Signal Group expands range of service contracts

Signal Group (UK), the gas analyser manufacturer, has announced the launch of a new flexible range of service contracts, which enable customers to determine the level of service required. “No two companies are the same,” explains Signal Group Service Manager Roy Kinslow, “so it makes sense for us to offer a tiered-package approach to service contracts.

“Our gas analysers are designed and built for accurate and reliable measurements, but in order to optimise performance, it is necessary to establish a planned maintenance and calibration routine. These new flexible service contracts therefore offer customers the ability to build resilience into their monitoring work; developing plans for unforeseen events and avoiding downtime.”

Each of the different service levels include full technical support via phone and email, but customers are able to choose whether their plan should also include features such as scheduled site visits and emergency call-outs. Each service plan also provides extra discount on spares and consumables.

Vision Engineering and Zeiss collaborate to produce DeepFocus 1: an innovative and competitive Extended Depth of Focus (EDoF) microscope solution

Vision Engineering, British leading designer and manufacturer of high quality non-contact measurement, digital 3D visualisation, and ergonomic inspection technologies, is partnering with Zeiss Industrial Metrology to add an extended depth of focus inspection system to its range of microscopy systems for the first time.

The new DeepFocus 1 system represents a significant collaboration between two of the world’s leading microscope innovators. DeepFocus 1 combines Vision Engineering’s technical and design expertise with Zeiss’ new Visioner 1 long depth of focus digital microscope head.

DeepFocus 1, featuring MALS Technology, delivers live, real-time extended depth of focus imaging with depth of focus up to 100x greater than that of a conventional microscope, which removes the need for time consuming post imaging focus stacking by delivering ‘all-in-focus’ images instantly to a depth of up to 69mm.

Using a micro-mirror array lens system (MALS) enables DeepFocus 1 to generate “virtual” lenses with distinctly different curvatures, thus focus planes. This is achieved by changing the orientation of each individual micro-mirror in an orchestrated way. Re-shaping the curvature of this “virtual” lens at speed enables ultra-fast focusing and real-time all-in focus imaging and documentation.

Three viewing options aid understanding of the subject being inspected.

Extended Depth of Focus (EDoF) view shows the top down view of the subject with all details in focus.

Height-map view displays height data from the subject aiding visualisation of monochromatic samples and understanding of height. Topographic view shows a simulated 3D visualisation of the subject which can be rotated and manipulated.

Both Vision Engineering and Zeiss Industrial Metrology are well known manufacturers in their respective markets and the collaboration will allow both companies to extend their coverage of the global inspection market.  

Paul Newbatt, Vision Engineering’s Group Sales and Marketing Director said “We are delighted to partner with Zeiss in adding DeepFocus 1 to our growing innovative microscopy product range, which further cements our position as a leading microscopy solutions provider in the electronics, and precision engineering sectors”.

High Pressure Water Descaling pilot facility in steel manufacturing makes use of Micro-Epsilon thermal imaging cameras

Tata Steel is using a thermoIMAGER TIM M-1 thermal imaging camera from Micro-Epsilon with a short 1µm wavelength, as well as a thermoIMAGER TIM 400T 1500 long wavelength thermal imaging camera, to measure surface temperature before and after descaling to assess descalability and heat loss based on nozzle pressure/flow and descaling speed.

High Pressure Water (HPW) descaling is the process of removing oxide scale by spraying the hot steel surface under a range of moderate-to-high pressure water using stationary (usually flat jet nozzles) or rotary (rotor descaler) systems. The aim is to ideally remove loose to sticky, primary to tertiary scale under optimum impingement and surface chilling, as well as power-water flow rate consumption, for improving the surface quality of rolled products and minimising work roll wear. Complex solid-fluid thermal-mechanical mechanisms are acting through the scale, scale interface and sub-surface of the steel substrate depending on the descaling process parameters of impact pressure, descaling energy and temperature.

The HPW descaling process is a harsh process where, in particular, measurement of temperature and surface state are difficult to achieve (in view of steam/water, oxide scale debris, confined descaling boxes). Measuring surface losses using IR technology can provide benefits to thermo-mechanical processing for difficult to roll steel grades that are prone, for example, to ductility cracking and/or surface defects, and leads to efficient descaling under robust and energy efficient regime maps.

