's CPX series of multifunctional control terminals. It is suitable for parts handling and positioning applications such as pick and place, palletising, machine loading and unloading, inspection/measuring and labelling. The module can operate autonomously or in response to signals from a host controller - it features a built-in PLC-compatible interface.

It can store and execute simple individual axis movements, and can coordinate the movement of two groups of axes, each containing up to four axes. There are 1,024 position sets available for each of the two groups of axes; these can either be linked and executed in sequence, or multiple sets can be executed in synch. The module communicates with the various drive modules via CANopen, using the standard fieldbus FHPP handling and positioning profile.

All configuration, parameterisation and commissioning of the CPX-CMXX module is carried out using Festo's Windows-based FCT software. The motion control sequences can be programmed, but they can also be set up using parameterisation or teach-in, without the need for connection to a host controller. The module is equipped with a standard Ethernet 10/100 BaseT interface for parameterisation, as well as a service interface for a Festo CPX-MMI hand-held terminal, and features front panel LEDs to indicate program status and provide local diagnostic feedback.

A preliminary test of the entire system can also be performed without a host controller. Festo's CPX multifunctional terminals provide machine builders with a very flexible, modular approach to control, condition monitoring and diagnostics. The terminals can form part of centralised, decentralised and hybrid control schemes, and are compatible with all major fieldbus systems, as well as industrial Ethernet.

Individual modules can be changed at will, enabling systems to be reconfigured or expanded without altering the wiring. Festo produces a wide range of CPX-compatible modules, including intelligent analogue I/O modules for temperature sensing and signal detection, PNP and NPN digital input units, M12 and M8 connection blocks, and two types of position transducers for use with pneumatic actuators.

Jena Tec has announced two further models to its linear and rotary motion ranges in the field of precision rotary tables. The first model, the MRT230, is a lightweight ring grinding unit driven by a pancake segmented motor via a gearbox and toothed belt. The cast alloy base plate allows bolting directly to a grinding machine table. Mounted on the rotary axes employing ABEC 7 angular contact bearings is a magnetic chuck, 230mm diameter providing load capability of up to 30kg.

The central 40mm location spigot allows location of fixturing and the unit can be supplied with a variety of three jaw chucks and t-slotted face plates on request. The unit is supplied complete with an electrical control box providing infinitely variable speed control up to 120rpm. The MRT230 is suitable for rotary grinding of bearing spacers and other applications where constant surface finish is important combined with accurate parallelism.

The second product is the ABRT series air bearing rotary table. This range provides an accurate rotational motion in either manual or CNC mode with minimal effort through the provision of an air bearing cushion. The hydraulic clamping mechanism allows rigid clamping for heavy-duty machining. With table diameters from 500mm to 2,000mm and table loading up to 10,000kg with repeatability of +/-0.2 arcsecs, the range is suitable for a variety of applications in boring, milling, grinding and inspection.

The ABRT series can be provided with a torque motor option, encoder feedback and digital readout and can be fully integrated within a CNC control. Jena also offers an industrialised PC-based CNC control allowing retrofitting to existing manual machine tools. Customised designs of ABRT rotary axes can be provided on request relating to higher loading, diameter, acceleration and tolerances.

Penny + Giles has launched a robust tilt sensor, STT500, for use in safety critical applications used on cranes and lifting platforms. A tilt sensor is an essential part of a safe load indicator (SLI) system on a crane, designed to alert the operator if the lift is exceeding the safe operating range of the machine.

The SLI measures the angle and extension of the boom along with the load weight, and calculates if the machine is working within the manufacturers suggested safety margins. Based on solid-state technology, the STT500 offers reliability, stability and compactness over fluid-based, electrolytic and pendulum operated sensors. It can operate from a 5V or 8-30V power source and has a measurement range of +/-10, +/-20, +/-30 or +/-60 with an output from 0.5 to 4.5V DC over the full inclination angle.

STT500 is supplied in a marine grade (LM6) cast aluminium alloy housing with 88mm diameter flange. It has a high environmental protection rating of IP69K to withstand the ingress of dust and fluids, even under high-pressure washing. The sensor has no moving parts and as a result has resistance to shock and vibration up to 20,000g. It can withstand operating temperatures of -40 to + 125C and has an EMC Immunity of 100V/m. For maximum flexibility, the sensor has a low power requirement of less than 6.5mA, so it can be used in hard-wired or battery-powered systems.

OEMs can fit their own cable through the supplied gland or use the supplied cable option. Alternatively, a circular M12 connector is available that can interface with industry standard sensor cables. The company's STT280, which has a smaller, moulded housing diameter of just 28mm, is also now available with +/-10, +/-20, +/-30 or +/-60 measurement range options.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MK1 bellows couplings from R & W Coupling Technology allow for increased bore diameter within a given coupling size through the use of radial set screws with dismounting grooves. Ideal for use in precision encoders and linear actuators, the MK1 range can help adapt between shafts with a large difference in size.

The coupling incorporates a stainless-steel bellow that compensates for axial, lateral and angular shaft misalignments simultaneously, while operating with zero backlash and high torsion resistance. Miniature metal bellows couplings are available for a torque range of 0.05-10Nm (0.4-88.5in/lb) and bore sizes from 1-28mm.

The Titan 800 Series turbine flowmeters are low-cost, non-metallic meters, ideal for measuring aggressive chemicals including ultra-pure water. The standard connections will accept 8mm or 12mm hose sizes and the electronic output from a Hall effect sensor gives NPN or PNP pulses for a remote counter, offering 0.1 per cent repeatability over a flow range of 30:1.

