Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baldor Electric has launched a range of smart drives, offering economic and space-saving solutions for many common single-axis automation requirements. The drives also feature an Ethernet interface compatible with the deterministic Ethernet-compatible motion-control standard, Powerlink. The Mint Lite programming capability is now being fitted without charge on all of Baldor's Microflex e100 and Motiflex e100 single- and three-phase drive ranges. These drives are available in a choice of power ratings up to 33.5A.

The versatile drives may be used to control rotary and linear servo motors, linear motors and closed-loop vector motors, and in V/Hz control modes. The embedded Mint Lite capability supports a range of basic motion-programming requirements, including performing relative and absolute moves, S-ramp profiles, jog and homing movements, changing target positions on the fly, registration moves and reacting to real-time trigger events. The programming facility allows standalone drives to provide solutions for many common automation and machinery tasks, such as cutting or feeding to length, indexing axes, simple pick-and-place motion, and machine adjustments such as changing guides or backstops to reconfigure machinery for new batches.

More flexible PLC interfacing is an additional application for the drives. The ability to program Baldor's drives means that the standard drive profile may be adapted. The drives' TCP/IP-compatible Ethernet interface also makes it simple to link into Ethernet factory networks for changing product recipes and reporting production metrics. All of Baldor's Microflex e100 and Motiflex e100 drives come with built-in I/O as standard - including fast latch inputs for registration applications - plus CANopen manager capability to support distributed I/O expansion and HMI interfacing.

Motiflex e100 drives offer card slots for further local I/O expansion and fieldbus connectivity. The fieldbus modules extend connectivity options to external PLCs, supporting interfaces such as Ethernet/IP, Profinet-IO, Profibus and Devicenet. This configuration versatility allows drives to be configured cost effectively to provide single-box solutions for automation applications. If used in a Powerlink system, the local intelligence adds versatile system-building capabilities. Critical events can be acted on directly, eliminating the impact of network and controller scan time latencies.

A smart drive can also use local intelligence to offload a centralised Powerlink network controller. Development and configuration tools for the drives are included in Baldor's development environment, Mint Workbench, which is provided without charge to users. The smart drives complement Baldor's existing Powerlink network control possibilities: the Nextmove e100 traditional central controller for varying numbers of motion axes and the Mint Machine Module plug-in controller for drives, which can control two or five axes. The plug-in control card provides access to the full capabilities of the Mint language and is capable of being programmed to perform sophisticated motion functions, such as gearing and cams.

Puls UK, a manufacturer of DIN rail power supplies, has won Atex approval for a selection of its single-phase Q-series units, allowing them to be used in potentially explosive environments. The units have been tested to EN 60079 - 15 and are approved for use in Zone 2 hazardous systems category 3G. Puls said no electrical changes were necessary to achieve the approval and that the standard had been met by dual conformal coating the internal components of the units.

Atex is the framework for controlling explosive atmospheres and the standards of equipment and protective systems used in them. By achieving EN 60079 - 15 approval, Puls UK is now well placed to become a major supplier of power supplies to this specialised sector of the market. First shipments of the Q-series units are expected in the UK in May 2010.

Thorite has supplied three PIAB vacuum pumps to McCambridge Foods, a Blackburn-based mince-pie manufacturer. A bumper pre-Christmas production run put a noticeable strain on the company's existing pumps, with a reduction in vacuum, resulting in batches of pastry casings being pulled out of place or damaged. McCambridge invited Thorite to explain what products it could offer.

Thorite recommended installing PIAB's P6010 Coax Technology pumps to achieve the triple benefits of a more powerful vacuum, a better 'hold' of the pie casings during production and improved quality control. Speaking after the pumps' successful installation and commissioning, Clive Halliday said: 'The PIAB P6010 provides up to 40 per cent more flow than conventional vacuum pumps, while still reducing overall energy consumption.

'The durable, maintenance-free design makes it suited for automated material handling, characterised by powerful, non heat-generating suction at extremely low feed pressures. 'Additionally, the pump's compact size makes it possible to mount closer to the point of suction, thus reducing compressed-air requirements and saving energy,' said Halliday.

Inmoco's new range of Ion intelligent digital drives, from Performance Motion Devices (PMD), is claimed to improve design times and simplify integration. The Ion line features power ranges of 500W and 3,000W; these enable a wide range of motor types and sizes to be combined in multi-axis motion positioning applications when using Ion drives.

The Ion 500 and 3000 drives are compact modules that provide power amplification, advanced motion-control features and network connectivity in an enclosed package. Both models are available for DC-brush, brushless-DC and micro-stepping motors and are suitable for medical, scientific, semiconductor, industrial, robotic and general automation applications. Key to the performance of the new Ion digital drives is PMD's advanced Magellan motion-control IC, complete with its enhanced instruction set.

This combination provides 32-bit processing power to initialise and control the motion-control application, monitor performance and synchronise overall drive behaviour. Employing the capabilities of the Magellan motion processor to the full, the Ion digital drives have CAN bus and serial communications and accept commands over the network, such as position, velocity, acceleration and current from a host; the drives then generate a corresponding trajectory on the fly.

The Ion drives control three-phase brushless motors using field-oriented control or sinusoidal commutation. User-selectable profiling modes include S-curve, trapezoidal, velocity contouring, electronic gearing and pulse and direction (3,000W model only). Other features include hardware performance trace and the ability to separately programme acceleration and deceleration value changes on the fly. Supporting the fast setup and commissioning of the Ion drives is PMD's Pro-Motion and C-Motion software.

Pro-Motion is a Microsoft Windows-based prototyping tool designed to rapidly set up, tune and test motion-control systems that use the Magellan motion-control processor. Pro-Motion optimises motion system applications by facilitating the setting and viewing of all parameters and the exercising of all features of a motion design. It includes a step-by-step axis wizard that allows designers to tune control loops.

C-Motion development software is the motion-control programming library for Magellan that provides a set of callable C/C++ programming routines that contain all the code required to communicate with and control Magellan within an application. C-Motion enables application-specific C/C++ coding to be combined with C-Motion source-code libraries. All setup and development software is included free with Ion drives.

Beko Technologies will showcase a range of products at the Air-Tech 2010 exhibition, which is scheduled to be held at the NEC in Birmingham on 8-10 June. The company, which will be found in Hall 3, Stand A3217, will exhibit the Bekokat and the Metpoint live demonstration unit, flowmeters and dewpoint meters. Bekokat provides oil-free air regardless of the compressor type or ambient conditions.

Metpoint is able to verify the resulting air oil content right down to ISO class-zero quality and gives a clear and constant indication of which class is being achieved. The combination of these two products is intended to give air users with critical applications peace of mind thanks to a built-in alarm contact. Flowmeters and dewpoint meters enable customers to find out the quality and consumption of their compressed air.

Leak Detector, which will also be exhibited at the event, is claimed to offer a simple, low-cost way of reducing air loss in compressed-air systems. The company can show how leak surveys fit hand in hand with flow monitoring for energy efficiency. Beko also plans to showcase oil and water separators. The Owamat condensate treatment system can deal with demanding applications such as synthetic oils. Bekomat condensate drains, refrigeration dryers and membrane dryers will also all be on display at Air-Tech.

Crowcon has announced that its intrinsically safe TXgard-IS+ gas detector is now UL certified. The detector is fitted with electrochemical sensors that can detect a range of toxic gases and oxygen. Gases detected include those commonly found in industrial applications, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, chlorine, ammonia, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and oxygen.

Already certified to ATEX and IECEx standards, the addition of UL certification means that the TXgard-IS+ can now be used globally, including in North America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, in Zone 0, 1 or 2 or Division 1 or 2 hazardous areas when used with a safety barrier (zener barrier or galvanic isolator). Typical environments where the TXgard-IS+ can be used include plastic, rubber, chemical and semiconductor manufacturing plants, water and sewage treatment plants, steel manufacturing facilities, oil-and-gas drilling and processing facilities, car parks and tunnels.

The TXgard-IS+, which is said to be tough and hardwearing, includes IP65 ingress protection and has been used in industrial and offshore oil-and-gas installations worldwide. It features a display menu and a keypad, which simplify maintenance and provide diagnostic facilities that enable one-person, non-intrusive calibration, according to the company. The detector offers configurable display options and configurable fault and inhibit currents.

