Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Balluff has launched Smartlevel capacitive sensors designed for reliable and repeatable level monitoring in medical equipment. The trend towards more sophisticated medical equipment and laboratory automation instruments that are expected to handle increasingly complex tasks requires reliable sensing technology. Issues of potential end-product contamination, as well as safety regulations such as exposure of personnel to potential biohazards or toxic agents, must be carefully considered.

All of these factors make it especially difficult for machine/instrument builders to acquire, in a non-invasive manner, essential real-time information about the machine or instrument's state. Balluff said its Smartlevel capacitive sensors are a reliable approach to addressing these challenges. For example, in a heart-lung bypass machine, blood is circulated through an oxygenation canister where blood levels are constantly monitored. It is of critical interest to the cardiovascular perfusionist to understand precisely what levels of blood are present in the oxygenator, to ensure proper instrument function and guarantee optimum peripheral oxygen saturation in the patient undergoing heart surgery.

Monitoring blood in general can be challenging as its naturally thick viscosity can cause residue accumulation on the inner wall of an oxygenator - a common point of false alarms with ordinary sensing devices. Balluff Smartlevel capacitive sensors are designed to provide optimum performance without nuisance false alarms in the presence of difficult monitoring parameters such as foaming, froth and residue build-up, which are typically found in substances such as highly conductive, electrolytic blood and blood products.

The sensors comply with all the stringent medical standards and detect target material though vessel walls and bulkheads up to 12mm thick. They are self-adjusting, so there is no need to worry whether or not the sensor has been properly adjusted or tuned to compensate for the vessel or bulkhead wall thickness. Technician time and maintenance time is therefore reduced with Balluff's Smartlevel capacitive sensors.

Grace Instrument has developed a hardware module for the M7500 Ultra HPHT rheometer that provides a means for testing liquid density changes under simulated down-hole conditions. These conditions include those found in deep oil or geothermal wells. The M7500PVT Ultra HPHT densitometer module is also designed to test solid samples such as cements, cores or other solids. Both sample types can be tested without contamination by pressurisation fluid.

The M7500PVT module includes two pistons: large and small. The large piston is intended for tests involving larger changes in sample density, while the small piston is intended for tests involving smaller changes in sample density with a corresponding need for greater accuracy. These tests are created and administered by the user with the M7500 PC software, M7500DAQ. Test results are displayed within the software, and can be exported directly into Microsoft Excel, or saved as a standard .CSV text file.

LTE Scientific has launched the UK-made Caron range of large-capacity CO2 incubators for cell culture incubation into the UK market. Caron's IR-CO2 incubators have a capacity of 708 litres and offer space-saving advantages. Units have the ability to incorporate cell rollers and shakers where required. Models can be provided within the temperature range of 5C to 60C or Amb+10C to 60C.

Relative humidity (RH) up to 95 per cent is provided via Caron's cVapor humidity system, which delivers humidity on an as-needed basis without wasting energy or generating heat. The horizontal airflow system provides a uniform distribution and rapid recovery, even under heavy cabinet loads, according to LTE Scientific. The IR sensor maintains CO2 levels in the range of 0-20 per cent. The sensor measures only CO2, not temperature or RH, speeding up recovery times after the door has been opened.

As a result, samples will see virtually no increase in pH levels. The Caron IR-CO2 model 6024 large-capacity system incorporates a moist heat decontaminations cycle. At the push of a button, the decontamination cycle will eliminate microbial contamination (including mycoplasma) overnight. The 90C decontamination cycle extends the time between manual cleaning cycles. The heated triple-pane glass door provides total visibility of the load, minimises condensation and aids rapid temperature recovery. As an option, all models can be fitted with Caron's condensate recirculating system, which uses tap water and continuously conditions and recycles, eliminating the need for permanent plumbing to water source or drain.

A complete technical programme for the 2010 Filtration Society annual conference and exhibition, to be held on 13 October in Chester UK, is now available online. The one-day conference is entitled 'Filter Testing 5 - Millimetre to Nanometre' and will be preceded by a short course and workshop on 12 October for those new to filter testing or those who wish to further develop their knowledge in this field.

The conference will begin with two plenary presentations, one outlining the latest ISO standards and the other covering validation methods that ensure repeatability. A number of speakers will describe novel ways of detecting and filtering out nanoparticles. A trade exhibition running alongside the conference will also feature a 'technology burst' session in which exhibitors are given the opportunity to make 5-10min presentations about their products or services.

Dolomite has launched the Mitos P-Pump, which provides a pulse-less liquid flow using a precise pressure-driven pumping mechanism for microfluidic and droplet formation applications. With good response time and accuracy, the pressure-driven flow is ideal for microfluidic systems where a highly stable flow is required. This includes applications such as compartmentalised chemistry and alginate polymerisation, which necessitate the stable formation of oil-in-water or water-in-oil droplets; however, their monodispersity (size consistency) is key to obtaining accurate and repeatable results.

Dolomite has therefore carried out a number of tests to compare the size consistency of droplets formed by the Mitos P-Pump with market-leading syringe pumps. Droplets of water-in-oil were generated on a 100um-sized X-Junction, using each of the pump technologies. The droplet diameter from a continuous stream was measured using image analysis software.

The resulting data demonstrated that the Mitos P-Pump provides a co-efficient of variation in the droplet diameter of less than 0.6 per cent, compared with 5.5 per cent for the leading syringe pump. Its precise pressure-driven pumping mechanism delivers liquid with a smooth and even flow, whereas even the best motor drives and mechanics of a syringe pump have slight non-linearities, which cause unwanted pulsation.

Jeol has introduced a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with optics that enable ultra-high resolution imaging at low kV and high spatial resolution microanalysis in sample-imaging applications. The Through-the-Lens system (TTLS) combines objective lens and detector technologies with the Jeol in-lens Field Emission Gun. The TTLS is designed to enable imaging of a variety of samples, including magnetic materials.

The model JSM-7001FTTLS LV also features low-vacuum operation and a large specimen exchange airlock. In the TTL system, in-lens detectors with energy filtering provide both topography (SE) and Z contrast (BSE) images. Short working distance, low currents and low kV sensitivity ensure high-resolution BSE images. Gentle beam technology reduces charging and improves resolution, signal-to-noise, and beam brightness, especially at low beam voltages (down to 100V).

The TTLS operates at low magnification (10x) with no distortion of the image or the EBSD pattern, allowing collection of large-area EBSD maps of large-grain materials. The flexibility of the SEM is demonstrated in its ability to run in low-vacuum (LV) mode for imaging nonconductive samples at high kV and beam currents for a variety of analytical applications that include analysis with EDS, WDS, EBSD and CL. An optional Stem detector allows imaging of thin samples with sub-0.8nm resolution.

Selectaglaze has developed a range of secondary glazing systems to enhance levels of protection, which are Secured by Design accredited. Windows are seen as 'soft targets' for intruders and, if subjected to a blast attack, glass will shatter into shards leading to personal injury and destruction of equipment and services. Critical buildings such as hospitals and healthcare establishments are encouraged to improve protection levels, and retrofitted secondary glazing can provide this without altering the windows.

It is discrete, applied only to areas at risk, and being demountable is acceptable to heritage consultants. Purpose made secondary windows installed independently to the inside of the existing window frame can provide enhanced protection whether to a single vulnerable window or to a complete building. Protection is available from simple low level deterrence to significant resistance against a determined attack. Selectaglaze's systems have undergone rigorous independent tests and are certified to cover physical attack, blast protection, ballistic protection and up to 30 minutes fire resistance.

Secondary glazing not only enhances security but is the most effective and simplest solution to unwanted noise and will markedly improve a building's energy efficiency and, when fitted with an air gap of at least 100mm, will dramatically improve sound insulation, which is particularly important in hospitals. Selectaglaze's wide range of designs can suit almost any window style and can also be fitted with anti-ligature blind control knobs and window locks which are only accessible to authorised personnel using specialist secure tools.

The units arrive fully assembled, allowing rapid installation with minimal disruption and work can be programmed to suit maintenance budgets. Selectaglaze has produced an extensive range of literature, including its Window Protection Systems brochure, data sheets and test results.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bronx Engineering has partnered with SKF to launch a range of energy-efficient replacement back-up rollers for use with all existing Bronx precision-levelling machines. Featuring SKF bearing technology, the replacement rollers have been developed for use in levelling systems for ferrous and non-ferrous strip or sheet materials, offering high levels of performance and long-term reliability.

Bronx levelling machines are used to level hot and cold rolled steel, coated steel, stainless steel and aluminium, with the strip or sheet materials being passed through a series of precision work rolls to remove shape imperfections produced during the initial steel manufacturing process. The Backup rollers play a crucial role in this process by supporting and guiding the work rolls. Over time, these rollers can gradually wear and require replacement, to avoid defects being induced in the finished steel products.

The newly launched range of replacement energy efficient Backup rollers has been developed by Bronx. Each unit features a single-piece outer ring to minimise run-out, with a profiled contact area to eliminate stress peaks and tram lines on the work rolls, and thus on the finished steel materials. By incorporating the latest SKF bearing technology, the Backup rollers provide a long and trouble-free operating life for users of Bronx Precision Levellers, as well as maximised productivity and reduced operating costs.

