Yokogawa acquires Insilico Biotechnology, developer of innovative bioprocess digital twin technology

Yokogawa has acquired all shares of Insilico Biotechnology, a Stuttgart, Germany-based developer and provider of bioprocess software and services. Fostering the development of the bioeconomy is one of the priority issues within Yokogawa’s sustainability goals, and in line with that the company aims to leverage this acquisition to build total bioprocess solutions that support biopharmaceutical development through to manufacturing.

Driven by developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic, demand continues to grow for biopharmaceuticals that have fewer side effects and can be used to treat patients with rare and intractable conditions. In contrast to the production of chemically synthesized general-purpose pharmaceuticals, the overall cost of biopharmaceuticals is higher, and the complex cell cultivation process required to efficiently and stably obtain the target proteins demands rigorous quality control measures that pose significant challenges with mass production.

The cells cultivated in a bioreactor are immense in number. As each of these cells generate the material that form the active ingredients in pharmaceuticals, it is necessary to monitor their individual metabolic reactions. The real-time visualisation and analysis of any environmental factors such as changes in pH and dissolved oxygen concentration are also very important. As such, it has been extremely difficult to carry out cell production by controlling the complex cell reaction systems with a large number of set parameters.

Insilico’s digital twin technology uses an advanced hybrid model formed from a mechanistic model of the unique characteristics of an intracellular metabolic network and a data-driven model constructed from process data using the machine learning process. As well as drastically accelerating what until now has been a multiple-year development process, prediction and simulation also enable the acquisition of a deep understanding of the metabolism process. And given that this solution enables the construction of metabolism models for bacteria and many other kinds of cellular organisms, it can also be used in a wide variety of applications related to foods, chemicals, and other products that utilise biotechnology.

In manufacturing too, Insilico’s digital twin technology enables the real-time analysis of process data, which allows for the constant prediction of cultivation performance, the soft sensing of nutritional components that cannot be measured directly, and the early detection of process abnormalities and provision of guidance to operators. By deploying this problem-solving technology, product quality can be stabilised, which contributes to efficient mass production.

Klaus Mauch, CEO of Insilico Biotechnology AG, says: “There are high expectations for this fusion between our cutting-edge digital twin software technology for bioprocesses and Yokogawa’s pharmaceutical production system solutions. I believe that through Yokogawa’s global network we will be able to expand our sales channels and make a great contribution to the biopharmaceuticals industry.”

Hiroshi Nakao, a Yokogawa vice president and head of the company’s Life Business Headquarters, says: “I firmly believe that the innovative digital twin technology offered by Insilico, which has a proven track record with major biopharmaceutical companies, will accelerate digital transformation in the bioprocessing industry. We will leverage our engineering technology and develop our business with a view to the commercialisation of bioprocesses.”

Are PID controllers still good enough today?

As computational technology advances, the role of the ever-dependable Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller has come into question. Processes have transformed, becoming more demanding, leading to the adoption of newer, emerging solutions. Do PID controllers still have a place in industrial applications? Here, Johann Lainer, senior marketing communications specialist at industrial temperature controller manufacturer Watlow, examines why PID controllers are still a valuable tool in today’s industry.

PID controllers are used in most automatic process control applications to regulate flow, temperature, pressure, level, and many other industrial process variables.

PID technology has been around for nearly a century. Russian-American engineer Nicolas Minorsky developed the formal control law in 1922, now known as PID. It was a popular solution for many years because a PID controller can be implemented with analog circuits. Then, in the 1980s as computational capabilities increased, its popularity grew even more as the solution did not need multiple resources to run.

A common example of a PID controller is vehicle cruise control. The driver selects the speed they want to maintain, which is the desired set point. The input is the speed of the car and the output is the accelerator. As the vehicle travels up a hill and loses speed, the PID controller calculates the current state to determine what is needed to maintain the set point. The car speeds up as more fuel is delivered to the engine. As the vehicle descends the hill, the PID controller reduces the flow of fuel to reduce the speed to the set point.