By displaying line voltage, there is no need to access test points inside the unit. The signal current can be ramped manually to a desired value to simplify commissioning with control panels. Sensor signals are temperature compensated and the device is compatible with virtually any 4-20mA control system. The TXgard-IS+ combines its power and signal in just two wires, so only one zener barrier is required.

MCI Electrotechnics is using a range of explosion-proof enclosures from Cooper Crouse-Hinds (CEAG) to protect electrical equipment for offshore and onshore oil, gas and petrochemical applications. MCI manufactures, installs and commissions custom control panels and electrical equipment for hazardous and non-hazardous environments around the world, including the North Sea, Middle East and south-east Asia. MCI supplies a diverse range of electrical-control systems, including motor-control centres (MCCs), junction boxes, motor starters, control panels, distribution boards and CPFG (combined pressure fire and gas) panels.

On the hazardous-area side of the business, MCI offers customers two main types of explosion-proof enclosure for its products: a moulded plastic (GRP) EEx de version, as well as a range of metal (aluminium / cast iron) Ex d enclosures. All of these enclosures are supplied by Cooper Crouse-Hinds. Using the CEAG-moulded plastic Ex de enclosure, MCI assembles and mounts a variety of flameproof-encapsulated components, such as fuses, contactors, lamps, MCBs, switches and meters.

These impact-resistant GRP enclosures increase component protection. Built-up units include Ex distribution boards, control stations and motor starters, all supplied to European standards EN 50014 and EN 50018. The systems are Atex-certified for use in Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 21 and Zone 22. MCI also uses aluminium / cast iron CEAG explosion-proof enclosures for use with control panels, starters, junction boxes, MCCs, distribution boards and CPFG panels. MCI offers three versions of CFPG panels for A60 class modules, battery isolators and temporary power units.

These Atex-certified systems are suitable for use in Gas Group IIB installations, Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas, fulfilling the requirements of EN 50014 and EN 50018. Ian McIntosh, managing director of MCI, said: 'We began using CEAG explosion-proof enclosures around 10 years ago. 'In that time, the enclosures have proved very reliable. 'We've probably only had to reject one or two units in the past 10 years, which is pretty impressive.

'For MCI and its customers, it is absolutely critical that the enclosures are reliable because we need to guarantee the safety of our products and help to minimise any downtime for the customer caused by faulty, unsafe equipment. 'CEAG enclosures are designed and manufactured to a high quality and the service and technical back up is also very reliable,' added McIntosh. 'Even our customers sometimes specify that we use CEAG enclosures,' he added. In late 2009, MCI supplied a motor-control centre for a drilling system to be delivered to an oil-and-gas exploration platform in the North Sea. The 10m long MCC panel was built in three sections, which in total use 52 separate explosion-proof enclosures.

All of the enclosures were Ex d certified and interconnected by using 'barrier assemblies'. The entire unit has Atex-assembly certification. The remainder of the project was the build of Ex de moulded plastic lighting distribution boards. All units were EEx d certified for Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas. Cooper Crouse-Hinds also offers other hazardous-area electrical equipment to IEC and NEC standards, as well as other international approvals for eastern Europe, China and North America.

GEA Niro has selected engineering simulation software from Ansys to optimise equipment design and reduce development time and costs. GEA Niro provides drying equipment, technology and know-how to the dairy, food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The suite from Ansys enables customers to optimise designs throughout the product-development process, especially in the early stages when changes can be efficiently and cost-effectively implemented.

GEA Niro is applying engineering simulation as it develops equipment and processes for transforming liquids into powders, a major consideration in the dairy, food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Drying plants are becoming more important in processing safer and more profitable products. Optimising the drying process requires an in-depth understanding of complex flow and thermal-exchange phenomena, and Ansys software helps engineers to simulate real-world conditions in performing comprehensive analysis.

Simulation results can be used to minimise energy requirements without compromising product quality. GEA Niro chose Ansys as a strategic software partner because the product portfolio covers all GEA Niro's simulation needs, now and for the foreseeable future. 'We have used fluid dynamics simulations for two decades, continually working to perfect the analyses and to make the most accurate modelling predictions within our technologies,' said Thorvald Ullum, fluid mechanics manager, GEA Niro.

'For example, GEA Niro developed the Drynetics method as a way of improving the reliability of the simulation of the spray-drying process. 'Now we're expanding our simulation facilities, using Ansys software to decrease the simulation time and further improve the results in areas such as high-turbulence, particle-laden flows,' he added.

Enviro Technology has introduced a bolt-on accessory for the BAM-1020 that allows air-quality monitoring specialists to access real-time particulate data. The BX-895 Real Time Module, created by Met One Instruments, complements standard hourly readings with one, five, ten, 15 or 30-minute averages. This functionality is useful when correlating changing wind conditions to particulate events or when early predictions of hourly concentration data from the BAM-1020 are needed.

A self-contained low-maintenance system, the BX-895 can be configured to work with PM10 and PM2.5 monitors. Compatible with all models, it can be mounted to the BAM-1020 inlet within minutes and it can also be used separately with any analogue data logger. The BX-895 conditions air samples for RH then passes them through a forward light-scatter laser nephelometer engine where the particulate mass is measured.

A purge system protects the optics from excessive exposure to dust particles. The mass signal is continuously scaled to an analogue voltage output, which represents the real-time particulate concentration.

The new A141 high-output disaster siren and alarm from European Safety Systems (E2S) delivers an output of more than 140dB at 1m, which is louder than a jet engine on full power at take-off. With a power increase from 100W to 400W, the output of the A141 is higher than the A140 it replaces, giving it an effective warning range of between 500m and 750m, depending on the atmospheric conditions. The unit has a choice of 32 user-selectable warning tones and, with a second- and third-stage alarm capability, it is suitable for use in quarries, on large industrial and petrochemical sites and for civil defence requirements.

The A141 generates multiple alarm tones, including fire, security, civil defence, alert, COMAH (SEVESO II) toxic-gas alarms and disaster warnings for flood, tsunami, tornado and other severe bad-weather conditions. The A141 is powered from either 24VDC or 115/230VAC. The mains-powered versions can be fitted with battery backup to enable the unit to operate for up to 30 minutes without mains power; AC power and battery voltage can be remotely monitored for potential faults.

A radio-control capability, utilising secure telemetry for additional security, is available to enable wire-free installation on large sites. Both the AC and DC versions feature low start-up inrush currents and low-operating-current draws. They are lightweight, require no maintenance and offer the reliability, low energy consumption and long life associated with solid-state devices, according to the company.

Avery Weigh-Tronix's 1080 indicator range offers connectivity across several network technologies from a compact size of just 15.4 x 8.2 x 14.7cm. The panel-mounted indicator is a cost-effective data management and process-control solution for a range of weighing equipment. The 1080 offers versatile data connectivity and can share weight data and control commands both locally and worldwide. An Ethernet port provides an IP network, a USB device enables connectivity to a nearby PC and the RS 232/422/485 interface provides data transfers for legacy equipment.

The RS 422/485 also allows a long interface cable length for remote displays. When the application requires connection to a Fieldbus network, the 1080 can communicate from its standard Profibus or Ethernet 10/100 outputs to a PLC. It also supports ODVA protocols and can be fitted with an option to support analogue values. The bright LED display has 14mm digits and an array of status indicators, making it easy to see and allowing the 1080 to be used as a remote display. Configurable digital-vibration filtering provides stable readings even in tough environments.

The indicator has three inputs configurable for zero, print, start, stop, tare units and tare cancel. Additional features include data transmission to peripheral printers and computers and an accumulation function so that the total amount of weight in a given period can be measured. In addition to general weighing functions, the 1080 indicator has a suite of specialised applications. These include batching routines, counting routines, peak weighing, checkweighing and split-axle truck weighing.

Rockwell Automation has introduced two controllers that each provide machine builders and manufacturers with integrated safety, motion, discrete and drive-control capabilities. The Allen-Bradley L43S and L45S Compact Guardlogix programmable automation controllers (PACs) extend capabilities previously available only in the larger Allen-Bradley Controllogix platform. These include diagnostics and information capabilities that help reduce nuisance shutdowns and prolonged restarts, as well as a single programming environment for enhanced design and development productivity.

The Compact Guardlogix controllers build on the company's leadership in integrating standard and safety control into a single platform. As part of the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system, the Compact Guardlogix controllers use the same configuration, networking and visualisation environment as the company's larger-scale systems. This helps provide machine builders and end users with cost-effective integration of a machine or safety application into the plantwide control system.