To study and optimise the descaling process, Tata Steel together with the Steel Metal Institute in South Wales (SAMI) have revamped a HPW descaling rig to optimise the process. The unit can be used in two modes, static or dynamic, with hot or cold material, from steel to simulation material. Reheated samples are typically blocks of 70x70x100 mm thick placed on a carriage which transports the sample at a fixed speed (up to 4m/s). Following descaling, the carriage stops and the sample is transferred to an Argon-filled container to limit further oxidation.

All signals (height, pressure, flow, temperature, etc) are logged via a Windaq data acquisition system. A sophisticated post-analysis procedure has been put in place to characterise descaling efficiency.

Tata Steel is using a thermoIMAGER TIM M-1 thermal imaging camera from Micro-Epsilon with a short 1µm wavelength, as well as the thermoIMAGER TIM 400 T1500 long wavelength thermal imaging camera, to measure surface temperature before and after descaling. The cameras are mounted above the descaling trolley. By utilising both short and long wavelength detectors and the effect of emissivity on the scale at different wavelengths, Tata Steel can assess descalability and heat loss based on nozzle pressure/flow and descaling speed to develop regime maps for the production process.

The thermoIMAGER TIM M-1 camera was supplied with two exchangeable optics, f=25 and 75mm respectively, which allows flexibility in the field of view and camera location. The 1 µm short wavelength detector is most suited to harsh, steamy environments with reduced emissivity error at high temperatures. Included with the cameras is the powerful TIM Connect software, which allows the cameras to be used in a linescan mode or continuous acquisition from a fixed distance and location. The linescan function is particularly helpful when there is restricted viewing space and allows a complete image to be created of the slab as it passes.

As Didier Farrugia, Scientific Fellow, Rolling Finishing & Measurement Department at Tata Steel RD UK commented: “The thermal measurements made, together with surface state during and post-descaling, coupled with the use of a CCD optical camera post-descaling, has enabled the development of key HPW descaling knowledge for direct implementation and optimisation of plant practices.”

Any optimisation of yield, whether in terms of scale or metal loss during reheating, as well as enhancing surface state and defect minimisation, represents a critical cost-performance benefit for the steel industry, in the region of £1million for ~1% yield gain.

Didier Farrugia concludes: “The cameras have proven to be reliable and easy to use, including the possibility to synchronise the two cameras at two specific locations for full temperature traceability. The cameras are also being used in other specific parts of the steel manufacturing process.”

Yokogawa’s Virtual Event on achieving industrial autonomous operations now available on demand

Yokogawa’s Y NOW 2021 – Achieving Autonomous Operations virtual event is now available on demand. Over two thousand industry leaders registered for this live event containing 52 sessions conducted by 74 global thought leaders who have successfully planned, managed and implemented digital transformations leading to autonomous operations. Speakers from Air Liquide, BASF, C3 AI, Evonik, Fluence Analytics, Frost & Sullivan, Microsoft, Raizen, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Williams and many more companies made presentations.

The thought leaders tackled issues as diverse as improving manufacturing efficiency and contributing to the sustainability of the planet. The opening keynote by Yokogawa’s Director and Senior Vice President, Dr. Yu Dai, outlined the company’s vision for autonomous operations and smart manufacturing, and detailed Yokogawa’s sustainable development goals for the year 2050: achieving net-zero emissions, ensuring well-being and transitioning to a circular economy. According to Dr. Dai, “Yokogawa’s vision is to bring about a symbiosis between industry and society in which they function autonomously, yet in a coordinated manner.”

The on-demand sessions include such key topics as successfully navigating artificial intelligence projects and re-thinking cybersecurity in terms of a risk to manage rather than a problem to solve. According to Tom Finan of Willis Tower Watson, “Executives are quickly lost when confronted with cyber-technical terminology. They want to think in terms of business impact and know what is mission-critical. They do understand risk and can allocate resources to manage it.”

