News

Taking on the challenge of unmonitored concrete assets

Most bridges are constructed using steel rebar reinforced concrete, many of these structures use cathodic protection (CP) systems to keep the vital steel reinforcement from corroding. Here, Gary Bradshaw, director of remote monitoring specialist Omniflex, discusses the problems inherent to CP system monitoring, and describes the modern approaches that make it feasible.

With tens of thousands of these types of bridges in the UK alone on our roads, rail and canal networks, the sheer scale and quantities of these structures has no true comparison anywhere else in engineering. Just the road infrastructure in the UK stretches over thousands of miles, and all of which needs to be carefully maintained and continuously monitored.

A big part of keeping road infrastructure standing and safe over many decades is by using CP, both impressed current (ICCP) and galvanic CP. These systems induce a positive charge in the reinforcing steel rebar, which repels the positively charged chemical radicals that would normally corrode the steel. In ICCP systems this charge is induced by external power supply, while galvanic systems use a sacrificial anode, formed from a material with a greater electrochemical potential than the steel rebar, such as zinc.

Unmonitored variables

England’s road network executive agency, Highways England, recently published CD 370 Revision 2, a design document  for CP systems for their reinforced concrete highway structures. This document clearly states on section 4.13 that “All CP systems shall be designed with full system monitoring”  This is due to the fact that they discovered “Historically, some galvanic systems have been installed without any monitoring facilities; this approach has prevented accurate performance assessment of these systems and negated any potential benefits associated with an evidence-based management strategy.”

A Sisyphean task

So, how are you supposed to know if a CP system is even working if it is not being monitored?

When left unmonitored, there is no way to be sure that the system is functioning. It could have been damaged, or could even have not been installed incorrectly in the first instance — the install-and-ignore approach leaves endless scope for malfunction while exhibiting no external warning signs until it is too late.

When compared to impressed current CP systems, remotely monitoring galvanic CP systems is a far more difficult proposition, because they work with passive electrochemical currents. This makes them ideal when power and telecom access is not available, but is can be very costly and time consuming for the engineers  who need to  travel to the structure and physically measure the galvanic CP current with a multimeter.

Furthermore, there may be hundreds of discrete galvanic CP circuits on a bridge, which quickly adds up across the tens of thousands of bridges in the UK.

Using the data highways

So, how do you monitor tens of thousands of critical assets, spread over thousands of miles and often found in remote places? One way is to send the monitored data over the internet.

Omniflex’s iGAL Galvanic CP Monitor is unique in this arena. It is battery powered so can be installed quickly and easily. It really is as simple as connecting up the anodes, reference electrode half-cells and switching it on.

The wireless and SMS capabilities further remove the requirement for any local networks. Instead, the iGAL transmits its data entirely wirelessly to the web based PowerView CP portal, which can be accessed through a web browser via a secure password from anywhere across the globe.

By using galvanic CP remote monitoring systems like the iGAL, the imposing, intensive and time-consuming job of physically monitoring galvanic CP assets becomes so much easier.  Instead of jumping in the van and closing part of the highways to physically measure CP equipment, thousands of times over, engineers can monitor CP assets from anywhere in the world through the PowerView CP portal. Any problems are immediately reported by SMS and emails and tests can be remotely performed.

It’s remarkable the work that goes into keeping seemingly stationary pieces of infrastructure safe and standing. CP is crucial to keep these assets structurally sound, but remotely monitoring them to ensure they’re working as they should is just as crucial.

New industry research project to improve water management

TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory today launches a Joint Industry Project (JIP) to help the water industry increase the accuracy of abstraction and leakage reporting.

The accuracy of large diameter flow meters is vital to manage water resources and optimise the water network, yet there is a knowledge gap regarding their performance and accuracy. This causes a significant problem for water companies as they seek to lower abstraction and reduce leakage, as some ‘leakage’ may in fact be measurement error.