Where to use PID controllers

If your application requires maintaining temperature or pressure, a PID loop is an appropriate solution. However, use cases for PID controllers are circumstantial. Consider a minivan and a sports car. Both vehicles will transport people, but the sports car is not going to help a family of seven. Similarly, PID controllers do not fit every situation, but they still have a place in various situations.

If your application requires maintaining temperature or pressure, a PID loop is likely an appropriate solution. However, the PID controller may not be suitable for the start-up and shut down stages of the process. Understanding the full scope of the system is crucial to knowing if a PID controller is right for your setup.

PID gets an upgrade

PID controllers have a loyal following for a variety of reasons. The technology is simple to understand, and for many applications, it is effective. However, advancements in controllers can provide several benefits. Modernised controllers may save time by reducing downtime, which increases production, reducing fuel consumption that saves money or any number of benefits.

Emerging technologies are designed to return the setup to the ideal set point faster while minimising overshooting the set point. Ultimately, with even marginal improvements in the efficiency of a process, companies can save time and money.

In some instances, using add-ons or multiple PIDs can achieve new results. For instance, feed-forward controllers act as an add-on to a PID controller by assisting the PID in reaching the set point faster and more reliably. While implementing a feed-forward controller is more costly, and can take more time, the benefits include improved accuracy, reduced energy use and lower maintenance costs.

Model Predictive Controllers (MPC) coordinate inputs and outputs to the system to make highly effective control decisions. In addition, MPCs have a prediction horizon, in which they anticipate what will happen within the system based on inputs. While traditional PID controllers are one-size-fits-all solutions, an MPC is tailored to the system in which it operates.

Override Controllers use two PID controllers to calculate separate process variables and a switch to select the controller output. The switch determines which PID controller to follow based on a set condition, such as the smallest or largest output.

While these setups are a little more complex than using a single PID, they can lead to marginal improvements that give your company an advantage over the competition.

Making the right choice

Understanding what solution is right for your industrial application can be difficult when there are so many on the market. It’s companies like Watlow, which has manufactured thermal equipment since 1922, which can make this decision easier. Watlow has experts on hand to provide support in optimising your solutions to achieve the desired goals. This includes advising on a range of temperature and process controllers including PID models for different processes.

While advancements in computational technologies originally made for a bleak future of PID controllers, they have proven to remain a vital piece of equipment in many modern applications. These versatile controllers can be combined with add-ons to provide flexible solutions, with accurate outcomes. But first, it’s understanding the specifics and what’s right for a system that will ensure the desired results.

New Series 9 On-Line Gauge for Converting Applications

NDC Technologies’ new Series 9 gauge is the best-in-class, best-in-value measurement system on the market today. This product is equipped with a unique set of capabilities for unparalleled measurement performance across a wide range of converting applications.

Delivering immediate and long-term value, the Series 9 gauge provides the following benefits:

  • Greater Process Vision – effectively performs ultra-accurate measurements of moisture, coat weight, degree of cure and film/layer thickness across a wide range of converting applications such as extrusion, coating and lamination
  • Long-Term Stability – delivers ultra-reliable operation with no need for recalibration, systematic monitoring or correction for drift
  • Advanced Diagnostics – includes powerful features for preventative maintenance to ensure maximum uptime
  • Lowest Cost of Ownership – easy operation and maintenance enables manufacturers to realize immediate and long-term value over the lifetime of operation

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HENSOLDT simulates defence systems of the future

The sensor solution provider HENSOLDT is developing new AI-based decision-making processes for military operations as part of the “GhostPlay” project. This is intended to support military action at the tactical level at the highest operational speed using a synthetic simulation environment. The innovative technology project, conducted in cooperation with Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, will run until the end of 2024 and is funded by the Centre for Digitisation and Technology Research of the Bundeswehr (DTEC.Bw).