The Backup rollers also use specially developed hydrodynamic seals that help to reduce lip seal temperature by up to 35 per cent and frictional torque by over 20 per cent. This enables them to last up to three times longer than conventional lip seals and protects each Backup bearing from the ingress of contaminants under even the toughest operating conditions. The latest range of energy-efficient Bronx Backup rollers are suitable for all Bronx levelling machines, regardless of age, and are available direct from Bronx for worldwide distribution.

Torqueleader has launched the TBN 200 Breaking Torque Wrench for applications in the automotive, aerospace, military and consumer product markets. It utilises a 20deg breaking action that reduces the possibility of overtightening by clearly indicating to the operator when the preset torque has been achieved. Access to more awkward places is allowed by having the breaking action further down the TBN 200 wrench.

The TBN's precision mechanism ensures that the set torque is applied consistently, delivering repeatability to meet customers' quality objectives. The robust construction built to withstand the harshest industrial environment, ensuring long service. The TBN 200 models can be supplied with a 16mm spigot or 14 x 18 carrier rectangular fitting drive that allows the use of current end fittings. The TBN 200 and 200 G models are part of Torqueleader's TBN Breaking Torque Wrench range, which covers 0.2-2Nm up to 40-200Nm.

The TBN has a repeatability of +/-4 per cent of setting and exceeds the ISO 6789:2003 requirements. The TBNs can be supplied with a choice of two options - electrical switch and radio frequency - for transmitting a signal when a tightening event has taken place.

Weldability-Sif is running a series of two-day gas inspection training courses to help operatives with a basic understanding of the oxy-fuel gas process to become gas equipment inspectors. The fee-based courses take place every other month at the company's training centre in Letchworth Garden City, with the next available course scheduled for October 2010.

At the end of the course, each successful attendee will receive an EAL Certificate of Verified Achievement, which holds a three-year period of validity, an identity card and an inspection pack. This certificate allows the holder to inspect portable oxy-fuel cutting and welding equipment and installations in accordance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) Code of Practice 7.

Each attendee will learn how to test equipment for functionality and safety, how to identify and safely replace non-compliant equipment, how to diagnose and prevent equipment problems, how to install safe, compliant and leak-free equipment and how to manage a 'tagging' system to enable and undertake annual inspections.

GF Agiecharmilles will host a half-day dissemination seminar on micromachining - used within the biomedical, aerospace, electronics, micromechanics and automotive sectors - on 9 September 2010. The company is hosting the seminar in conjunction with Manchester University and technical partners Microsystems UK, Rolls-Royce, Rainford Precision Machines, Teer Coatings and WLR Prototype Engineers. The seminar, entitled 'Extended Life Micro-tooling by Advanced Coating Technology' (Elmact), follows the completion of a three-year micromachining research project, jointly funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The project specifically assessed the use of high-precision micro-tooling and different cutting tool coatings for micro-milling and micro-drilling applications. The Elmact event, targeted at precision manufacturers currently involved (or who wish to get involved) in micromachining, provides an opportunity for manufacturers to find out more about the research findings and to catch up with the latest developments and thinking from industry specialists. Martin Spencer, GF Agiecharmilles' managing director, said: 'Micromachining is widely recognised as a key enabling technology for the future and a growing number of industry sectors, such as biomedical, aerospace, electronics, micro-mechanics and automotive, are already using and applying micromachining technology best practice in and across their manufacturing operations.

'Many more are actively considering its manufacturing and commercial viability,' he added. According to Spencer, the seminar will feature informative presentations and practical machining demonstrations. The event will be held at the company's Coventry facility from 10:00 until 14:00.

Elscint Automation has developed a special vibratory bowl feeder for the feeding of spring washers. Spring washers have a tendency to get entangled and to get jammed in the chute when the outlet is stopped. However, Elscint's new design is said to resolve both of these problems, enabling the spring washers to be fed in a smooth manner.

In addition, for the M3 springs washer, the company has even provided an escapement or singular to release one spring washer at a time. The standard Elscint escapement with a slight modification was used in order to ensure smooth, uncomplicated operation.

Elscint Automation has developed a special vibratory bowl feeder for the feeding of spring washers. Spring washers have a tendency to get entangled and to get jammed in the chute when the outlet is stopped. However, Elscint's new design is said to resolve both of these problems, enabling the spring washers to be fed in a smooth manner.

In addition, for the M3 springs washer, the company has even provided an escapement or singular to release one spring washer at a time. The standard Elscint escapement with a slight modification was used in order to ensure smooth, uncomplicated operation.

Ruland Manufacturing offers shaft collars that can be used in equipment such as motors, gearboxes, linear actuators, packaging equipment, printing presses, medical devices and precision instruments. The company's shaft collars, which provide controlled face tolerances and high holding power, are single-point faced during the boring process to ensure a high level of face-to-bore perpendicularity. This results in a face run-out of TIR less than 0.05mm (0.002in) on standard collars, with even tighter tolerances on bearing locknuts and special designs.

The face-to-bore relationship is important for many applications where components such as bearings need to be properly aligned on the shaft. It also creates even pressure on the interfaced components, prolonging their life, and reduces the likelihood that the shaft collar will shift when it is subjected to shock loads. A circular groove on the shaft collar indicates that it has been single-point faced. Ruland collars should be installed so that the circular groove is on the side that will receive the shock load or against the components that need precise positioning or even pressure.

The shaft collars are offered in aluminium, black oxide carbon steel, stainless steel and engineered plastic. One- and two-piece clamp shaft collars are available with bore sizes from 3mm to 80mm in the metric series and from 1/8in to 6in in the inch series. Clamp-style shaft collars wrap around the shaft for an even distribution of clamping forces. This results in a tight fit and greater holding power, without the shaft damage caused by set screws. Two-piece clamp-style collars can be installed on the shaft without removing other components.

Ruland uses forged socket hardware in all its shaft collars, allowing for higher screw torque and increased holding power. All of the company's products are RoHS and Reach compliant. They are manufactured in Ruland's US factory under strict controls using proprietary processes, high-quality materials and excellent finishes. The company's complete product line includes shaft collars and rigid couplings and five types of zero-backlash motion control couplings: beam couplings, bellows couplings, oldham couplings, miniature disc couplings and curved jaw couplings.

Key equipment supplied by Whitelegg Machines is enabling the Anstee and Ware Group to repair and service traction motors. The Anstee and Ware Group provides electrical and mechanical engineering services and can service the needs of industries such as steel, aerospace, oil and gas, utilities, paper and quarrying. Recently, however, the company identified a market opportunity to specialise in the servicing and repair of traction motors for the rail and mass transit industry.

Anstee and Ware agreed to commit GBP300,000 to the latest technology to enable rapid and high-quality repairs to traction motors, with the focus of the investment to be at its Castle Donnington site adjacent to the motor-racing circuit. The company prepared specification documents for open tendering and, based on a competitive quote, Whitelegg was asked to supply key pieces of equipment to realise the project. Anstee and Ware specified that certain key pieces of equipment were essential to its new Traction Motor servicing cell, which needed to be in place to win major rail contracts.

The items specified were a Baker D65R surge tester and Rimac of Italy TIG Welder and Undercutter machines, all sourced through Whitelegg, along with a test panel capable of 0-1,200VDC. At Anstee and Ware, the normal process for DC traction motor servicing - following on from motor receipt at its works - is dismantling, cleaning, stoving and inspection, with a preliminary bar-to-bar surge test leading to go or no-go. If no-go, the armature is completely rewound with new coils. A second surge test is then carried out, followed by the TIG welding of the coils to the commutator risers.

The sequence continues with vacuum impregnation, lathe skimming and concentric and dynamic balancing. Another bar-to-bar test is followed by undercutting and a final bar-to-bar test. The whole motor is then run on a test bed at up to 1,200VDC. From start to finish, a five-day turnaround is the norm. Electrical testing plays a major part in this programme and the Baker D65R resistance, Hipot, surge and bar-to-bar tester was chosen for its advanced capabilities, which were designed to maximise testing accuracy in a lightweight, sturdy format with additional predictive testing. The Baker D65R digital winding tester can perform winding resistance, Hipot and surge tests.

It can also digitise and store data for future use. Surge testing detects faults in inter-turn, winding and phase-to-phase insulation systems. Using advanced analogue-to-digital conversion hardware, the D series captures the surge test waveform, remembers it, displays it indefinitely and outputs to a printer. Of particular relevance to Anstee and Ware was the fact that the lower impedance of series-wound armatures, as found in traction motors, makes accurate surge testing of these coils difficult through normal equipment.

The D65R, however, allows the user to safely test these coils using higher currents. When testing these coils, a specific voltage is applied on adjacent commutator bars, reducing the need for an excessively high voltage, which could potentially damage the coil. The traditional manual welding of new coils to commutator bars can be haphazard, lengthy and inaccurate. The need for high accuracy and rapid TIG welding at this stage of motor servicing was vital.

The Rimac machine, specified by Whitelegg, can handle core diameters from 100mm to 1,500mm and up to 999 bars. The welder torch automatically moves on to a new weld until the riser is complete. Bar indexing is via a stepper motor. The time taken for a standard traction motor has been reduced to four hours. Another traditionally time-consuming process was undercutting. Now, with the Rimac in place, the time taken for working a typical Class 66 traction motor has been reduced from six hours to 45 minutes. This servo-controlled machine is said to be simple to set up.

A camera with 10x magnification and a 15in (38cm) LCD screen simplifies the observation of the cutting area. Laser positioning is said to ensure high accuracy. Anstee and Ware has won contracts for rewinding both alternators and traction motors for the Ex BR HST power cars, as well as Class 66 freight locos traction motor overhauls.