With a PVDF plastic construction, the standard unit operates to 60C and 10 bar, and two built-in LEDs indicate power and the output pulse rate. A direct flow switch output is available, for low flow or cooling flow failure alarms, as are units suitable for high-temperature 125C operation. With the optional six-point water calibration, the Titan 800 series offers 1-2 per cent flow accuracy. The flow ranges available cover from 0.05-15 litres/min.

Flexibility of Control, Multiple ramp profiles, Pump-FlexTM Decel, process control timers and advanced motor protection make Motortronics VMX Series Soft Starter adaptable to a wide variety of AC motor applications, no need for add-on modules or costly auxiliary devices.

Compact packaging has become critical in more and more electrical installations. The VMX Series meets this need without compromising features and ratings. By using a highly engineered packaging design and the latest generation microprocessor, all the control and protection features you need are in the VMX Series. Narrow and shallow dimensions are perfect for integrating the VMX Series into motor control centers (MCCs), pump control panels, and retrofit starter enclosures.

Integral Bypass Contactors are standard on all sizes and provide maximum efficiency of panel space while maintaining the Motortronics reputation for being able to soft start most any load. The VMX Series is the only fully integrated, compact, world-class design offering uncompromised power and control capabilities.

Power Components
6 SCRs in inverse parallel pairs for full phase angle
soft start control
1600V PIV rating on all units
RC snubber for dv/dt protection of each SCR pair
Dry contact closure selects a non-ramping Jog
function at an adjustable torque
Line Voltage Range
200 to 600 VAC, 3 phase +10% -15% on all units,
Kick Start
10 - 100% starting torque for 0.1 - 2 seconds
Current Ratings
18 - 1250A depending on unit selection
Range of each unit is 50-100% of maximum
Pump-Flex™ Deceleration Ramp
Fully adjustable to match field conditions:
Begin Decel setting, 0 - 100% of line voltage
Decel ramp time, 1 - 60 seconds
End Decel setting (Off ), 0 - 1% of Begin setting
AC Supply Voltage
User supplied 120VAC +10% -15% tolerance, 60Hz
Optional 240VAC 50Hz control available
Restart Delay Timer (Sequential Start Delay)
Programmable time delay 1 - 999 seconds after loss
of control power for staggered restarts
Overload Capacity (% of motor FLA)
Standard Duty: 350% for 30 seconds, 1.0 SF
Heavy Duty: 500% for 30 seconds, 1.15 SF
Time Clock Controller
24 hour/7 day time clock to provide automatic start
Up to 7 start events per day
Select operation from 1 through 7 days per week
Run time determined by process control timer
Bypass Contactor
Standard on all units
Standard Duty: Shunt rated bypass
Heavy Duty (Across-the-Line) line start rated bypass
Process Control Timer (choice of either)
Minimum Run (Batch) Timer 1- 999 minutes
Runs until time expires, resets only if expired
Resumes and finishes if stopped or power is lost
Permissive Run Timer 1- 999 minutes
Only allows operation during active run time
Start/Stop Control Choices
2-wire Run-Stop using dry contacts
3-wire Start/Stop with built-in seal in contact
N.C. Interlock input (dry contact) for remote devices
RS-485 Serial Communications
Up to 247 starters per link
Modbus RTU protocol built-in
Full programming over the serial link
Programmable remote starter control
Ramp Control Choices (4 built-in)
Voltage Ramp
Voltage Ramp with Current Limit
CLT© Closed Loop Torque Ramp (Current Ramp)
Current Step (current limit only)
Ramp times adjustable 1 - 120 seconds
Current Limit adjustable 200 - 600% of FLA
Operator Interface
Tactile feedback keypad
Easy to read LED display
Run and fault
status indicators
Dual Ramps
Select via dry contact closure between any
combinations of the above
Electronic Shear Pin Protection
Trip level: 100 - 300% of motor FLA with trip delay
Start & Run Protection
Two programmable overload trip curves allow for the
thermal capacity required to start the load while providing
motor overload protection needed during the run time.
Start: Programmable for Class 5 - 30
Run: Programmable for Class 5 - 30, enabled when starter
detects motor is "At-Speed"
Reset: Manual or automatic, selectable via programming.
Remote reset available.
Motor Duty Cycle Protection
Back-spin/coast-down, starts-per-hour or minimum
time between starts lockouts. Restart delay after a
power failure.
Real-Time Thermal Modeling
Continuously calculates motor operating temperature even
when the motor is not running.
Short Circuit
Trips at 10x unit current rating during run. Checks for
shorted load prior to each start.
Retentive Thermal Memory
Remembers the thermal condition of the motor even in the
event of a power brown-out or black-out when power is
restored. Extrapolates motor temperature using a real-time
Shorted SCR
Locks out on any single shorted SCR (defeatable) or
can provide shunt trip function if multiple SCRs short
or bypass contactor is welded closed.
Dynamic Reset Capacity
Overload will not reset until thermal capacity in the motor is
sufficient for a successful restart. Starter learns and retains this
information from previous starts.
Monitors phase current, ground current and motor
thermal capacity.
Motor Temperature
PTC thermistor input can also be used for E-stop or external
overload relay.
Phase Loss
Trips on phase current or voltage loss
Equipment Ground Fault
Residual current method with adjustable trip delay.
Phase Rotation
Phase rotation trip can be set to A-B-C, A-C-B or disabled.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Analogue inductive proximity switches from IFM Electronic have longer sensing ranges and improved linearity. These proximity switches safely detect the tiniest changes in distance and provide a linear analogue signal - depending on the version - with a voltage output (0-10V) or current output (4-20mA).

The switches feature a repeatability of less than two per cent and linear output characteristics better than three per cent of the final value of the measuring range over the whole operating range. The sensors are supplied in cylindrical M12, M18 and M30 designs. The enhanced operating range depending on housing size and mounting type can be 0.2mm to 2mm for flush-mountable M12, and 1mm to 26mm from the non-flush rectangular version.

