Friday, October 30, 2009

Connectors Unlimited has worked with RTP Company to formulate and supply plastic materials for a shielding solution for analogue cable and circuit connectors. Several static dissipative and conductive compounds were chosen for the improved static control they provided. 'The fundamental reason for using RTP Company's conductive plastics in our analogue connectors is to minimise noise interference in the electronic signal, which is primarily caused by static charge,' explained Marty Ignasiak, president of Connectors Unlimited.

'By effectively reducing static charges, we're able to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in our connectors and thus upgrade overall performance of devices,' he added. When selecting a supplier of conductive plastic compounds, Connectors Unlimited engineers kept three critical requirements in mind: thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity and structural rigidity. Maintaining dimensional stability of the analogue circuits during manufacturing was a huge concern for their engineers, according to Ignasiak.

Company engineers ended up choosing several different RTP Company conductive compounds that provide varying levels of static protection to circuit connectors. Base resins for the compounds are RTP 300 Series polycarbonate and RTP 3400 Series liquid crystal polymer. To maintain rigidity during assembly that may include soldering processes, glass and carbon fibre reinforcement are utilised along with flame-retardant packages to meet UL94 flammability requirements.

The LCP materials are suitable when components must undergo electronic or solvent cleaning. 'The RTP Company materials we chose maintain excellent stiffness, while at the same time providing an array of static reduction levels, ranging from slightly static dissipating to fully conductive,' said Ignasiak.

Wago Corporation has added a UPS controller (and batteries), as well as buffer and redundancy modules to the 787 Series advanced power supply line. The 787 Series modules are designed to minimise downtime by shielding complex automation systems and components from common disturbances (for example, voltage fluctuations, harmonic distortion and outages).

Encapsulated in a robust, DIN rail mount metal housing, every module includes three LEDs and at least one signal output status LED (varies per model). To ensure reliability, the modules utilise Cage Clamp spring pressure connection technology for fast, easy and maintenance-free terminations. Wago provides free configuration and monitoring software with the 787 Series UPS controller for custom configuration, diagnostics and monitoring.

The 787 Series UPS also has an LCD/keypad and an RS-232 interface. Under normal operation, the UPS controller charges the 787 Series battery. During an outage, the UPS controller engages the battery, preventing data loss. In addition to free software, the UPS controller operates at 95 per cent efficiency and has an operating temperature range of -10C to +60C.

During shorter power interruptions such as brownouts, the 787 Series buffer module protects data. The 787 Series redundancy modules safeguard two power supplies that are parallel connected to provide system redundancy or additional power.

NSK's SpaceA range of bearings has solved a problem of premature failures of stainless-steel bearings used in the manufacture of carbon graphite and composite materials for aerospace applications. Operating in a solution of ammonium bicarbonate, the stainless-steel bearings were failing after about six weeks; however, the SpaceA replacements have been operating for eight-months without problems, providing significant savings for the manufacturer.

The SpaceA bearings are situated at both ends of five rollers, over which the carbon-fibre material passes in a surface-treatment process before being submersed in the bath of ammonium bicarbonate. This is an arduous application for bearings, as illustrated by the fact that the 10 stainless-steel 6205 bearings that were used previously were failing and requiring replacement every six weeks. In addition, analysts calculated that the frequent replacement was costing far too much in lost production time.

Keen to remove these costs and improve productivity, the manufacturer contacted NSK to enquire about the company's cost-saving programme and to find out how the technical consultancy aspect of the programme might be able to help. Following the enquiry, NSK engineers visited the manufacturer's plant to assess the application. Subsequently, they recommended replacing the stainless-steel bearings with units from NSK's SpaceA series for special environments.

The SpaceA series is a range of bearings, ball screws and linear guides that provides high performance and reliability under all types of demanding operating conditions including: super-clean, vacuum, non-magnetic, corrosive, high/low temperature, nuclear and high speed. Products in the series meet a wide range of technical requirements with a programme of high-performance materials, surface finishes and specially developed lubricants, including solid types.

The SpaceA bearings recommended for the surface treatment application were 6205 units with martensitic stainless-steel inner/outer rings and balls; the latter supplied with an MoS2 solid lubricant coating. In addition, the cage of the bearings is self-lubricating and the bearings are provided with shields of Austenitic stainless steel.

Initially, two SpaceA bearings were fitted to one of the rollers to assess the performance. After a trial period of three months, the customer was confident enough to replace the remaining eight bearings. These are still operating successfully after eight months, and subsequent orders for SpaceA bearings have been placed for an alternative machine.

The Barden Corporation offers custom-designed, super-precision bearings for use in a wide variety of high-performance air handling systems. Certain technologies demand custom-engineered, high-precision bearings rather than standard catalogue bearings. Air handling or air movement systems, for example, often require high-precision bearings, especially if the application is critical or requires a bearing solution that offers long life, high reliability and high speeds.

