News

Contrinex pressure resistant inductives give concrete advantages

Manufacturers of mobile concrete pumping trucks trust Contrinex’s High-Pressure sensors to monitor the piston position in the hydraulic drive cylinder. These sensors provide exceptional reliability despite the challenges of pressure cycles and high-pressure peaks, increasing longevity and efficiency and reducing maintenance costs for these concrete pump. An additional benefit is that these sensors are part of Contrinex’s Extra Distance family and so combine long operating distances despite the pressure-resistant housing.

Customer application

Concrete pumps use a double-piston pump and require two feed cylinders that pump concrete at a working pressure of up to 400 bar (5800 psi). These feed cylinders are driven by pairs of hydraulic cylinder pairs which operate in push-pull opposition. To achieve the maximum possible efficiency, the timing of this push-pull operation must be precisely coordinated. It is therefore essential to monitor the cylinder limit position with sensors that are resistant to high pressure.

The dynamic stresses on all components built into the hydraulic system are very high, due to constantly changing pressure cycles during pump operation.

Concrete pump failures are extremely costly because they can cause construction problems and stoppages and risk compromising the building being constructed. If the breakdown is due to problems in the hydraulic system, all the hydraulic oil must be drained to correct the fault. Then, after refilling and before start-up, several time-consuming de-aeration cycles must take place before the pump is fully fit for service again. This prolongs the construction stoppage.

The customer’s requirements for longevity and resistance to high peak pressures are essential to guarantee the smooth operation of such systems.

Customer solution

Contrinex High-Pressure sensors (series 500P) withstand the necessary pressure levels (peak pressure up to 1000 bar – 14500 psi) due to a patented process whereby a solid ceramic disk is built into the stainless steel housing.

These sensors are fully resistant to dynamic stresses. Patented technology ensures that all electronics, including the ferrite core and coil, are located on the unpressurised side of the housing. This results in an unusually long life under pressure cycle stresses.

To monitor cylinder limit positions in the concrete pump, two sensors are installed and connected to the control system. Due to their longevity, which is ten times greater than the market standard, maintenance costs are reduced to a minimum.

Contrinex sensors are available from PLUS Automation: www.PLUSAx.co.uk

Secretary of State launches the joint-funded Aerospace Integrated Research and Test Centre

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has formally launched Airbus’ Aerospace Integrated Research and Test Centre (AIRTeC) in Filton, Bristol.

Awic, Airbus Opening, 3rd June 2021, copyright Neil Phillips

AIRTeC is a £40 million, state-of-the-art research and testing facility jointly funded by the Government’s ATI programme and Airbus. Covering more than 10,000m2 of gross internal floor space – the equivalent of two football pitches – the Centre is designed to undertake structural testing of large-scale aircraft assemblies, from full-size wings down to the individual components and materials used in aircraft design. It provides the most advanced working environment and tools for Airbus alongside external suppliers, partners, and academia, to deliver the next generation of aircraft wing, landing-gear systems and fuel system designs.

Furthermore, the facility is a key asset in helping industry accelerate the design, manufacture, testing, certification, infrastructure, and commercial operation of zero-emission aircraft through sustained investment in R&T and R&D and fostering greater collaboration across sectors.

Companies in other sectors, such as maritime and nuclear, along with universities can also utilise AIRTeC’s innovative, highly flexible, and easily adaptable environment, which includes 65,000m2 of state-of-the-art specialist test space, a 40-metre-long strong floor, and a 14 x 10 metre strong wall capable of testing full-size wings – with a force equivalent to the weight of 240 cars – using a 25MN high-capacity loading test machine.

The facility also includes labs, collaborative office space, and reconfigurable testing areas. This combination of test assets is unique in Europe. The facility will enable Airbus and its partners to develop new and cutting-edge designs and is central to Airbus’ Wing of Tomorrow programme, which is exploring the best materials, manufacturing, and assembly techniques to help deliver more fuel-efficient, cleaner aircraft. The Airbus Filton site is also home to a 3D- printing plateau and digital manufacturing laboratory, as well as the Airbus low-speed wind tunnel.

Awic, Airbus Opening, 3rd June 2021, copyright Neil Phillips

Airbus employs about 2,800 people at its site in Filton. The Company is the largest commercial aerospace company in the UK, as well as its biggest civil aerospace exporter, employing more than 13,500 people at 25 sites across the country.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “The launch of this fantastic new centre comes as Airbus prepares to ramp up production of its most popular aircraft towards the end of the year – a clear vote of confidence in Britain as we build back better from the pandemic.