The Compact Guardlogix PACs can control as many as eight axes of integrated motion over the Sercos communication network. When used in combination with the Allen-Bradley Kinetix 6200 servo drive, machine builders have advanced safety options, including safe speed and safe direction. The controllers also support the use of the Allen-Bradley Compactblock Guard I/O modules and Allen-Bradley Point Guard I/O modules on Ethernet/IP, enabling fast system configuration and improved information sharing. The Compact Guardlogix controllers are rated up to Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) and Performance Level e (PL e) - the highest level of machine safety.

When used with the latest version of Rockwell Software RSLogix 5000 programming software (v18), the Compact Guardlogix controllers can leverage high-integrity add-on instructions (AOIs) for faster commissioning. AOIs encapsulate code for common routines into pre-validated modules that can be easily reused, helping to save time and lower the risk of coding errors. Manufacturers in the highly regulated life sciences and food and beverage industries can also use the RSLogix 5000 software available with the Compact Guardlogix PACs to manage revision control, fulfil regulatory requirements and help protect intellectual property.

Projen's success on a pharmaceutical project has led to it being recommended to another medical-supplies company. The supplier engaged Projen on Dsear/Atex compliance work and expressed the potential for long-term involvement.

Projen was recommended by a supplier of advanced alginate-based wound-care solutions. This project included the design and build of an acetone and industrial methylated spirits (IMS) tank farm.

Technology transfer may prove one of the cornerstones for growth as the UK emerges from recession over the coming months. However, one company, Sensor Technology, identified the benefits of wireless as far back as the turn of the millennium. 'We identified a way to measure the torque in a rotating shaft without maintaining physical contact - well, the theory of how to do it. 'Doing away with the traditional slip rings would be a big advantage in many potential applications and we kept thinking of more and more reasons to develop the concept,' said Tony Ingham from Sensor Technology.

In the 1990s Sensor Technology had a number of projects running that related to electromagnetic corruption, EMC and its control. Ingham continued: 'Computers and electronics were getting everywhere in the 1990s, but they could be susceptible to electrical interference if they were used in proximity to virtually any sort of machine. 'This included the obvious places such as factory floors, but also hospital wards, offices, broadcast studios, shops full of refrigerators and police command centres.

'EMC was a big hurdle that had to be overcome if computers were to reach their full potential. 'We were working hard in the field, as were many other organisations,' he added. Sensor Technology had investigated the use of surface acoustic waves (SAWs), or Rayleigh waves, as a way of blocking interference. These waves are produced by most objects in motion and the theory was that they could be made to interact with the EMC waves and cancel them out. It is a technique that several teams were working on and with which some success has been achieved.

Ingham added: 'We were setting up a long-running trial on a lab bench. 'Things had got a bit messy and we were just tidying up a bit before starting the trial, when we noticed on our instruments that SAWs react to strain. 'It was hardly a eureka moment, but over the next few days the idea grew that the SAWs could be refined to act as gauges. 'Even this didn't get us too excited, but then it struck us that it was a wireless connection and this opened up many practical possibilities,' he said. A few weeks and several late nights on and Sensor Technology had a workable proposition.

Soon it had DTi (Department of Trade and Industry) and PERA (Production Engineering Research Association) backing to run a proof-of-concept project. This was successful and the race was on to develop a marketable product. 'We protected ourselves with patents and worked out a plan to commercialise the technology. 'We needed a spread of application projects to work on; some easy, some tough; some commercial, some academic; some mainstream, some specialist. 'Fortunately, just about every machine in the world uses a rotating shaft to transmit power so there were plenty of contenders,' Ingham explained.

Universities were fertile grounds. At University College Dublin, the technology - by now dubbed Torqsense - was used to mix solids into liquids. It does sound demanding, but there were highly defined targets relating to achieving an even mix in minimum time and with minimum power expenditure. 'I could see that there were hundreds of industrial applications for this work, but I didn't predict what it actually turned out to be - stirring meat and other ingredients into curry sauce on an industrial scale. 'This may sound a bit trivial, but it represents many industrial processes, particularly in Ireland's food-focussed economy,' Ingham added.

The University of Greenwich provided a project at the toughest end of the scale - monitoring the torque in high-speed rotating stone saws. These need to be brought up to speed very quickly; when they first contact the stone, the shock load is incredible, but to get a smooth-cut surface, a constant torque has to be maintained throughout the entire cutting process, with on-the-fly adjustments being made to account for variations in the stone's density. Industrial stone cutting is a harsh environment and the Torqsense has to perform faultlessly for hour after hour.

The technology proved itself again and again in fields as diverse as aerospace, marine, nuclear, pharmaceuticals, packaging, pumping, conveying and mixing. Soon Sensor Technology shifted its focus to developing variations of the basic theme. 'We designed big and small units; single-piece sensors that are simple to fit; two-part units with a small head that will fit into the tiniest space and communicate to a controller elsewhere on the machine; a pulley replacement unit for direct installation on belt and chain drives, and more,' Ingham continued.

Another technology transfer is now underway. Sensor Technology is developing a load sensor that it is building into helicopter cargo hooks. A wireless connection feeds real-time data through to the pilot and logs it for later management analysis. Ingham added: 'The wirelessness is a massive advantage, because it means the hook is legally not part of the aircraft. 'Therefore users don't need to spend time and money getting Aviation Authority approval for its installation. 'The datalogging means exact billing to customers, while an integral GPS means spraying or similar tasks can be done with utter precision.

'The commercial flying community is very excited about the idea and coming up with more and more avenues for us to explore. 'This all seems a long way from the drive shafts and industrial plant we usually deal with. 'But it's a not-unusual technology-transfer scenario. 'We come up with an idea, get something working and let people see it. 'Chances are someone will step out and say: "That's just what I've been looking for. ' Ingham finished.

Ethernet Direct has brought out the Falcon FWI-705 industrial 2.4GHz wireless ceiling access point. The FWI-705 is suited for factory floors and industrial office complexes requiring aesthetic design. FWI-705 operates in 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g compliant wireless indoor access point, available for industrial Ethernet applications.

FWI-705 links two or more separate networks to cost effectively and efficiently create a single expanded LAN network. A built-in 4dBi directional antenna is included for flexibility in installation. FWI-705 supports three different operation modes: Access Point, Repeater and AP + WDS. To secure information, it comes with WEP encryption and WAP function. With these advanced features, FWI-705 is a powerful indoor solution produced for industrial applications.

GEA Pharma Systems has introduced the Consigma Continuous Tableting system. The system satisfies the pharmaceutical industry's demand for continuous production to provide improved quality, flexibility and consistency for pharmaceutical processes. GEA Pharma Systems presented Consigma at the FDA's first Continuous Manufacturing Symposium, held 11 March 2010 in Bethesda, Maryland, US. One Consigma can run 500g in research and development, but can also run clinical trial, launch size, and any production-size batches.

There is no process scale-up, as time is the only relevant factor in a continuous process. This allows manufacturers to dramatically reduce development time to reduce costs and bring products to market much faster. The system is compact (one third the size of a classic granulation line - inclusive of a tablet press) and has a modular construction, allowing it to fit perfectly into any research and development department or existing tablet production room.

There is no need to change the building - just wheel the system in, connect the power and air supply, and after a simple start-up period it is ready to go. Installation time and cost are reduced to a fraction of the current benchmark. It is also possible to avoid high peak-energy periods and run at continuous low energy consumption, helping companies meet their environmental obligations. Consigma is capable of particle design and mimicking any traditional batch granulation process - with a much higher and consistent quality, resulting from its continuous production set-up and risk-based approach to GMP.

The granules generally have a better intra-granular porosity with better compressibility characteristics that help tablet presses run more efficiently at maximum speed, with hardly any weight adjustments required. The full tablet production line consists of the Consigma high shear granulator and dryer, combined with the GEA Courtoy Modul P rotary tablet press. A special in-line blender mixes in the external phase between the systems.

The granulator and dryer section of the Consigma line has three modules: a wet high-shear granulation module, a segmented dryer module and an evaluation module. In the granulation module, dry ingredients are dosed, individually or premixed, in the continuous high-shear granulator. After a dry-mixing section, the granulation liquid is added, so each particle receives the same amount of liquid. The dryer module, based on fluid-bed drying principles, splits the continuous flow of granules in packages of 1.5kg, drying each of them in a separate segment of the dryer, thereby guaranteeing plug-flow. When a segment is dry, it is emptied and transferred to the evaluation module and refilled with a new package of wet granules.