Other factors that make high-precision custom bearings essential to many applications are high temperatures, high pressures, poor lubrication, low vibration levels or abnormal contamination levels. Air handling systems are commonly found in every industry sector. Examples include axial and radial flow fans, compressors, turbomolecular pumps, dry pumps, emergency magnetic touchdown systems, turbochargers, air conditioning systems and cooling systems used on military aircraft for engine, avionics or infrared weapon systems.

Barden's manufacturing plant in Plymouth has more than 1,700m2 of cleanrooms for contaminant-free assembly and inspection of bearings. The company designs and manufactures super-precision bearings to a minimum of P4/ABEC 7 quality standards. Bearing sizes range from 5mm to 180mm outside diameter. Most bearing solutions are angular contact or deep groove and are available as hybrid (steel races with ceramic balls) depending on the individual application. Barden is capable of manufacturing bearings to a geometric tolerance of P2 or better and envelope dimensions to P4 or better.

Raceway roundness is better than half a micron, with raceway surface finish better than one micro inch Ra. For the aerospace and defence sector, Barden provides bearing solutions for the relatively small fans that are used in electronics cooling systems on aircraft, as well as bearings for the larger, more powerful axial and radial flow fans, which are frequently found in military aircraft start-stop air handling applications. Super-precision angular-contact and deep-groove ball bearings are also used in cooling systems for avionics bays and for military aircraft and helicopter engines.

On military aircraft, Barden bearings are also being used on the latest advanced weapons ejection systems. The bearing solution, which may include special flanges, threads or tapped holes, is custom engineered for the specific application, enabling the customer to quickly fit the bearing assembly into their own pneumatic ejection system. Often, the bearing assembly is so critical to the overall product that none of the system can be assembled without the bearing.

Multiple bearing solutions may need to be engineered to suit the customer's different product variants. The bearing solution may also help to reduce the customer's overall design and assembly costs. Air conditioning systems on aircraft also use super-precision bearings. Bleed valves, which are designed for flow and pressure regulation, take the air from the aircraft engines and move hot or cold air around the aircraft. While this particular application may not require the very high-precision levels offered by Barden, they benefit from material combinations such as Cronidur/ceramic in order to survive arduous operating conditions.

Once the bleed air has been used to control the temperature of the cabin air, it must then be moved around the aircraft. The fan speeds here are moderate but the bearings are critical in ensuring that the fan can deliver the correct mixture of hot or cold air to the required location on the aircraft at the right time. Turbochargers are another important application area for super-precision bearings. Barden is currently producing a high-speed ball bearing cartridge for use in automotive turbochargers.

The bearing itself incorporates two rows of balls built to a controlled end float. The design of the cartridge includes features for delivery of lubricating oil directly to the raceways and also for an oil film around the outside diameter of the bearing, which provides damping from high levels of vibration. The high speed of the turbocharger creates its own challenges and requires a bearing cage that is mechanically strong in order to resist the high ball-to-cage contact loads, but that is suitably compliant to ensure that wear is not a limiting factor.

Another growing air handling application for super-precision bearings is in fuel-cell technologies, where the fuel cell requires a compressor for the hydrogen used in the reaction. Barden engineers bearing solutions for a number of different high-performance pump manufacturers, for use in extreme, hostile environments. By using new materials, special coatings and by adding real value to the customer's own design, Barden can help the customer reduce design costs, minimise component count, reduce assembly time, as well as optimise the overall efficiency and reliability of the air handling system.

In turbomolecular pumps, for example, the most important requirements are long life, reliability and high-speed performance. Used predominantly to create high vacuum conditions for semiconductor, analysis and SEM applications, these bearings typically require a solution that comprises ceramic balls, a special coating, is greased for life and that has a special high-quality raceway finish. Semiconductors, solar panels and flat-panel displays all require a production process that is clean and free of any contaminants that may adversely affect the process.

Working chambers are normally flooded with gas and evacuated using dry vacuum pumps to create a working vacuum. In semiconductor manufacturing, the etching tools need to operate in a vacuum chamber while they etch miniature grids of electronic circuitry onto silicon wafers. This type of operation is so intricate that all contaminants must be removed from the production chamber before work can begin. It is therefore common to see rows of dry vacuum pumps installed under production floors in many semiconductor manufacturing plants.

Another example of where high-precision custom bearings are used for air handling is in emergency touch-down bearings for active magnetic bearings (AMBs). AMBs use actively controlled electromagnetic forces to control the motion of a rotor or other ferromagnetic body, providing a practical method of suspending shafts (both axially and radially) in numerous applications, including compressors, blowers, air conditioning systems, gas expanders (used as venting devices in gas pipelines) and in energy storage systems as emergency back-up power.

However, as most AMBs require continuous power input and an active control system to hold the load stable, if this system fails then high-performance rolling element back-up bearings, such as those produced by Barden, are needed to help control the system and bring it safely to a stop.

SAS Automation has introduced an Internal Diameter Gripper (IDG) for parts that are heavy, fragile or have an irregular shape. The IDG grips and releases on command and is recommended for manipulating breakable and heavy parts. Unlike standard clamps, the IDG distributes force evenly over the entire contact area, making it suitable for irregular-shaped parts.