HENSOLDT is investigating AI-based decision-making procedures for military operations. Graphic: HENSOLDT AG

The subject of the research will be, among other things, the extent to which military operations and decisions can be accelerated by AI and what opportunities and risks arise from this. Among other things, it will be examined how AI-based decision support can support the sensor-effector network of a swarm of unmanned systems in complex missions to suppress enemy air defences (SEAD) and how the interaction of the individual components of a defence system can be optimised. At the same time, the ethical aspects that need to be taken into account will be investigated.

HENSOLDT brings to this technology project its experience with the application of AI mechanisms in the evaluation of reconnaissance data, with the networking of sensors and effectors, and with simulation techniques in product development and resource management. HENSOLDT leads a strong team with 21Strategies GmbH for AI-based decision algorithms in the finance and defence environment, Borchert Consulting & Research AG for strategy, concept and scenario development and the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE) for sensor data fusion and technology consideration.

TÜV SÜD launches UK’s first complete RADAR Test Service

TÜV SÜD today launches its dedicated Maritime SOLAS RADAR Test Range, the only independent test house in the UK, and one of three in the world, to offer ISO 17025 accredited testing against IEC 62388.

Located in Essex on the Thames Estuary, the ex-Ministry of Defence test site meets all IEC 62388 radar range requirements. TÜV SÜD’s RADAR test reports are therefore recognised by maritime authorities globally, including shipping classification societies and EU Marine Equipment Directive (MED) Notified Bodies.

TÜV SÜD’s new testing facility will significantly reduce time to market for RADAR manufacturers. Previously they had to use multiple sites to cover various tests and were also required to accommodate witness testing by classification societies, as other laboratories are not ISO 17025 accredited.

Phil Evans, Business Development Director for Marine at TÜV SÜD, said: “Our new facility is a real game-changer for the marine RADAR market. We worked directly with both MED Notified Bodies and global classification societies to ensure that our ISO 17025 accredited test reports are accepted globally. Also, as equipment manufacturers can now access a complete testing service with a single provider, they can gain access to international markets faster and more cost effectively.”

Powelectrics welcomes new IIoT Solutions Architect Will Brown

If you follow IIoT news on social media, you may know Will Brown from previous lives as #willywireless or as a Knight of IoT!

Will has joined Powelectrics as an IIoT Solutions Architect, taking full advantage of his degree in Physics and Mathematics, together with strong practical instrumentation and digitalisation experience at Schneider and Emerson.

Will’s role will involve understanding Powelectrics’ customer’s technical and commercial needs and proposing IIoT solutions to help them improve safety, efficiency and margin.

He will be guiding customers through their digital transformation, from one system to an entire estate of digitally connected assets, using the full range of Powelectrics proprietary remote monitoring technology and integrated third party Industry4.0 equipment.

Will commented: “I’m really excited to be part of the Powelectrics team. There is a real sense of energy about the organisation right now and I’m extremely impressed by our technology and platforms. We don’t just solve sensing problems for our customers, but genuinely help them change their way of working. It’s a fabulous time to join the company, with so many new innovations to enable our growth and create opportunity!”

Dave Oakes, Powelectrics MD, added: “Will is an excellent addition to the Powelectrics’ Technical Team. He brings a blend of practical and creative skills that have already yielded meaningful contributions to our customers IIoT solutions. I am extremely confident that he will make a huge success of this role and wish him the very best of luck!”

Will is SMART in every aspect of his life…. a keen IoT blogger and, recently married, he is currently SMARTening up every aspect of his own home …heating, lighting, solar panels …just watch what you say to his smart home system!

That keeps him busy outside work, but he’s not just practical …oh no … he’s not just a Knight of IoT!! Will is an experienced organiser and participant in Medieval High Fantasy Battles! When he’s not immersed in the folklore and warfare of medieval Europe, he may be role-playing in a Star Wars galaxy or even the Wild West!

So … no worries about how much creativity he has to solve your business conundrums with the wizardry of connected sensors!