The JIP aims to fill this knowledge gap and update existing guidance, by providing more accurate metering of water networks. This will deliver improved network optimisation and give water companies a more precise understanding of leakage rates, allowing them to meet regulatory targets and meet future demand.

TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory is working with Arup and Water Research Centre (WRc), as the principle technical advisors to the project, and is calling on other interested parties from the water industry to join. There is already interest from potential collaborative partners in Australia, Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America and South Africa.

Carl Wordsworth, Senior Engineer at TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory, said: “Accurate metering is essential for effective, economic and sustainable water management. However, unlike small meters which can be easily validated at minimal cost, there has been little independent testing of large diameter meters due to the sheer size and cost of calibrating them. This has led to a gap in our knowledge of the uncertainty performance of this important meter type. As pipe diameters can have a significant effect on the accuracy of flow meters, independent testing is required to investigate the levels to which these effects impact flow meter uncertainty.”

The JIP intends to investigate the measurement uncertainty of large diameter flow meters together with the effects of ageing. It also plans to examine new emerging technologies that could be used as in-situ validation techniques for existing large diameter flow meters. Computational modelling will be used to understand the effects of pipeline disturbances on the flow within large pipes and the effects of electromagnetic interference on the accurate operation of flow meters.

New swarm testing capability to accelerate ADAS and autonomous vehicle development

Leading automotive test system supplier AB Dynamics has showcased its unique capability to replicate simulated swarm tests quickly and accurately in the real world and vice-versa. By using a common toolchain, complex scenario testing can be transferred from one environment to the other with centimetre accuracy. This enables the testing and development of ADAS and autonomous systems to be significantly accelerated whilst also reducing risk and cost.

As the industry continues to move towards autonomous technology the complexity of testing is increasing. AB Dynamics recently conducted a track test with VW Group where eight objects were coordinated in a swarm test using the company’s vehicle control robots and wireless telemetry system.

“We are the only company to use the same software toolchain for simulated and real world testing; this means we can develop and run a test in the virtual world and simply ‘copy and paste’ it when at the test track,” said Jeremy Ash, Sales Director at AB Dynamics. “Swarm testing is very complex and can involve the precise choreography of eight or more test items. Our solution enables customers to run thousands of iterations of tests virtually and then confidently replicate a sample of these in the real world for correlation.”

Scenario testing using a swarm of vehicles is a vital aspect of development for ADAS and autonomous vehicle technologies. It assesses the ability of autonomous functions to interpret the behaviour and intentions of drivers and vehicles in the close vicinity. Scenarios such as merge-in, caused by lane closures on dual-carriageways, cut-in and cut-out are common events that force a vehicle using ADAS or autonomous systems to make a decision (brake, merge, accelerate or perform an evasive manoeuvre).

“Thousands of tests are required to establish an autonomous vehicle’s ability to safely navigate such scenarios,” continues Ash. “The use of a single toolchain enables the bulk of these tests to be conducted in simulation – reducing test track costs and the reliance on engineer time. Using the same software that controlled the simulated world, test parameters are essentially lifted to conduct the same tests on track. This correlation provides the necessary confidence to accelerate simulated testing and bring next-generation technology and functionality to market more efficiently.”

Variohm Holdings acquires temperature monitoring, protection and sensing specialist Limitor Solutions

Variohm Holdings has further advanced its strategic plans to expand both product portfolio and manufacturing competency with the acquisition of the German/Hungarian temperature control component manufacturer Limitor Solutions. With its main 2,700 m2 manufacturing site based in Pecs – Hungary and headquarters and warehousing facilities in Urbach near Stuttgart – Germany, Limitor Solutions has a fifty year history as a leading manufacturer of temperature based component technologies for thermal protection, regulation, switching and sensing as well as temperature timers, fuses and controllers.

With a customer list that spans global electronics manufacturers such as AEG, Siemens, Kärcher and Philips, Limitor Solution’s temperature monitors, temperature limiters, thermal switches, controllers, temperature fuses and timers find wide use in electric motors and associated drives, inverters and generators, transformers, domestic and DIY appliances, as well as automotive, medical, scientific and industrial control equipment. The Company also manufactures other electrical and electronic components such as cable harnesses and power cables, printed circuit boards, pumps and other components for customers and its many commercial partners.

