Tuesday, May 26, 2009

LVDTs Cost-Effectively Monitor Tunnel Deflections

RDP Electronics has introduced a range of water-resistant LVDTs that can monitor movement and deflection in tunnels. Tunnels can be subject to movement and deflections due to the overlying rock strata.

In areas of geological or seismic activity there may be a greater need to monitor movements, as these may foretell damage or even collapse of the structure. RDP LVDTs with 4 - 20mA analogue output can provide accurate responses in what is typically a wet and dirty environment.

Pinned to the tunnel walls, an installation may involve tens or even hundreds of LVDTs with cable runs of 100m or more, which is made possible using these analogue devices.
Meltric Releases Rubber Power-Distribution Boxes

Meltric has brought out a line of portable power-distribution boxes made of a durable rubber material. The heavy-duty rubber boxes provide portability, while the switch-rated plugs and receptacles ensure electrical safety and simplify code compliance. Standard and custom configurations are available with inputs up to 100A and voltages up to 600V. Optional features include mini circuit breakers and duplex receptacles.

This product line will allow more facilities to benefit from Meltric's switch-rated plugs and receptacles, which distribute power to welders, lighting, pumps and other electrical equipment. Meltric's switch-rated plugs and receptacles protect workers by preventing exposure to arc flash and live parts. They feature an integral switching mechanism that ensures the safe make or break of live connections and makes certain that the contacts are dead before the plug can be removed.

They are UL-approved for use as a motor-circuit disconnect switch and as a branch-circuit disconnect switch. Safety is also assured when re-inserting the plug into the receptacle, because the male contacts do not engage the live female contacts until after they are fully enclosed inside the device's arc chambers, thus preventing outside exposure to arc flash.

Meltric receptacles feature a safety shutter that ensures user safety by preventing unintentional finger, tool or wire-access to live parts. By preventing worker exposure to live parts, the safety shutter can maintain an electrically safe work environment as required in the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

Since a NFPA 70E defined hazard/risk category of zero is sustained during equipment connection and disconnection, a qualified technician does not have to wear PPE nor follow other cumbersome NFPA 70E-specified safety procedures that are typically necessary for electrical safety during change-outs of hard-wired equipment or equipment connected with pin and sleeve devices.
Megger Enhances MPRT To Test To IEC 61850

Megger has introduced an IEC 61850 option for the MPRT, together with the new MGC (Megger Goose Configurator) software package. This allows the MPRT to test to IEC 61850, the new international communication standard for electricity substations.

The MGC software allows users to import parameters from configuration files in SCL (Substation Control Language) format, and use them to configure the MPRT test set to subscribe to pre-selected Goose (Generic Object Oriented Substation Event) messages. Data from the received messages is assigned to the binary inputs of the test set, so that the messages effectively take the place of hard-wired connections to the binary outputs of the relays.

This arrangement provides for manual and automatic relay testing, using either the integral Touch View Interface (TVI) of the MPRT test set, or Megger's AVTS relay-testing software. The MGC software can also assign the binary outputs of the MPRT to Goose messages to allow the simulation of circuit-breaker status. The TVI can be used to perform high-speed trip and reclose timing tests, and fully automatic testing is supported using test files created in Megger's AVTS relay-testing software package.

Other functions available with the IEC 61850-enabled MPRT test set are high-speed trip and reclose timing testing via the AVTS Dynamic Control feature, and manual high-speed timing tests using the Touch View Interface, for which the MPRT fully satisfies the timing requirements of the IEC 61850-5 standard, Type 1A, Class P 2/3. All existing Megger MPRT protective relay test-sets can be upgraded to provide IEC 61850 support, while retaining their full functionality for testing conventional relay installations.

Siemens Enhances Milltronics Belt Scales

Siemens has extended its range of Milltronics MSI and MMI belt scales, allowing them to be used on systems with flow rates of up to 12,000 tonnes per hour, an increase of 7000 tonnes per hour. The Milltronics MSI is a heavy-duty single idler belt scale. It is designed for use in rugged process applications and offers instant response to belt loading.