The response time of less than 10ms (type dependant) allows use of the sensors in processes that require fast control. The sensors have an operating temperature range of -25C to 80C.

Laser Photonics has announced the release of an automated laser part marking system, the Stealth. The Stealth is specifically designed for manually operated mass production environments. This system is fully automated and can be used by any production facility that is consistently marking a variety of parts that need quality verification. The system contains: a standard Laser Photonics fibre laser marking system; an integrated vision system; an RFID system; a material fixture handling system; and a PLC automation system.

The combination of all of these systems into one unit is a concept designed to help manufacturing facilities increase throughput time while making sure each component is properly marked and tracked. Due to its automated design, The Stealth does not need a trained laser operator to complete a marking task. After the machine is turned and activated into automatic mode, it will wait for the operator to place a fixture into the machine. Once the system detects the fixture, it will lock it in place.

After the operator removes his hands from the laser marking environment, the machine door will fall to the closed position and the marking process will begin without any additional input from the operator. If obstructions are detected in the machine tool entry, or the fixture is not locked in place, the machine will not start. The machine door is dual redundant and hardwired to the interlock system of the laser; therefore the laser will never fire if the door is open. Additionally, the door is gravity fed in order to close and meets weight requirements in that it cannot cause any harm while closing.

When the marking is complete, the internal vision system captures the images and verifies that it meets the necessary standards. Then, the door will open, the fixture will unlock and the operator can remove the marked part and insert the next piece. The Stealth automated industrial system offers a user life of more than 50,000 hours, precise marking and requires minimal maintenance. Laser Photonics will begin regular production of the systems within the next month. Laser Photonics has announced the release of an automated laser part marking system, The Stealth.

The Stealth is specifically designed for manually operated mass production environments. This system is fully automated and can be used by any production facility that is consistently marking a variety of parts that need quality verification. The system contains: a standard Laser Photonics fibre laser marking system; an integrated vision system; an RFID system; a material fixture handling system; and a PLC automation system. The combination of all of these systems into one unit is a concept designed to help manufacturing facilities increase throughput time while making sure each component is properly marked and tracked.

Due to its automated design, The Stealth does not need a trained laser operator to complete a marking task. After the machine is turned and activated into automatic mode, it will wait for the operator to place a fixture into the machine. Once the system detects the fixture, it will lock it in place. After the operator removes his hands from the laser marking environment, the machine door will fall to the closed position and the marking process will begin without any additional input from the operator.

If obstructions are detected in the machine tool entry, or the fixture is not locked in place, the machine will not start. The machine door is dual redundant and hardwired to the interlock system of the laser; therefore the laser will never fire if the door is open. Additionally, the door is gravity fed in order to close and meets weight requirements in that it cannot cause any harm while closing.

When the marking is complete, the internal vision system captures the images and verifies that it meets the necessary standards. Then, the door will open, the fixture will unlock and the operator can remove the marked part and insert the next piece. The Stealth automated industrial system offers a user life of more than 50,000 hours, precise marking and requires minimal maintenance. Laser Photonics will begin regular production of the systems within the next month.

HaydonKerk Motion Solutions has introduced the Motodrive PDE actuator, available in Size 17 single- or double-stack. The Motodrive PDE actuator is an integrated linear actuator and electronic drive designed to operate with optically isolated inputs of pulse, direction and enable signals. It is programmable for micro-stepping ranging from full-step mode to 64 micro-steps per full step.

Step resolution ranges from 200 full steps per revolution to 12,800 steps per revolution when micro-stepping. When combined with the Haydon captive, non-captive, or external linear actuator, extremely fine positioning resolutions can be achieved. With a supply voltage of 12 to 42V DC, the Motodrive PDE actuator functions with a run current programmable at HaydonKerk up to 2.6 Arms per phase.

The drive direction is enabled with logic level voltage, and is activated using +5V DC. When operated at ground potential, the drive results in a retract move of the actuator, allowing for multi-functional and flexible usage. Hold current on the drive is adjustable, and can be selected as zero, 25, 50, 75 or 100 per cent of run current using a jumper and associated pins located in a connector on the side of the drive. A logic signal of 5V DC needs to be provided to the board for operation.

Balluff has expanded its range of miniature BMF magnetic field sensors with the BMF 204K, a flush- mountable C-slot sensor with integrated holding. With a length of just 20mm, it disappears in the C-slot without protruding. This makes it ideal for use in short-stroke cylinders, mini-grippers and other space-critical applications. Installation of the BMF 204K is easy: the integrated holding element allows you to slide the sensor into the slot, position it and turn a screw to tighten.

It features high accuracy, short over-travel distances and low hysteresis. The sensor is optimised mechanically for the Festo C-slot, but also fits other slot styles such as SMC. It is available in a cable version with IP67 plastic housing and PNP normally-open output, and pigtail versions with M8 connector and cable lengths of 0.3 and 0.5m. BMF sensors detect individual positions, such as end of travel on pneumatic cylinders, wear-free and precisely and can 'see' the permanent magnets installed on the piston rod through the non-magnetisable cylinder wall. As soon as the piston approaches, the output signal jumps to the other state.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SMAC has developed a linear/rotary actuator, the LAR35 series, as a tapping process for a watch manufacturer in Switzerland. The tap diameter is 0.38mm; the part has a diameter of 3mm and is 0.25mm thick. The LAR35 series has a 50mm stroke and is mounted vertically with the shaft looking down. The custom tip is attached to the shaft end of the actuator to hold the tap.The shape of the parts can be varied so that the customer can hold the part to tap manually, while the fixture is being developed.