This IDG is a cost-effective solution when compared with bladder grippers and automated or magnetic clamps. Its rubber strips ensure a secure grip and can be replaced cheaply. A nose adapter can be easily customised for locating or part stabilisation.

The TRA3000 system from EMC is able to bring the power of the web to EMC laboratories. An Ethernet interface and internal web server enable control, communication and report generation without proprietary software.

A modular architecture enables onsite upgrades for any combination of ESD, EFT, surge, AC/DC dips, interrupts and variations, common mode and both AC and impulse magnetic fields. Automatic recording of temperature, pressure and humidity are available for the HTML test report.

A USB interface is used to securely transfer files, test reports and service information to external devices.

Igus has developed an optical-fibre cable, Chainflex CFLG.2LB, which is suitable for all bus systems. This dual-core optical-fibre bus cable is designed for energy-chain applications where extremely small bending radii and high cycle life are expected without loss of data.

The fibres are designed to reduce the minimum bend radius from the traditional 10x outside diameter of the jacketed cable to 5x, or 40mm. Because of the matched length of the fibre-optic cores and the aramid strain and torsion relief, more than 8.5 million double strokes have been proved for energy chains in a 38mm test setup.

The highly abrasion-resistant TPE outer-jacket compound protects against mechanical damage and is oil and chemical resistant. The environmentally friendly cable is PVC and halogen free and, when dynamically moved, suitable for a temperatures ranging between -40 and 60C. This makes them applicable across all industries, covering applications from machine tools and pick-and-place equipment to stone and woodworking.

Micromech's Promech linear actuators from Parker are for OEM instrument manufacturers looking to speed time to market and reduce the overall installed cost for linear motion axes. Promech Series LP28 and LD28 actuators come completely assembled and tested and include linear bearings, drive screw, thrust bearings, motor mount, coupling and motor. With a travel range from 5mm to 500mm, the LP28 has several linear bearing options and a variety of leadscrew and motor size options to match the positioner to the application requirements.

This compact actuator is suitable for positioning payloads up to 4.5kg and may also be fitted with optional seal strip, home and limit sensors. The LD28 is a complete linear actuator solution that offers greater screw and motor design flexibility, enabling OEMs to pursue optimal solutions for their applications. It offers a travel range from 5mm to 300mm and is offered with a variety of options to match the actuator to application requirements.

The LD28 is also suitable for thrusting applications requiring up to 4.5kg of thrust. The LP28 has a miniature cross section of 28mm x 28mm, is designed with an optimal length-to-travel ratio, has a high-performance leadscrew drive train and re-circulating linear bearing. Some competitive miniaturised drive trains use the radial bearings in the step motor to contain the motor rotor, manage thermal expansion as the motor heats, and bear the axial loads generated by the application.

In some cases this is an acceptable practice, but may prove to be a reliability risk further down the road. The LP28's bearing design results in a highly reliable and long life positioner, said Micromech. The leadscrew options are 1mm, 3mm and 10mm, and NEMA 11 or NEMA 17 stepper motors are included as standard. Fully adjustable home and limit sensors are available and the actuators can be configured for multi-axis platforms. The design has an extruded aluminium body that provides functionality and structural strength.

Internally, the drive train is highly integrated and includes the drive screw, screw nut, independent pre-loaded thrust bearing set, shaft coupling and motor. Externally, an optional linear bearing may be used to support heavier or cantilevered payloads. Installation is performed using toe clamp mounting. Home and limit sensors, which are triggered by a magnet in the carriage assembly, may be mounted using the T-slot and are fully adjustable over travel. The LP28 is engineered for transport of small payloads over distances as short as 5mm and as long as 500mm.

The LP28 is commonly used in life sciences, medical and semiconductor equipment although it is not limited to these markets. Typical applications include transport of 0.45kg to 0.9kg payloads such as microplates, vials and small syringe pumps. In inspection applications, the LP28 can be used as a focus axis for adjusting the position of a camera, optics or payload. The LP28's light weight also makes it suitable for mobile equipment. It is available with multiple lead options to match payloads over the life of the actuator.

The LD28 is also a miniature cross section actuator 28mm x 28mm and has an independent thrust bearing set resulting in a high thrust per package size. It can have either stepper (NEMA 11 or NEMA 17) or servomotor; it has backlash compensation and a high-performance leadscrew drive train with options of 1mm, 3mm and 10mm leadscrew. Designed for OEMs needing simple positioning solutions for instrument and light industrial applications, the Promech range of positioners offers a complete positioning solution.

The LD28 is also a packaged linear actuator having all the same 'completeness' attributes as the LP28 being fully assembled and tested. The Promech LD28 is engineered for thrusting small payloads over distances as short as 5mm and as long as 300mm. In addition to the standard configurations, the LD28 actuators can be customised to address the unique requirements of a particular high-volume application. These modifications may further reduce the installed cost and can include special motors (stepper, servo or DC), motors fitted with rotary encoders, special screws (finer leads, ballscrews, special nuts), and environmental preparation (vacuum, high temperature).