It has an overload protection to 300 per cent. The MSI measures only the vertical load applied through the belt and the supporting suspended idler, making it structurally sound so that it can be applied to the most demanding applications. Drop-in installation makes alignment easy and economical. The Milltronics MMI is a heavy-duty, high accuracy multi-idler belt scale consisting of two or more MSI scales.

The two-idler MMI-2 offers accuracy up to +/- 0.25 per cent. It is suitable for critical process and load-out control. For even greater accuracy, the Milltronics MMI-3, a three-idler belt scale, can be used on applications requiring accuracy to +/- 0.125 per cent.

The MSI and MMI, combined with a Milltronics BW500 Integrator and a speed sensor, now have OIML (International Organization of Legal Metrology) and MID ((Measuring Instruments Directive) approval. These approvals guarantee that both belt scales meet strict requirements for weights and measures applications in accuracy and repeatability.
NI Enhances Test Management Software

National Instruments has introduced NI Teststand 4.2, the latest version of its test management software for developing test and validation systems. This version is designed to reduce test development time and costs through enhanced integration with test modules written in almost any programming language. NI Teststand 4.2 features improved integration with programming environments such as NI Labview and Labwindows/CVI software, as well as Microsoft .Net and scripting languages such as Perl, Python and TCL.

The software reduces test system development time by serving as a commercial test executive that helps engineers reuse the software investments they have already made with various programming languages. By providing integration with scripting and .Net languages, NI Teststand 4.2 makes it possible for engineers to take advantage of their software investments and create an efficient, commercial off-the-shelf solution for their system requirements.

The improved integration with numerous programming languages also extends NI Teststand to engineers who were previously unable to use the software. The latest version of NI Teststand offers faster deployment of Labview code to help engineers further speed up their development process and generate deployment versions of NI Teststand systems. It includes automated Labview code validation to help developers write code modules faster. NI Teststand 4.2 also features Labwindows/CVI memory leak detection, which simplifies Labwindows/CVI code debugging and memory leak identification to further streamline test system development.

Additionally, the latest version of NI Teststand gives test system developers more control over multi-core processors with the ability to specify processor and core affinity for threads. If using a multi-core processor, engineers can now control the distribution of threads generated by NI Teststand and optimise the performance of their software for various multi-core architectures. NI Teststand 4.2 also helps test systems generate test result reports faster and gives developers the option to customise reports more easily.

For example, engineers can generate report path names programmatically and determine how to name and save reports based on parameters such as month, year and test result.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bumotec Unveils Multi-Tasking Machining Centre

To improve productivity for manufacturers of complex components, Bumotec has launched its S191 multi-tasking machining centre. Working within a compact envelope of 410mm x 200mm x 400mm in X, Y and Z respectively, the S191 has an accuracy level of +/-0.0001mm. This works in harmony with a rotational C-axis and a swivelling B-axis with an angular travel of -25 to +120deg and an accuracy level of 0.001deg.

The combination of accuracy and multi-axis capability delivers a machine tool with the ability to produce complex of parts to tight tolerances. This makes the S191F suitable for medical, aerospace, automotive, mould and die, and micro machining applications. The S191 is available in four configurations with an F, FL, FT and FTL version available.

The S191F and S191FL are multi-axis milling centres, while the S191FTL and S191FT are mill-turn centres with an A-axis that sits under the workpiece as opposed to the W-axis on the S191F and S191FL machines. The productivity potential of the Bumotec S191 can be noted from its 40m/min travel in X, Y and Z axis with an acceleration of 8m/s2. For increased material removal and the machining of difficult components, the 36,000rev/min swivelling B-axis has a 4.3kW motor, while the main C-axis spindle has 90,000rev/min rotational speed with a direct drive power of 7.5kW.