SMAC's patented soft-land capability allows the tool to land on the part gently, move back 0.1mm, start the rotation, press the linear axis with a small force, check any variation on torque on the rotary motor to avoid failure and check the linear position when the tap reaches the required position. The same procedure takes place in reverse. For the SMAC LAR series, linear and rotary are combined in one unit. With all SMAC actuators, force, speed and position are fully programmable.

The Optotherm HP20 provides precise temperature control (+/-0.01C) of thermoelectric modules and heating/cooling stages within a temperature range of -40C to +250C. The HP20 operates in a bi-directional, H-bridge configuration for smooth transitions between heating and cooling cycles and provides output current of up to 20A at 12VDC. The HP20's PID capabilities are claimed to enable rapid response to changes in operating conditions and provide tight control over a broad temperature range.

TE View, the included PC-based software, provides an interface for configuring and operating the controller via the controller's serial (RS-232) interface. Once the controller is configured, the computer can be disconnected and the controller can be operated manually using the front-panel push-button interface. When the controller is connected to a PC, the set-point and actual temperatures can be plotted in real time, providing a temperature history that can be saved in ASCII text format and imported into data analysis programs. It features plotted temperature data and step-by-step instructions, facilitating the process of setting correct PID control parameters.

Molex has introduced more robust versions of its RJ-45 Ethernet plugs and jacks for use in industrial, marine and telecom applications. Designed for compact applications requiring high-density and high-protection levels, the IP67-/IP20-rated connectors are built in accordance with the Profinet specification. Extended usage of Ethernet applications from office floors to the factory level requires RJ-45 connectors with an enhanced protection level and Category 5 (100Mbit/s fast Ethernet) performance.

Typical industrial applications include Profinet-driven robotic devices. Molex's IP20 data plug is the smallest RJ-45 Ethernet plug and the only version to which 22 AWG cables may be connected to support insulation displacement technology (IDT). The connector is designed with a standard grid of just 14mm, which provides maximum packing density in the application, according to Molex. The IP67-rated data plug version features a push-pull housing that can be locked and unlocked using one hand with minimal force.

The housing is claimed to be very compact, enabling fast deployment and easy installation without the need for special tooling. The panel feed-through jack allows transition from harsh industrial environments to protected IP67/IP20 environments. The RJ-45 industrial Hybrid System integrates the data lines and the power supply into a single connector for hybrid Ethernet networks. The IP67-rated hybrid plug incorporates a lever lock for single-handed mating and unmating, reducing installation costs.

Supplied in tray packs, the RJ-45 industrial Ethernet plugs and jacks conform to IEC-60603-7. The push-pull plugs have a durability rating of 750 mating cycles and the hybrid jacks are rated at 500 mating cycles with a working voltage of 48V. The contact areas of the Molex plugs and jacks are 1.27um gold plated, while in the hybrid version the power contacts are plated with 5um of gold to ensure reliable and consistent performance, according to the company. The housings are manufactured from high-grade thermoplastic, which has a UL94V-0 flammability rating and the operating temperature range of the connectors is 40C to 70C.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A team at Precision Micro has developed a process to make Elgiloy, an austenitic super alloy, 'etchable'. Elgiloy is based on cobalt and is an erosion and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Photo etching is a manufacturing technology that produces intricate, burr free, stress free, high-precision profiles by a process of controlled erosion. On the face of it, Elgiloy and photo etching should be incompatible.

This was the case until the process development team at Birmingham-based Precision Micro came up with a process route that the company claims has solved the problem. 'The solution does not just involve a combination of etchant chemicals,' said Bob Crutchley, director. 'A methodology has been developed, whereby a treatment is applied prior to etching and a catalyst is introduced during the etching process itself,' he added.

The process utilises standard photo resist materials and chemicals that have no exceptional hazard risk. It is designed to enable engineers to utilise Elgiloy in a wider range of applications in the medical, aerospace, automotive and advanced engineering industries. Elgiloy offers high corrosion resistance, temperature resistance and high elasticity modulus.

Obled-Sacsum has reconditioned its Poreba boring and drilling machine using a Dualdrive rack-and-pinion-drive system from Redex Andantex. This subcontractor of complex components now has a high capacity, precision machine capable of holding workpieces of up to 100 tonnes, with dimensions of 10m x 6m and a precision of +/-2/100mm on positioning. High speed is a fundamental characteristic of this type of large capacity machine since it can work continuously on the same product for three weeks.

It contributes directly to the profitability of the production equipment. The cost of the refurbished model is six or seven-times less than that of an equivalent new machine. Obled-Sacsum, having first invested in the latest generation of numerical control, then dedicated its research efforts into precision and productivity benefits. In this area, it is clearly mechanical drives that have largely contributed to the machine's improved performance.

The critical axis is the 10,000mm stroke X-axis, which is why the company decided to install a rack and pinion Dualdrive system from Redex Andantex. The specifications were essential for circular profiles (circular interpolation on two synchronised axis). 'Before, this was impossible for us as the contours had to be carved,' said M Basile, head of maintenance. 'At present we are attaining tolerances of +/-2/100mm.' To guarantee this simultaneous rigidity, high level of precision and elevated dynamic capacity, Obled-Sacsum chose Dualdrive from Redex.

'We were satisfied with our first experience of Redex, which concerned the modification of the Z-axis on a large engine lathe with 8m stroke,' added Basile. 'On this machine we used a Dualdrive rack-and-pinion-drive system with mechanical preload.' Dualdrive has two fundamental characteristics: very high stiffness and rigidity, which allows assured, continuous servo control up to the load limit; and zero backlash, eliminated by using two pinions - one to drive the axis and one to preload.