“These top-class research and testing facilities will be used to continue the spirit of innovation for which we are world renowned and will produce the cleaner, more efficient flights of tomorrow.

“This is great news, not just for Filton but for the rest of the UK which will benefit from jobs in the supply chain. I am proud of the government’s support for the centre’s construction, showing we are leaving no stone unturned in our drive to make the aviation industry cleaner in the fight against climate change.”

John Harrison, General Counsel and UK Chairman of Airbus, said: “Airbus makes a significant contribution to the UK aerospace industry and we are delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to help us showcase our fantastic facility. AIRTeC will take our research and testing capabilities at Filton to the next level and will make us even more competitive for the future.”

Farnell shipping expanded range of education kits from DFRobot

Farnell has expanded its range of educational devices from DFRobot. DF Robot’s user-friendly open-source hardware and software tools are designed to inspire future creators by offering an introduction to electronic project design.

Farnell now stocks more than 140 products from DFRobot including a series of robotics kits and the popular Boson Starter Kit for micro:bit, which was awarded Five Stars in the 2018 Teach Primary Resource Awards:

  • Robotics kits: DFRobot’s kits introduce users to robotics and programming by simulating real-world equipment and applications. The Max:Bot is a programmable entry-level DIY robot featuring motors, speakers and sensors that teaches junior students how to build a robot with direct programming and remote control operation. The Maqueen Mechanic Kit provides a hands-on introduction to functional machinery through the assembly of a robotic bulldozer and loading machine that can complete real-world tasks such as loading objects and sorting goods. For more advanced students, the 4-Soldering Light Chaser Beam Robot Kit and Insectbot Hexa teach enthusiasts how to solder electronic components while developing a basic understanding of circuits and programming to enable smart motion and obstacle avoidance.
  • Boson Kits: Based on a set of easy-to-use modularised plug-and-play electronic building blocks, these kits include tutorials, course materials and free coding software that can be easily integrated with micro:bit and Arduino. The Boson Starter Kit for micro:bit is designed to teach first-time users about coding and electronics using sound and light sensors. The Boson Inventor Kit is an ideal tool for teaching STEM in schools and breaks down complicated circuits into simple, functional modules that are easy to understand. Requiring no coding or soldering, the kit also includes 12 activity cards for building interactive electronics projects with LEGO blocks. The Boson Science Kit is a set of digitalised scientific exploration tools for young scientists to build hands-on projects, The kit includes the eight scientific sensors widely used in modern Internet of Things (IoT) applications, allowing exploration of physics, chemistry and biology.

Romain Soreau, Head of SBC at Farnell, said: “DFRobot is a world leading innovator in the development of accessible and easy-to-use hardware and software tools for STEM education. Their learning kit range delivers hands-on tools that enable students to learn about new technologies in a highly creative and collaborative way. These are great additions to Farnell’s broad education offering and will help to further inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Farnell stocks a broad range of education devices that can be supplied in classes, schools and multiple-school quantities and has worked with multiple educational organisations and governments to support strategic rollouts of STEM learning solutions into the classroom. Farnell can also offer support with provision and bundling of equipment for bespoke large-scale programmes.

The DFRobot range is available from Farnell in EMEA, Newark in North America and element14 in APAC.

Analog Devices at ACHEMA Pulse 2021: Maximising the power of ethernet in process automation

Analog Devices (ADI) has announced details of its participation in ACHEMA Pulse, the online format adopted by the premier event for the process industries, following deferment of the next physical event to April 2022.

ADI will take full advantage of the interactive format, contributing video demonstrations of key technologies, as well as participating in live streamed talks and panel sessions, including a live roundtable with Industry Leaders.

A key highlight will be the IEEE 802.3cg/10BASE-T1L physical layer products the ADIN1100 PHY and ADIN1110 MAC PHY. ADI is extending its ADI Chronous family of Industrial Ethernet solutions enabling robust, long reach Ethernet connectivity over 1.7km of single twisted pair cable. This technology enables the communication of new insights about process variables and asset health to control systems, driving process optimisation and increased utilisation of field sensors and actuators.

ADI will address both engineering- and management-level considerations with two demonstrations.