On a more earthly level, he loves spending time with his gorgeous border collies, Elliot, Risk and Dziva. Yup …even the dogs’ names are innovative!

Please browse the Powelectrics website and get in touch with any queries about getting your sensor data into the MetronView cloud or applications you would like to discuss. Call +44 1827 310 666, email or use this contact form.

How PID sensor technology protects against VOC exposure: An ION Science and Blackline Safety Webinar

As the focus on air quality for health, safety, and environmental reasons continues to grow in importance, protecting against exposure to VOCs (volatile organic compounds) has also been recognised as essential. ION Science and Blackline Safety are joining together as experts in PID (photoionisation detection) technology and worker safety to discuss how to detect VOCs and prevent harmful exposure to employees where possible.

This exclusive webinar, hosted by Health and Safety Matters, will outline how businesses can prepare for and combat these dangers with advanced technology solutions.

When it comes to helping workers stay safe and healthy in potentially dangerous situations, both ION Science and Blackline Safety are industry leading providers. ION Science is the market leader for providing PID sensor technology – Blackline Safety uses ION Science’s MiniPID sensor range in its G7 instruments. For instruments that support health and safety, including ‘man down’ detection and additional monitoring for lone workers, Blackline Safety is recognised as an excellent provider in the global market.

Join ION Science and Blackline Safety at the Health and Safety Matters webinar on the 18th November 2021 at 10.30am for insight into how to detect VOCs, understanding what PID technology is, and why VOCs pose a serious health and safety concern. Joining from ION Science is Pete Morris, Business Unit Manager for sensors, and from Blackline Safety the webinar welcomes Ilaria Tramelli, PID Specialist.

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NI expands electric vehicle testing ecosystem with D&V Electronics

NI has announced two new offerings to enhance testing environments and workflows for electric vehicle (EV) traction inverter validation: a new Inverter Test System (ITS) and a collaboration agreement with D&V Electronics for power-level inverter test.

These offerings promise to accelerate innovation for EVs by integrating test earlier in the product development lifecycle. By simulating EV powertrains to perform hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) tests of traction inverter electronic control units (ECUs), the ITS allows EV test engineers to create more life-like scenarios not easily and accurately reproduced on the road.

For over a century, automotive powertrain engineers focused on optimising the combustion engine. The arrival of the electric vehicle brings the promise of a sustainable future, but the engineering challenge has proven formidable. NI solutions, coupled with the expertise of D&V Electronics, allow customers to spend more time engineering ambitiously toward Vision Zero and less time troubleshooting their test systems. Through this collaboration between NI and D&V, electric motor and direct current power emulators can be inserted into the test workflow to enable durability and thermal testing of the inverter component at full power in a high quality, cost-effective, and safe environment. Adding more simulation fidelity and capabilities speeds up the entire development process at a lower overall cost than field tests.

“Automotive engineers are constantly modifying simulation models based on evolving electric vehicle performance and test requirements,” said Noah Reding, senior director of Validation, Transportation at NI. “They need scalable, software-connected, solutions to seamlessly move these models from design to validation. Advancements such as these speed up EV innovation and accelerate time to market by increasing test coverage while eliminating inefficiencies in the testing process.”

“Traction inverters are the heart of the powertrain, and inverter design technology is changing rapidly. D&V’s innovative power emulators, combined with NI’s high-speed test platforms, will offer customers future-ready capabilities that enable coverage from component to system level testing in a controlled environment. Our team is excited to partner with NI on its new inverter test offerings, and we look forward to ongoing success,” said Uday Deshpande, chief technology officer of D&V Electronics.

Contrinex analogue inductives smooth the ride on tram suspensions

The speed and precision of Contrinex’s analogue inductive sensors are trusted in a diverse range of applications and industries and one such example is rail transportation. A German technology-leading manufacturer of sustainable urban transportation systems uses them to help it ensure safety and efficiency to optimise the performance of its trams. The sensors provide continuous data on the movement and vibration of the tram’s primary suspension spring.