In such a system, two parallel-mounted servo planetary reducers are electrically coupled. The electrical preload uses a servomotor to drive each reducer, in order to simultaneously apply a frictional torque to the two pinions (to eliminate backlash) and a resulting torque for the overall drive of the system. The high rigidity of the Dualdrive is derived from its design: the output bearings, which are reinforced by two tapered roller bearings, preloaded and generously oversized; and the output shaft pinion, which is machined directly on the output shaft.

The bearing itself is designed to support the pinion as close as possible to the applied force. These features mean the Dualdrive offers exceptional rigidity for all axes, often allowing twice the loads and speeds of existing systems. The Dualdrive design reduces radial deflection, which is the cause of 60 per cent of overall distortion. In the case of Obled-Sacsum, the position is controlled in a closed loop by a linear encoder positioned on the X axis.

Madgetech has announced the release of the RFOT, a wireless meat cooking and cool down data logger with a rugged flexible piercing probe. The RFOT includes wireless data transmission making it suitable for monitoring the cooking and cool down of meat products in real time.

It logs a temperature reading and then transmits it back to a central computer for real-time monitoring. If the data received is out of a safe range, immediate corrective action can be taken. The RFOT has a probe temperature range of -50 to +200C and an operating range of -30 to +100C.

The device is splash proof (IP67) and can even withstand wash down cycles. Madgetech's standard data logger software is available for free download from the company's website. The software includes a cooling flags function that automatically highlights the FSIS Appendix B cool-down temperatures and calculates the cool-down duration. It also features an automatic export to Excel for additional data analysis.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SMC has introduced its Series LLB clean air module, which is available in 23 various options. The LLB modules can combine a number of components such as a digital flow switch, a regulator, a regulator and pressure outlet port, an on/off valve, a restrictor and a filter. This modular approach offers space and installation time savings, plus removes the need to select and purchase individual components for a specific application.

With a nominal filtration rating of 0.01mm, the LLB is grease-free - for fluid contact space - and its cleanroom assembly and double packaging meet Clean class 10 accreditation. Designed for use with clean air or N2 gas, the LLB is available in flow range options of five to 100l/min (ANR) or 100 to 500l/min (ANR).

LG Motion has launched a range of manual and motorised rotary stages for precision positioning applications with standard accuracy to 0.1deg and loads up to 500kg. The LGR range covers five models with nominal outside diameter from 82mm to 250mm and a clear aperture (to 110mm diameter on the largest model) to take care of electrical wiring, beamlines or mounted equipment such as optical components and slip ring assemblies.

The smaller LGR0300 and 0400 stages include fine handwheel driven adjustment with a vernier scale for a positioning resolution to within six arc-min and loads up to 5kg. A clamping device is available to lock the turntable. The low-profile aluminium design is supplied with a durable black anodised finish with a selection of base and tabletop M4 or M5 tapped interfacing holes. The LGR1000, 2000 and 3000 series rotary tables are available in a choice of handwheel driven and motorised versions with nominal outside diameters of 88mm, 132mm and 250mm and direct load capacity of 10kg, 50kg and 500kg.

Each model includes a standard positioning accuracy to <0.1deg and repeatability to <0.01deg. Stepper motors or brushed/brushless servo motor drives with optional high-resolution encoders are available along with an inductive datum sensor. The durable design includes a high-specification main bearing and thrust race combined with a smooth 90:1 ratio precision worm and wheel assembly.

Customisation options include directly mounted encoders, hard stops, work holding fixtures and other specialised components. All stages are available with adapter plates for use in multi-axis setups with other rotary stages, or with LG Motion's range of linear positioning stages. LG Motion supports the range with a selection of motion control and drive technologies.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rotork has introduced the Rompak range of electric actuators to offer the marine industry a lightweight solution for the operation of quarter-turn valves and dampers. The range is designed to enable shipboard valve functions to be set-up, controlled and monitored with the same degree of accuracy and flexibility as the most up-to-date process systems.

The Rompak actuators retain all the mechanical benefits of the original Rotork Rom design, including self-locking gears, manual override, externally adjustable mechanical stops, a wide range of mains power options and an IP67 watertight enclosure. The Rompak actuator adds a self-contained control package with local controls and status indication relays and the option of Rotork Folomatic positional control, current position transmitter, integral data logger, non-intrusive configuration with a Bluetooth wireless interface and digital bus network connectivity.

Network connectivity, which includes Rotork's dedicated Pakscan and the Profibus, Modbus and Foundation fieldbus open protocols, is also configured by Bluetooth, as is the recovery of historical operating data from the data logger for valve diagnostics and maintenance planning. The three actuator sizes in the Rompak range provide operating torques from 35 to 650Nm and are suitable for ambient temperatures of -5 to +60C. In addition to new installations, the actuators can be retrofit to existing valves using Rotork's Site Services organisation.

Rittal has developed an air-to-air heat exchanger that has been specifically tailored to care for the needs of the mobile railway engineering industry. Available in both 24V DC and 110V DC versions, the exchangers have been constructed to EN 50 155 and vibration tested to EN 61 373.

Offering long-term reliable cooling, the exchangers extract heat from inside the enclosure to the surrounding environment, using only two working parts. Two fan motors housed inside the exchanger control the internal and external airflows independently. The exchanger matrix, made from aluminium, is light but durable and spray-finished in RAL 7035 to DB TL 918340.

Air-to-air heat exchangers offer a simple platform for servicing. Filter amts are available for dirty environments as well as a matrix module, which can easily be removed for cleaning with compressed air in less than five minutes. Quick connect plug electrical connections and the modular constructed fans allow fast serviceability and rapid replacement of parts in the event of failure.