“Enable the Digital Transformation with Trusted ADI Solutions” shows how the company’s technologies can accelerate adoption of the latest standards across process installations in many diverse industries.  Next-generation connectivity, precision and efficiency can be realised while building on and optimising existing infrastructure. ADI’s long experience in precision analogue design, and in robust connectivity solutions, uniquely equips it to address issues such as isolation, system flexibility, and signal precision for accurate production control.

“Connecting Edge Sensors, Accessing New Insights with 10BASE-T1L”, the complementary video presentation, delves further into ADI’s offering to facilitate adoption of the Ethernet-APL (Advanced Physical Layer) standard that enables long reach, single-pair Ethernet, connectivity that will be key to seamless connectivity from hazardous areas in process plants .

Offering the opportunity to hear an expanded discussion on these same topics, “Tips and Tricks for designing an Ethernet APL Solution” is a 45-minute, live talk/panel session that will be streamed at 12:15pm CEST on June 15. ADI will explore Ethernet-APL technology and some of its use-cases across process automation. To join this talk on enabling seamless long reach connectivity solutions, attendees should register here.

In addition, ADI will host a Customer Round Table at 5:30pm CEST on June 16, entitled “The Connected Future of Process Automation with Ethernet APL”. ADI’s contributing speaker will discuss issues on the critical path to achieving “Digital Transformation”, alongside panel members from industry leaders including ABB and Pepperl+Fuchs. The panel intends to cover how seamless communication across all hierarchy levels, from field instruments to field switches, will contribute to efficiency and productivity gains, and how participants across the ecosystem – including embedded software providers – are working together to maximise the performance of Ethernet-enabled equipment. Registration is also required for this session.

ACHEMA Pulse 2021 takes place online; the platform is open from 31 May to 30 June, 2021 with two days of live sessions on June 15 and 16. Full details are at the organisers’ site.

 

Paragraf introduces a Graphene Hall Sensor optimised for cryogenic applications including quantum computing

Paragraf has introduced the GHS-C Graphene Hall Sensor (GHS), providing the industry’s only viable approach to measuring magnetic field strengths of 7 Tesla (T) and above, at temperature extremes below 3 Kelvin (K).

Paragraf has entered volume production of the GHS-C, a Graphene based Hall sensor optimised to provide high field measurements while operating at cryogenic temperatures. It achieves this while dissipating virtually no heat. The cryogenic sensor also allows measurements directly in cold bore, removing the need for room temperature inserts, giving quality data and time savings.

The GHS-C is the only Hall sensor now in volume production that can offer this level of performance at temperatures below 3 K. The underlying technology is capable of operating at temperatures even lower, with no loss of performance. This is made possible by the lack of any planar Hall effect in graphene, a unique feature that Paragraf has harnessed.

This is the latest example of Paragraf’s capabilities and builds on previous product developments. The GHS-C uses graphene optimised and tuned for high field applications, including super-conduction, quantum computing, high-energy physics, low-temperature physics, fusion and space. In addition, as the next generation of particle accelerators rely on magnets that generate field strengths more than 16 T, the GHS-C is already drawing interest from leaders in this field.

“When looking for high sensitivity, one of the biggest challenges that researchers and engineers working at very low temperatures face is the instability caused by the heat dissipated by conventional sensors,” commented Ellie Galanis, Product Owner at Paragraf. “This is particularly relevant when working in cryogenic applications, such as quantum computing. Our GHS-C dissipates nW of heat rather than mWs. This has a much smaller impact on the apparatus, allowing researchers to make accurate and repeatable measurements.”

The GHS-C is now in volume production and is being supplied in the industry-standard LCC 20 package, making it a drop-in replacement for existing Hall sensors, continuing our work in supporting cryogenic equipment manufacturers and quantum computing research worldwide.

Resilience Index research finds that manufacturers should focus investment in five areas to build resilience in their plant

Independent research commissioned by RS Components (RS) has identified five areas manufacturers should focus investment in to build resilience in their plant for long-term prosperity.

The findings are from the newly created Resilience Index – a comprehensive and unique investigation of six datasets from the past 20 years covering manufacturing investment, productivity, and employment to track resilience across some of the UK’s most prominent industries.