In the keynote session, “Platform for Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Value Chains”, Francisco Betti, Head of Advanced Manufacturing & Production at the World Economic Forum, and Andreas Helget, President and CEO, Yokogawa Europe B.V., talked about the impact of the digital transformation on companies, society and the environment. Francisco Betti stated, “In the current context, which is still extremely volatile, because of the combination of COVID-19, climate change, geopolitical tensions, digital transformation […] companies need to go for digital advanced manufacturing to develop and be able to build resiliency. This will be needed across operations and value chains to respond to potential future crises and disruptions that we are likely going to be facing in this new or different world in which we are living. And that’s mainly because new levels of agility, flexibility and adaptability are going to be needed for companies to navigate the new context.”

Citing a Yokogawa survey of 500 companies that showed the majority are planning to implement autonomous operations by the year 2030, Tom Fiske, Yokogawa’s Principal Technology Strategist, stated, “Industrial autonomy is inevitable and will penetrate all operations areas. Companies are saying that they need autonomy sooner rather than later.” Naveen Kashyap, Vice President of Digital Innovation and Services, added, “Bogged down by the limitations of existing systems, users cannot visualise the ideal, end-to-end state of the value chain. The organisation can overcome this ‘tech debt’ when people realise that technology is not the driver but rather an enabler of new business processes.”

All Y NOW 2021 sessions are now available on demand. For more information and to access the downloads, please visit

Off to a flying start

By Emma Ryde – Rittal UK’s Product Manager for Enclosure Systems

Can enclosures be machined and fitted out even faster? How the AX compact enclosure from Rittal speeds things up.

Meurer-etechnik is looking to the new AX compact enclosure from Rittal to improve its production efficiency. How does the new model differ from its predecessor, the AE? A day spent with enclosure production staff reveals all.

A new working day dawns at Murer-etechnik in Germany’s Westerwald region. In the incoming goods section, a young man wearing a black T-shirt with the company logo on the front and the sleeve is taking delivery of a pallet with eight AX compact enclosures from Rittal. Production Manager Steven Lauer is already waiting for their arrival. In just a week’s time, the UL-compliant enclosures are set to be delivered to a special-purpose machinery manufacturer based in the Cologne area. Lauer, can’t wait to see how the new AX enclosures differ from the predecessor model, the AE.

Let’s get started,” he says. Lauer has assigned the task of fitting out the AX enclosures to three of the plant electricians. One of them is already clamping the first enclosure door into the Perforex CNC machining centre. The mounting plates are next. Progress is rapid, because the doors and mounting plates are simply added to the delivery package and staff don’t have the hassle of first detaching them from the enclosure, as is normally the case. Using the digital twin’s manufacturing data from EPLAN Pro Panel, the machine cuts all the necessary holes in double-quick time. “That part is the most fun,” says Lauer, who is standing casually at the machine’s operator terminal.

“There are hardly any questions to deal with and you can see the results straight away,” he adds. t’s now time for pre-assembly, configuration and wiring. A fully automatic wire processing machine has already produced the necessary cable harnesses – also using data from the design engineering department. In this way, Meurer-etechnik is gradually implementing “enclosure manufacturing 4.0”.

Lauer indicates an area in the rear part of the light-filled factory building to three members of staff, who lift the compact enclosures onto small metal trestles. Next to each of the plant electricians is a trolley with tools and a number of boxes containing electronic components. The enclosures are now lying on their backs with the doors fitted. Beside them are the mounting plates, to which the men next attach the mounting rails and cable ducts. Contactors, terminals, inverters and similar components are then installed.

During this configuration process, the electricians regularly consult their tablets to compare their work with the 3D model. Next comes the wiring. Last but not least, the fully wired mounting plate is fitted into the enclosures.

Lauer has been with Meurer-etechnik for ten years. Back when he was an apprentice, he still had to learn how to position each hole manually. “The technology has come a long way since then,” he says before asking his colleagues the following question: “So, what’s different about the AX?” The answer: “It feels like there’s more room on the gland plate.” And there is indeed 30 per cent more space for inserting cables. “That’s a huge advantage,” insists Lauer, because digitalisation is continuously increasing the number of components in the enclosure and thus also the number of cables that need to be routed inside via the gland plate.