Limitor Solutions’ core technologies and comprehensive manufacturing capabilities extend to an extensive design and automated production capability throughout its product range. Manufacturing is supported with component assembly equipment, automated welding and soldering machinery, plastic moulding and encapsulating machinery, marking and printing equipment. Fully supported by 100 employees with highly trained, qualified and experienced sales, production and quality control teams, the Company has certification for ISO 9001:2015 quality management as well as ISO 14001:2015 environmental management approval.

Over the past few months and during these most difficult times the Variohm Holdings has purchased Phoenix America – the leading USA based magnetic encoder and magnetic sensor solutions specialist – as well as the present acquisition of Limitor Solutions. These new additions join the other Variohm Holdings’ members including Variohm EuroSensor (sensor and transducer supplier and manufacturer), Herga Technology (switching and sensing solutions), Ixthus Instrumentation (specialist measurement systems), Heason Technology (motion control components and systems) and Positek Limited (specialised linear and rotary voltage displacement sensor technologies).

Variohm Holdings’ managing director, Graham Pattison, acknowledges discoverIE’s support and vision for the substantial potential in manufacturing capability and sales growth this latest acquisition brings. “This latest purchase demonstrates discoverIE’s belief in Variohm Holdings, providing even more synergy and paving the way for an increasingly compelling offer to our valued customers”. Udo Angermaier, managing director of Limitor Solutions GmbH looks forward to the acquisition’s opportunities. “We are most excited to join Variohm Holdings, to work with the other members and enjoy the benefits of our combined forces and the capability for significant growth.”

Schaeffler takes standardised electrical design into new markets with EPLAN

Schaeffler Sondermaschinenbau is standardising electrical designs across its numerous locations – with the help of EPLAN software. The company has 1,700 employees across 13 locations, making it one of the major players in the machine building sector. Until now, however, it has had just one major customer – the rest of the Schaeffler Group, which has 84,200 employees at 170 locations worldwide and a turnover of €14.4 billion.

Schaeffler Sondermaschinenbau handles around 4,500 projects annually

The knowhow and expertise of Schaeffler Sondermaschinenbau is, however, now being made available to customers outside the Group. Director Bernd Wollenick said, “We’re opening up new fields of activity and customer target groups. The focus is on assembly and testing systems as well as processing machines for grinding and honing. We will also be drawing on our product knowledge in the areas of robotics, vision and handling systems, and production IT.”

The decision to offer services outside the Schaeffler Group is one of the key factors driving the standardisation of electrical design software across the company’s sites. Many of these were already using EPLAN software, but in slightly different ways.

A project team of key users is responsible for the standardisation programme and Stefan Vietz, an electrical design engineer at Schaeffler Sondermaschinenbau, said “We’re developing a common, harmonised infrastructure using the EPLAN Platform, which will enable us to collaborate worldwide. It will allow us to deploy our capabilities in the best possible way and increase flexibility at our development sites.”

Every single project is complex and mechatronic, many with robotic components.

As part of the standardisation process, the project team is following global codes and norms, particularly EN 81346. Team member, Sascha Jäger said, “We have developed code-compliant templates that are accessible to all employees, including those in manufacturing. Basic information such as equipment identification and plant/location assignment are standardised, along with device management. It goes almost without saying that every component is also stored in the ERP system with all of its relevant data”.

The team has created macros for frequently used devices with a clear goal in mind. “To each device, we assigned a comprehensive data set,” continued Jäger, “as this makes manufacturing easier. Our guiding principle is that whoever needs data should be able to access it easily. This is important because, in the future, we expect more and more external customers to be requesting data for purposes like the preliminary system acceptance.”

