Features

Contrinex’s new low-cost weld-immune inductives prove their value to a valve manufacturer

A valve manufacturer which uses spot welders in their manufacturing process trusts Contrinex’s new lower-cost 600 series Weld-Immune Inductive Sensors to provide reliable detection and switching. The sensors are used to prevent misalignment during the welding assembly process and need to withstand the exceptionally high currents used to weld aluminium parts and the strong magnetic fields generated by the spot welders.

Contrinex’s 600 Series Weld-Immune inductive sensors, available from PLUS Automation, are immune to electromagnetic interference with can cause unprotected sensors to malfunction or fail. The new, cost-effective, highly reliable and robust sensor range provides best-in-class performance including equal sensing of steel and aluminium targets ‘Factor 1’.

Customer application

Resistance welding, which is widely utilised by automotive, aerospace, electronics and white goods manufacturers, can kill inductive sensors. The strong magnetic fields generated by spot-welding processes cause unprotected sensors to malfunction or fail, resulting in costly downtime and high maintenance costs.

Inductive proximity sensors are heavily relied on for detection and positioning in automated assembly equipment. Industrial designers need devices that can withstand the harsh environment of a high-speed welding cell. In this particular application, the sensors are located near 50 Hz AC-welding equipment, where field strengths can read up to 40 mT or in medium-frequency (MF) resistance welding cells, where currents can be as high as 15kA. Therefore to ensure system reliability, sensors with strong weld-immunity performance are essential.

The industrial valve manufacturer, who uses MF resistance welding to join two aluminium parts, faces an especially demanding challenge. Aluminium’s lower electrical resistance means it requires welding currents two to three times higher than steel of equivalent thickness. Inductive sensors that monitor the position of the components before welding, therefore, require proven immunity to high-strength weld-field interference.

Customer Solution

Designers specify Contrinex Weld-Immune inductive sensors for positions directly exposed to electromagnetic fields. Sensing aluminium targets during an automated medium-frequency resistance-welding process is the application for inductive sensors from the new 600 Series weld-immune sensor family. The sensor features Contrinex’s ground-breaking weld-immune technology as well as true ‘Factor 1’ sensing where targets in steel and aluminium are detected equally effectively with no reduction in sensing distance.

In the welding cell, a high-speed robot gripper loads a valve body to the assembly jig, where a small pneumatic cylinder locates it longitudinally. The M8-diameter inductive sensor, located alongside the lower welding electrode, confirms that the body is correctly positioned and initiates the welding sequence, during which a current of around 15 kA flows through the components being welded. After welding, the assembly is ejected and the process repeats.

The low-cost 600 Series weld-immune sensors do not have the long sensing distance or extreme robustness of their infamous 700 Series sisters, but they are still rugged with a metal housing and a temperature-resistant sensing face in a high-strength PEEK polymer. The strong magnetic field from the welding equipment does not affect the sensor’s performance and its 2 mm sensing distance from an M8 sensor is more than adequate for the application. As a true ‘Factor 1’ sensor, no correction factor is required for the aluminium target, reducing the chance of an accidental collision during assembly.

To help protect sensors exposed to high-levels of weld-spatter, an ACTIVSTONE coating is available on both the 600 and 700 Series weld-immune sensors. The high-performance ceramic layer protects all external surfaces of the sensor, including the fixing nuts preventing spatter accumulation. ACTIVSTONE coated mounting brackets and spatter-resistant shroudings to prevent cable damage are also available.

The best-in-class service life provided by the Contrinex sensors, especially in tough conditions, is ideal for automated welding cells with high-strength magnetic fields due to their robustness and low maintenance requirements.

Powelectrics Multiplexer allows mixed analogue and digital signals into a single IIoT device

Powelectrics has released another new development to its range of IIoT solutions! This mux board allows 8 digital inputs into each of the 4 channels on our well-proven Metron4 telemetry hardware.