He also takes a closer look at the interior wall of the compact enclosure. “There always used to be problems with the interior fit-out, because there weren’t enough options for fitting the depth stays. That has now changed,” he notes. Being able to install the rails at a variety of heights makes the process of designing the levels more flexible. Lauer points to a grey box on one of the trolleys. There are now only three cable harnesses left in it. “Once the box with the cables starts looking empty, I know we’re on the finishing straight,” he says.

There were no errors during testing, and the enclosures for the special-purpose machinery manufacturer were even ready half a day ahead of schedule. “You’re happy if, when you get to the end of the day, there’s no danger of failing to meet the delivery deadline and the quality is as it should be,” says a delighted Lauer.


Showcasing the value of measurement at The National Manufacturing and Supply Chain Conference Ireland

To continue providing Irish manufacturers with local support, metrology provider The Sempre Group, is attending the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference and Exhibition taking place at RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin, on November 23 and 24, 2021. From stand KO6 The Sempre Group will exhibit a range of metrology equipment and consult the Irish market on how integrating metrology into production can improve productivity and ensure compliance. Register for the event here.

This year’s exhibition will mark the first physical event that The Sempre Group will attend in Ireland since opening its first Irish office in Dublin in 2021. At the 180 square metre office, Ireland-based commercial manager, Jason McGlynn and service and application engineer, Paul Cullen, provide local support to customers. The showroom houses a range of metrology equipment from a broad supplier base and also acts as a training centre for Irish manufacturers who require more detailed system knowledge.

At the exhibition, visitors will be able to see how Optical CMMs, such as the Micro-Vu and shaft measurement systems like the Opticline help improve repeatability and accuracy for industries that require high volume, compliant and quality parts, such as medical and aerospace. The Arkite Human Interface Mate, an optical projection system that guides operators with augmented reality (AR) instructions. The Gelsight 3D topography measurement system, a handheld tool that accurately measures surface roughness and defects, will also be on the stand.

To  help manufacturers develop a centralised data system, simplify reporting and compliance and improve productivity The Sempre Group also offers a range of quality management software solutions. High QA Inspection Manager automatically extracts geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) data from a model, identifies critical dimensions and auto-populates reports. Manufacturers can also use Prolink software to assess the collated data and automated reports, which helps them to make more informed decisions.

“Attending more events in Ireland enables us to listen to our potential and existing customers in that area to better understand their metrology needs,” explained Jason McGlynn. “Irish manufacturers, particularly in medical and aerospace applications, which want to improve data collection, quality compliance and productivity can visit our stand to see how our equipment, experts and local facility can support their individual needs.

“For example, at the event we’ll have one of our bespoke rotary fixtures. Manufacturers can use these fixtures to streamline the metrology process, hold components steady and remove thousands of manual interventions, reducing costs and time required for measurement.”

To find out more about The Sempre Group’s medical applications before the event, read our latest medical white paper

Lattice acquires Mirametrix

Lattice Semiconductor Corporation has acquired Mirametrix a software company focused on advanced artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for computer vision applications, in an all-cash, accretive transaction. Mirametrix software has been successfully deployed in more than 20 million end user systems worldwide. Combining Mirametrix’s expertise with Lattice’s innovative hardware and software solution stacks creates an end-to-end AI and computer vision solution that spans from the hardware to the application layer.

“Providing easy-to-use application-specific software solution stacks continues to be a key part of our strategy to make it easy for customers to adopt Lattice and get to market quickly. Adding Mirametrix’s proven AI and computer vision software to our existing solution stack portfolio will make it even easier for our customers to quickly add more intelligence to their applications,” said Jim Anderson, President and CEO, Lattice Semiconductor. “Having worked closely with Mirametrix as a partner for nearly two years, we are excited to welcome them to Lattice as we continue to expand our talented software team.”

“Mirametrix was founded with the vision of driving a new era in human-computer interaction and delivering more natural and intuitive user experiences,” said Denis Lavallee, CEO, Mirametrix. “We are excited to join the Lattice family and to accelerate AI and computer vision innovation together.”