Here again the LD28 is commonly used in life sciences, medical and semiconductor equipment, although it is not limited to these markets. Typical applications include syringe pumps and positioning stages and its light weight makes it suitable for mobile equipment.

With focused display areas for high-tech manufacturing, packaging, materials, automation and design, Medtec UK will present all the latest technologies and tools for medical device manufacturing. Staged at the Birmingham NEC on 27-28 April 2010, exhibitors at this annual event will be complementing the Medtec Conference Education and Innovation platform with targeted displays within several special feature areas.

Precisiontec will display multi-axis CNC technology, micro-machining, EDM technology, lasers and ultrasonic technology for the manufacture of surgical devices, implants and interventional cardio devices from speciality medical alloys. Medipack offers materials, outsourcers and machinery for the packaging of medical devices and manufacture of pharmaceutical drug delivery systems. The Biomaterials platform will exhibit high-performance plastics, injection moulding and extrusion techniques for medical manufacturing.

The Automation, Assembly and Robotics area will showcase the integrators and latest technology for automated production and assembly techniques. Medidesign will feature design companies that are specialised in the medical device market.

Everything from raw materials, manufacturing equipment and techniques through to automation technology and outsourcing will be on display, demonstrating how bottom-line savings through the use of up-to-date equipment and strategies can be achieved to meet current and future demands of even the most complex products and processes. Medtec UK is part of Advanced Manufacturing UK.

Edmund Optics (EO) has expanded its line of Techspec imaging and machine-vision lenses. The company has added more than 30 EO-designed and -manufactured lenses, including Techspec fixed focal length and telecentric lenses, to its catalogue and website. These new lenses will be showcased at the Vision Show, which is scheduled to take place in November 2009 in Stuttgart (Hall 4, Booth A15).

The expanded offerings include four different product lines: Techspec Compact Fixed Focal Length lenses; Techspec Compact Telecentrics; Techspec Large Format Telecentrics; and Techspec High Resolution Telecentrics. EO also offers customised solutions for those with special application needs. The EO Techspec Compact Fixed Focal Length lenses are designed with the working distance and resolution requirements of factory automation and inspection in mind.

The lenses support imaging sensors as large as 2-3in and are available in focal lengths of 8.5mm, 12mm, 16mm, 25mm and 35mm. A broadband anti-reflective coating offers improved light transmission, making these lenses suitable for restrictive lighting conditions, according to the company. Telecentric lenses offer low distortion and distance-independent magnification, making them suitable for metrology and gauging applications in machine-vision applications.

The Techspec Compact Telecentrics offer 65mm and 110mm working distances at magnifications ranging from 0.5x to 4x. The Techspec Large Format Telecentrics support sensors up to 28.7mm diagonal with 4M-pixel resolution and come in a variety of magnifications and camera mount styles. The Techspec High Resolution Telecentrics support sensors as large as 2-3in with 5M-pixel resolution and come in 0.28x, 0.5x, 0.9x and 1.7x magnifications.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions is offering Kerkite Composite Polymers and other special materials. Kerkite polymers are standard materials used in Kerk brand precision anti-backlash leadscrew nuts, RGS linear rails and guides, and ScrewRail linear actuators.

Kerkite materials are self-lubricated and formulated to provide optimum performance, and offer a variety of mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties resulting in compatibility with many chemicals and environmental conditions. Kerkite offers design flexibility using Haydon Kerk's injection moulding and mould-design capabilities.

In addition to Kerkite polymers, Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions offers a range of other special materials. Kerk precision anti-backlash lead screw nuts can be produced using a variety of materials, including PEEK, polyester, Torlon, Vespel, Ertalyte, and other specialty polymers.

National Instruments has announced a new version of its drag-and-drop software that powers the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 robotics kits. With this system, children can design their own robots using features such as colour recognition, Bluetooth support and additional robot models.

The software, which will be included with all Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kits, is based on NI Labview graphical programming software. With this software, students' drag and drop icons that are representative of the various tasks they want their robots to perform. NXT 2.0 software creates the possibility for new types of robotic customisation so that no two robots are alike.

Software features include support for a colour recognition sensor, which helps robots perform colour-matching tasks and sense light levels, and programmatic Bluetooth support. New sound and image editors can load images and sounds into the robot's memory for display on the LCD screen or to play back the sound of choice. Children can also share project files with friends using the Pack-N-Go project packager. The Lego Mindstorms education version includes a data logging tool.

Adept Technology has announced that its USDA-accepted robot for high-speed food handling will be showcased at the Worldwide Food Expo in Chicago, Illinois on 28-31 October, 2009. The Quattro s650HS is said to be the only USDA-accepted parallel robot available for food processing. It is also available with an optional fixed platform addressing high-payload applications.

The Quattro line is designed for high-speed manufacturing, packaging, material handling and assembly applications. It features a four-arm kinematic, enabling higher speeds and faster accelerations. The Quattro is suitable for flexible packaging, material handling, kitting and assembly applications where performance is of paramount consideration.