Digital controllers monitor the internal temperature so if an enclosure reaches a pre-determined set point an alarm is displayed. A fault signal can also be sent via a floating contact.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Noax Technologies has added an electrically isolated RS 232 plug-in module to its range of industrial PCs. With the module, port data is transferred using a powerful data coupler instead of a direct electrical connection. The electrical connections between the Noax industrial PC and the peripheral devices that are connected to the port are isolated in order to ensure that all components are effectively protected from interference voltages.

With this development, the IPC specialists from Germany are targeting industrial machine control applications. Under certain adverse conditions (for example, with poor power supply systems, neutral reference levels or high differences in potential), the RS 232 connection may transfer unwanted currents between the machine and the industrial computer. The damage caused may range from disruption of the data transfer to hardware failure.

Noax said that this electrically isolated port module guarantees a high level of reliability for data transfer as well as effective protection against damage to computer hardware, even under the most hostile electrical conditions. In Noax industrial PCs, standard RS 232 ports are simply replaced by the new electrically isolated plug-in modules. The module is either replaced at the factory or on site.

The RS 232 plug-in module can be installed in all Noax industrial PCs with the N6 or N8 series all-in-one motherboard. The module is not an additional plug-in card, it replaces the standard port on the IPC.

All slots remain open for use. This allows users to run applications for which all of the slots on the industrial PC are needed for machine interfaces and to connect additional peripheral devices. No cables are required and special plugs establish a solid connection between the port plug-in module and the Noax all-in-one motherboard. This way, the port and industrial PC are also able to handle the extreme impact loads and constant vibrations present in industrial environments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Balluff has introduced a line of rugged primary switch-mode power supplies, for automation-control applications. The ten-model line includes a range of 24V DC models with single and three-phase inputs. Output current ranges from 0.75A (18W) to 40A (960W) mean there is a size for most applications.

If more power is needed, multiple power supplies can be connected in parallel for additional current capacity. Other features include built-in advanced overload and overvoltage protection, load regulation to +/- one per cent, ripple/noise of less than 50mV on most models and adjustable outputs to compensate for differences in specific control needs.

All models are din-rail mountable. The mean time between failure is specified over 210,000 hours (24 years) while operating at published specifications. The range also includes 5, 12, 15 and 48V models.

Ultrasonic inspection involves transmitting sound waves of short wavelength at high frequencies to identify flaws, measure the thickness of materials or detect corrosion.
Conventional ultrasonic testing equipment sends a pulsed beam of high-ultrasound from a handheld transducer, which is placed upon the surface of the object being tested. This wave is disturbed and then partially returned from spots with internal imperfections or from the back of the material wall.

Capturing and analysing the return sound can show the amplitude of the pulse and the duration taken for return to the transducer. By measuring this sound, a skilled operator can identify the location and orientation of imperfections and the wall thickness. Acceptance criteria define whether or not the indication is a defect. Ultrasonic testing is now being used more often for inspection than the traditional balance between radiographic testing and ultrasonic testing - especially for pipelines.

SGS has good experience of failure mechanisms. SGS's network operates all NDT technologies in more than 30 countries. SGS offers an integrated NDT service pack, combining inspection, supply-chain services and asset-integrity management. SGS offers conventional ultrasonic testing as well as other NDT methods.

Its service varies from standard non-destructive testing services to advanced NDT techniques such as risk-based inspections, time of flight diffraction, Corroscan, positive material identification, magnetic flux leakage, leak testing, thermography, electromagnetic testing, RFEC, iris, digital radiography, radiation detection RVI and endoscopy inspections. SGS also provides relevant NDT training courses including NDT ultrasonic testing courses and examinations suitable for PCN certification.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Seaward has added a label printer to its Powerplace 1557 electrical installation tester, to allow on-the-spot cable tagging and distribution-board marking. The Powerplace 1557 is an integrated 17th edition inspection and certification tester. It incorporates electronic versions of mains-test certificates so that test data is automatically entered into the correct certificate fields as testing is undertaken.

The PowerSolutions concept has been extended with the availability of a new battery-powered Test n Tag thermal transfer printer for cable tags and labels, giving contractors the ability to clearly label electrical wiring in line with circuit drawings and system schematics. Bluetooth connection to the Powerplace 1557 enables the printer to produce durable tags and labels at the press of a button, allowing immediate identification of all cables and wiring systems.

The Test n Tag printer comes with a range of cartridge options. Self-laminating wire markers can be produced for standard periodic inspection requirements, as well as laminated labels for use on consumer units, distribution boards and electrical circuits. For new wiring installations, the Test n Tag system can print heat-shrink sleeves for individual wire and cable marking.

The printed sleeving can be produced in a range of colours with all appropriate inspection, maintenance and identification information. The Powerplace 1557 labelling system ensures the correct marking of electric cables while testing is being carried out, saving time and money and eliminating the use of hand-written labels.

The lightweight Powerplace 1557 multifunction tester provides maximum productivity and improves efficiency, compared with paper or PDA-based systems. Onboard electronic certificate software enables test data to be recorded directly by the tester using a replica of the inspection and test certificate. Data can be validated in the field to check for errors or omissions, avoiding the need for costly repeat-site visits.

The instrument's integral certificate assistant software also holds many of the commonly used tabulated values and look-up tables, avoiding the need to take bulky reference material onsite. When inspection and testing is complete, the certificate held inside the Powerplace 1557 tester can be transferred to the accompanying Powerplace PC software to produce PDF or printed certificates for customers in line with the 17th edition wiring regulations.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Line Reactors enhance the performance and protect variable frequency drives by providing impedance. Impedance, or Z, in an electrical circuit is a measure of the total opposition to current flow. “Low Z” line reactors provide a lower amount of impedance, while “High Z” line reactors provide a higher amount of impedance. This article addresses the use of line reactors on the line side of variable frequency motor drives, not the output side of drives.