Mettler Toledo has launched a high-precision weigh module, which is suitable for the fast and precise filling of pharmaceuticals and for the checkweighing of parts or quantities. The WMS is said to be simple to integrate in automated processes in laboratories and production environments. It is available in capacities up to 400g and features a readability of 0,0001g. The module is tailored to the needs of machine and equipment manufacturers to facilitate mechanical integration.

Its width of 59mm corresponds with the commonly used space for parallel arrays used in multi-line applications. The off-centre weighing platform offers the flexibility to install the weigh module alongside filling or other processing devices inside a machine. The weighing platform can be easily changed, according to the company; this enables fast changeover for different package formats in using weighing platforms with different adapters. A stainless-steel design, built-in overload protection and the internal calibration device result in the high-precision weighing performance of the WMS in an industrial environment.

An IP54-rated labyrinth protects the weigh module against dust and spilled liquids during normal operation. The IP66-rated wash-down option seals the weigh module during cleaning. The weighing platform can be removed for cleaning thanks to a simple locking device. The WMS is equipped with fast RS232 and RS422 interfaces. It has options to communicate with control systems via Profibus DP, Profinet IO, Ethernet IP and Devicenet. It offers digital inputs and outputs for direct connection to sensors and actuators.

The WMS weigh module can be combined with the Conblock adaptor, allowing it to be mounted on DIN- and G-Rails inside the control cabinet. It has individual contacts for connecting sensors, actuators and interfaces. Each digital input and output has a light-emitting diode to show its current status. Mettler Toledo claims that the Conblock adaptor provides fast and simple access for commissioning and service and that it makes electrical integration simple and economical.

Agricultural and construction equipment company CNH is using an Activewall HD immersive visualisation suite from Virtalis at its facility in Zedelgem, Belgium, to conduct collaborative design reviews. Virtalis has also previously installed virtual-reality systems at the company's offices in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in Burr Ridge, Illinois, and in Modena, Italy. Kezhun Li, head of digital prototyping and simulation at CNH, said: 'We use our virtual-reality systems on a daily basis to conduct collaborative design reviews.

'In Belgium, the focus is on the development of forage harvesters, large hay balers and European combines. 'The fact that we've now managed to link up our team in Belgium with their international colleagues, especially those in Lancaster where similar product lines are developed, has led to a great deal less international travel and accelerated development schedules,' added Li. The Virtalis Activewall HD configuration in CNH Zedelgem's custom-built building features a 25 x 14ft (8 x 4m) Powerwall, which has been slightly sunken into the floor so that the combine harvesters and balers can drive out of the wall in full stereoscopic 3D, provided by a Christie Mirage HD18 projector.

Virtalis implemented a tailored Intersense IS900 Wired Vetracker system to maximise natural movement around the virtual models. The head-mounted displays (HMDs) chosen were Nvisor SXs from NVIS. As the virtual models that CNH creates have more than 20,000 parts, compute power and graphics rendering capability are vital. The latest Virtalis systems at CNH feature a 64-bit, quad-core workstation coupled with an Nvidia FX5600 graphics card. Jeroen De Neve, simulation engineer at CNH in Belgium, said: 'With the ability to adjust everything on screen, we've quickly become less forgiving of rework and have already had great success with our safety reviews for our new combines.

'The fact that we were able to hold these safety reviews at three locations simultaneously undoubtedly saved a great deal of time. 'We were concerned about the position of service steps and whether they were sufficiently far from hot components and rails. 'We were able to measure the actual distance on the virtual model, so what would have become an "action item" on an agenda was addressed straight away. 'In the span of only two or three hours, we completed the whole collaborative process, without anyone travelling and with answers, nine months before the launch,' added De Neve.

The CNH team has also used its Activewall to develop cabs and to carry out styling reviews for the products designed in Zedelgem. In addition, the company is using its Virtalis systems for market research and marketing. Each new program hosts a couple of day-long focus groups where the interior and exterior styling, initial impressions and control positions and visibility are all monitored. Li continued: 'The latest Zedelgem installation is so intuitive to use, there is no need for a dedicated virtual-reality expert to run it. 'The technology's accessibility allows our users to work hands on,' added Li.

YSI has announced that it will launch its Castaway CTD technology - designed to provide fast, accurate hydrologic profiling - at the Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring (WWEM) 2010 conference. The Castaway device, which is simply thrown into water and retrieved manually, automatically records conductivity and temperature profile data, depth and GPS position, meaning that no field notes or computers are necessary.

The company, which will be found on Stand 79, will also showcase its new Pro Quatro water-quality monitoring system as well as a fast-response pH sensor. The Quatro is an attachment option for the Pro Plus series of portable meters that provides four ports to measure temperature/conductivity, DO and any two ISEs from pH, ORP, ammonium, chloride or nitrate.

In the hydrology sector, YSI Hydrodata will demonstrate a new version of the Riversurveyor M9, a nine-beam acoustic Doppler profiler offering multiple acoustic frequencies that adjust automatically to provide accurate measurements from 0.06m to 30m depths. Also at WWEM, the company will display a highly sensitive bubbler water-level sensor from Design Analysis Associates featuring a satellite data collection and communication capability.

Parker Hannifin, a provider of technologies for motion and control tasks, is to present a series of mobile exhibitions on the future of process instrumentation, touring Europe until December 2010. A range of valves, manifolds and tube fittings for minimising potential leak paths will be displayed in a purpose-designed 16m-long trailer by the Instrumentation Products Division of Parker Hannifin.

The exhibition will tour Finland, Poland and Switzerland in September, Germany, Holland and France in October and Portugal and Italy in November, before concluding in December with visits to Austria and the UK. Solutions for all standard connectivity and functional requirements from the process line to the instrument are available from Parker Hannifin.

One of the methods employed to demonstrate these technologies on the trailer will be a long process pipeline equipped with common plant instrumentation but interfaced using components based on next-generation principles. A range of technical seminars will also be offered.

The Macaulay Institute, a land-use research centre in Aberdeen, has purchased two Picarro isotopic CO2 analysers from Enviro Technology for its worldwide research programme. The analysers are being used for the institute's field campaigns, which look at the 13C isotope content of CO2 that leaves the soil surface. By measuring the 13C content, researchers can tell more about where the CO2 comes from and whether it is new carbon respired by plant roots or older carbon associated with the turnover of soil organic matter - this distinction can have important implications for the global carbon cycle.

The use of these analysers has improved the way that the institute has collected, stored and analysed data during these campaigns. Dr Andy Midwood from the Macaulay Institute said: 'During previous campaigns, we collected literally hundreds of gas samples in small vials, then shipped them back to Aberdeen for analysis. 'On more than one occasion, there have been problems and we lost valuable information due to leakages or faults.

'Now, with the Picarros, we analyse as we go. 'We can see how the data looks, make changes to our measurement criteria and generally make sure the experiments go as planned. 'This is only possible because the Picarro is so portable, in terms of size, power consumption and ease of operation,' he added.

Some 1,600 safety interlocking devices from Netherlocks have been installed at Shell Eastern Petroleum's Ethylene Cracker Complex in Pular Ular, Singapore. The main applications for the interlocks are for the decoking process and on isolation valves for pressure safety valves. The interlocks use a linear key transfer system to ensure that processes can only be carried out in the correct order, guaranteeing that each part has been safely completed before the next can be started.

Safely completing the previous step in the process sequence will release a unique key that then unlocks the next step; only when a mistake is made will the operator be prevented from proceeding by a key that does not fit or a valve locked in position. This simple principle can be propagated to more complex procedures, but in every case it physically ensures that safety protocols and work orders are followed exactly, leaving no scope for human error.

Projected to produce 800kt/a of ethylene, 450kt/a of propylene and 230kt/a of benzene, the facility consists of an ethylene cracker unit, a Pygas hydrogenation/benzene extraction unit, a C4 selective hydrogenation unit and various associated utilities. The complex, which opened in March 2010, links the nearby Shell refinery with downstream chemical units, forming an integrated petrochemical 'super site' in Singapore.

Hach Lange will demonstrate a range of technologies for monitoring raw water, process water and wastewater at the upcoming Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring (WWEM) event. According to the company, which will be found on stands 93 and 94, experts will be available to discuss the efficiency and cost savings that can be achieved with the new wastewater treatment optimisation system (WTOS). Information on the new Hach Biotector total organic compound (TOC) analysers will also be available on the stands.

These instruments are said to provide maximum uptime and reliability thanks to a patented self-cleaning oxidation technology that handles difficult samples and reduces maintenance. Unlike traditional TOC analysers, the Biotector eliminates the build-up of salts, particulates, fats, oils and greases that can lead to drift and high maintenance. Visitors from manufacturing and processing industries will be able to see the new Orbisphere 3100 portable DO analyser that employs optical technology to deliver high levels of accuracy and reliability with a substantially reduced requirement for maintenance and calibration.

WWEM 2010 visitors involved in laboratory or field testing will have the opportunity to handle the latest versions of the company's range of electrochemistry instruments. These include the digital handheld intelligent HQD meters, the new H-Series meters with rugged probe options, the probeless MP meters and the Sension+ field and bench-top analysis kits. The company will run two workshops during WWEM. The first is entitled 'Water Treatment Optimisation Solutions - Saving operational expenditures and optimising plant processes' and the second is called ' Biotector - a different approach to online TOC analysis'.