Multi-position A-coding facilitates flexible, fault-free use

Two-piece M12 panel mount connectors from binder, equipped with square-flange housings and multi-position, lockable A-coding, simplify secure sensor/actuator connections in factory automation and robotics.

binder, a leading supplier of industrial circular connectors, offers various A-coded M12 connectors as part of its 763 product series, which are equipped with a square-flange housing for assembly. As a special feature, the multi-position A-coding supports variable cable installation. Also advantageous for flexible use: flange housing and contact carrier can be processed separately.

Background: the A-coding

Industrial-grade, standardised M12 circular connectors with A-coding according to DIN EN 61076-2-101 are a well-established component of sensor and actuator systems in typical factory automation and robotics applications. Their coding, which serves to avoid mismating, ensures precise assignment of the pin and socket contacts in the process: A-coding generally stands for applications in signal transmission with DC voltage over 3 to 12 pins. The principle of partial assignment of the contacts ensures the plug-in compatibility of product variants with different but lower pin counts. Multi-position coding is advantageous, for example, if the installation has to be carried out at different angles due to the mounting conditions. At the field level of automation, both inside and outside the control cabinet, A-coded M12 signal connectors support efficient, cost-effective sensor/actuator communication in particular.

Two-piece design simplifies the application                        

The square-flange variants of the 763 series generally consist of two parts: the metal flange housing and a contact carrier. The latter is equipped with a lockable coding nose that can be rotated in 45° increments. The two-part design supports user-friendly, safe assembly in practice.

Change of size made easy

The 763 series includes M12 A signal connectors equipped with 4, 5 and 8 pins as well as single wires or solder contacts. The single-wire version has a square housing 20 mm or 26 mm wide. In the variant with solder contacts, it measures 20 mm. The 26-mm square housing of the M12 single-wire version has the same drilling scheme as that of the M16 form factor. This allows users to switch between the design sizes without having to adapt existing housings, for example of field devices such as sensor/actuator boxes.

Technical product details

The rectangular-flange M12 connectors with multi-position, lockable A-coding are specified for a maximum wire gauge of 0.25 mm2 (AWG 24). In all 4-pin and 5-pin versions, the rated currents reach 4 A (3 A UL), 2 A (1,5 A UL) with 8. The rated voltages are 250 V (4-pin), 60 V (5-pin) and 30 V (8-pin). The corresponding rated impulse voltages are specified as 2500 V, 1500 V and 800 V, respectively. The connectors meet the density requirements – combined with suitable sealing but without a defined tightening torque – in accordance with protection degree IP69. They are designed for operating temperatures from -40 °C to +85 °C.



World-First 5G Vehicle OTA RF Test System

Anritsu Corporation is pleased to announce development of the world’s first 5G OTA RF test system in partnership with Toyota‘s and their investment in MVG OTA test environment using Anritsu ‘s Radio Communication Test Station MT8000A.

Realising autonomous driving requires simultaneous communications with the surrounding environment, including other vehicles, road infrastructure, networks, etc. In particular, introduction of 5G supporting large-capacity, low-latency, massive connections are key technology to transferring the large data volumes generated by various sensors, such as vehicle cameras, as well as for 3D high-definition mapping data. Consequently, car manufactures, and Telematics Unit suppliers are pushing forward with development of 5G communications products.

The developed 5G communications products are installed in vehicles as the “connected car”. However, before release, the connected vehicle communications performance must be tested and verified in an OTA environment simulating the actual environment as possible.

Now, Anritsu and Microwave Vision Group (MVG) have partnered to deliver the MT8000A and OTA system to Toyota as the world’s first 5G vehicle OTA RF test system.

Product Outline

The all-in-one Radio Communication Test Station MT8000A is a 5G base-station simulator for 5G RF and protocol measurements as well as application tests. It supports high-order 4×4 MIMO and carrier aggregation (8CA) technologies for fast, large-capacity communications. As well as focusing on smartphone testing, it covers a wide application range, including 5G communications function tests and evaluations of antennas and high-frequency parts.