Customer application

The customer, in collaboration with engineers from the Technical University of Dresden and the city’s Public Transport Authority, wanted to improve the reliability and energy efficiency of a fleet of trams.

To improve the smoothness and comfort of the tram, the team aims to capture all movement in the primary suspension spring, including every vibration. Therefore an analogue output sensor is required to give the speed and high-resolution measurement required.

The harsh environment within the suspension demands an extremely robust, contactless sensor with long operating distances and resistance to wear and dirt.

Customer solution

Contrinex’s Extra Distance Analogue Output inductive sensors, available from PLUS Automation, are well suited to this application with their excellent resolution (in µm range), being able to monitor vibration, detecting motion so that the tram’s systems can be optimised to improve the smoothness of travel.

The sensors use the patented Condist oscillator technology to provide enhanced environmental stability, which provides a longer operating distance of up to 40 mm (almost 3 times that of a conventional sensor) on the moving spring target.

The distance between the spring and sensing surface is measured by the analogue sensors to track the spring’s motion, including vibrations, as a continuous signal. The data collected is stored on an external hard disk which is read by the service engineer. GPS position data helps correspond spring movement and mechanical loads to precise locations for each point in the journey.

Honda R&D Co. selects latest Ansible Motion Delta S3 Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulator to accelerate efficient road and race car development

Honda R&D Co. is extending its long-term relationship with Ansible Motion after commissioning the latest advanced Delta S3 DIL simulator. With a larger motion space and increased dynamic range, the versatile simulator will enable the efficient development of both future road and race vehicles and their associated technologies at its Sakura engineering facility.

Over ten years on from its first collaboration with Ansible Motion, Honda R&D Co. was in fact the first customer to commit to the Delta S3 DIL simulator, ahead of the recent announcements from BMW and Continental. Honda R&D Co. played a key role in defining the S3’s core specification, encouraging Ansible Motion to push the boundaries to deliver the most responsive dynamic motions and fidelity needed to develop new race cars, powertrains, ride, steering and chassis feel as well as driver assistance technologies.

With that ability to test a range of automotive technologies on a single platform, Ansible Motion’s simulator supports the forward-thinking vehicle manufacturer’s sustainability goals, with the capability to experience in Sakura, any circuit or road environment from around the world, as well as simulating any weather condition or time of day.

Along with the flexibility of the S3 Delta simulator to recreate immersive environments suitable for a production road car such as Civic Type-R, through to a Super Formula single seater, Ansible Motion’s technical support and ability to deal with specific customer requests were key factors in the selection. “Since 2011 Honda has trusted Ansible Motion’s Delta DIL simulators, enabling our engineers to develop better automotive technologies,” says Kazuharu Kidera, Chief engineer, HRD Sakura. “Its simulators advance our engineers’ understanding, support our young engineers to learn, and allow us to observe in a controlled environment how drivers, from professional motorsport through to everyday consumers, interact with new technologies. Thanks to its open software architecture, we can integrate a variety of vehicle models alongside additional hardware- and software-in-the-loop.”

With versatility a key element of the S3 Delta simulator, Honda envisages the broad range of use cases will expand. “Other expected applications include understanding tyre wear, circuit acclimatisation and giving drivers and engineers the opportunity to experience scenarios such as new aero setups for our Super GT car or testing limit handling with and without dynamic stability control systems,” adds Kidera.

“We are immensely proud to be a trusted partner to Honda, providing DIL simulators and cooperating closely for 10 years. As the first to commit to this new generation of simulator, Honda’s input and ideas were crucial in achieving the performance now possible,” says Kia Cammaerts, technical director and founder of Ansible Motion. “We have always focussed on achieving highly dynamic and high-fidelity motion in all of the six degrees of freedom that define a vehicle’s movement. The new Delta S3 simulator expands on this in all areas, ensuring it meets the demands necessary to validate future automotive technologies and be a dependable tool for engineers through class-leading dynamics, immersion and motion.”