RTS Life Science has announced that a series of new software features have been added to the RTS Tube Auditor, a volume measurement solution for drug discovery and biobanking applications. The RTS Tube Auditor, a high-speed non-contact solution for volume measurement and precipitate detection, improves screening quality, reduces costs and saves time, enabling screening and sample management groups to increase efficiency and improve their understanding of the quality of their samples.

New software features added to the system include the introduction of a four-step wizard-based calibration process that not only makes calibration easier and quicker but also improves the visibility of the resultant calibration and accuracy; additional user configurability options to improve audit traceability and to ease LIMS integration; and improved tube type auditing, enabling discrimination between empty or missing tubes and providing support for tubes containing mixing beads. The RTS Tube Auditor is a bench-top instrument suitable for manual operation or integration into automated systems.

Its high-speed vision technology allows a full 96-way SBS tube rack to be audited in less than two minutes. The system ensures complete sample safety and avoids the potential for sample degradation as there is no need to de-cap tubes during the auditing process. The additional software functionality recently added to the Tube Auditor further enhances the cost-effective method of measuring liquid volume and detecting sample precipitate.

Pepperl and Fuchs has published an application guide on its wind turbine sensing technologies, which are ideal for use in tough environments that experience wide temperature variations and vibration. According to the company, the most important characteristic of any wind turbine sensor solution is reliability, especially given that the turbine could be located 50m in the air, on a remote hill or out at sea.

Developing reliable solutions for these applications often involves exploring new sensing methods, such as yaw position control using an inductive encoder that is impervious to dirt or pitch control using a non-contact magnetic encoder that is shock and vibration resistant. The new application guide highlights the application of a number of new and existing technologies in the wind energy sector.

Schaeffler's X-life E1 spherical roller bearings are ideal for applications such as continuous casting machines used in steel processing, paper mills, wind turbine rotor shafts and vibrating screens. The bearings are intended for use in heavy-duty operating environments and in situations where there is a need to compensate for shaft alignment. The X-life E1 spherical roller bearings offer a long operating life, excellent machine performance and high reliability in harsh operating environments, according to the company.

The E1 range - which has now been expanded to include eight bearing series with bore diameters from 20mm up to 1,220mm - is suitable for applications where very high load carrying capacities and reliability are key design criteria. Thanks to their robust design and high load carrying capacity, the E1 spherical roller bearings in Schaeffler's X-life rating are said to offer excellent solutions for vibrating screens. The low friction of the X-life E1 bearings not only withstands the high alternating loads that occur in vibrating screens but also helps to reduce noise levels and operating temperatures, resulting in improved machine efficiency.

In the larger-sized bearings with bore diameters greater than 320mm, the X-life E1 bearings benefit from having hardened sheet steel cages, which enable a longer operating life owing to significantly reduced wear. Large-sized X-life spherical roller bearings are used as locating and non-locating bearings on the continuous casting machines used in steel processing. The compact design of the bearing, combined with improved basic load ratings and friction-optimised kinematics, provide improved performance and a longer operating life in tough, aggressive operating environments such as steel processing.

The new sheet steel cages provide excellent resistance to wear and contamination. Standard bearing dimensions facilitate the mounting and replacement of existing bearings. In a wind turbine, the design of the rotor shaft bearing is critical, as this bearing is directly exposed to the loads and forces induced by the wind. E1 spherical roller bearings are designed to withstand conditions experienced by wind turbine rotors, such as alternating loads with extreme peaks and troughs, as well as fluctuating operating temperatures.

The X-life E1 spherical roller bearings are suitable for paper production applications. By converting standard E1 spherical roller bearings to X-life quality, Schaeffler customers benefit from a 15 per cent increase in basic dynamic load ratings and up to a 60 per cent longer service life compared with previous bearing designs. These higher basic static load ratings lead to improvements in the static load safety factor of the bearings. Under similar operating conditions, this means that a longer bearing life can be achieved, even with a considerable increase in load.

In the latest bearing designs for paper mills, similar or higher performance can be achieved using smaller-diameter bearings. By downsizing (smaller design envelope, reduced friction, lower lubricant requirement and higher speeds), more economical bearing solutions can be achieved. As a result, the improved bearing kinematics lead to lower operating costs because both friction and bearing temperatures are minimised, which, in turn, places less strain on the grease. Spherical roller bearings are double-row, self-contained units that comprise solid outer rings with a concave raceway, solid inner rings and barrel rollers with cages.

The inner rings have cylindrical or tapered bores. Many bearing sizes within the E1 spherical roller bearing range can now be converted to X-life quality. These bearings have no central rib on the inner ring and are therefore able to use longer barrel rollers. In addition, the bearings benefit from improved kinematics and optimised surfaces and are made from higher-performance materials. As a result, the basic dynamic load rating and basic rating life (under similar operating conditions) are improved.

This means that, in certain applications, a smaller bearing solution can be provided. For the customer, these benefits translate into higher machine availability, new design possibilities, more economical bearing solutions owing to downsizing and lower operating costs as a result of reduced energy consumption.

Parker Hannifin has launched a series of remote-controlled electro-pneumatic pressure regulators designed to provide flexibility, precision and energy savings in a range of manufacturing applications. The new EPP4 Comfort models have been designed to enhance the performance and reliability of machinery within the production environment, including welding, paper and printing and machine tool robots, as well as on trucks and trains for the control of adaptive suspensions.

Featuring a compact and lightweight construction, the new 1in (2.5cm) and 2in EPP4 Comfort models have been specifically developed for quick and easy installation and low inertia on moving robots. Using an integrated electronic control system and pulse-width-modulated solenoid valves, the new units control the output pressure proportionally to an analogue electrical signal, while high precision is achieved by an internal feedback through an integral pressure sensor.

As a result, control systems can be simplified through a reduced number of components, while productivity is improved through a greater degree of flexibility. The new EPP4 Comfort range provides fast response times, excellent linearity and low hysteresis of 0.5 per cent for the accurate and fast adjustment of controlled pressure, significantly increasing production efficiency. Power consumption is also low, requiring a maximum of only 6W, enabling simple integration into standard installations.

As no air is used when there is no change of control signal, energy and cost savings can be further achieved. The flexible and easily mounted EPP4 Comfort regulators feature plug-and-play functions to provide simple tools for setups and monitoring using standard PC software, enabling the user to set all the relevant parameters of the units quickly and simply, both on and off site. In addition, the remote display enables users to read the regulated pressure wherever the application requires it, while the large, high-clarity LED digits make reading faster and easier.

The EPP4 Comfort 1in and 2in pressure regulators are available for control by either a voltage or current analogue control signal, offering either analogue or digital outputs, and are adjustable to meet the specific parameters of each application. As with all Parker products, these new models are backed by the company's network of manufacturing, sales and customer support centres.

Newport's new low-cost hexapod is a parallel kinematic motion device suitable for complex motion applications that demand high-load capacities and accuracy in up to six independent axes. The hexapod provides six degrees of freedom: X, Y, Z, pitch, roll and yaw.The Newport hexapod is driven by six enhanced versions of the company's high-performance DC servomotor-driven LTA actuators.

The quality of the actuators has a strong impact on the overall motion performance of a hexapod, but of almost equal importance are the joints with which the actuators are attached to the base and the moving top plate, according to the company. Newport's engineers came up with a design of special anti-friction-coated spherical joints that are not only simple but that also provide higher rigidity than ordinary universal joints. The company claims that the result is a hexapod that provides more than five times higher rigidity and twice the load capacity of other hexapods of a similar size.

The Newport hexapod is supplied with a specific HXP100-ELEC controller. This controller masters the synchronised transformations from Cartesian input co-ordinates to the motion of the hexapod legs. In addition, the HXP100-ELEC provides advanced features including instrument grade I/Os, hardware-based input triggers, event triggers, high-speed on-the-fly data acquisition, fast TCP/IP communication and an integrated TCL programming language for onboard processes.

All these features improve accuracy and throughput. A common requirement for many hexapod motion applications is a virtual pivot point, allowing the user to freely choose the point in space that is a pivot point for all rotations. The hexapod's XPS controller provides this as a standard feature. Newport's hexapod can not only relocate the pivot point, but, through advanced technology, the entire co-ordinate system can be relocated.

In addition, two user-definable co-ordinate systems are provided, called tool (moves with the hexapod) and work (stationary co-ordinate systems). Incremental displacements are possible in either one of these systems in Cartesian co-ordinates and positions can be calculated from one system to the other by a function call. These functions provide a new way of mastering hexapod motions without the need for complex external co-ordinate transformations.

Linear Technology has introduced the LTC2654, a quad voltage output 16- and 12-bit digital-to-analogue converter for applications in mobile communication, process control and industrial automation. The LTC2654 digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) has an internal reference and SPI interface. LTC2654 DACs achieve 16-bit performance of +/-4LSB INL maximum over temperature, a factor of two better than the nearest 16-bit quad competitor with internal reference, according to Linear Technology.

LTC2654 has a low offset error +/-2mV (max) and low gain error 0.1 per cent (max), a combination that ensures that the LTC2654 remains accurate near the supply rails and provides users with a wider effective output range. LTC2654's precision specifications make it ideal for multichannel, open-loop and closed-loop systems. Applications include mobile communication, process control and industrial automation, automated test equipment (ATE) and automotive systems. The LTC2654's integrated reference achieves 2ppm/C typical and 10ppm/C maximum temperature coefficient.