The drying curve of each package is monitored, as a fingerprint of the process, and controlled to maintain a constant end humidity over the whole batch. In the evaluation module, the dried granules can be measured for critical quality attributes such as particle-size distribution, humidity and content uniformity, using specially designed PAT tools. The GEA Courtoy Modul P rotary tablet press is based on the Exchangeable Compression Module (ECM) concept. The ECM is completely isolated from the remainder of the machine, contains all product contact parts and can easily be removed from the press in a contained way. This means that the press remains powder-free and requires no cleaning. The six compression modes available in the Modul P make it the perfect press for this continuous tableting line, allowing easy research and development and perfect production, with dual control for independent weight and hardness control and equal porosity tableting.

The constant dwell time, regardless of throughput, fits perfectly in a continuous line, as it enables the press to change its speed when necessary (for example when a sample is taken in between drying and tableting). With advanced in-line PAT incorporated in the system, GEA Pharma Systems can now provide a full continuous production line. The Consigma Continuous Tableting Line will be on display at: Interphex 2010 - 20-22 April, New York; and Technopharm 2010 - 27-29 April, Nuremberg, Germany.

Whitehouse Scientific will exhibit its opaque standards for particle-size analysis at Powtech 2010, to take place 27-29 April in Nurnberg, Germany. Managing director Dr Graham Rideal will present a lecture as part of the World Congress on Particle Technology (WPCT6), a scientific congress that this year will take place alongside Powtech.

He will focus on the latest trends in particle-size standards, from sub-micron multimodal standards to image-analysis standards up to 2mm in size. Whitehouse Scientific's new silver-coated opaque standard covers the size range from 19 to 190 microns.

It has been the subject of a recent round-robin exercise involving examination by leading particle-sizing laboratories and instrument manufacturers. Independent company LGC analysed the new standard within its Quality Audit Scheme. The standard produced the best ever repeatabilites seen by laser-diffraction analysers.

Installing Powerperfector helps businesses comply with the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme emissions legislation. The government has underestimated by up to six times the number of businesses affected by the scheme, according to the Financial Times.

It is now suggested that as many as 30,000 companies may be affected by the legislation, which will come into effect on 1 April. Powerperfector can provide the 'single biggest carbon reduction' to an entire electrical infrastructure, while guaranteeing savings. It reduces costs, kWh use and improves power quality.

GE Sensing and Inspection Technologies is running the Access Oil and Gas: Integrity Forum, an online event featuring virtual demonstrations of inspection, measurement and sensing products. It goes live on 30 March and will remain an accessible environment until 30 June. Demonstrations will include remote visual-inspection systems, digital radiography equipment and eddy current and ultrasonic inspection equipment, as well as examples of GE's latest developments in flowmetering, gas and moisture detection, pressure sensing and instrument calibration and communication.

For example, GE will present the Rightrax remote corrosion monitoring system. In addition, industry experts from GE Sensing and Inspection Technologies will be on hand throughout the virtual environment to chat with attendees and answer questions about oil-and-gas technologies, products or applications. The forum will provide an opportunity for oil-and-gas professionals to: chat live with peers, listen to industry leaders and learn about industry trends and new product offerings.

It will also give journalists an opportunity to see some of the latest technologies for the oil and gas sector and interface with users and manufacturers.

Scottish Water is using the Halma Water Management (HWM) Sonicsens ultrasonic level sensor to monitor flow rates in a variety of situations. These include siphon chambers, combined sewer overflows (CSOs), overflow and storm tanks, weirs, reservoirs and compensation channels. Sonicsens is a non-contact, highly accurate level sensor and flowmeter. Ultrasonic level sensors are based on a simple principle: an inaudible high-frequency sound wave is emitted and directed towards the surface to be measured.

This surface reflects the wave back and the time taken for the reflected wave to return is in direct proportion to the intervening distance. With a known total distance between the sensor and the bottom of the vessel or channel, subtraction reveals the depth of the water. Flow rates can then be calculated easily if the volumetric dimensions of the channel are known, faster flow raising the fluid level accordingly. Ultrasonic measurement is non-contact and therefore non-contaminating and low-maintenance.

The Sonicsens builds on this with a package that includes millimetre resolution, five-year battery life and the facility for versatile remote telemetry options such as GSM, GPRS, radio or satellite communications. The sensor connects to a separate datalogger via a choice of standard, ATEX-rated wired and wireless combinations, with or without a barrier box. These features make the product suited to 'fit and forget' operations in hard-to-access locations - once it is installed, it will continue to function as programmed without the need for local maintenance or interaction.

Because of this, Scottish Water is using the product for a range of applications across its wide area of responsibility, which includes places beyond the reach of telephone lines, cellular reception or even normal access by anything less than a dedicated off-roader. An installation at a compensation weir in a secluded valley presented potential problems with signal reception. The sensor was suspended over the weir - with a known width for flow calculation - and connected to a short-range TRX20 relay unit (IS approved) safely raised above.

The datalogger was installed on top of the dam, where the GSM signal reception is strong enough for the long-range data telemetry. CSOs are common installation sites for the Scottish Water's Sonicsens systems, as they must be monitored for spill events where heavy rainfall will raise the water level above the storm screen. When this happens, the Sonicsens will alert Scottish Water that a storm condition has occurred and that the screen will need cleaning. All ultrasonic level sensors have a 'blanking' distance - this is a minimum distance between the sensor unit and the measuring surface. This is required for the device to receive a clean reflected sound wave, one that will be unaffected by the vibrations caused by emitting the sound in the first place.

In another CSO application, there was not enough room to site the Sonicsens in the same chamber as the overflow screen. A new chamber was built over the pipe to measure the water levels from there - but there was still not much space and the 300mm blanking distance would not be cleared if the water level was raised by a storm condition. In a creative workaround, the sensor unit was installed on its side, along with a reflector plate mounted at a 45-degree angle, situated far enough away to account for the dead-band.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tecate Industries has brought out the Type PC5 ultracapacitor, under a licence agreement with Maxwell Technologies. Tecate's Powerburst Type PC5 RoHS-compliant ultracapacitor provides extended power availability during dips, sags and outages in the main power sources, as well as to relieve batteries of burst-power functions. The part's flat prismatic cell-design incorporates stainless steel, hermetically sealed cells.

Due to this unique construction, it boasts an extremely low profile (5.1mm maximum), making it an excellent choice for space-constrained applications. The low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance) PC5 ultracapacitor can accept charges at the identical rate of discharge and features accessible terminals and an electrostatic storage capability to facilitate more than 500,000 duty cycles and a 10-year life capability.

Tecate's Powerburst Type PC5 ultracapacitor is commonly specified for employment in a broad range of applications, including providing, holding up, or bridging power until the back-up power source 'kicks in' when the primary power source fails. Its back-up power capabilities make it suited for soft shutdown, 'last gasp' notification, battery swaps and memory retention. In addition, the PC5 is used in tandem with batteries or other power sources where batteries alone do not meet performance objectives.

The small form-factor part is appropriate in military and consumer electronics, wireless transmission, medical devices, automatic meter readers (AMRs), solid-state drives (SSDs), smart grids, RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) controllers, handheld GPS devices and remote sensors. Its utilisation often enables designers to downsize the primary system batteries. The radial-leaded ultracapacitor has a 14 x 23.6 x 4.8mm footprint and very low 5.1mm profile. Standard parts feature a voltage of 2.5V DC, capacitance of 4.0F, and an extended temperature range of -40C to +70C. Capacitance tolerance is +/- 20 per cent.

Yamaichi Electronics has brought out the FMS006-7000-0, a super low-profile SIM card reader equipped with a tray. This six-pin reader is suitable for applications requiring a frequent change of the SIM card or easy access to the card without opening the enclosure. The SIM card is placed in the tray and then inserted with the tray into the card reader. Thus the SIM card is completely protected by the card-reader housing.

The tray's stop function can only be extracted to a defined distance in order to allow the comfortable placing and withdrawal of the card. The tray can also be completely removed from the reader through additional pulling force. The insulation body of the card reader is made out of LCP; the metal cover and the additional reinforcements are out of SUS. This gives the body stability and ensures its coplanarity. The reader also features gold-plated two-point contacts, which ensure uninterrupted contact reliance during vibrations and shocks.