Wienerberger UK has engineered an automated system for handling special brick variants in partnership with Fanuc Robotics UK. The system uses a Fanuc Robotics M710-iC six axes robot to pick up green bricks from an input conveyor and positions them onto a ceramic pallet where they remain until fired.

Bricks are handled separately with a 'suits-all' vacuum gripper solution, a vision system and bespoke palletising software. Single or double bricks enter the system on a conveyor and their precise position is identified by a vision system using Fanuc Robotics IR-Vision integrated software. The M710-iC robot is fitted with a single vacuum gripper that orientates itself to information fed by the vision system and picks up the brick.

The control panel has PC and Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) that allow the shape to be drawn, edited and dimensions to be input. From this information the software defines where the gripper locates the brick, where to place the brick and how to orientate each layer to complete a 950 x 950 x 1,000mm pallet. A robot has been used to draw the sander across each layer as it is completed.

The level of sand dispensed is controlled by the speed, height and tilt of the dispenser as the robot passes it over the bricks. The ceramic pallet is positioned on a rotary table that removes the pallet to an unloading area and positions a new pallet so that uninterrupted production can continue.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Monterey Bay Research Institute (MBARI) is using Sierra Instruments' mass-flow controllers to discover how increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are affecting marine life in seas. The Monterey Bay and our oceans are changing rapidly due to the influx of CO2 in the atmosphere.

According to Dr Barry, a benthic biologist and senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Research Institute, about one-third of human CO2 gas emissions in our atmosphere are absorbed by the ocean, making the ocean 30 per cent more acidic than 100 years ago. 'Ocean acidification' is the term that has been coined to describe this process. Early in his experiments, Barry was frustrated with the performance of the mass-flow controllers that controlled gas inputs to his aquarium tanks.

After research and discussions with Sierra Instruments, he chose the company's Smart-Trak model 100 with its Pilot Module gas feature. Barry and his team installed nine Smart-Trak Model 100 units to control mixtures of O2, N2 and CO2 to his aquarium tanks. Conditions in the tanks are varied to simulate past, present, and future ocean conditions. The O2 levels vary from one per cent to 20 per cent, N2 from 80 per cent to 99 per cent and C02 levels from 180-1,500ppm, depending on the desired atmosphere or ocean condition Barry wants to create. In these environments Barry measures the development, growth, and physiological responses of the marine animals to CO2 stress.

Using the Pilot Module, Barry can change his CO2 flow rates instantly and remotely, creating many varieties of oceanic atmospheres with the same set of conditions - same water, temperature, and animals. He can plug his Pilot Module into any one of the nine Model 100s, makes a change in the gas flow-rate, therefore creating another atmosphere. When he unplugs it, the gas flow will not deviate.

If Barry wants to change his atmosphere again by entering different flow rates, it is said to take only seconds. Barry states that accuracy is essential for these experiments. If his CO2 readings are off by just 0.1 per cent, the acidity of his simulated oceanic environment will change drastically, disrupting the experiment, requiring many hours of work to reset conditions and restart the experiment.

CGTech has released version 7.0 of the Vericut CNC machine simulation and optimisation software. Vericut 7.0 features enhancements that reduce the time required for manufacturing engineers to develop, analyse, inspect and document the CNC programming and machining process.

CGTech have focused on code optimisation and customer-driven enhancements, reducing the number of pop-up dialogues for day-to-day Vericut users and eliminating any confusion associated with 'apply', 'ok' and 'cancel' buttons. As a result, setting up a new project in Vericut has been simplified. Items formerly in pop-up dialogues have been moved to the Project Tree, where all projects are configured using a configuration panel, automatically displayed as the user selects each branch.

Actions are immediate, so 'apply' or 'okay' clicks are unnecessary. The Component Tree has also been merged into the Project Tree but can be optionally hidden. The Project menu has been simplified with menu actions moved to the Project Tree. Motion Simulation refers to how Vericut calculates the motion path from the NC data and animates it.

The motion in all view types is now coordinated and tool images are consistent, while collision tolerance and motion display are independent. When set to stop at a travel limit, the simulation continues the motion with axis clamped, while any cuts during a limit error are painted red. A five-axis NC block is now one motion and simulation times overall are shorter.

5.x and 6.x collision configurations are upward compatible and read into 7.0. This central location for all collision control eliminates any possibility of duplicate collision checks. The user can define a near-miss collision with cut stock, and all near-miss and actual collision errors are separated in the logger. Components turn red upon first display of the collision contact, instead of at the end of the colliding motion.

Vericut runs standalone, but can also be integrated with CAM systems such as Catia V5, Siemens NX, Pro/E, MasterCAM, EdgeCAM, Delcam Powermill and Open Mind Hypermill. Vericut can read Siemens NX Part Files directly when NX is on the same computer and NX parts can be referenced directly from within Vericut or via the NX-to-Vericut interface. The CATIA V5-To-Vericut Interface has been enhanced with several new features for managing tools.