It is offered in 20-pin 4 x 4mm QFN and 16-pin TSSOP packages, providing space savings densely packed circuit boards. AC performance stands out, as LTC2654 offers 8.9us settling time for a half-scale step and 3nVs crosstalk, resulting in minimal disturbance between DAC channels. The LTC2654 operates from a single 2.7V to 5.5V supply and communicates via a four-wire SPI/Microwire compatible interface up to 50MHz. The LTC2654 offers a wide of options to meet application-specific requirements.

Designers can choose between 16- or 12-bit resolution and an internal 1.25V or 2.048V reference, which produce a full-scale output voltage of 2.5V or 4.096V. Alternatively, an external reference up to half the supply voltage can be used for rail-to-rail operation. The LTC2654 includes a hardware option to power up the DAC outputs at zero-scale or mid-scale, allowing more flexibility for designs that cannot be forced to ground when power is first applied. LTC2654 16-bit and 12-bit DACs and demo boards are now available.

GTK has added a monochrome organic light-emitting diode (OLED) for data loggers, compact consumer devices, Bluetooth car kits and DAB radios to its range of optoelectronics displays. Available in a variety of display sizes and resolutions, the technology has a contrast ratio of 2,000:1, a viewing angle of 16-deg, response time of 10ms and brightness of 100cd/m2. This product is available in a variety of sizes and colours, with some variants offered in multiple colour options enabling OEMs to differentiate products within a family.

Colour options include white, yellow, green, amber and blue. This module is ultra-thin, requires no backlight and has low power consumption, making it ideal for design into compact consumer devices. The simple-to-configure product is suitable for commercial and industrial applications including data loggers, audio products, Bluetooth car kits and DAB radios.

Electrolube will showcase high-performance chemical products for the electronics, automotive and industrial manufacturing industries to the Asian market at Globaltronics in Singapore this September. The company will introduce a number of new ranges, including the environmentally-friendly non-VOC (volatile organic compound) conformal coating range, which is designed to meet the high performance of solvent-based coatings with minimal changes to processing parameters.

Also on display will be the fast-drying DCA-FD, a modified silicone conformal coating, which offers increased solid content, giving 35 per cent greater coverage per litre, resulting in waste and cost savings per substrate. The Safewash Total aqueous cleaning product will also be featured. Safewash is said to provide superior cleaning performance to meet military and commercial standards. Safewash Total is a specially formulated blend of non-flammable solvents, which form a micro-emulsion when mixed with water.

Designed for cleaning printed circuit boards, it is ideal for the removal of leaded, lead-free and no-clean flux residues. The cleaner is also suitable for the removal of pastes and adhesives from screens, stencils, boards and accessories as well as general degreasing applications. It is a low-foam cleaner suitable for use in dishwasher and in-line pressure systems, as well as ultrasonic and spray-under-immersion applications. Electrolube said the product provides good cleaning performance in a variety of applications, even at low temperatures, and it has the versatility to allow cleaning using an array of different equipment and methods.

Being surfactant free, it is easy to rinse, the company added. In addition it offers low toxicity, VOC, odour and foam, making it environmentally- and user-friendly.

LED technology specialist Dialight has partnered with Peerless Electronics to offer a flat and domed version of the 657 series panel-mount indicator for outdoor applications. The indicators feature a fully-sealed and potted design, making them impervious to dust and water intrusion and in compliance with IP67/Nema 4x standards. Using the same high-impact, UV-stabilised lens material as the right-angle version, the indicators are available with tinted, diffused lenses in red, green, yellow, blue and orange, in addition to a white diffused style.

These rugged indicators are engineered for outdoor applications such as lane control and signage, as well as construction, transit and military vehicles; anywhere that a vibration resistant light source is required. The energy-efficient LEDs used in these indicators provide up to 100,000 hours of operation, exceeding the typical life of traditional light sources.

The XC6503 series LDO from Torex Semiconductor integrates internal phase compensation circuitry, removing the need for output capacitors and reducing the necessary PCB layout area. Even with no capacitor, the XC6503 can deliver output currents up to 500mA and is available with fixed output voltages from 1.2V to 5.0V in 0.05V increments. It is said to offer fast transient response and high PSRR (55dB at 1kHz) while consuming 15uA in operation and less than 0.1uA in standby mode.

The voltage drop is also optimised to maximise battery life with only 300mV required at 500mA. The XC6503 is also safe, with integrated short-circuit protection, thermal shutdown and built-in current limiter. The LDO can also work with an output capacitor if required and includes an optional CL discharge function to immediately discharge of the output capacitor, ensuring that the Vout pin drops down to ground quickly should the XC6503 be turned off via the CE pin.

The small USP-4 package measures 1.2 x 1.6 x 0.6mm, making the XC6503 ideal for space-conscious applications. When additional power dissipation is required, larger SOT25, SOT89-5 or TO252 packages are also available.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leica Geosystems has introduced a new generation of industrial theodolites for aerospace applications such as satellite alignment and for boresight and heads-up display alignment for combat aircraft. The Leica TM6100A, which will be released by Hexagon Metrology during the fourth quarter of 2010, uses piezo direct-drive technology. These new motorised drives offer the stability of manual drives and the flexibility of fully automated motorised drives, yet they can still be used submicron-level fine positioning tasks, according to the company.

The fine positioning drives on the Leica TM6100A auto-collimating theodolites have been repositioned to simplify the task of measuring in difficult situations. The piezo technology also delivers very low power consumption, which enables the newly designed battery to last longer. The new colour touch screen remains clearly visible at all times, allowing operators to take the theodolite to any location. The simple user interface means that users only need minimal training before doing basic measurements and calibrations to the sensor. The interface also offers function keys that can be set for specific procedures.

National Instruments (NI) has released the NI MyDAQ portable instrumentation device, which is targeted at students taking university engineering courses. MyDAQ advances engineering education by making it possible for students to experience engineering outside of the laboratory, in their dorm room or anywhere they choose, at any time. The device is designed by NI and features analogue circuits from Texas Instruments, including data converters, amplifiers and interface and power management components.

MyDAQ hardware integrates with the NI Labview graphical development software to help reverse the trend of rising educational costs by giving students hands-on interaction with real analogue circuits, sensor measurements and signal processing for around the price of an engineering textbook. Dr Tony Ambler, chairman of electrical and computer engineering at Texas University in Austin, said: 'Students need exposure to real circuits and hardware, but the problem for engineering professors is trying to meet the increasing cost of providing real electronics with continually tighter budgets.

'NI MyDAQ is inexpensive enough for every student to have their own, plug it into their laptop at home, in the dorm or in the park and experiment with the real electronics all around them, without using lab time or lab equipment,' he added. Compact enough to fit in a student's pocket and powered by USB connection, MyDAQ provides a solution for college engineering professors who want their students to experiment during homework and beyond through a student-owned measurement, signal processing and control device.

MyDAQ bridges the gap between theory and real-world practice by providing students with eight Labview software-based instruments, including a digital multimeter (DMM), an oscilloscope, a function generator, a Bode analyser, a dynamic signal analyser, an arbitrary waveform generator, a digital reader and a digital writer. Students can use these instruments to perform many laboratory-style experiments. When combined with Labview on a PC, MyDAQ delivers a complete solution for the hands-on learning of core concepts in engineering curricula that include analogue circuits, sensor measurements and signals and systems courses.

Multiple universities throughout the US are already developing MyDAQ curricula; NI is making these and other resources available to educational institutions and students via its website. MyDAQ also integrates with the NI Multisim circuits education environment to provide a far-reaching educational platform. The device includes the eight software-based instruments, DMM cables, an audio cable and a reusable storage tray. The Labview Student Edition software and the Multisim Student Edition software are also available with the device at a discount to students.

The Haeger 824 Windowtouch-3 insertion press, available via Shear-Form Machine Tools, ensures that the correct fastener is used every time, thus improving insertion productivity and component quality. Whether a company's fabrication shop is new to hardware insertions or already inserts millions of fasteners every year, the press is intended to make life easier for the operator by ensuring that the right insertion is used in the right place. This eliminates damage to parts during the insertion process with no rejected components owing to missing fasteners.

At the same time, fast ram speeds will increase productivity. If a fabrication shop is equipped with laser punching and cutting equipment, it is sensible to have an insertion press to maintain product quality throughout the manufacturing process, according to Shear-Form. The insertion press is claimed to produce a fast payback time on the initial investment. A laser-part-locating light uses a red cross hair laser to show the operator exactly where each fastener should be inserted, while the digital camera interface can take images of the positions of fasteners on a finished component and import that information into the equipment's part program for future recall.

Haeger's Insertiongraphics software provides a visual guide to the insertion process. Full-colour component images can be displayed on the computer touch screen, with each fastener position on a component being displayed with a colour-coded flashing dot. Different colours are used to identify different types of insertions, helping to ensure that no fasteners are missing and that the correct one is inserted.

The Insertionlogic software includes a full-colour teach screen to set up the sequence in which different fasteners are inserted, a main operation screen to provide control of program parameters and program setup to enable the operator to store different job specifications and see what tooling modules to use, while a fastener library allows jobs to be set up effectively and quickly. The new insertion press is designed to apply insertions into thin-gauge materials and other applications where absolute repeatability (+/-0.5 per cent) is critical. It has a force range from 4kN to 72kN, a throat depth of 610mm and throat height of 342mm.