This new multiplexer now allows:

  • 4 analogue
  • 8 digital + 3 analogue
  • 16 digital + 2 analogue
  • 24 digital and 1 analogue
  • 32 digital

This is ideal for applications where a mix of analogue/digital signals into one device is perfect, such as pumping stations. Data would then be visible on Powelectrics MetronView cloud, visible on any web -enabled device, to unlimited authorised users, within an access hierarchy system.

Powelectrics is not a shopfront for third-party developers. It offer sover 30 years of genuine expertise and practical experience in sensing, instrumentation and communications and can guide customers through the technologies available.

To learn more about Powelectrics’ robust, reliable and flexible IIoT solutions, visit the company’s brand new web site: www.powelectrics.co.uk

Get in touch with Powelectrics with any queries you have or applications you would like to discuss by calling +44 1827 310 666, emailing sales@powelectrics.co.uk or using this contact form.

element14 Community Launches ‘Just Encase’ Design Challenge

element14, an Avnet community, is harnessing the power of Hammond Enclosures to create projects designed to withstand even the harshest environments with the “Just Encase” design challenge. This challenge encourages the element14 Community to create a new design built to work reliably even in the face of extreme heat, cold, water or humidity.

Engineers have to take the environment into account when building their designs,” said Dianne Kibbey, Global Head of Community and Social Media for the element14 Community. “This challenge is a great way for designers to test their skills and learn about the benefits of high-quality enclosures in protecting their projects from the elements.”

“Just Encase” design challenge is open to everyone. Members of the element14 Community will compete to design the most creative project built to withstand hazardous weather using a custom kit provided by Hammond, which includes Hammond cable glands, a water-tight ABS enclosure, a polycarbonate enclosure, a selection of thermocouples, environmental sensors, and load cells, plus an Arduino MKR WAN 1300.

Applications close on October 31 and the 20 best challengers will be announced on November 15. Then, these challengers will be invited to use the above mentioned kits from Hammond to create a project designed to withstand even the harshest environments. Participants will have until February 1 to blog about and build their projects. Winners will be announced in February 2022. Example applications could include:

  • Snow level monitoring in a cold area
  • Machine usage in food production areas
  • Predictive maintenance in damp conditions
  • Beachfront sun monitoring

The first-place challenger will win a PlayStation 5, a deluxe earthquake survival kit, a survival shelter as well as a vehicle fire extinguisher, all prizes worth $1,050. The runner up will receive a deluxe earthquake survival kit, a survival shelter and a vehicle fire extinguisher. All other participants who blog about the build process and outcome of the challenge will receive a vehicle first aid kit.

To learn more about element14 and the “Just Encase” challenge, please visit here.

AMA Innovation Award 2022: Applications now open

The AMA Association for Sensor and Measurement Technology (AMA) invites researchers and developers to apply for the AMA Innovation Award 2022. The search is on for innovative research and development results in sensor and measurement technology. The deadline for entries is January 26, 2022.

Individuals and development teams are invited to apply with innovative research and development solutions that demonstrate recognisable market relevance. The AMA Innovation Award carries prize money of 10,000 euros. In addition, companies can apply for the special “Young Enterprise” award if they have been on the market for no longer than five years, employ fewer than 50 people and generate annual sales of less than 10 million euros. The winner in this category will receive a free exhibition booth at SENSOR+TEST 2022.

For 22 years, the prestigious AMA Innovation Award has been presented to the developers themselves and not to the institutions behind them. The jurors from universities, research institutions and companies place particular emphasis on scientific achievement, the degree of innovation of the development and the expected opportunities in the market.

“We invite creative minds from Germany and abroad to apply and present their own developments to a broad and interested audience of experts,” says jury chairman Andreas Schütze of Saarland University. “We are looking forward to applications from well-known companies and institutions as well as from newcomers, who can additionally apply for the special category ‘Young Enterprises’.”

Conditions of participation and tender documents for the AMA Innovation Award 2021 and the special category ‘Young Enterprise’ as well as brochures with the award winners and all applications from previous years are available free of charge at: https://www.ama-sensorik.de/en/science/ama-innovation-award/.