The user can merge tools from a template with new tools from the Part Operation and optionally put all unique tools in one tool library. The user can also use CATIA-referenced STL models. Vericut holders are named using the holder names already defined in CATIA. Additional features include the option to specify work offset subsystems and set model tolerances for the stock, fixture and design models.

Sensonics, a condition monitoring specialist, has supplied and installed DN26 series vibration and speed monitors for Shanghai Boasteel, an iron and steel company in China. The contract for the supply and installation of the monitors was completed in conjunction with Star Royal Industry and Engineering, Sensonics' Shanghai-based distributor.

The two new systems monitor the bearing vibration of de-dusting and sintering fans, providing online condition monitoring and shutdown protection.

Hamamatsu will be introducing the C10990 series of OEM CCD board-level cameras at the Photonex 2009 Exhibition. The cameras feature high sensitivity and high resolution and include the latest 1.3 million pixel 2/3in progressive scan interline front illuminated CCD, circuitry and lens mount all on one board.

Also on show will be the latest range of semiconductor detectors featuring photon detection capability, the S10362-33 series multi-pixel photon counters (MPPC). This device uses a Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode structure for ultra-low-level light detection, and the active area has been increased from 1mm2 to 9mm2.

Other products include the C10988MA, an ultra-compact spectrometer built using MOEMS technology. The C10988MA is a device measuring 27.6mm x 13mm x 16.8mm, which was developed for use in portable and hand-held devices, where a standard mini spectrometer would be too large and consume too much power.

Schmidt-Kupplung is offering the axially fixed Loewe GK Torque, designed for torque applications where the coupling has to resist axial motion. The coupling combines the technical features of a single universal joint and a shaft coupling. The crossed pins slide in the plain bearings, which allow a pivotal and radial displacement of the two anodised aluminium hubs with lowest side and bearing loads.

The series GK Torque is available with outer diameters ranging from 27mm to 100mm and with a torque range up to 220Nm. Anodised aluminium clamp hubs ensure a press-fit shaft connection. For higher torque requirements, a special customised steel version of the axially stiff coupling is realised. This coupling size has an increased outer diameter and a torque capacity of 600Nm.

Saft has won an order from Bharat Electronics (BEL) to supply its MP series rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The contract covers an immediate requirement for Li-ion batteries both for new radios and for replacement batteries for radios already deployed in the field. Under the terms of the contract, Saft will supply MP series to BEL, including MP 176065 (nominal capacity 6.8Ah) and MP 174865 (nominal capacity 5.3Ah) batteries together with MP 174565 Integration batteries (nominal capacity 4.8Ah) for a new version of the radio that requires a compact lightweight battery pack with a total capacity of 8Ah.

Saft MP series Li-ion cells are said to be maintenance free and hermetically sealed at temperatures up to +75C. In addition to the electronic protection circuits that monitor individual cells within battery packs, the MP cells have safety features such as: built-in circuit breaker to enable the fast, automatic disconnection of cells from faulty chargers; safety vent that operates when cell internal pressure exceeds eight bar; and a shut-down separator with pores that automatically close in the event of elevated temperatures.

Saft has designed the MP cells to withstand the most common field abuses, such as mechanical shock and vibration, as well as external short-circuit, crushing, nail piercing and so on. Saft's MP 174565 Integration cell is engineered specifically for integration within the vast array of rechargeable battery packs required by modern military applications.

Its shape, terminals and safety features allow either parallel or series connection, while minimising pack assembly costs and increasing reliability because cell-to-cell wiring is reduced or, for many applications, eliminated completely. Electronic protection circuits provide monitoring of the health of individual cells within battery packs. The MP 174565 Integration cell features an aluminium casing, rather than the stainless-steel casing employed in the regular MP cell. This helps reduce weight and increase energy density to 175Wh/kg and 423Wh/l.

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms has announced its work process management software enabled for use by utilities for Smartgrid solutions. With Proficy Workflow, utilities can digitise and orchestrate work processes to achieve coordinated, efficient and reliable power delivery. Proficy Workflow, in conjunction with a Service Oriented Architecture such as Proficy SOA, can orchestrate processes across systems and people, triggering automatic and manual actions based on real-time events - which support the three key Smartgrid functions of delivery optimisation, demand optimisation and asset optimisation.

'Every utility contains a mix of automated and manual interactions between equipment and personnel,' said Greg Millinger, product general manager for Proficy Workflow and Proficy SOA for GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms. 'Often, these processes are not fully documented and include extra steps and resources. 'As such, they are difficult to adapt to changing needs, which challenges the industry in the journey toward the Smartgrid. 'As workforces age and retire, utilities are losing the knowledge that is gained from years of experience - as the information has not been captured electronically and put into formal processes,' he added.

To help avoid potential failures in the grid, Proficy Workflow can provide response, automatic recovery scenarios and improved 'pre-warning' systems of potential distribution problems. The system guides operators through step-by-step instructions to ensure actions comply with defined processes - with validated entry. Users can capture both automated and manual data entry, and digitise and enforce compliance with policy manuals and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Teams can react immediately to alarms and process exceptions with best practice corrective action and exception management. Utilities can automatically and dynamically respond to process problems and events, monitoring alarms and out-of-spec conditions from multiple systems. Proficy Workflow can send tasks to people or systems to correct for problems in real time and escalate as needed.