As the card reader has a super low-profile of only 1.61mm, it is perfectly suited for applications with reduced design space. The assembly is carried out on the bottom side of the PCB by means of SMT soldering (reversed type). The SIM card reader is supplied on tape and reel and the trays for fully automated pick-and-place assembly. Yamaichi Electronics also offers a range of card connectors for all available Flash card and SIM-card standards, for example MicroSD, MiniSD, MMCmicro, Compactflash and xD Card. Several multicard versions are also available.

NXC2620 HDVK10 (Handheld Development Kit 1.0) is a battery-powered and compact-sized computer board. It is a flexible, high-performance and inexpensive development kit designed for handheld applications such as remote control, home automation and portable data collection.

The major HDVK10 hardware comprises an NXC2620 32-bit RISC CPU, a Wi-Fi module, a Zigbee (or RF4CE) module, an IrDa remote-control function and a 2.4in TFT LCD display. Each HDVK10 is pre-installed with Windows CE 5.0 OS and sample application software for instant evaluation. The full set of Windows CE 5.0 BSP is also provided to customers for application development, without extra charge.

Austriamicrosystems has introduced the AS8510, a high precision data-acquisition front-end IC. It is suitable for automotive battery current, voltage, temperature sense applications and sensor-interface applications where precise measurement of small signals close to ground is required. The flexible-sensor interface IC features a 16-bit dual-channel ADC + PGA architecture, with less than one LSB of offset and noise. The AS8510 allows systems to be tailored to individual needs, making it suited to a wide range of present and future battery-management applications.

The AS8510 in combination with Austriamicrosystems' 'System Basis Chip' and a micro controller provides an entire battery-sensor semiconductor solution for both High-Side or Low-Side. The AS8510 data-acquisition front-end IC features two independent analogue input channels with 16-bit ADCs, each with individually programmable sampling rates. Each channel has a low-drift programmable gain amplifier for handling +/-160mV signals or 0 to 1V when by-passing PGA.

A highly linear sigma-delta architecture and wide range of sampling rates allow the AS8510 to provide flexible support of EV (electric vehicle) applications. The offset auto-zero feature (both channels) allows high-accuracy measurements with low value shunt resistance, with negligible insertion loss. Various operating modes include low-power standby with current monitoring for active wake-up. The AS8510 operates with the current shunt sensor in a 12V system, either at a battery's ground terminal or at the plus terminal in conjunction with dedicated level shift companion IC; or it can be used as a general-purpose sensor interface for precise measurement of signals close to ground.

Fully differential inputs allow the AS8510 to capture differential signals with 300mV of common mode above ground and 160mV below ground. The two-channel architecture enables digital error correction techniques such as 'delta by sigma' division or capture of bridge current / voltages, with subsequent error correction in an external microcontroller. In addition, the AS8510 draws just 40uA in standby mode. The AS8510 high-precision data-acquisition device can be configured for differential simultaneous two-channel operation, or for multiplexing two single-ended channels, in addition to one of the differential channels for sequential measurements.

As well as measuring voltage and current, the AS8510 allows accurate temperature measurement from either the internal sensor or from an external temperature sensor, which may be powered by an on-chip 250uA current source. The AS8510 includes an internal precision reference, integrated digital low-pass filters, on-chip precision oscillators and a four-wire SPI interface. The AS8510 is available in a SSOP20 package, operates from 3.3V, and has an ambient operating temperature range of -40C to +125C. Samples and prices are available on request.

Schmidt Technology has announced that it can provide a wide range of manual presses and optional accessories to suit all requirements. Features of these machines are said to include rapid changeover due to the easy and secure adjustment of the working height. A ground platen with precision T-slot and precise alignment between the ram and table bores allow for accurate and repeatable set ups.

The original position of the hand lever can be varied by 360deg and is available for left-handed and right-handed use. Clamp bearings and serrations provide a secure fit of the hand lever and the return stroke force of the ram can be adapted to different tool weights. Depending on the application, there is a wide selection of rack-and-pinion presses and toggle presses to choose from.

ATI Industrial Automation has provided tool changers for a live robotic display of Ford's new Ecoboost powertrain technology. When Ford Motor Company and ABB Robotics looked to create the live display to communicate the fuel-efficiency message of the Ecoboost technology, they turned to ATI Industrial Automation for their tool-changing needs.

Debuting at the 2010 NAIAS Detroit Auto Show and on display at the upcoming New York Auto Show on 2-11 April 2010, the display uses ATI QC-110 and QC-210 robotic tool changers and two ABB robots, named 'Eco' and 'Boost', which are housed in circular, plexi-glass-rimmed display cells. Mounted on the wrists of the robots, ATI quick-change tool changers enable the robots to automatically pick up different engine samples and components, presenting them to the crowd in a radial path around each cell.

Ford also uses ATI tool changers in its manufacturing plants to increase flexibility on its stamping, body-assembly and powertrain production lines. The tool changers allow robots to perform multiple functions and change tooling for different styles of vehicles along the same assembly line. 'Eco' presents a series of components, including turbo chargers, fuel pumps, intake and exhaust manifolds and an engine control module. 'Boost' presents three different versions of the Ecoboost engine and the new 6F MID six-speed transmission.

It is claimed that the Ecoboost engine will deliver up to a 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy on up to 1.3 million Ford vehicles globally by 2013 with no sacrifice in power. Ecoboost is also said to deliver 15 per cent fewer CO2 emissions, no turbo lag and a high-injection fuel pump. ATI robotic tool changers can automatically and accurately change end effectors or other peripheral tooling, according to the company. The tool changers are designed to function reliably for millions of cycles at rated loads while maintaining high repeatability.

Various models are available to cover a range of applications from very small payloads to extremely heavy payload applications requiring large-moment capacities. The QC-110 and QC-210 tool changers used in Ford's displays are equipped to handle payloads of up to 330lb (150kg) and 500lb respectively.

The tool changers feature patented failsafe locking mechanisms to ensure high-moment capacity and strength; a modular construction, which facilitates integration into applications requiring high-power, coolant, servo, Devicenet, Ethernet and discrete-signal capabilities; a common lock/unlock air supply; and a lock/unlock sensing method. No-Touch locking technology allows up to 2.5mm (0.10in) plate separation when locking. All locking parts are made of Rc58 stainless steel. Integrated robot adapter plates are available for ISO 200 and ISO 250 patterns.

Ewon has launched Talk2M Go, the latest version of its internet remote-access and maintenance platform for machine builders and system integrators. Talk2M Go provides secure, on-demand access to remote PLCs, machines and devices. Combined with Ewon industrial routers, it facilitates integration with a variety of PLCs and automated devices.

Talk2M Go is hosted on a mission-critical internet provider and is covered by a service level agreement. The platform has a guaranteed bandwidth of 500kb/s, with 1Mb/s burstable, according to the company. It enables up to three users to access one or several machines at the same time, with fully detailed connection reports itemised by machine, available every month. With a pay-per-use pricing model, Talk2M Go minimises operating costs as well as initial investments.

It is also claimed to shorten the project go-live time and the time to market. A single-click upgrade to Talk2M Pro secures user investment and makes Talk2M Go a suitable entry-level platform.

Vaillant Group, a heating technology manufacturer, is using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology from CoreRFID to manage work in progress on the production lines of its Derbyshire plant. The system provides the real-time visibility of which boiler is at which stage of manufacture as it moves along the line. The solution, developed by Vaillant Group with RFID consultancy from CoreRFID, tracks each boiler so that all production steps are followed in the correct sequence and that tools and materials are available exactly as needed at each step.

Each production trolley that carries the boiler chassis along the line has an electronic tag that can be read at each manufacturing station as the trolley arrives. CoreRFID helped Vaillant Group by providing support in selecting the appropriate RFID technology for the application and the layout of the plant. The company also advised on the design of software so that the RFID readers and antenna would work correctly, solving the problem that Vaillant Group needed to deploy a number of the sensitive devices in close proximity to one another.

Richard Sainsbury, industrial engineering manager for Vaillant Group UK, said: 'The RFID system links directly to our production management system, providing immediate information where individual boilers are in the line. 'The RFID solution improves quality by ensuring that each boiler has exactly the right manufacturing steps carried out in the correct sequence,' he added.

Kurt's new HDM690 vise, with a full 9in (175mm) jaw opening, clamps larger parts with repeatable 0.001in (0.03mm) accuracy and minimal stationary jaw deflection. The vise features a rigid stationary jaw with top-down bolting, a tall-body design to reduce deflection, high-precision roller bearings and a hardened vise screw mechanism. This vise distributes clamping force evenly and precisely across the full jaw surface. The Anglock spherical segment in the moveable jaw reduces jaw lift.