Deadline for entries is January 26, 2022, and the nominations and special award winners will be announced at the AMA press conference on March 10, 2022. The winners of the AMA Innovation Award 2022 will be honoured at the opening ceremony of SENSOR+TEST on May 10, 2022 in Nuremberg.

The role of gas analysis in clean air strategies to reduce carbon emissions

International action on the climate, such as the 2016 Paris Agreement, has increased awareness of the effect of greenhouse gases, driving industrial plant operators to reduce emissions and find more ecologically responsible ways of operating.

Reducing carbon emissions to the atmosphere has become an area of growing importance for operators. Sensitivity towards the issue has been raised by the introduction of increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

Gas analysis delivers an effective solution for these efforts, supporting measurement of harmful emissions, and by improving efficiency to ensure fewer emissions are generated in the first place.

In this article, we’ll look at three main process areas that support a clean air strategy: combustion efficiency, gas clean-up (including carbon capture processes), and emissions monitoring.

Combustion control solutions

Combustion reactions mix fuel with oxygen in a fired heater to generate heat energy for a process. They typically need a significant amount of fuel, create potential safety hazards, and generate harmful emissions including carbon dioxide (CO2).

Running fired heaters with high excess air – as happened before gas analyzer technology – avoids creating unsafe conditions that could lead to an explosion, but is highly inefficient, increasing fuel consumption.

Excess oxygen (O2) also combines with nitrogen and sulfur in the fuel to produce unwanted emissions such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulfur (SOx).

Accurate measurement of O2 and combustibles such as carbon monoxide (CO) helps to optimise the ratio between the air and fuel creates a more efficient reaction.

Controlling combustion in this way benefits plants looking to meet environmental standards requirements. Fuel consumption is reduced, resulting in fewer emissions, a reduction in NOx, SOx and CO, and a decrease in CO2.

Zirconia-based sensing technology is long established as a solution for O2 monitoring in combustion, with reliable, accurate results and a fast response to changing conditions. Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) technology provides an even faster measurement, particularly for CO, and gives an average measurement across the measurement path, rather than the result at a single point. However, since TDL sensing is highly specific to the gas being measured, separate analyzers are required for O2 and CO.

Gas analysis also supports greater process efficiency in many other applications. An efficient process reaction reduces the amount of harmful emissions likely to be generated.

Gas clean-up and carbon capture

Gas analysis is important in gas cleaning, the removal of harmful substances from process gases that might otherwise be emitted by the plant.

Typical examples of gas clean-up processes include DeNOx (ammonia slip) treatment, flue gas desulfurization, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Capturing and storing CO2 ensures it is not released into the atmosphere. This results in a cleaner environment, and allows the CO2 to be used in other processes. Three different methods exist: pre-combustion, oxyfuel, and post-combustion CCS.

Post-combustion CCS takes place when CO2 is removed from the flue gas after fossil fuels have been burned. Oxyfuel CCS produces a flue gas consisting almost entirely of CO2 and steam by reacting the fuel source with almost pure O2 – this means flue gas can be stored/sequestered without significant pretreatment.

Both these methods can be used in new plants, or retrofitted to existing ones.

A third method, pre-combustion CCS, is performed before burning the fuel, and converts the fuel into a mixture of hydrogen and CO2. This is difficult to retrofit, so is better for newly built facilities.

Whichever method is used, the captured CO2 is then compressed into a liquid and transported for storage.

As countries look to meet their responsibilities under Paris Agreement carbon reduction targets, the use of industrial-level CCS is likely to grow significantly, as is the requirement for accurate gas analysis to support the processes.

Monitoring emissions

Reducing carbon emissions has been a key issue for many countries in recent years, with legislation limiting the amounts of greenhouse gases – CO2, CH4 and nitrous oxide (N2O) – that can be emitted. NOx, SOx, and CO are also seen as key pollutants.

Monitoring flue gas emissions helps determine the process efficiency and protect the environment, and demonstrates that plant operators are complying with the necessary regulations.