The five key areas senior engineers should focus investment in to safeguard resilience for the future are:

  1. Anticipate Shocks – from cyber attacks to changing trends in customer behaviour, using thorough research and analysis.
  2. Resist Disruptions – build resistance to disruptions for example, through flood or cyber defences, or relationships with trade unions.
  3. Absorb Shocks – this could be through establishing multiple production lines or facilities or adapting product lines or finding substitutes.
  4. Invest in Recovery – in the broadest sense, not just IT – such as insurance policies, systems and a culture that enables remote working and other measures to get back to capacity.
  5. Innovate for the Future – innovation requires an outward looking, agile company culture – just the kind of attitude that helps to progress the previous four resilience-building investment areas. Investing in transformation, including innovation and R&D is not just about making reactive incremental adaptions, but the proactive creation of new systems, products and, business models to ensure a business continues to be relevant. This type of transformation involves an element of target disruption to grow the business.

Emma Botfield, UK & Ireland Managing Director for RS Components, comments: “The Resilience Index research shows that, while the manufacturing sector is making progress in building its resilience, there is still more to do so it can improve performance, drive growth, and unlock opportunities. By implementing proactive investment strategies in line with those identified, senior engineers can strengthen resilience, overcome challenges, and add productivity value.

“At RS, we’re committed to assisting senior engineers to build resilience. By moving from being a catalogue-based product supplier to a digitally enabled technical solutions provider, we have become more strategic and a more important part of the customer supply chain. Our inventory, procurement and maintenance solutions are an example of how we’re able to help.”

The findings of the Resilience Index also acknowledge the importance of maintaining reliable infrastructure to drive operational resilience. However, the findings highlight that planned investment in manufacturing sector machinery, hardware and software is needed to build the strategic resilience required to meet and exploit emerging market demands.

The research shows that business (plant) investment has been on an upward trajectory within the manufacturing sector since 2009. The Resilience Index reveals that plant investment per hour has been the biggest driver of gains in manufacturing, increasing by 77% over the past two decades. This is a greater rise than other sectors such as construction, financial & insurance, and agriculture. However, manufacturing investment growth has not been consistent over this period, with its biggest fall occurring after the financial crash of 2009, creating a situation that took five years to rebuild.

As far as manufacturing sub-categories are concerned, the Index shows that chemicals and engineering & vehicles have led the way in investment levels, whilst food production and metals & textiles have lagged behind, investing less than the manufacturing average.

To find out more and get a copy of the Resilience Index: Plant report, visit https://www.rs-connectedthinking.com/en/operational-efficiency/insight/the-resilience-index-plant

J A Woollam CompleteEase Software Training Course 2021

Date: 14-16 September 2021

Venue: Rooms CTLP09,10 & 11, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus

This course will introduce the fundamentals of data analysis at a beginner-to-intermediate level. All details will be described using the latest CompleteEASE software. Each registered participant will be invited to participate in sessions, and to view recordings of each session afterwards. In addition to internet-sessions, students will receive relevant example data sets to practice.

As part of the partnership between Quantum Design and MTIF, which offers customers access the J A Woollam IR VASE II Spectroscopic Ellipsometer, this year’s Conference and Workshop on Spectroscopic Ellipsometry will be held at MTIF’s Research Centre located on Nottingham Trent University’s Clifton Campus. MTIF is a ISO 13485 certified medical technologies development organisation offering research and development services including thin film technology, printed electronics, nano-photonics, opto-electronic properties of materials and devices and laser processing.

To find out more about the course and to register, please visit https://qd-uki.co.uk/j-a-woollam-completeease-software-training-course-2021/

New Fluke ii910 Precision Acoustic Imager detects electrical discharge

The new Fluke ii910 Precision Acoustic Imager uniquely enables the detection of corona and partial discharge from a safe distance of up to 120 meters. Teams can operate safely, minimise the risk of fires and help reduce outages. The Fluke ii910 also offers greater sensitivity to detect compressed air, gas, and vacuum system leaks, reducing downtime which can cost up to EUR 1000,- per minute.

Regular routines – no training required

Electrical discharge detection or leak checking can be carried out as part of a regular maintenance routine. The handheld imager enables users to quickly, and visually, pinpoint the location of faults from a safe distance and record data for later analysis. Even small, low-pressure or low-density leaks are now detected easily. The rugged ii910’s intuitive operation means no training is required – it is simple to learn and easy to use. The straightforward, intuitive interface allows technicians to isolate the sound frequency of the leak and filter out background noise in even the noisiest environments.