In Bühl, Schaeffler Sondermaschinenbau is already using EPLAN Pro Panel to create 3D designs for control cabinets and, in the future, Pro Panel will be used worldwide since its advantages are significant. Jäger gives an example. “If the designer places a frequency inverter on a mounting panel, the drilling pattern is automatically stored, and the data can be transferred to a Perforex system as a DXF file. This saves time in both design and production.”

The next steps planned include transferring data from Pro Panel to external wire fabricators. Vietz says: “We will then receive labelled wires with end sleeves, or finished wire sets. This saves a lot of time, especially for projects using the American UL standard.”

The three-dimensional control cabinet design with Eplan Pro Panel is already being used at some locations. All locations will be working with it in the future.

Right now, key users are testing EPLAN eVIEW for support during commissioning. Jäger notes, “The production department or the commissioning technician can call up the schematics on a tablet computer and view the details directly. There is no longer any need to print out the schematics and the latest data is always at hand.”

Vietz adds, “With EPLAN eVIEW, the commissioning technician can use the redlining function to directly mark where they’ve made onsite changes. Three or four commissioning technicians can work on a system at the same time and always have the same documentation status in front of them. This also facilitates communication with the programmers – and not just during commissioning.”

Two years after starting the project, the key users don’t yet think they’ve reached their goals, but they’re definitely on the right track. Major steps towards standardisation have been completed. Schaeffler Sondermaschinenbau has successfully positioned itself in the external market, and its first systems have already been delivered to customers outside the Schaeffler Group.

ABB to deliver major efficiencies for 630MW power plant in Mugla, Turkey

ABB has signed a contract with Yatagan Termik Santrali Enerji Uretim A.S., one of the biggest independent power producers in Turkey. ABB will provide critical integrated control, cyber security and automation technology to Yatagan Power Plant located at Mugla site, which produces 630MW of power to homes and businesses in the south-western part of the country.

The plant will deploy ABB’s automation technology in order to generate significant improvements in efficiency, greater flexibility around energy output and an ability to decrease outputs when  demand decreases.  The modernisation project, which has begun, will see the implementation of a new  distributed control system (DCS), ABB Ability System 800xA for plant and turbine control.

ABB will  also provide electrical integration solutions and a high-speed busbar transfer system over IEC61850  protocol.

ABB’s technology will help ensure compliance with European environmental regulations, as well as  Primary Frequency Control (PFC) regulation. Built-in data connectivity means that the plant’s systems are future proofed and will enable the seamless integration of further digitalisation solutions, such as  advanced analytics or industrial AI.

In addition, ABB Cyber Security Workplace will reinforce the plant’s existing cyber security capabilities, which is of particular importance to critical plants within Turkey’s energy infrastructure. ABB will also provide assistance with plant performance and maintenance through a three-year service contract.

Korhan Tirkyaki, General Manager of Yatagan Plant said: “As a leading DCS supplier across the energy industry, ABB is well placed to support us as we work to make this plant more efficient, reduce its environmental impact and ensure regulatory compliance. We are further investing in ABB’s expertise to support us with plant performance, maintenance and aftercare to ensure the efficiencies we are driving are consistent, impactful and have longevity.”

Danilo Moresco at ABB added: “Our automation and control technologies help energy producers on their journey towards low-carbon energy production. Reducing the environmental impact of existing, older coal-fired plants, by delivering significant efficiencies – essentially generating more power with less fuel – is a major part of how we help customers to reduce the impact of their operations.

“At a time of growing cyber security risk, we are also helping to shore up the cyber security capabilities of this Turkish plant, a hugely important consideration for any power plant.”

A new magazine featuring the latest in Cryogenics white papers, publications, research, case studies and new products

Quantum Design UK and Ireland (QDUKI) has launched a new 40 page bumper magazine with information about new products, publications and white papers that have been produced using products that the company offers. With the recent addition of Janis Research products through QDUKI’s partners, Lake Shore Cryotronics, the company has strengthened its Cryogenics offering.

QDUKI is particularly proud of its involvement with the international effort (spearheaded by its parent company Quantum Design USA) to conserve helium. As well as promoting sustainability and awareness amongst the scientific community, QDUKI has launched a new generation of helium recovery systems.