To ensure compliance, a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) is required to measure all the necessary components of the flue gas. This must be capable of offering the highest sensitivity and accuracy when dealing with multiple measurements for pollutants.

Any gas analysis system must also meet MCERTS and QAL1 certifications to comply with regulatory criteria.

Cleaner energy sources

Cleaner energy sources, such as hydrogen, are becoming increasingly attractive to many industries – hydrogen gas (H2) does not contain carbon, so cannot form CO2 as a byproduct of combustion.

Plants that produce hydrogen are ramping up output to meet increased demand. The purity of the hydrogen they produce affects its quality as a fuel, and this is where gas analysis again plays a major role.

Depending on the manufacturing method, the most common contaminants will be O2, CO and CO2. All three of these can be monitored by gas analyzers to ensure product purity.

A cleaner future

Whether it is used to ensure more efficient processes, to support the safe removal of pollutants, or to monitor the remaining emissions that are output to the atmosphere, gas analysis plays an essential role in cleaner plant and refinery operations.

Additionally, it is certain that gas analysis technology will be essential to the production of current and future cleaner energy sources.

A wide range of sensing technologies is needed to achieve all the necessary goals of a clean air strategy in order to ensure the best-fit and most cost-effective solution for each application.

By combining all three stages of the clean air strategy outlined here, plants and refineries can fully address the impact of their operations on the wider environment, and contribute fully to the creation of a world with cleaner air.

Find out more about the three-stage clean air strategy at servomex.com

Fluke launches breakthrough, simple to use Power Quality Analyser for error-free measurements

Fluke has today announced the launch of the 1770 series Power Quality Data logger/trouble shooter, the first instrument built on Fluke’s future platform for Power Quality Analysers with big gains in both form factor and operability.

Wide range of applications and markets

Typical applications for the Fluke 1770 series include routine maintenance and troubleshooting of equipment and power supply problems, energy surveys and optimisation and new equipment installation. These measurements are often required in industrial and commercial facilities, universities, hospitals, electrical service providers, and service organisations to ensure continuous, safe, efficient operation of the electrical system. Its intuitive operation and automated connection verification make the 1770 ideal for use by professional engineers and less experienced users working in equipment installation, commissioning and servicing.

Simple, reliable and safe measurements

The 1770 measures, and automatically captures key power quality parameters including harmonics, dips, swells, unbalance, inrush current and more giving users the assurance that they are getting the right measurement results every time. The bright, large touch screen display coupled with physical navigation buttons and an optimised user interface means it is easy to change settings, manage logging sessions or investigate data in the field whether located inside a dark building or in direct sunlight—even with gloves on.

Guided setup functionality gives users quick, fool-proof setup every time including the ability to auto-correct measurement connections digitally without having to change the physical probe connections, which improves the operators’ safety. Custom views can be set up to get the most important tests and data quickly, making it faster and easier to perform tests and allowing less experienced technicians to make field measurements with confidence.

The device is powered directly from the measured circuit so there is no need for users to find a nearby power outlet or worry that logged data will be lost by a power cord being unplugged.

Cost saving convenience

The 1770 series utilises common accessories from existing Fluke products including voltage test leads, current probes, hanger kit etc. offering users cost savings by being able to use them on multiple instruments, and supports Fluke’s Energy Analyse PC software application, providing the same great access to data that customers are used to, with a cleaner user interface and easier reporting.

Convenient data transfer

The 1770 provides flexible data transfer including PC to USB, Wi-Fi, ethernet and remotely via mobile network, without interrupting a logging session, power quality or energy survey.

Jai Gandhi, Sales Program Manager at Fluke says: “The new 1770 series of power quality analysers sets a new benchmark in plug and play data logging and troubleshooting of power quality and disturbances with the reassurance that even users with little experience can collect and analyse meaningful data”.

For more information, about 1770 series Power Quality Data logger/trouble shooter, please go to: https://www.fluke.com/en-gb/product/electrical-testing/power-quality/1773-1775-1777

Contrinex inductives presence check inserts in automotive aircon plastic mouldings

The automotive industry demands parts that are verified to be 100% correct and therefore a supplier of injection moulded parts trusts Contrinex inductives from their Extra Distance 500 Series to check that threaded inserts have been correctly mounted inside moulded plastic parts.