The pull-type body design reduces stress in the 80,000lb/in2 ductile iron body, resulting in more accurate clamping. Kurt's new automated workholding fixtures load and unload parts with a robot arm. These fixtures have pre-load features that centre and clamp parts securely. Pressure and proximity sensors communicate wirelessly with the robot and the machining centre. Workholding setups can be designed for 24/7 operation so as not to require operator interaction with the system. The company has capabilities for designing and building automated cells that include assembly and gauging functions to form a complete system.

Another new Kurt workholding option for improving productivity and precision is the Leader Multichuck MMY product line. This system consists of two- and three-jaw manual self-centring static workholding modules in four sizes ranging from 80mm to 150mm. They are suitable for use on machining centres, milling machines and grinders. The chucks integrate with Kurt's high-density workholding towers and other devices for high-precision workholding. The MMY Multichuck provides a top-face operation that enables more chucks, and therefore more workpieces, to be grouped closely together; this is not possible with traditional side-face lock/unlock systems.

It has the ability to clamp onto both the OD and the ID. Kurt claims that its new lighter-weight building-block modules add high density and versatility to most horizontal machining centres. They are said to be more than 30 per cent lighter than comparable-size tombstones with aluminium sub-plates. The modules feature bolt holes and dowel patterns on each face for the installation and removal of sub-plates and other workholding components with a repeatability of 0.0002in (0.005mm). They are manufactured from 80,000lb/in2 of ductile iron and provide a lower-cost alternative to dedicated fixtures.

Visitors to IMTS, which is due to take place on 13-18 September in Chicago, will be able to discuss new and existing projects that require improved throughput and reduced costs with Kurt's workholding specialists. The company, which will be found on Booth W-2423, can custom engineer a setup for virtually any need. Its product portfolio includes multiple-station CNC vises, five-axis vises, rotary-table workholding for VMCs and a line of tombstones for achieving high-density workholding, along with accessories to complement every workholding setup.

Kurt distributes NEMI vacuum workholding products, which are available for many existing OEM products. Alternatively, they can be designed to fit various vacuum workholding needs. The company also provides a range of automated and manual gauging systems and is a Fanuc integrator for automation.

Mate has introduced the patent-pending Ultra IMT fully indexable multi tool, which is designed to enable users to improve productivity from thick-turret punch presses. Unlike standard multi tools, which only have one angle setting, fully indexable multi tools can achieve any angle setting on the workpiece. Mate offers two versions of the Ultra IMT fully indexable multi tool. The first, called 3-Station, uses standard Ultra 1.1/4in B-Station punches and strippers and thick-turret B-Station dies.

It can punch up to 6mm material with a maximum tonnage of 16tonf (142kN). The second version, 8-Station, uses standard Ultra 1/2in A-Station punches and strippers and thick-turret A-Station dies. This version can punch up to 6mm material with a maximum tonnage of 7tonf (62kN). The Ultra IMT is claimed to be easy to use; assembly and disassembly is simple. No tools are required for punch, striker and stripper retention/removal. The Ultra IMT is designed to use Mate's Ultra punches, strippers and Slug Free dies, eliminating the need for specialised tooling inventory.

The company claims that Ultra punches provide exceptional life between regrinds. Ultra strippers have recess for added 0.118in (3.00mm) punch grind life, while the Slug Free dies eliminate slug pulling and increase piece part quality. The Ultra IMT features a drop-in, quick-tool-change design that allows for fast tool changes, reducing machine downtime while increasing productivity. Its integral punch length adjustment feature is intended to ensure good punching performance and efficient slug discharge across a wide material range.

Identifying the active station is said to be simple because the Ultra IMT has a clear 'Zero Mark' that indicates the start/home position and a station identification window. The Ultra IMT's ergonomic design helps the user to wrap his or her hands around the holder. The user can also utilise a T-Handle to assist in lifting the holder. With its variable stripping force options for heavy-duty and light-duty applications, the user can adjust the Ultra IMT's downward force to reduce sheet marking in thin materials or aluminium.

The Ultra IMT holder is designed so that each tool is individually activated. This means that inactive punches are prevented from moving, protecting part surfaces from unwanted marks. The Ultra IMT is fully ported for lubrication, which is delivered via the punch ram through the central shaft over all moving surfaces within the punch-holder assembly. External spiral grooves in the outside diameter of the holder reduce friction between the machine and the holder, especially during high-speed nibbling operations.

Elscint Automation has developed a special vibratory bowl feeder for feeding sintered parts for a customer. There were a total of three parts that needed to be fed through a single bowl feeder. Two of the parts were having a collar with the weight towards the bottom, making them easy to orient, but the third and the most critical component was a tube-type part that needed 'standing' orientation; however, the weight was towards the top side, which made it difficult to orient.

Elscint has fulfilled this requirement and has arranged for the commissioning of the equipment at the customer's place, proving all the three parts on the customer's press. Along with the bowl feeder, the company provided a cubical stand, a gravity chute, a noise enclosure, an Elsinthane coating for the bowl and a level controller for indication once the quantity of components in the bowl goes down. A speed of 100 pieces per minute was achieved for these three components, with nominal and simple changeover tooling.

Trix Systems has upgraded the component management module for its Trix Organizer engineering document management software. The Trix Organizer module now displays both documents and equipment records in a common interface. Users can find answers to requests such as 'Show me all the equipment purchased under this AFE' and 'Show me all the drawings and documents associated with this equipment'.

They can also start with specific drawings to make requests such as 'Show me all the pieces of equipment that require this drawing'. The Trix Organizer's primary function is to enable end users to directly find the drawings and other documents they need, without having to ask for help. At the same time, the system controls edits and releases.

It prevents accidental duplications and ensures that only one editor can make changes to a file at any time. All documents are stored inside a single, centralised Microsoft SQL Server database. Files are stored inside the actual database - not on drives - for security and to facilitate backup. Clients can be Windows or web based. In addition to regular networks, deployment using Citrix or Terminal Services is supported.

Metrohm has announced that the increasing use of its Unitrode and Aquatrode Plus in pH measurement shows that the fixed ground joint is being recognised as the universal diaphragm type. According to the company, it is largely insensitive to contaminants and requires minimal maintenance. The fixed ground-joint diaphragm is suitable for a range of samples, from clear, ion-deficient solutions up to highly concentrated suspensions or emulsions.

Metrohm said that its greatest strength is its precision. The fixed ground-joint diaphragm allows low-noise potential measurements that are only dependent on the ionic strength and stirring speed to a minimal extent, meeting the requirements for a rapid and precise titration.

In order to utilise the advantages of the fixed ground-joint diaphragm to the full extent in titrations, a new type of membrane glass has also been developed for the Ecotrode Plus, which, in addition to a short response time, exhibits high endurance.

A welding accessory from Huntingdon Fusion Techniques (HFT) is being utilised in an increasing number of applications in unexpected areas. For example, a Norwegian pipe manufacturer found that the inflatable dams - designed to provide a rapid seal for pipework during weld purging - offer a cost-effective alternative for protection against contamination from dust and water during transport.

The dams, which can be inflated rapidly via a standard Schrader or BSP fitting, provide excellent sealing and are reusable, according to the company. They are available to fit all standard pipe diameters between 50mm and 1,800mm (2in and 72in).

This year's Arburg Technology Days event, which was held on 18-20 March, focused on efficient production and included the first-ever Packaging Technology Forum. According to the company, plastics processing is currently in recovery, following the worldwide economic crisis. This makes it important for injection moulding companies to exploit the potential for production optimisation, including use of the latest technical developments.

Arburg used a variety of energy-efficient Allrounder injection moulders and systems to demonstrate how all-round productivity can be achieved with short cycle times. Another component in efficient production is intensive and individually tailored customer consulting. This includes the machine technology itself and the entire production environment. The representative cross section of the current Arburg range included complex production cells with Multilift robotic systems and six-axis robotic systems featuring the Selogica user interface.

The range of applications demonstrated by the hydraulic, hybrid and electric exhibits showed that the modular Allrounder injection moulding machine range offers a customer-specific solution for all injection moulding processes. The applications presented included the production of packaging and medical technology products - including clean-room conditions - multi-component injection moulding, micro-injection moulding and technical injection moulding and the processing of different materials, such as liquid silicone (LSR), thermosets and metal and ceramic powders.

Other areas covered included production management with the Arburg host computer system (ALS), as well as service and product training, which also play a key role in achieving efficient production, according to the company.