Utilities can minimise nuisance alarms and take proper action on critical alarms. Proficy Workflow also helps with the employee attrition facing utilities and loss of expert knowledge and processes. With Proficy Workflow, utilities can implement Troubleshooting Trees to walk people through potential problems to determine root cause and solution, therefore increasing uptime and reliability. Troubleshooting Trees can help with repair of equipment as well as in-process coordination.

In addition, utilities can capture the knowledge base of expert workers due to retire, reducing effects of attrition. Proficy Workflow allows utilities to provide new operators with instructionally sound training and the ability to practice operations tasks and SOPs before actually operating equipment. Proficy Workflow can orchestrate the exchange of real-time data across the existing utility systems software and hardware infrastructure including HMI/Scada. The solution decreases costs associated with low-level systems integration and reduces downtime by simplifying data orchestration.

For example, seamless integration of information from a Scada system on top of a wind farm into a Scada system of a larger utility may help determine short-term generation capacity while the transformer temperature profile can concurrently be leveraged by the maintenance management system. 'With Proficy Workflow, utilities can improve response to real-time events - as an example, taking an automatic corrective action to overcome a cascading failure or automatically reducing loads over time,' said Millinger. 'Operations experts have the opportunity to quickly create, deploy and modify work processes for greater agility and improved performance - without requiring IT resources or support - to make every operator an expert,' he added.

Using Schurter's Parametric Search for Mating IEC 60320 Connectors tool, customers can quickly find a power supply connection solution for a particular application. Searching for suitable equipment connectors (appliance couplers) means selecting the connector parameters according to IEC 60320.

The search for connector options on the Schurter website, which can be performed from the most diverse perspectives and several points of departure, will yield a manageable selection of products within a very short amount of time, claims the company. The information on the website and on the respective product fact sheets will produce exactly the counterparts required.

Schurter offers a large portfolio of appliance couplers according to IEC 60320 as well as the corresponding power supply and interconnection cords, which, for better clarity, is divided up into several functional groups such as: connectors, distribution units, power entry modules with and without filter, cord connectors or cord sets. The product search within these functional groups can be narrowed down further by selecting the corresponding product characteristics (web selectors).

More than 2,000 possible connector combination/mating options (all based on IEC connector parameters) are now available under parametric search. This allows customers to search for equipment connectors from the most diverse perspectives. Under 'General Information', users are told exactly which standard each component is in compliance with and how the terminology associated with a given product is to be interpreted.

Adept Technology will be demonstrating the Adept Quattro S650H robot for solar manufacturing at the Taiwan International Photovoltaic Forum and Exhibition in Taipei, from 7-9 October. The technology will be shown in a solar wafer handling system, designed by the company's partner Castec International, on booth 1359. Castec will be demonstrating the high-speed system using the Quattro S650H robot with integrated vision guidance and inspection.

'Castec's turnkey automation solutions, incorporating Adept's robotics and control products, are designed to increase throughput, minimise breakage and reduce scrap,' said Rush LaSelle, director of global sales and marketing. The demonstration system will feature the Adept Quattro robot, which is a parallel robot (or 'delta robot') that features a four-arm rotational platform designed for maximum speed and maximum acceleration across the entire work envelope.

The embedded amplifiers and compact controls in the Adept Quattro parallel robot make installation easy and enable reduced workspace. Adeptsight is a stand-alone vision guidance and inspection package that runs on a PC and comes complete with all the necessary hardware and accessories.

The software includes a powerful framework that can be used to develop customised vision guidance and inspection applications. Its graphical interface is said to allow the user to develop robust and accurate vision applications. The Taiwan International Photovoltaic Forum and Exhibition will be held from 7-9 October 2009 at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall, Area A.

Michell Instruments has introduced the I7000 Hygrosmart humidity sensor, which is claimed to make the maintenance of the company's relative-humidity (RH) instruments quick and simple with no downtime. The interchangeable module incorporates all calibration data and is delivered together with a calibration certificate.

To ensure continued measurement accuracy over time, the user can recalibrate an instrument by replacing the old sensor with a new one. No specialist training is required for this process, according to the company. The I7000 Hygrosmart interchangeable module forms the base of a range of temperature and humidity instruments, suitable for applications from precision manufacturing to controlled environments and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Tentec has helped the Artemis Ocean Racing team after its bolt-tensioning tool seized just six days before a big race. The tensioning tool failed while refitting the vessel's keel and the technicians needed help fast. After a quick call to Tentec, an engineer was sent to Ocean Racing's HQ within the hour to assess the situation. As suspected, it was the tool cell within the tensioning equipment that had been damaged and required refurbishing back at Tentec's factory.

The bolt tensioner had been specifically designed and manufactured by Tentec. The application uses titanium bolts to hold the long central stabiliser 'fin' of the yacht and needed a special insert within the tool. This fin is fully adjustable via hydraulic rams for various trim settings of the vessel.