Other features include a multi-shuttle tooling platform for nuts, studs and stand-offs that reduces the tool-changing time to about two minutes without the need for re-alignment, the Turret Insertion System (TIS-2), which enables up to four different fasteners to be inserted in one part handling, and a positive locking station that ensures that the operator has activated the correct tool station and that there is no tool movement when the insertion takes place. The tool position feedback eliminates missing fasteners by stopping the operator from moving on to the next fastener until the current fastener is inserted.

Emerson Process Management's DeltaV digital automation system has been selected by speciality chemicals group Perstorp for a control system upgrade at its pentaerythritol processing plant in Sweden. The existing distributed control system will be replaced as part of a plant lifecycle management programme to ensure years of continued high product quality and operational efficiency. The Perstorp plant uses a chemical batch process to make pentaerythritol (penta), an additive in paint and lubricants.

The existing Emerson RS3 distributed control system, one of more than 50 RS3 and DeltaV systems installed at Perstorp plants worldwide, has provided flexible and reliable control of the process since 1984. However, the need to run the plant continuously with continued high product quality and reduced downtime prompted Perstorp to plan for the time when spares for the existing system would no longer be available. Jorgen Annell, engineering manager at Perstorp, said: 'Perstorp has decided to invest in the very latest process automation technology wherever appropriate.

'Having considered a number of alternatives, we felt that Emerson's DeltaV system provided the advance control and batching features we required, while also helping to minimise process disruption and cost during the migration procedure,' added Annell. The Perstorp migration project will involve the installation of Version 11 of Emerson's DeltaV system. The system has an ISA88 batch hierarchy, with integrated functions such as simple configuration and scheduling, advanced control and multi-stream formulations and automatic data collection.

New displays help to improve operator performance by providing the clear and quick recognition of alerts as well as rapid access to the information needed to understand the alert and act in a timely fashion. The DeltaV v11 system was also chosen thanks to its I/O on Demand functionality, including Electronic Marshalling, to help minimise installation time and costly plant downtime during the upgrade. DeltaV Electronic Marshalling eliminates up to two thirds of the wiring and connections needed by conventional marshalling cabinets by removing the need to wire I/O to specific controller I/O cards.

Instead, Perstorp will deploy 792 single-channel Characterization Modules (Charms) to relay 3,000 device signal tags to 60 DeltaV S-series I/O modules. This wiring technology is expected to reduce downtime during this upgrade by two days, helping to reduce lost production. The migration procedure will be performed by Perstorp's engineering team and is expected to take two weeks to complete. The Perstorp pentaerythritol plant in Sweden is operated by legal company Perstorp Specialty Chemicals.

Schunk is offering a range of compensation units to help robots to avoid malfunctions and damages to the tooling or part and to ensure improved efficiency and process reliability. Depending on the size of the AGE-F compensation unit, it can balance planar offsets between +/-1.5mm and +/-5mm without twisting or tilting the workpiece. By means of three different springs per size, the flexibility of the unit is defined. With an adjustment screw, the springs are preloaded and forces are fine-tuned.

This enables the unit to be adjusted to the various applications - a benefit for pneumatic compensation units, which can usually be adjusted as 'soft' or 'rigid'. Since the AGE-F works mechanically without any pneumatic elements, it is very flat and particularly suitable for applications in narrow machining areas. Instead of sliding guides, it is equipped with smoothly running roll guides. This allows the use of longer gripper fingers and an assembly that is almost twice as high.

Since roll guides are used, the unit will always work with excellent precision, according to the company. It even compensates for small compensation forces without the 'stick-slip effect'. Spring-actuated resetting pistons centre the unit automatically at a repeat accuracy of 0.003mm. For robot fastening, the AGE-F is equipped with an ISO flange-mounting interface. This enables the mounting of the PGN-plus and PZN-plus units. Two teachable magnetic proximity switches enable the monitoring of deflections in X and Y direction at two positions each. The Schunk TCU compensation unit has base plates that are connected with elastomer pads.

This enables the TCU units to compensate in X, Y and Z directions and corrects angular errors to result in a rotational compensation. An optional pneumatic locking device is available so that the compensation unit can be rigidly connected and so that the vibration of the tool or gripper can be prevented while the robot arm is moving. The TCU compensation unit is designed for the Schunk PGN-plus and PZN-plus grippers but also for the JGP and JGZ units. The compensation paths in the X, Y and Z directions are 0.4mm to 1mm, depending on the size, with compensation angles of between 1deg and 3deg.

The new Schunk AGE-K compensation and adjustment units are said to be ideal for the fast and precise assembly, palletising or insertion of workpieces at constant positioning points. The positions of these units are mechanically adjusted via a spindle drive and are then clamped. Without swinging or snapping back, the unit holds the defined position steady and moves in that direction. The compensation stroke in X and Y directions amounts to +/-4mm or +/-5mm, depending on the size of the unit.

Smoothly running cross-roller guidance also allows a permanently precise function of the unit. With the ISO flange-mounting interface, the unit can be fastened on the robot. The PGN-plus 64 to 125 and PZN-plus 64 to 125 gripper types can be mounted directly.

ICAM Technologies will release CAM-Post V19, the latest version of its NC post-processing development software targeted at companies in the aerospace and automotive sectors, at IMTS 2010. According to the company, which will be found in Booth E-3917, CAM-Post V19 is an interactive NC post-processing development and management software that interfaces with the most CAD/CAM/PLM systems, CNC controllers and machine tools.

CAM-Post V19 forms an integral part of ICAM's Integrated PSE suite of products that provides an environment for post-processing, simulation and emulation inside a single software platform. Integrated PSE also provides the means to compute in-process stock geometry to identify, list and display surface gouges, excess material, inaccessible areas and rapid-motion collisions at any time during the post-processing and verification phase.

Building on its advanced features such as path planning and rotary-axes pre-positioning/winding and developed to enhance the machining process while avoiding dwell marks, over-travelling and rotary repositioning, Integrated PSE V19 features: mill/turn simulation with material removal; built-in support for mill/turn subspindle or back-spindle; probing; simulation; RTCP and LCS support; a flexible GENER and Cerun user interface layout; and Windows XP-, Vista- and 7-compliant installation and operation.

The new Cyclo Blast coolant-through-spindle (CTS) system from MAG enables owners of Fadal vertical machining centres (VMCs) to maximise machine efficiency and extend tool life. Available from MAG as a retrofit on Fadal's line of small VMCs, Cyclo Blast is performance rated for 15,000rev/min and up to 1,000psi (68.9bar) fluid pressure, meeting or exceeding CTS tooling requirements for most applications including deep-hole drilling. The retrofit is available for all 40-taper Fadal VMCs, including the 3016 and 4020 models, regardless of the machine's original CTS setup.

The retrofit can be installed in as little as two hours and the simple design eliminates the need for an extended drawbar post, making servicing the system as quick and simple as non-CTS systems. Complete systems are available for machines not previously fitted with CTS. The Cyclo Blast system is mechanically concise and designed using rotary union technology for reliability and extended seal life. Dan Cooper, product manager for MAG Services, said: 'Leaky coolant seals can cause the drive belts to slip, resulting in rigid tapping and part-cutting issues.

'A leak-proof belt drive and head area ensures longer life for drive belts, motor mounts and other vulnerable components,' he added. A non-air-driven system, Cyclo Blast reduces shop air supply requirements because it does not require a vacuum pump to keep the post bearing cool or to clean up spilled coolant. The system includes a diverter valve to halt coolant flow instantly when the pump is shut off and to provide instant flow when restarting. There is a one-year warranty on all Cyclo Blast system replacement parts.

Cooper continued: 'This high-pressure CTS system breaks up the chips to facilitate evacuation, minimise tool overheating and extend tool life. 'The ability to control tool overheating also allows faster feed rates, higher productivity and higher surface quality,' he said. Pumping coolant directly through a machine's spindle to the cutting tool is said to boost productivity and optimise runtime by as much as 200 per cent in some applications.

The Profibus in Process seminar on 6 October will address the practical issues arising from the use of digital fieldbus communications technologies in process and hybrid industries. The event, which will be held at Endress and Hauser's Manchester facility, will cover the use of Profibus PA in key application areas such as pulp and paper, chemical, utilities, pharmaceutical and oil and gas. It will focus on the practical aspects of using Profibus in process industry applications ranging from system design and hazardous-area considerations through to maintenance and fault finding.

With 50 per cent of the seminar time dedicated to live demonstrations and most of the remainder taken up with practical advice based on actual experience, the programme will be beneficial to instrument technicians/engineers, C and I engineers and system engineers involved in the design, operation and maintenance of modern process plant. Standardised in IEC 61158, Profibus PA is a digital fieldbus designed specifically to address the needs of the process industries. It replaces, or works in conjunction with, conventional 4-20mA technology, lowering capital expenditure on installation and offering centralised access to instrumentation and field device information.

Many additional practical benefits are derived from its use, especially in hazardous areas. The seminar will be presented by fieldbus specialists Andy Verwer of Verwer Training and Consultancy, Gareth Johnson and Ian Stevens of ABB, Mark Cargill of MWH Consulting, Tony Grassby and Andy Smith of Endress and Hauser, Steve Dickinson of Pepperl and Fuchs and Mark McCormick of Siemens. Attendance is free of charge to pre-registered delegates from the user community - companies that own, operate, design, build or maintain process plant. A few free places are still available.