QDUKI has been involved with Cryogenics now for 12 years both as a manufacturer and a distributor of low temperature instrumentation such as the PPMS and MPM3 and have continually added to supplying materials characterisation products from other leading vendors.  The company firmly believes it has the best combination of instrumentation in cryogenics for investigation of new materials and for the optical Quantum computing QUBIT Technology revolution which hopes to replace the current mature but slow electronics era.

Quantum Design UK and Ireland and the MTIF enter into a Partnership Agreement

Quantum Design, UK and Ireland (QD) and Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF) have entered into a partnership agreement affording customers the ability to view and utilise the JA Woollam IR VASE II Spectroscopic Ellipsometer. Indeed, this is only one of two such instruments in the UK and the only one now made available to customers in the UK in this way. The nature of Ellipsometry (relatively fast and non-destructive) makes it ideal for diagnostics in several sectors such as semiconductor devices, photovoltaics, nano-photonics, flat panel displays, optical coating stacks, construction materials, biological and medical coatings, protective layers as well as real-time quality control.

This new collaboration aims to leverage the expertise of QD in materials characterisation, high-sensitivity electrical measurements, magneto-optical experiments, with the significant MEMS , nano-fabrication and medical technology research and development capabilities of MTIF supported by state-of-the-art experimental apparatus.

“Visualising and quantifying the so-called Race to the Surface is considered by many to be one of the key parts of material and interface interactions that still remains underdeveloped. Using exciting high resolution sensitive techniques like these we should be able to resolve the detail of surface bio adsorption and further be able to prove when this can be defined and controlled “Professor John Hunt, Head of Strategic Research at MTIF and within Nottingham Trent University.

“This partnership provides companies with a unique opportunity to use cutting edge Ellipsometry technology supported by renowned research expertise.  These capabilities are usually unavailable to all but the largest organisations.  This partnership allows organisations of every size the opportunity to accelerate their development programmes.”  Professor Mike Hannay, Managing Director of the Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF).Through this new technical partnership, QD and MTIF will organically integrate their respective advanced technologies and development capabilities to showcase this novel technology onsite at MTIF in Nottingham, UK.

By aligning capabilities and ambitions, the parties will deliver benefit to clients by helping them to successfully navigate the complexities of using infrared ellipsometry from 2 to 30 micron wavelength range for the investigation of optical constants and material properties like roughness; grading and non- uniformity of numerous types of thin films and coatings.

“QDUKI saw the potential in this collaboration for the academic and industrial communities within the UK and Ireland to access the unique capabilities of the JA Woollam IR VASE II ellipsometer. We believe this offering will give researchers the opportunity for one off measurements for a huge variety of applications, without needing the equipment in their own research laboratory.” Dr Shayz Ikram, Technical Director, Quantum Design UK and Ireland.

HPK and MTIF aim to benefit the rapidly growing UK life science and semiconductor market sectors as well as research labs to accelerate the availability of new innovative technologies.

The 16 channel digital pressure scanner favoured by aerodynamicists

With 16 digital pressure channels, EvoScann P16-A is the perfect tool in any aerodynamicist’s toolbox.

Weighing-in at less than 18g and fully encased in carbon fibre, with a single communications and power lead, EvoScann P-Series is ideal for a wide range of applications, often being inserted directly inside an aerofoil section where it provides no disturbance to the flow field.

The original EvoScann P-Series has been a huge success since its release in 2017. Its unique, compact dimensions have enabled users to make critical measurements in previously inaccessible areas, addressing the challenges of aerodynamic testing of a wide range of items from wind turbine blades, to aircraft wings to Formula One cars. The challenge is in taking the measurements as close as possible to the test location and gathering data as quickly and accurately as possible. Often the scanners are mounted inside the model, but this poses a major challenge where space is limited.