Customer Application

To enable the fast screw assembly required by automotive plants it is common to embed threaded inserts, typically made of brass, into plastic mouldings.

These nut-like elements are crucial to ensuring the correct final assembly process of the car and so the supplier must be able to ensure they are all present. It is not uncommon for automotive companies to return several days’ worth of production parts to a supplier and levy substantial fines if even a minor error is found.

The design of the moulded plastic parts which are used in automotive air filtration systems is problematic because it prevents visual checking the presence of the inserts and so a reliable test mechanism had to be found.

Customer Solution

Contrinex DW-AS-513-M30-002 Extra Distance inductives, available from PLUS Automation, are used in a checking fixture to detect if any inserts are missing or incorrectly mounted. The solution exploits the unique sensing capabilities of the Condist technology in these 500 Series sensors, utilising their longer sensing distances and better stability to environmental influences. The long operating distance and high sensing stability enable the detection of small inserts through a thick layer of plastic.

The test fixture is designed to accept a finished moulding and is equipped with sensors at each of the insert locations. Each sensor can detect the presence of the corresponding metal insert through moulded plastic and so confirm compliance with the specifications. The sensor’s PNP Normally Open output provides a logical GO – NO GO feed to a micro-controller.

Fanalca selects Infor CloudSuite WMS to support its growth strategy

Infor, the industry cloud company, today announced Fanalca (Fábrica Nacional de Carrocerías) in Colombia has selected Infor CloudSuite WMS warehouse management system. The Infor solution implemented in the cloud will help the automotive assembly company achieve its business goals. The solution was sold by Cerca Technology, Infor´s channel partner and strategic partner in the warehouse management sector.

 Fanalca, a leading company in the automotive sector, was looking for a software solution to increase efficiency, guarantee quality of services, optimise resources, process information in real time, improve decision-making, reduce process times, and improve customer satisfaction.

“Infor WMS was selected jointly with Cerca Technology, a leading IT implementation organisation. Infor WMS will be implemented to improve operations in our distribution centre where Honda spare parts are handled in Colombia. This initiative is part of the “Link Program,” which has the goals to improve user experience and increase service quality for our customers,” states German Guzman, Honda operations director at Fanalca.

The project

  • “Link” is the name of the digital transformation program Fanalca has set up, with several aspects including analytics, distribution centre management, inventory control, demand planning, and customer relationship management (CRM).
  • Main challenges: detailed tracking of all movements in the distribution centre, less decision-making by operative staff, centralised management of all resources and activities in the distribution centre, guarantee access to accurate data to make decisions and centralise operations.
  • Fanalca has a customer network that demands services and spare parts, and 30,000 units are delivered daily (spare parts, batteries, and oil products) through its logistic services.
  • Project will be implemented in the distribution centre at Yumbo, Cauca Valley, and will be integrated with the existing vertical warehouse management solution. 
  • Two key reasons for selecting Infor CloudSuite WMS were to have a robust solution that grows jointly with the operation, and because of the deep know-how of the implementation team.

“Fanalca is leading a very important digital transformation process, and we are proud to be part of this project by implementing Infor WMS to manage processes in the spare parts distribution centre. With this implementation, Fanalca will have an enhanced logistics development level and will be able to capitalise all commercial opportunities that impact service,” states Paola Quiroga, Cerca Technology sales manager.

“Logistics in modern distribution centres are complex operations that go far beyond simple storage and transportation. This means automated workflows and accurate tracking of individual activities on any given account are vital. This drives immediate return on investment as well as positioning companies such as Fanalca for growth,” states Adriana Gutierrez, Infor Latam channel director.