When to use “Low Z” Line Reactors?

  1. Variable frequency drive applications where a reactor is desired to prevent the possibility of drive problems associated with minor line voltage surges. Drive damage or fault conditions are not expected but could result. In virtually all applications, an inductor in front of the drive can be a measure of protection to extend the service life of the drive. Many low horsepower “micro” drives are proved as a low cost option for motor speed control or perhaps phase conversion. These are cost effective entry-level devices in the drive market. Many of these drives are designed without the use of reactors, filters, or chokes. This condition makes them vulnerable to damage due to line fluctuations, surges and spikes. A simple, low cost reactor can be used to protect the drive and the process from problems and interruptions.
  2. New and existing drive applications where a reactor is desired to help mitigate voltage and current harmonics where system harmonics are a minor concern.
  3. Drive protection and harmonic mitigation is desired with a minimal effect on line voltage feeding the drive.
  4. Drive applications where rapid speed changes are desired. The reactor will help smoothen the current surge.

When to use “High Z” Line Reactors?

  1. Drastic line voltage surges and swings are seen on the line that have resulted in drive fault trips or perhaps even drive damage.
  2. Maximum harmonic mitigation is desired without going to a passive harmonic filter.
  3. Line voltage tends to be near the high limit of the drive input rating and tempering is desired to prevent over-voltage trips during operation, and the condition is not severe enough to warrant a transformer tap change or the use of a different transformer. The line reactor is not a voltage transformer but can assist in softening the incoming power when the drive is feeding current to the motor.
  4. The use of a single line reactor is required for multiple motors operating at the same time. If the application does not allow the use of individual reactors, a single high impedance device can be used to gain some drive protection and harmonic mitigation.

Can you have too much impedance?

The answer to this question is yes. Impedance is desirable to help stabilize and smoothen mild changes in line conditions as well as mitigating harmonics. This applies to both line voltage and current issues. Excessive line impedance may result in an excessive drop in line voltage along with drive faults. The line reactor is a good device to address line harmonics being initiated by the non-linear power supply such as the VFD. It is not, however, a replacement for a harmonic trap filter which may be required to reduce line harmonics to an acceptable level. There are other issues involving excessive impedance that is best suited for a more comprehensive system evaluation.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Smith And Wesson, manufacturer of firearms and safety/security products, has chosen Enovia PLM to improve the efficiency of its product design and development process. This will enable employees across the globe to collaborate on designs and share up-to-date product information. Smith and Wesson will use Enovia to create a centralised database allowing common parts identification and more efficient capture and reuse of its institutional knowledge.

Initially started as a process to replace the company's paper-based systems, Smith and Wesson opted to go forward with Enovia Engineering Central to manage all of its engineering change requests and orders (ECR/ECO), automate business processes and create a centralised database.

Since then, the company's phased adoption of PLM has evolved to where each additional process enhances the ability of virtually any user to more efficiently accomplish tasks such as engineering changes and frame marking identification. Its implementation has also led to adoption on the shop floor, where product design information stored in Enovia is accessed by scanning a production Kanban card.

This provides operators with quick access to the information they need in real time, instead of having to interpret design drawings. Bob Shumsky, PLM systems administrator, Smith and Wesson, said: 'The most obvious benefit of this implementation has been faster cycles in design and production - drawing approval times have been decreased by 75 per cent and ECO approval time by 57 per cent.' Recognising the opportunity to standardise its process, Smith and Wesson made the decision to build on its implementation of Enovia for information management.

Now, approximately 200 design, sales, finance, procurement and marketing personnel have access to a more collaborative environment that makes their lives easier, for more efficient production and improved time to market.

Bentley Motors has implemented Icona's perceived quality simulation software, Aesthetica, at its design and manufacturing plant in Crewe, England. It is being used to streamline and improve the process of achieving consistently high perceived quality in the company's vehicles without negatively impacting development timescales and manufacturing costs.

The software has been introduced to help overcome the difficulties of getting all stake-holders in the vehicle design and development process - styling, engineering, quality and manufacturing personnel - to agree at the most appropriate stage in the development process on the assembled conditions to which the Class A surfaces should adhere.

Jim Shaw, manager of concept engineering at Bentley, said: 'The practicalities of getting everyone involved to agree the gap and flush conditions ahead of the Class A surfacing process meant there was a reluctance to commit to them early enough in the design process. 'This was resulting in agreements only being reached after tooling prove-out models had been milled and stacked, which was leading to loops in the Class A surfacing activity that were eating into the development timeline.' Following the findings of a working group formed to look into dimensional management throughout the development process at Bentley, several techniques were identified and justified, with the implementation of Aesthetica being the final piece of the puzzle.

'In several pilot projects over recent months it has been clearly demonstrated that Aesthetica allows us to visualise the effects of all stakeholders' proposals, not just for edge conditions but also for the underlying fixing constraints,' said Shaw. Styling, engineering, quality and manufacturing people can therefore appreciate and understand each other's requirements and reach agreement at a much earlier stage in the development process than was the case before.' The use of Icona Solutions' Aesthetica software at Bentley allows the variation in key areas of the vehicle that would occur under manufacturing conditions to be visualised, studied and understood without the need for the manufacture of solid, physical models.

These key areas have been agreed with the cross-functional team that is responsible for design approval. 'Specific viewpoints that are used by the audit team have been set up in Aesthetica so that they review the virtual 3D models in the same way that they view production cars,' said Patrick Crutchley, senior engineer, surfacing, Bentley Motors. Bentley is also looking at how the software can be used in the future, further upstream in the design process to influence the early style development.