The bolts are held within a glass-fibre structure at the base of the mast, which is the critical stress area of the vessel. However, time was of the essence and the demands of the refit meant the team could not be without the tool. Tentec once again came to the rescue as Peter Koller, Tentec's account manager for Artemis Ocean Racing, realised he had an exact replica of the tool cell, as a demonstration model, back at his office.

Next morning he was back at the refit yard and worked with the technicians to ensure this tool could do the job. Within an hour, three out of the 12 nuts were tensioned and Koller left the tool at the yard for the completion of the refit. Within six days the refit had been completed and sea trials were underway around the Solent ahead of Cowes Week, the Artemis Challenge and the Rolex Fastnet Race. During this time, the original bolt-tensioning tool was completely refurbished back at Tentec.

The latest PEM Spotfast fastener from Penn Engineering permanently joins metal sheets to PC boards or plastic panels and creates a flush-attachment connection without protrusions on either side. These fasteners offer alternatives to riveting or adhesives and their rotational capability extends application potential with the fastener serving as a single flush-mounted pivot point.

The steel fasteners (Type SFK) install smooth with the top metal sheet and flush or sub-flush with the bottom panel. When used as a pivot point, the top metal sheet is captivated between the head of the fastener and the lower (non-rotating) panel, which allows the metal sheet to rotate freely. The fastener's design features two separate clinch and knurl joining profiles that hold the key.

Squeezing the fastener into place using punch and anvil causes a cold flow of the metal sheet material into the fastener's clinch profile and a broaching fit of the knurled end into the PC board or plastic panel. The result is permanent and flush attachment of sheet to board or panel. Standard parts can install with minimal space requirements into metal sheets as thin as 0.031/0.8mm with hardness of 80 or less on the Rockwell B scale. Various head sizes and diameters are available to suit application needs.

Softnoze USA has announced product models that mount, aim and secure machine vision cameras and smart sensors. The first two product series are the MV-SUB-CB and the MV-SUBE-CB components. Combining a strong, stainless-steel bracket with a high-strength polymer base is said to make camera and sensor installation easy, as well as give final machine designs a professional look.

Machine vision has found applications within all sectors of automation, and while they remain more complicated to deploy than typical sensors and switches, their mounting and aiming requirements can be matched using one or more of Softnoze's 16 machine vision components. Regardless of manufacturer, the MV brackets accommodate a multitude of cameras and smart sensors.

This is done utilising a multi-slotted and drilled plate. The plate is held very securely, yet is easily aimed using a swivelling ball, which can then be held captive within the polymer base upon tightening. Beyond the 16 standard models, Softnoze plans to release additional versions and can quick-turn custom designs to meet any application.

Objet Geometries has released a digital material pack that allows manufacturers and designers to create suitable parts and models for product-design testing, simulation and validation. The offering is only available on the Connex350 and Connex500 - 3D printers that are capable of simultaneously printing multiple materials with different mechanical and physical properties.

The pack provides 3D printing users with 18 new materials comprised of combinations of Verowhite and Tangoplus or Tangoblack Plus, the latest addition to the Tango range. The materials encompass the full Shore A hardness scale (from 27 to 95), characterising a range of rubber-/elastomer-based products.

With these materials, Connex users can print parts, such as wires and cables, grips and handles, plugs and connections, shock absorbers, function buttons, gaskets and seals, among other rubber applications. The rigid materials simulate the strength and toughness of products made of such standard plastics as PP, LDPE, HDPE, PVC and PS. Up to 11 different rigid and flexible materials can be combined in a single part in one build.

Forest Way Special Educational Needs School has installed 35 Elta Fans as part of a system to provide a comfortable, well-ventilated learning environment for the pupils. The school, situated in the National Forest in Leicestershire, is a co-educational special school for 138 pupils aged 3-19 years old with a wide range of special needs.

Designed with sustainability in mind, the school incorporates several integrated, eco-friendly systems, added to which is the low-energy ventilation system that utilises the Elta fans. The ventilation system incorporates 18 Elta Quietflow single fans, three Quietflow twin fans, one Elta Skyflow SSF roof unit, four domestic SE fans and two SCE fans. The 22 larger fans were supplied complete with all required ancillaries and accessories such as mounting feet, silencers, speed controllers and sensors.

The system is powered by renewable energy and automatically controls the ambient environment in each classroom. The main contractor for the development was Wilmot Dixon, with Fans and Spares Nottingham (Elta's local distributor), providing the Elta equipment to Derry Building Services. The school is intended to be a major focal point and resource for the whole community and was designed around an internal courtyard to a very high specification.

Many of the features are there to provide a very intimate and tactile environment for the students with multiple learning difficulties. 'The fans featured PIR control, with speed controllers also fitted to ensure they are operating at optimum capacity,' said Adrian Franklin, the building services engineer at Derry Building Services responsible for the project. 'The fan units were clearly identified, along with the ancillaries, to identify the relevant locations,' he added.