Fast and visual leak and discharge detection

The rugged, handheld casing of the Fluke ii910 has a seven-inch LCD touchscreen which overlays a SoundMap on a visual image for rapid identification of discharge or leaks between frequencies of 2-100 kHZ. The array of integral microphones converts ultrasound signals into clear visual images on the backlit touchscreen. Captured data can be transferred via an integral USB-C socket directly to a PC. From here, the data can be uploaded to the Machine Learning PDQ Mode Reporting Platform. This will provide the most important partial discharge insights, including partial discharge type identification. The ii910 provides video recording of up to 5 minutes and has a battery life of at least 6 hours.

Power generation, production or maintenance added value

Fluke’s innovative SoundSight technology now enables corona and partial discharge to be easily located. For technicians working with high voltages in power generation and transmission and with industrial high voltage equipment, the Fluke ii910 provides more sophisticated detection than standard ultrasonic tools while offering the visual performance of more expensive UV cameras. It detects, locates and provides visual reporting and severity assessment of corona and partial discharges. Technicians in production locations can isolate the sound frequency of the leak and filter out background noise in even the noisiest environments. Industrial maintenance technicians can identify leaks at a safe distance considerably faster than using traditional diagnostic methods, even during peak production periods.

For more information about the new Fluke ii910 Precision Industrial Imager, please visit www.fluke.com

21st Annual J A Woollam Spectroscopic Ellipsometer Workshop

Date: 13 September 2021 from 9.00am to 4.45pm

Venue: Rooms CTLP09,10 & 11, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus

Quantum Design UK & Ireland is celebrating 21 years of Spectroscopic Ellipsometry workshops with its partners, J A Woollam.

This free of charge workshop is aimed at both experienced ellipsometry users as well as people new to ellipsometry. The format of the workshop includes an introduction, fundamentals of ellipsometric data analysis, and an overview of ellipsometric applications in both research and production. New emerging applications are highlighted.

Application engineers from J A Woollam will give talks on the following topics:

  • Theory and Fundamentals of Spectroscopic Ellipsometry
  • Applications and Data Analysis Examples of Spectroscopic Ellipsometry
  • Overview of J A Woollam Ellipsometers including the alpha-SE Ellipsometer

To find out more about the workshop or to register, please visit: https://qd-uki.co.uk/spectroscopic-ellipsometer-workshop-2021/

Over half of manufacturers have their sights set on digital transformation initiatives to enhance operations

Following the concerns bought about by the Covid pandemic, over half of manufacturers now have their sights set on digital transformation initiatives to enhance their operational performance, according to research from InfinityQS. The company’s 2021 Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey reveals that 52% of respondents have already, or are exploring the option of adopting a digital transformation initiative, with advanced analytics (24%) as their top priority.

This growth in the number of manufacturers looking to enhance their manufacturing operations by leveraging digital transformation comes after a challenging year for the industry, which has seen many putting their strategic agendas on hold while they contend with unprecedented operational challenges, as well as market volatility and economic uncertainty.

Jason Chester, Director of Global Channel Programs at InfinityQS comments: “One thing that the pandemic did was expose significant and often widespread operational weaknesses within incumbent manufacturing environments. It brought into sharp relief where legacy systems and outdated processes exacerbated the problems that manufacturers faced alongside new challenges such as the rapid shift to remote working, and supply chain disruption.”

Jason continues: “Prioritising digital transformation initiatives is the key in helping to address these new challenges. Data for example, is a great way for manufacturers to increase visibility into their operations as it can provide important insights into each stage of the production process. These valuable insights can then be leveraged to help make more informed and tactical decisions to secure long-term resilience and growth.”

In addition to advanced analytics, the other most popular technologies on the priority list include Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and cloud computing.

Jason explains: “It’s understandable to see IIoT and cloud computing also being top of the agenda. Manufacturers want to leverage real-time data to make proactive decisions which can maximise performance, respond to fluctuations in demand, ensure flexible operations, and even build resilience for future “black-swan” events -all while maintaining high levels of product quality and safety.”

“For manufacturers to stay ahead of competition and remain at the top of their industry they need to constantly adapt to their environment by making tactical digital investments. It is great to see the majority are rebounding from the pandemic and embracing digital transformation to increase their agility and maintain competitive edge, as companies that do are better equipped to improve their operations at a faster speed and even anticipate changes before they occur.” Jason concluded.