The topic of efficient production was also addressed and further explored as part of the programme of specialist presentations. In addition to technical solutions, particular attention was paid to commercial aspects in terms of the reduction of unit costs. Bihler discussed efficient production processes, while the Ludenscheid Plastics Institute examined the enhancement of quality and the value of plastic parts through surface design. Products unveiled this year included the new micro injection module and the large, hybrid Allrounder 720 H.

The micro injection module combines an 8mm injection screw with a second screw for melting the material. This means that small shot weights can be achieved even without micro-granulate. Thanks to the screw injection, the advantages of the first-in, first-out principle are said to be largely maintained. The new Allrounder 720 H - the largest member of the hybrid Hidrive series to date - was presented during the new Packaging Technology Forum.

This was the first time that Arburg offered selected partners from the packaging industry the opportunity to make a presentation at the Technology Days event. At the centre of the forum were the Allrounder H machines, which are said to offer short cycle times and reduced energy consumption, making them suitable for use in the packaging sector. The capabilities were demonstrated by the three Hidrive exhibits featuring high-speed, high-end applications with cycle times in the three-second range.

The first Allrounder 720 H, with a clamping force of 3,200kN (320tonf), produced 72 screw caps in a cycle time of 2.9 seconds, while the second model produced thin-walled 1.2-litre containers. The third exhibit was an in-mould labelling (IML) system based on an Allrounder 570 H, with a cycle time of 3.5 seconds. The topic was rounded off with a presentation by Stackteck; the company discussed mould concepts for packaging technology.

An installation completed by the Dust Extraction (Dustx) Group at a UK power station involved the use of its 'X' 'CV' pulse-jet tubular-bagged filter units. The installation required two of the company's Model CV 10 x 19 '3XL' filters, with each unit being fitted with two 22kW integral fan sets. Both filter units form part of a centralised dust control system with a total air extraction rate of 64,600cuM/hr, which serves the biomass loading facility, extracting dusts generated from loading materials, including nut kernels, palm and wood pellets, by a 3cuM Komatsu bucket loader onto conveyors, via hopper loaders.

Careful consideration was given to the type of filter employed as a result of the varying characteristics of the products being handled, all of which classified as explosive and having a degree of moisture content. Purpose-designed tipping hoods eliminate the mass migration of airborne dust created during the tipping operation, enabling the effective dust control of the two hopper loaders at various points along the two product feed conveyors. The process plant controls are flexible, providing integration with the client's main operating control system.

Stack emission levels from the system are below 5mg/m3. The extracted dusts from the plant are discharged from the collectors, via rotary valves and screw conveyors, back onto the client's product feed conveyors. This maximises the product throughput and eliminates waste disposal and manual handling. The clean air discharged from the filter units are policed by two emissions monitors, which continuously check the emissions levels and provide electronic feedback to the customer's operating control system. Access to the filter unit and associated equipment, for maintenance and inspection, is provided by a galvanised staircase with a series of step-off platforms at various levels.

Each filter unit is also served by a dedicated compressor unit to provide the compressed air required for the online cleaning operation. A divert system is in place to allow switchover from one unit to another should an emergency situation occur. Upon the completion of the project and final commissioning, the system was subject to an independent inspection by the client's appointed testing body relating to performance, ATEX and DSEAR standards, after which the plant was accepted and became fully operational.

3M has integrated the Rite-Lok range of engineering adhesives into its Scotch-Weld product portfolio. This new addition to the Scotch-Weld product range includes instant adhesives, thread lockers, pipe sealants, gasket adhesives and cleaning products. The Rite-Lok range of adhesives is suitable for a variety of industrial applications, including vehicle repair and maintenance, engineering services and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

The full range of Scotch-Weld products now includes cyanoacrylate adhesives, anaerobic adhesives, ultraviolet adhesives, high-temperature silicone sealants, structural adhesives, primers and activators. The company is seeking distributors for the Scotch-Weld range.

Fosters Bakery, located in Barnsley, Yorkshire, has invested in a Fanuc robot system for loading and unloading baked products to an oven. As a result, the bakery has increased the capacity of a reel oven by 80 per cent and is saving 50 per cent energy costs in the process. Several years ago, directors John Foster and Michael Taylor took a trip round a fully automated bakery in Holland, which showed them just what could be done to enhance manufacturing capability.

Identifying an oven loading application as a starting point, Fosters worked with a local engineering company to integrate a Fanuc Robotics M-710iA articulated robot. Taylor, operations director, said: 'The nature of reel ovens is that the shelves continually move, making it impossible for a single operator to unload a full tray of baked products and replace the same shelf with dough. 'In practice, many shelves are left to rotate without anything loaded onto them while the operator aims to keep them filled,' he added.

This first attempt at automating the process did not go very well for Fosters, with the robot wrongly being perceived to be the issue. At this early stage, the services of the Centre for Food Robotics and Automation (Cenfra) were called upon to analyse the situation and to see what could be done. Taylor said: 'The robot was certainly not at fault and it was clear that several variables in the process, trays, positioning and tray trolleys hadn't been accounted for sufficiently. 'In fact, the biggest lesson learned here was to always ensure that the systems engineering company is fully proficient with food-sector robotics and automation,' he added.

Fosters then called on Fanuc Robotics UK to project manage the system to completion. The system comprises a Fanuc M-710iA robot, which has a specially engineered gripper with a capacity to handle two trays positioned one above the other. The gripper design allows loaded trays to be collected from shelves or deposited to shelves when receiving a signal from the robot control system. The M-710ia robot aligns the gripper with a full tray of dough products and, after gripping the end of the tray, retracts it from the trolley into the gripper framework.

The robot then moves the gripper to the reel oven, which moves trays on a continually operating vertical loop. The robot waits at the loading area until a sensor gives a signal to indicate that a tray is aligned and, while simultaneously moving at a pre-programmed speed, clamps and withdraws a tray of baked products and then pushes a tray of dough onto the oven shelf - the transfer process at each location taking just two seconds. The speed of the process means that shelves are now always full of dough, so - apart from a measured increase in capacity of 80 per cent - there has been an improvement in energy utilisation, estimated at an energy saving of 50 per cent for the process.

Abas Software will present the latest Abas Business Software developments at this year's Hannover Messe exhibition, which is due to be held in Germany on 19-23 April. According to the company, which will exhibit alongside its international software partners on Stand B56 in Hall 17, the focus will be placed on innovations in Abas information systems, customer relationship management (CRM), shipping and sales planning and comprehensive e-business applications.

Abas information systems are navigation platforms that are designed to efficiently handle business processes. Processes can be created, managed and controlled from one screen, from quote to invoice. Abas Business Software is claimed to provide users with expanded CRM functionality. It is now possible to record, evaluate and process 'opportunities' in sales. A new 'opportunities overview' provides a complete overview of all sales projects at the click of a button. Tasks can be delegated directly from the screen and activity notes on customers and prospects can be created and classified.

The look and feel of Abas web components has also been optimised and internationally applicable standards are now being used. There are also new standard applications available, such as service, scanner connection, a spare-parts catalogue, vendor connection, product valuation, the online exchange of business processes with vendors and the web EDI integration of vendors. Shipping planning in Abas Business Software has also been further developed. It is now possible to create mixed palettes, calculate packaging material and carry out packaging material plausibility checks.

Abas Business Software projects sales forecasts based on historical values. Material planning then determines the resulting material requirement. Thanks to rolling planning, the preview in purchasing and sales is always up to date. New functions optimise search comfort in Abas Business Software, according to the company. Users are now supported by a structured or unstructured full text search and manifold sorting options when wanting to quickly find data. The Abas search engine is similar to established internet search engines and can be used immediately.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) offers advice and support to UK manufacturers to improve their productivity and competitiveness. A free and quick-query service offers answers to a wide range of technical issues by email or phone. A free manufacturing review for SME manufacturers allows experienced industrial practitioners to carry out a hands-on assessment and diagnostic of a business that will highlight areas of opportunity or action that can be taken to improve operational performance.

All initial advice relating to this is also free of charge. Training and networking events can help improve awareness and skills related to manufacturing issues and best practice. See the local regional MAS website for details of the events. MAS can provide up to 50 per cent to SMEs of the cost of an expert to help them improve their business, up to a value of GBP3,250. This support includes: help with developing new or more effective products or processes; innovation advice; identifying new markets and customers; reducing costs and improving efficiency; and introducing best practice.