Shaw said: 'We are working closely with Icona Solutions and Bunkspeed to examine the use of Bunkspeed's Hypershot 3D visualisation software to provide photographic-quality snapshot capabilities directly from Aesthetica. 'This would take advantage of the Hypershot integration capability that Icona Solutions offers as an optional supplement to Aesthetica's in-built visualisation facilities.'.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

In just four months, SGS Industrial Services has completed the design verification of three cryogenic liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks in accordance with Canadian code CSA Z276-01. Canaport LNG in Saint John, is a consortium between Irwing Oil, New Brunswick and Repsol, Spain, constructing the first LNG receiving and regasification terminal in Canada. After four years under construction, the Canaport LNG terminal should begin operations in the second quarter of 2009 and supply natural gas to the Canadian and American markets.

With its three large LNG cryogenic tanks, the first Canadian LNG terminal has a capacity of one billion cubic feet or 28 million cubic meters of natural gas per day and represents a capital investment of CAD750m (GBP413m). A project of this magnitude requires a strong international team in order for it to be completed in such a tight timescale. SGS Canada contributed to this success with its experienced team of engineers and professionals.

In four months, SGS succeeded in reviewing all tank design plans and verified them in accordance with CSA Z276-01, a code set up by the Canadian Standard Association concerning the production, storage and handling of liquid natural gas.

This CSA standard sets a range of 426 requirements and such a design verification project can generate around 40,000 pages of documents and drawings. Within three months, all the 426 requirements were matched with the concepts and drawings, calculations were verified as correct and the LNG tank design was confirmed as complying with the Canadian CSA standard. The final report was issued to the satisfaction of the customer, on time and on budget.

With the completely independent certification from SGS, Canaport LNG can be sure that the facility will operate as intended, using the latest technology, to the highest safety levels, and meeting all the relevant environmental standards and regulations. SGS Industrial Services provides not only design verification of LNG tanks, but also offers support services related to mechanical, piping, and electrical systems design, such as mechanical and process design review, fire and safety systems analysis, and instrumentation and automation analysis and review.

A range of compressed air filter units from Hi-line has been designed for the removal of oil, water, particulates and gaseous aerosols from compressed air systems. The die-cast filter housings are produced from high-grade aluminium with external and internal surfaces being alu-chrome treated. They are also subject to a tough epoxy baked-on paint finish in 'compressed air blue' - RAL 5015.

These treatments are designed to provide long-term protection, even when subject to the harshest operation conditions, ensuring a long service lifetime. Optional electronic or pneumatic differential pressure gauges can be fitted as required. The oil/water condensate is removed via a highly efficient robust brass drain assembly with the built-in capability to attach a 6mm dia nylon condensate discharge line.

The filtration elements use pleated filter media that combines maximum efficiency with very low differential pressure drop. They are available in several grades to accommodate particle removal down to five micron or three microns in size, with oil removal at 0.5 micron or 0.01 micron levels.

These elements provide impressive filtration efficiencies from 99.99 per cent to 99.99999 per cent with a further grade being specific to oil/aerosol removal down to 0.003mg/m utilising activated carbon technology. These figures are for operation at seven bar pressure and 20C, while all elements are validated and ensure high quality of compressed air to the ISO 8573.1 standard.

To comply with requests from distributors and agents, Hi-line has used standard connection technology between filter elements and housings. This ensures versatility and choice for end users, who would not therefore be locked-in to any supplier for consumable spares. The threaded aluminium housings are available with port connection sizes from 1/2in to 4in BSP, offering flow rates from 42 to 3672Nm/h.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Minitec has launched its Workplace Systems catalogue, illustrating a range of components and assemblies.The range is aimed at workstations, assembly lines, transfer stations and conveyor systems for manual and automated production lines, research laboratories, assembly areas, test equipment and inspection stations.

The Minitec Workplace Systems catalogue, which is spread across about 112 pages, guides the reader through ergonomic workplace layout with 14 detailed sections covering basic workstations, height adjustable tables, lighting and power supply, pneumatics, mounting devices and ESD accessories.

All of the components covered in the catalogue - which is available as a PDF download or as a hardcopy version - are also featured within Minitec's online ICAD interactive design module: an autonomous interactive program that allows selection of individual components with downloadable 2D and 3D, computer-aided design (CAD) and image files for AutoCAD and other CAD software programs, along with complete lists of parts. Minitec also provides a complete design and assembly service if required.

Minitec's Workplace Systems product line is part of - and may be freely mixed with - the range of machine-building components and systems based around its Profile System. This includes a selection of modular aluminium profiles that are assembled using the Powerlock fastening system and requires no special tools or machining other than cutting the profile to the required length, saving time and cost over other machine-building systems, according to the company.

The range includes ancillary components such as positioners, sensors, safety-fence parts, doors, wheels and guards to enable the design and fabrication of complete machines for production and test, material handling systems, workstations, machine guards and automated manufacturing systems.

Tolomatic is supplying rodless-style actuators to Hytrol Conveyor Company, a producer of conveyor systems, as a space-saving solution. Engineers at Hytrol needed a space-saving solution for designing a diverter for an overhead pull-off system that would divert 150lb boxes to a different conveyor line.

Manufacturing and packaging facilities may move and sort tons of bulk on conveyors, but the sorters, diverters and pull-offs that route products to their next destination must be as trim as possible to make the most of valuable floor space. Jackie Smith, application engineer at Hytrol, said: 'Our conveyors are used to move products down the line, divert them to the next station in the manufacturing process or, if a product is defective, divert them to a reject line.

'When we needed to design a diverter that was more compact and could be simply integrated into our systems, we decided that we needed to employ a different type of actuator.'.