Intellitect Water will exhibit a new version of its tiny multi-parameter water quality monitor, the Intellisonde, at this year's Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring (WWEM) event. The new monitor will float on rivers, lakes and reservoirs, providing continuous water quality monitoring data. Tony Halker, chief executive of Intellitect Water, said: 'The new floating monitor is a logical extension to the Intellisonde range, which includes a number of in-pipe versions and a final effluent model.

'The new floating monitor will be battery powered and provide long periods of unattended monitoring,' he added. Intellitect's technology will be on display on Stand 71 during WWEM 2010 and the company will run a workshop entitled 'Final Effluent Monitoring in Real-Time' at 12:00 in Room 4 on 10 November 2010.

Eland Cables has launched a quick quote tool aimed at speeding up and simplifying the tri-rated cable-buying experience. The company's dedicated tri-rated website hosts the new tool alongside a variety of other information for tri-rated cable buyers. The quick quote tool guides customers through a simple three-step selection process using an interactive table displaying Eland's range of tri-rated cable sizes and colours.

Landia's Chopper Pumps have eliminated a time-consuming clogging problem at OK Snacks, where fats and pieces of pig skin used to manufacture pork scratchings were causing equipment to break down. Landia's consultancy advice resulted in the installation of a reception tank where an external Chopper Pump was placed near the bottom. A recirculation system was also introduced, which allows the Landia pump to chop and then re-circulate the difficult-to-handle medium through a nozzle in the tank.

After recirculation and chopping, the homogenous mixture is pumped to a tanker truck. Since the installation by Landia, there have not been any breakdowns. This is thanks to a specially designed knife system that is clearly separated from the pump casing and the impeller. As chopping takes place before the pork-scratching medium enters the pump, the piping, casing, impeller and sealing system remains unworn and undamaged.

Verder Pumps South Africa (VPSA) has upgraded the thickener transfer pumps as part of a concentrator upgrade project for a precious-metal producer near Rustenburg. The company supplied its VF125 pumps, which are able to pump slurry with 1,7 specific gravity and at a flow rate of 60m3/hr over a distance of 690m, with a height of 30m.The VF125 thickener pumps resulted in cost savings and increased production capacity, according to VPSA consultant Daan Louw.

Process engineering company DRA (then Vhumbanani) was appointed as project engineer on the project and approached VPSA to assist in the design of six thickener transfer pumps. According to Thys de Beer, DRA project engineer, the VPSA pumps are able to transfer slurry without the need for a second pump station - something that would come at a significant cost to the mine and would probably take more time to process. There are currently 24 VF125 pumps operating at 37kWh at the platinum processing plant. The design for these pumps included installing pulsation dampeners to help decrease the pressure build-up in the pipeline, according to Louw.

The build-up in the hoses is eliminated by using rubber Verderflex hoses that are designed to increase life expectancy and production performance. The Verderflex hose pumps are designed to handle tough operating conditions; they are said to reduce downtime, decrease maintenance costs and provide simple, reliable operation in difficult pumping environments. Robday Rustenburg provided the maintenance for the VF125 pumps to ensure efficient operation.

Security is the most important factor for customers in China when choosing an industrial network, according to the results of a recent user survey by IMS Research. Market analyst Alex Hong said: 'In high-risk industries, such as chemicals or gas stations, the security of network connection is always the highest priority. 'Any small delay or mishandling of data can potentially lead to disastrous accidents, apart from increasing maintenance costs,' added Hong.

According to the survey, the next most important factors are the speed of the network and good diagnostics. This is mainly a result of demand from manufacturers to increase production efficiency and reduce the frequency of maintenance. The survey also revealed that a large proportion of people will design, install and maintain industrial networks themselves rather than choose an external company for support. This is particularly true for network maintenance.

Nearly three quarters of respondents chose this option because it reduces the time lost to network breakdown. With regard to network type, there is no obvious current transition from Fieldbus to Ethernet. Although the use of Ethernet is expected to grow faster than that of Fieldbus, the survey indicated that it will not replace it within the next three years. This is largely because the Fieldbus market in China is very mature and stable. Existing Fieldbus technology can meet the needs of users, so that, in the near term, Ethernet will supplement, rather than replace, it.

National Instruments (NI) has released the NI MyDAQ portable instrumentation device, which is targeted at students taking university engineering courses. MyDAQ advances engineering education by making it possible for students to experience engineering outside of the laboratory, in their dorm room or anywhere they choose, at any time. The device is designed by NI and features analogue circuits from Texas Instruments, including data converters, amplifiers and interface and power management components.

MyDAQ hardware integrates with the NI Labview graphical development software to help reverse the trend of rising educational costs by giving students hands-on interaction with real analogue circuits, sensor measurements and signal processing for around the price of an engineering textbook. Dr Tony Ambler, chairman of electrical and computer engineering at Texas University in Austin, said: 'Students need exposure to real circuits and hardware, but the problem for engineering professors is trying to meet the increasing cost of providing real electronics with continually tighter budgets.

'NI MyDAQ is inexpensive enough for every student to have their own, plug it into their laptop at home, in the dorm or in the park and experiment with the real electronics all around them, without using lab time or lab equipment,' he added. Compact enough to fit in a student's pocket and powered by USB connection, MyDAQ provides a solution for college engineering professors who want their students to experiment during homework and beyond through a student-owned measurement, signal processing and control device. MyDAQ bridges the gap between theory and real-world practice by providing students with eight Labview software-based instruments, including a digital multimeter (DMM), an oscilloscope, a function generator, a Bode analyser, a dynamic signal analyser, an arbitrary waveform generator, a digital reader and a digital writer.

Students can use these instruments to perform many laboratory-style experiments. When combined with Labview on a PC, MyDAQ delivers a complete solution for the hands-on learning of core concepts in engineering curricula that include analogue circuits, sensor measurements and signals and systems courses. Multiple universities throughout the US are already developing MyDAQ curricula; NI is making these and other resources available to educational institutions and students via its website.

MyDAQ also integrates with the NI Multisim circuits education environment to provide a far-reaching educational platform. The device includes the eight software-based instruments, DMM cables, an audio cable and a reusable storage tray.
The Labview Student Edition software and the Multisim Student Edition software are also available with the device at a discount to students.

Rotalign Ultra Live Trend, a short-term continuous monitoring concept from Ludeca, helps manufacturers to determine the relative positional changes between coupled machines during run-up or shutdown. It utilises the Rotalign five-axis sensor to monitor continuously, in real time and simultaneously, both the vertical and horizontal parallel and angular displacement of rotating machinery, from cold to hot condition or vice versa. By applying these measured values, the machines can be precisely aligned to reflect normal operating conditions.

This is claimed to result in lower energy costs through reduced power consumption; the increased mechanical life of bearings, seals, shafts and couplings; reduced bearing and coupling temperatures; the ability to avoid the breaking or cracking of shafts; reduced vibration; and an increased mean time between failures.

Rutronik is offering three wireless control receivers from Infineon Technologies that are ideal for automotive applications such as remote keyless entry systems and tyre pressure monitoring systems. The TDA5240, TDA5235 and TDA5225 devices provide multi-band support (315MHz, 434MHz, 868MHz and 915MHz) for worldwide coverage and are also suitable for use in automotive remote-start, control, status and alarm functions. Industrial and consumer systems will also benefit from the highly integrated wireless control devices.

The TDA5240, TDA5235 and TDA5225 are successors to the TDA5230/31 receiver range. Two of the devices include the powerful digital data processing introduced with the TDA5230/31, with overall performance and feature set enhancements. Functionalities such as infrared filter (the optional usage of an external filter is possible) and level shifters are now integrated. Only a few external components are needed, leading to a reduce bill of materials. An integrated low-noise amplifier (LNA) concept provides the system developers with enhanced design alternatives.

Depending on the application needs, this LNA can extend the system range or eliminate the need for an external LNA to reduce system complexity and costs. The high sensitivity of the new range (typically -119dBm for FSK and -116dBm for ASK) is intended to improve digital signal processing. The TDA5240/35/25 devices provide a data rate with several embedded encodings and modulation schemes specified at up to 112kchip/s (FSK). System designers can use the multi-band, multi-channel receivers for systems operating at the 315/434/868/915MHz frequency bands, with one crystal for all supported frequency bands.

A high-resolution sigma-delta fractional-N PLL synthesiser provides a fine multi-channel resolution of 10.5Hz. Multi-protocol handling enables flexible designs based on one platform. The receivers are able to handle data from both RKE and TPMS transmitters, even when they have different modulation, bit rate and data format. Therefore, only one device can be used for multiple applications (RKE, TPMS and remote start, for example) where today there is the need for two.

Mesa International has released a white paper that illustrates a systematic approach for achieving the measurable business results required by plant managers. The white paper, entitled 'Harnessing the Power of Metrics to Diagnose and Solve Business Problems', provides both a conceptual framework and real-world best practices, enabling manufacturers to achieve - and demonstrate - performance improvements.

Steve Kaplan, global MES administrator for Murata Power Solutions and co-leader of the Mesa Metrics Working Group, said: 'Management often demands that operating groups or plant managers demonstrate performance improvements in terms of business improvements. 'There are so many nuances to the process of diagnosing and solving problems. 'For example, a supplier might think its shipping process is running smoothly when it is really triggering customer problems. 'Mutual supplier/customer metrics' analysis can enable corrective action.