For non-manufacturing queries, such as financial, human resources, marketing, legal or environmental issues, MAS works with Business Link and other organisations to ensure manufacturers have access to a full range of business support services.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spectrum has introduced the M3i.21xx series digitiser, which is based on the M3i platform. Four different versions are available for all supported bus types ranging from 250MS/s to 1GS/s with one or two synchronous channels. All cards are available as PCI/PCI-X and PCI Express version for the same price. The M3i.21xx series is suitable for a large range of application areas, especially high-energy physics, research and development, radar, spectroscopy and laser applications. The card series uses monolithic A/D converters even for the 1GS/s acquisition mode.

This is said to eliminate problems that come from interlaced A/D converters often used by other products in this speed range. The highly configurable A/D amplifier stage consists of a 50ohm terminated path with a bandwidth of up to 500MHz and a second, high impedance path with a bandwidth >200MHz. Each channel has a programmable AC/DC coupling and a selectable low pass filter to optimise noise figures. The input stage can be on-board calibrated by issuing a calibration command in software.

Calibration values are stored in an on-board EEProm. The card comes as a standard with a 256MByte of memory and can be equipped with up to 4GByte of on-board memory to cope with the large amounts of data. Using the full memory option it is possible to acquire more than four seconds of data with 1GS/s, according to Spectrum. By choosing either the PCI 33/66MHz (PCI-X) or PCI Express interface model, continuous data can be streamed to PC RAM - its potential capacity now greatly extended in the 64-bit Windows and Linux environments.

The fast Fifo data interface (up to 245Mbytes/s) in combination with the multiple recording option and the complete on-board memory used as a Fifo buffer makes it possible to acquire data segments on every trigger event for hours. The multiple-recording option can be programmed with pre- and post-trigger, an extended trigger delay and a combination of trigger modes to cover nearly all application requirements that may occur. Multiple recording may be combined with the timestamp option that will stamp each trigger event in relation to the internal clock base or even an external time signal.

The M3i.21xx is delivered with Windows drivers supporting Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, each 32- and 64-bit version as well as Linux 32/64-bit drivers, a set of programming examples and a basic version of the SBench 6 software. SBench 6 digitiser software supports all software-programmable features of the hardware. It has been optimised for handling GBytes of acquired data and is available for Windows and Linux with KDE and Gnome. The existing Spectrum SPCM drivers are used for programming the board, with the flexibility of the drivers allowing the programmer to build and design an application to exactly meet his or her requirements.

The driver supports all M3i cards as well as all M2i cards, allowing easy upgrade hardware for existing applications. A set of standard programming examples is provided to illustrate the board's main signal capture functions. Extensive support includes Visual C++, Borland C++, Gnu C++, Visual Basic, VB.Net, C#, J# and Delphi code. This card series comes with a two-year manufacturer guarantee.

Hirose Electric has launched the DF50 range of receptacles and headers, designed with space saving and durability in mind for applications requiring more strength. The double row, vertical housing and fine pitch of 1mm allow for maximum space saving on the board, which reduces the mounting area needed. The metal lock provides a consistent and positive tactile click, even with repetitive mating.

This ensures the connector is fully engaged, guaranteeing complete electrical and mechanical connection. The lock is centred on the housing to avoid uneven locking and cable entanglement, which is common with side locks. The housings have been designed with thicker and more robust walls to prevent cracking. A long insertion depth and blade contacts are utilised to prevent damage against any wrenching forces.

The receptacle features a robust and reliable lance structure which keeps the contacts securely in place, even when high forces are applied to the cable. Hirose Electric said high contact reliability is achieved with gold plating with a long effective mating length. The company said other benefits include surface mount contacts and a vacuum pick-up area on the housing. A nickel barrier is incorporated on the contact to avoid solder wicking.

DF50 is currently available with 40 contacts and other sizes are in development. AWG 28 cable size is applicable. Applications include LCD displays, digital television, wireless LAN, industrial controller units, office equipment, car navigation, car audio and amusement equipment.

Lantronix has announced the availability of the EDS1100 and EDS2100 device servers, designed to increase the level of transmission security for patient records, financial and customer information. Available with Linux and IPv6, the EDS1100/2100 provides simple-to-configure, enterprise-level protection of electronic data using security protocols such as Secure Shell and Secure Sockets Layer.

With the aid of a simple configuration interface, the EDS1100/2100 permits users to quickly and securely network remote equipment. In addition, the EDS1100/2100 includes Lantronix's VIP AccessO, which enables highly secure remote access and management of equipment behind firewalls. In addition to Linux, Lantronix's device servers are available with the company's Evolution OSO operating system. The company's management tools allow for easy configuration and monitoring, e-mail and RSS notifications for instant visibility of device activity.

Henkel has introduced Loctite 3090, a two-part cyanoacrylate that increases the versatility of instant adhesives. Alongside all the traditional benefits - an initial bond within seconds, clear bondline, high strength and easy dispensing - this product allows any exposed adhesive remaining outside of the joint to harden within two to four minutes.

This additional advantage removes the need for a post-assembly activator. Not only that, larger gap sizes can be readily accommodated. The new adhesive will bond close-fitting parts in 20 seconds - and even where the gap is 3mm, bonding is achieved in less than 90 seconds. Furthermore, the product can be used where a more significant gap - up to 5mm - is involved. Loctite 3090, which can be used on a variety of substrates, including plastic, rubber, wood, stone, leather, fabric or metal, is capable of withstanding a force of some 20N/mm2.

Application is easy, as the adhesive contains a dual syringe with seven mixer nozzles. These syringes ensure a clean application and that the correct ratio of each component is always applied. Furthermore, its gel viscosity means the adhesive can be used for vertical or overhead application. Loctite 3090 can be used between -20C to +80C.

Keithley Instruments has created an interactive applications overview, entitled 'Ultra-Fast I-V Applications'. The overview provides instruction and insight into a variety of semiconductor measurement applications that require ultra-fast I-V measurements, and it can be viewed online at the company's website. Ultra-fast I-V sourcing and measurement have become increasingly important capabilities for many semiconductor technologies.

Using pulsed I-V signals to characterise devices rather than DC signals makes it possible to study or eliminate the effects of self-heating (joule heating) or to minimise current drifting in measurements due to trapped charge. The applications overview includes sections on integrated high-speed sourcing and measurement; a discussion of voltage, current, and timing parameter ranges; a description of the built-in interactive software provided in Keithley's ultra-fast I-V test solution; and a detailed discussion of ultra-fast I-V applications.

Built-in links provide easy navigation, and many of the schematics and other diagrams enlarge automatically when scrolled over to allow easier reading. Ultra-fast I-V testing is appropriate for a growing range of semiconductor test applications, including: CMOS device characterisation (charge pumping, self-heating, and charge trapping); NBTI and PBTI characterisation, modelling, and monitoring; testing non-volatile memory devices such as PCRAMs; testing of compound semiconductor devices and materials (laser diodes and thermal impedance measurements); and characterisation of nanotechnology, MEMS devices, and solar cells.

Alrad has brought out the Gidel PCIe/104 computation accelerator. The PROC104 system provides a high-capacity, high-speed FPGA-based platform fortified with high-throughput and massive memory, resulting in a powerful and flexible system. The PROC104 complies with PCIe/104 standard, incorporating compact, self-stacking and rugged industrial-standard connectors. It is ideal for high-performance FPGA development and deployment across a range of SWaP-constrained application areas, including signal intelligence, image processing, software-defined radio and autonomous modules/vehicles.

The PROC104 can be hosted via four-lane PCI Express. The board's high-speed performance coupled with memory and add-on daughter boards' flexible architecture enable the system to meet almost any computational needs. In addition to 512MB onboard memory, two SODIMM sockets provide an extra 8GB. Abundant memory conjoined with fast PCIe connection enables strong co-processing between a standard PC operating system and the PROC104's FPGA.

The PROC104 system, with Gidel's PROCDeveloper's Kit and tools, offers incredible performance yet supports quick implementation of designs. These unique features are achieved by eliminating the need for a high-speed board design, a PCI Express application driver, board-constraints implementation and environment FPGA code.

It is targeted at SWaP-constrained industrial applications, including: COTS acquisition and accelerator boards in: HPC (high-performance computing); machine vision and imaging; high-performance acquisition systems; bioinformatics applications; SW defined radio and autonomous modules/vehicles; ASIC and SoC prototyping; and complex algorithm and IP validation.