Farnell launches new sensors-to-software solutions featuring NI and Omega

Farnell, an Avnet Company and global distributor of electronic components, products and solutions, has introduced new configuration-based solutions featuring high-quality data acquisition software and hardware from NI coupled with market-leading sensors from Omega. The competitively priced solutions reduce the need to research system compatibility, saving customers time and money in temperature monitoring, reliability testing and product-lifecycle evaluation. Farnell is the only global distributor offering these specific solutions.

Farnell’s team of test and measurement experts have paired commonly used hardware and software combinations featuring NI and Omega products to guarantee system compatibility and ease the product selection process. By using the recommended testing set ups, engineers can simulate real-life environments to ensure product specifications, such as a longer life and higher reliability, are achieved. Farnell also offers bespoke customisation services and technical support from its team of in-house experts to meet the individual needs of customers and provide faster access to information for troubleshooting.

NI is a market leading manufacturer of automated test and measurement systems that help engineers solve the world’s toughest challenges. The company’s software-connected systems offer limitless opportunities and can easily integrate existing tools and workflows, leveraging data across multiple applications to drive results. All of Farnell’s sensors-to-software solutions feature NI’s quality data acquisition hardware and FlexLogger data logging software, which are ideal for reliability testing and product-lifecycle evaluation applications.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Interchangeability: The modular, 1-slot chassis allows the measurement system to be easily changed by simply exchanging modules for different applications. The chassis and software can be reused with any of the 80+ other CompactDAQ compatible C Series modules from NI.
  • User-friendly: The FlexLogger data logging software can configure a custom user interface with graphs, charts, and alarm indicators. The system can test numerous variables at once, speeding up the decision-making process when compared with equivalent software systems where only one variable is measured at any given time. Users can set trigger conditions for alarms and logging along with the ability to add operator input panels to capture test meta data.
  • Compatibility: Test results can be saved in file formats for Excel (.csv) or in the open binary standard .tdms for use with any in-house software.

James McGregor, Global Head of Test, Tools and Production Supplies, at Farnell said: Farnell’s test and measurement offering is centred around customer-focused support at every stage, whether it’s bringing the very best products from leading suppliers to market or, in this case, providing value add services to our customers. We are very excited about the wide range of applications we can service through our partnership with NI.”

Farnell offers a full range of market-leading test, tools and production supplies from stock to support electronic design and test, with no minimum order value and an educational discount programme. Customers have free access to online resources, data sheets, applications notes, videos and webinars with excellent customer and technical support available 24/5 in local language.

The sensors-to-software solutions featuring NI and Omega are available for fast delivery from Farnell in EMEA, element14 in APAC and Newark in North America.

NI appoints Thomas Benjamin as Chief Technology Officer

NI today announced the appointment of Thomas Benjamin as Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Head of Product Analytics. Thomas will lead NI’s development of software-driven business models essential to the test and measurement market, while driving disruptive technology innovation. The CTO role will be pivotal in driving new and long-term growth opportunities for the company, including new areas tied to data, product analytics, and enterprise software.

Additionally, the company announced the promotion of Scott Rust, an experienced NI leader, to the role of Executive Vice President, Platform & Products. In this role, he will lead NI’s global development teams responsible for building the products required to meet customer needs and the platform capabilities to create differentiation and leverage across NI’s business.

“Thomas joins a strong team of NI leaders and will accelerate our ability to use software, data, and new business models to drive growth across our business,” said Eric Starkloff, NI CEO. “The combination of Thomas’ external experience and software knowledge with Scott’s deep understanding of NI’s platform and customers will enable us to reach an even higher degree of customer and business success.”

Thomas comes to NI with extensive experience building software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud native solutions powered by APIs, data, and insights. Most recently he was the CTO and SVP of Technology at SAP Ariba. His career has also included CTO and VP roles at General Electric and Emirates Group, and technology leadership roles at Visa, Walmart, and Oracle.

“NI’s position as a leader in automated test and measurement software and hardware is an excellent match for my track record of implementing robust business models based on a strong technology foundation,” said Thomas Benjamin, NI CTO. “I’m passionate about providing value to customers through the right blend of people, process, innovation and products, and I’m confident that the talent at NI enables limitless possibilities to change how we engineer the future.”