To characterise an antenna, it is necessary to measure its radiation patterns to determine how well, and in which direction, it radiates. To quickly obtain reliable 3D radiation patterns, antenna performance tests are moving towards Over-The-Air (OTA) test solutions to obtain fast and reliable measurements at the system level. For OTA measurements, the tests are performed through a radio communication tester and are conducted using a near-field measurement method in an anechoic chamber to block external electromagnetic fields and to simulate realistic and complex RF scenarios. Addressing the complexity of measuring highly connected vehicles, MVG offers OTA measurement solutions specifically designed for the complete verification of automotive wireless performance. Thanks to a high precision positioning system (controller and turntable) continuous on-the-fly measurements can be performed. This allows for quick and accurate measurement of directivity, gain and efficiency.

“To deliver a full-vehicle OTA test solution that meets the needs of current and future vehicle testing, we needed to integrate a radio communication test system supporting 5G frequencies. We believe that MVG OTA test environment combined with the Anritsu MT8000A is the right combination to meet the test needs of tomorrow’s connected vehicles,” comments Per Iversen – MVG Chief Technology Officer.

Personal protection against hydrogen sulfide exposure: New ARA H2S single gas detector from ION Science

Delivering superior protection against hazardous VOC (volatile organic compound) exposure for workers is one of ION Science’s leading aims as a business. As the only UK OEM for gas detection instrumentation, ION Science is always looking for new ways to support the end-user against dangerous gas exposures. The launch of the ARA H2S (hydrogen sulfide) single gas detector signals a new focus on protecting staff from the dangers of exposure, and aids in health and safety compliance for businesses.

Hydrogen sulfide is present in several industries, notably in anaerobic environments where organic material is in use, such as wastewater and sewage plants, paper and pulp processing, biogas, and fertiliser production. Many people are familiar with the rotten egg smell associated with hydrogen sulfide, although at high levels of concentration it can cause anosmia, rendering it undetectable. Hydrogen sulfide is classed as a hazardous VOC, and exposure to it can cause irritation to the respiratory system, eyes, and stomach even at low concentrations. Higher concentrations of the gas can lead to unconsciousness, coma, and even death. Between 2001 and 2010, hydrogen sulfide exposure was responsible for the deaths of 60 workers in the USA alone. Many workers who are exposed to fatal levels of hydrogen sulfide could have been protected and saved with units such as the ARA H2S.

The ARA H2S is designed to protect users from toxic levels of exposure to hydrogen sulfide. Classed as an item of personal protective equipment (PPE), the ARA H2S is completely maintenance free and offers continuous monitoring of exposure to hydrogen sulfide levels. No need to change batteries or sensors or worry about product reliability, the e-chem detection technology inside can operate without interference. It offers a choice of display for users, either a lifetime countdown or concentration lifetime exposure, and it’s possible to switch between the two if desired. The ARA H2S can also provide short term exposure limits (STEL) or eight hour time weighted average (TWA) readouts for greater visibility into the overall health of a worker.

Each unit is designed with a two-year lifespan, and the ARA H2S operates without compromise over that period. Once activated, the ARA H2S will continuously operate

until the end of the two-year period, giving you appropriate warnings so you can source a replacement in time. There is also the option for a three-year lifespan model which offers a hibernation mode, ideal for contractors or consultants who only visit site on occasion. ION Science also offers a recycling scheme for units that reach the end of their lifespan, as part of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), ensuring units are recycled in an environmentally friendly way.

Designed with practical applications in mind, the ARA H2S unit weighs just 92g and is equipped with a sturdy clip for attaching to a lapel or strap for wearing within the breathing zone. At only 87mm in length, it does not impede worker movement and is suitable for use in confined space working, such as maintenance to pipes or tankers.  As an intrinsically safe model, users can be assured it’s safe in all environments, with a three-signal system of a flashing light, audible alarm, and vibration to alert the wearer of exposure levels reaching dangerous concentrations.

When it comes to protecting worker health and safety, the ARA H2S is a key piece of PPE that could make the difference between life and death. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide, even in low concentrations, can have devastating effects on health and it is a business’s responsibility to ensure workers are able to live and work safely. Using PPE devices like the ARA H2S ensures that at the end of the day, regardless of how dangerous a situation, workers are protected, aware, and able to keep themselves safe from exposures as much as possible.