'The team that assembled this paper provides a range of real-world examples such as this and identifies common best practices for addressing such issues,' he added. The paper goes beyond the theory of why and how metrics work to improve performance and delivers actual examples and best practices, according to the company. In addition to a series of checklists - common metrics aligned to various job titles or goals that might appear on a dashboard, for example - the paper includes actual examples of operational issues and how they link to financial results.

The paper also identifies key problems and the metrics that actually reflect those outcomes; diagnoses performance issues using metrics; identifies deviations, trends and dynamic changes; provides preventative and corrective approaches; and looks at goal setting. Kaplan continued: 'The paper will provide guidance to practitioners with a range of experience with metrics. 'It covers the basics for those just learning about manufacturing metrics and for advanced metrics users provides ample examples that clearly illustrate how to apply metrics to improving business performance, all written from the manufacturer's point of view,' he said.

ABB will showcase instrumentation and analytical equipment at the Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring (WWEM) 2010 exhibition on 10-11 November at the International Centre in Telford. The company, which will be found on stands 107 and 108, will exhibit a range of products, including the new Aztec series of analysers designed for potable water treatment. Built on ABB's new analytical instrument platform, the Aztec 600 aluminium, iron, manganese, phosphate and ammonia colorimetric monitors offer enhanced accuracy with simple operation and maintenance.

The Aztec range incorporates features such as automatic two-point calibration, a self-cleaning functionality and automatic sample dilution. The inherent product design and auto-calibrating features mean that maintenance is typically only required annually, compared with every three months for some units. Also on display will be ABB's Mcertified Watermaster flowmeter. Designed specifically for the water and wastewater market, it features an octagonal flow sensor and the company's Verimaster verification system. Accompanying it will be the Aquamaster GSM-SMS electromagnetic flowmeter.

Based on the same technology as a mobile phone, the Aquamaster can be contacted using a PC or through a mobile phone via SMS messaging, providing operators with instant remote access to accurate flow data. These will be joined by ABB's range of pressure and temperature measurement products for use around water and wastewater treatment processes, along with examples of the company's recorder products including the SM500F, a field-mountable videographic data recorder. Capable of being installed anywhere, such as a panel, wall or pipe, with no additional cost, the SM500F takes recording out of the control room and offers users localised access to operational data.

Its fully sealed IP66 and Nema 4X enclosure provides protection against water and dust ingress. The stand will also feature an interactive display demonstrating how ABB's technologies can be integrated to help monitor and control water supplies. The display features various examples from ABB's instrumentation, drives, motors and low-voltage product ranges, all controlled by the company's latest PLC automation technology with Profibus and Ethernet communications technology. ABB specialists will speak at the main seminar and at two practical workshops, covering some of the latest issues affecting the water and wastewater industries.

Tony Hoyle, ABB UK flow product manager, will present a seminar (from 12:00 until 12:30 on 10-11 November) and a workshop (from 14:30 until 15:00 on 10 November in Room 5) on Mcerts. The sessions will cover topics such as EPR/PPC permits, operator monitoring assessment (OMA) and the self monitoring of effluent flow. The workshop will cover regulatory flow monitoring requirements and verification, while giving a review of the progress made on these fronts in the UK's industrial and water sectors. The second workshop, on 11 November from 13:30 until 14:00 in Room 6, will be presented by Steve Donnelly of ABB's Continuous Gas Analysis business.

The seminar will provide advice to plant operators that monitor emissions to atmosphere, covering issues such as the importance of selecting the best continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS), the maintenance and operational best practice of CEMSs and how to meet the demand of current UK and European legislation. ABB manufactures and supplies a range of equipment for controlling, measuring and monitoring water and wastewater treatment processes, for both utilities and industrial applications. These products are backed up by the company's service team, which provides a range of support options including verification and onsite support contracts.

Optimising wastewater treatment can result in significant cost savings, according to Dr Michael Haeck of Hach Lange. The operators of wastewater treatment plants constantly seek new opportunities to improve plant efficiency and environmental performance. In order to achieve this, they need to be able to maintain the effectiveness of the treatment process, producing a consistent discharge within consent limits while minimising inputs such as energy, labour and raw materials.

As technology advances, new opportunities materialise and considerable benefits can be obtained from the latest sensors coupled with real-time controllers. Improvements in the accuracy and reliability of sensors, coupled with a new facility providing information about the sensors' performance, in addition to the measurement itself, means that real-time control (RTC) has become very reliable. This, in turn, means that it has become an attractive option in a number of applications.

Hach Lange has developed a set of standardised control modules, enabling the application of process improvements and optimisation strategies without the need for complex programming and expensive customisation. In combination with the company's sensors, nutrient removal and sludge treatment processes can now be optimised in order to achieve savings in aeration energy and chemical consumption, even on small wastewater treatment facilities. Standalone wastewater treatment optimisation solution (WTOS) control modules are now available to optimise individual treatment processes at treatment plants.

These can be integrated into an existing plant structure and currently include the chemical elimination of phosphorus and dissolved oxygen adjustment according to the actual NH4-N load in an aeration tank. Control modules for sludge management as sludge retention time controller or de-sludging controller will be added in the near future. In addition to the standalone modules mentioned above, it is also possible to combine different RTC modules to optimise an entire plant, as outlined in the trial below.

Termed an 'enterprise solution', this activity involves a review of the plant as a whole and the creation of customised specifications for the application of different control modules for nitrification, sludge retention time, methanol dosing and/or chemical phosphate removal to achieve the best overall performance. In recent years, improvements in sensor technology have focused on greater resolution and accuracy in combination with longer intervals between calibration or service. However, in order for an RTC system to operate effectively it is also necessary for sensors and analysers to be able to provide information on the quality of the signal and the service status.

Hach Lange has filed a patent application for this facility under the brand name Prognosys. This provides the RTC control modules with a continuous indication of a sensor's status so that, if predetermined conditions (such as sensor failure, outside calibration, service overdue or drift) occur, the RTC automatically adopts an alternative control strategy, which might be a typical weekly and diurnal flow profile that has been stored in the system's memory. As outlined above, the measurement technology for phosphate has advanced considerably in recent years in tandem with a reduction in capital and operational costs.

As a result, an easy-to-integrate RTC module in the phosphate removal process can deliver payback periods of less than one year. The measurement of phosphate levels in combination with an RTC system can be utilised to manage the dosing of precipitant salts. This precipitates the phosphate and facilitates sedimentation and removal. Accurate continuous monitoring is necessary to ensure that sufficient dosing is applied to remove the phosphate and that excessive dosing does not take place.

Overdosing would be undesirable on three counts: first, from an environmental perspective the objective is to minimise the amount of iron being added that could remain in the effluent; second, ferric sulphate is expensive and excessive dosing would be costly; and third, the amount of precipitation sludge should be kept to a minimum because sludge disposal can represent a significant cost. The RTC system features the continuous automatic calculation of the 'ss' value (overdosing rate), which is required to calculate the right amount of precipitant dosing for open-loop control.

The calculated 'ss' value takes into account the percentage of phosphate that has to be removed. The less phosphate there is, the more difficult removal becomes and the more precipitant is required to eliminate the same amount. For example, more precipitant is required to lower phosphate concentrations from 4mg per litre to 2mg per litre than from 6mg per litre to 4mg per litre. Wastewater treatment plants operating an open-loop real-time control system for phosphate removal have demonstrated considerable savings. A UK works, for example, has saved approximately 37 per cent of the ferric sulphate cost and 57 per cent of caustic chemical costs, while a plant in Italy has generated 50 per cent cost savings in comparison with a constant dosing system, which represents a seven-month payback.

If closed-loop control is applied, the RTC system requires a measurement of phosphate levels immediately after dosing. As a result, the phosphate concentration can be held at a fixed desired level and the control performance is monitored. The results of a trial investigating the benefits of an RTC system on the management of the activated sludge process (ASP) have been published by Thornton, Sunner and Haeck. Managed by MWH UK and employing monitoring instruments from Hach Lange, the trial employed online sensors and control algorithms to optimise the operation of the ASP, leading to greater efficiency and sustainability.

Undertaken at full scale, the trial assessed the benefits of RTC at a 250,000 population equivalent (PE) works in the UK and consisted of two identical ASPs (each with four lanes) configured as a four-stage Bardenpho plant with methanol addition in the secondary anoxic zone. Standard aeration lanes (fixed DO set points with fluctuating NH4 effluent concentration) were compared with lanes running an RTC system operating variable DO set points based on actual load. The RTC lanes deployed extra sensors for dissolved oxygen, ammonium and nitrate.

The trial demonstrated that the RTC system was able to respond quickly to ammonium influent spikes and to maintain a stable effluent ammonium level. The trial also showed that the RTC system was able to reduce methanol consumption by 50 per cent and energy (measured as air flow) by 20 per cent. The system has now operated successfully for more than a year. The Hach Lange optimisation system combines process measurement technology with advanced RTC control modules to provide savings in operational costs at wastewater treatment plants, while maintaining compliance with consent values.

Recent advances in sensors, analysers and controllers mean that wastewater treatment no longer has to be managed on a 'worst-case scenario' basis. Processes can now be monitored and adjusted instantaneously to maximise efficiency and improve process stability. Cost reduction is a key benefit, but the ability to reduce energy consumption is also becoming an important objective in many countries.