In consultation with many customers in the motor-sport world, the need was identified for a scanner that could measure pressures accurately and quickly in very confined spaces, that are also often subjected to high temperatures and much vibration. Evolution Measurement responded to the challenge and through careful design and extensive testing, the P16 rugged pressure scanner has been developed that can operate in such arduous conditions.

“The P16-A demonstrates a real achievement in engineering as we have doubled the channel count whilst retaining our highly-miniaturised footprint. Coupled with the increase in resolution, this provides our customers with double the measurement coverage for greater measurement capacity with near-zero increase in occupied volume in the test article,” said Paul Crowhurst, Managing Director of Evolution Measurement.

Continued development means that 2021 will see further additions to the product range and also customised versions are becoming available. please watch this space or make contact in order to discuss your requirements.

For more details on the EvoScann P16-A pressure scanner, please view full details at EvoScann.com.

Permark Pumps delivers Powelectrics IIoT solution to Klass Oil to ensure timely fuel supplies to their depots

Powelectrics has been proud to work with Permark Pumps for several years. Permark supplies fuel management systems, pump units, fuel storage and dispensing technology and offers maintenance, refurbishment and installation services to the Irish market. More here.

Klass Oil has supplied a broad range of fuels to Irish homes, forecourt, construction, agricultural, haulage and marine industries for nearly 20 years. More here.

Klass Operations Manager, John Hughes wanted to standardise the various methods being used to monitor stock levels in their depot fuel storage tanks and for ordering stock across their six depots.

He invited Permark Pumps to review the technologies available and selected Powelectrics IIoT Metron hardware and MetronView software, largely based on Permark’s good experience with this kit.

John said: “I’ve known Peadar Markey for many years. He offers great expertise, a fantastic service and supports us in all respects. I trust Peadar and when he recommended Powelectrics kit I was happy to go with his recommendation. This IoT solution offers an ideal balance between affordability and functionality for our application. It was easy to install and is user-friendly.

“Our depot managers now have access to view stock levels and can receive alerts for low level. Advanced warning of low stock levels makes it easier to plan our bulk haulage delivery schedule. A run-out on these huge tanks would leave us with an idle fleet and frustrated customers. Telemetry ensures that doesn’t happen.

“Initial installations on SFGO, kerosene and road diesel in the first depot proved that this was the system that I needed and it is now being rolled out to all depots.”

Peadar Markey, Permark MD, added: “We have offered Powelectrics telemetry into a range of sectors now, from mining and filtration to fuel distribution and public transport. The kit is reliable and affordable and the technical support is great. Our customers keep coming back for more!”

Metron4 can use external power or be battery/ solar powered for use in remote and rural locations. Metron4 m2m devices can measure up to four tanks and represent particularly good value where multiple tanks are located close together. Metron4 telemetry hardware supports 2G and 4G, offers operational temperatures – 25 to +65°C for global deployment and comes in an IP67 enclosure.

MetronView is a secure, scalable, intuitive and customisable cloud. Data and alerts can be seen by multiple authorised users based on a permissions hierarchy, on any web-enabled device. This means that IIoT tank level data could be used by multiple stakeholders for production planning, ordering supplies, logistics, monitoring energy usage, maintenance and more.

Powelectrics SPS series of robust and affordable level sensors are widely used for tank level (fuel, oil, lubricant, AdBlue, water, waste, chemicals and food) and river, reservoir or sewer level monitoring. As well basic units, Powelectrics supply versions that combine temperature and level, and with PTFE cable or 316 stainless steel. ATEX versions and versions for hygienic and aggressive environments are available. More on SPS sensors.

Powelectrics offer 30 years’ experience in sensing and remote monitoring. The company’s ‘connected sensor’ solutions are employed in many industries including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, Adblue, fuels, oils, LPG, lubricants, food and beverage, waste and recycling, landfill and leachate, agriculture, utilities, pumping and environment, rail and security.

To discuss any queries or applications with Powelectrics, please call +44 (0)1827 310 666 or email  sales@powelectrics.co.uk.

www.powelectrics.co.uk