This combination of power and speed makes the S191 well suited to mould and die machining and the production of small intricate components. The A-axis on the on the FT and FTL versions has a 7.5kW motor with a spindle speed of up to 5,500rev/min and a robust clamping force of 8,500N. The W-axis on the S191F and S191FL delivers 310mm axis travel at a speed of 40m/min. The S191 has a 30 tool carousel with the option of 60 tools feeding an HSK40 spindle. The machine has a tool-change time of 3.2s, allowing the S191F to spend more time cutting.
Cutting Head Suits High-Pressure Applications

The Active Autoline Pro abrasive cutting head from KMT Waterjet Systems has been specifically designed for waterjet cutting with 6,200 bar pressures. Its design and materials of construction can withstand large forces while focusing the energy to the cutting jet. According to KMT, the features of Active Autoline Pro cutting heads include automatic precision alignment, repetition accuracy, high cutting speeds, long service life and easy maintenance.

It takes a few seconds to replace the few wear parts of the head, such as the water nozzle, mixing chamber and focusing tube - and no tools are required. In order to keep routine maintenance to a minimum, these components are made from tough wear-proof materials and are part of the company's PSC (Precision System Components) range, which includes all the installation parts required to feed the high pressure from the pump to the connected cutting stations.

PSC parts have been specifically designed for waterjet cutting at 6,200 bar. Active Autoline Pro cutting heads can also be integrated into other waterjet cutting systems with rigid or multiple head connections.
Parker-Origa Protects Drives Against Sticky Fluids

Parker-Origa has developed the Clean Design system, which protects linear drives from sugary and sticky fluids present in food manufacturing and other process lines. The Clean Design system protects linear drives - including associated guides, sensors and travel-measurement systems - in a modular, stainless-steel housing sealed to IP64. The resulting drive is ideal for use where intensive washdowns are frequent and in damp, dusty and otherwise challenging environments.

Key to the effectiveness of the Clean Design system is the longitudinal-seal along the stroke. A driven element passing through the seal provides the connection between the linear drive and the customer's equipment. The design and layout of the seal is such that fluids run off the outer lip of the seal and do not penetrate inside. The lips of the seal are made from low-wear material and, if necessary, can be changed simply, without the need for assembly aids. The upward-facing cover plate of the Clean Design can be easily released and removed by simply undoing a few screws.

The Parker-Origa Clean Design linear drive and its driven element can be installed laterally (side-plain up, or in three o'clock and nine o'clock positions) or vertically (either up or down) without compromising the protection provided by the seal. Depending on the stroke of the linear drive, a number of assembly fixing points are provided - either directly on the threaded holes of the fixing points or using various adaptors.
Torchmate Introduces Routermate CNC Router

Torchmate has unveiled the Routermate CNC router system, available in sizes from a 2ft x 4ft cutting surface to a 10ft x 40ft cutting surface. Torchmate's research and development team examined the pre-existing design and fabrication of the CNC router pinpointing vulnerable construction points and correcting them in their structural plan. To maintain rigidity, the Z-axis bearings are located at the bottom of the axis plate, and do not move away from the material as the Z-axis moves the travelling distance of 8.5in.

The standard version of the Routermate is equipped with stepper motors. Servos are available as an option. All drive systems are completely gear driven, with the exception of the Z-axis that is a recirculating ball-screw drive. The Y and Z axes have 24 bearings each for linear rigidity, and the X-axis runs on 16 cam follower type bearings. These CNC router tables are available as a complete bolt-together kit, or fully assembled Y and Z axes can be purchased separately as the consumer builds their own table.

X-axis rails can be purchased separately for easy mounting of the gantry to the table. The Routermate gantry comes from the factory fully assembled. The Routermate's table is adjustable in height from 6in to 34in. In addition to this vertical adjustment, each of the table cross slat brackets is adjustable to the left and right, allowing side clamping of larger parts. The cross slats can also be mounted vertically by adjusting the end brackets. This can be used to reduce deflection when used with heavier materials.

The table has additional independent vertical stops to allow just one person to change the height quickly and securely. All the surfaces of the cross brackets are T-slotted for clamping work on any surface. The Routermate's Z-axis can accept various attachments with four mounting holes on a 0.75in-thick retractable main plate. Routermate accessories and software provide a way of minimising debris and dust, producing superior surface finishes, and achieving accurate cuts, said Torchmate. The dust collection option includes ducting and a vinyl skirt for containing fragments.

The spray mist coolant system is useful when cutting material that heats up and can benefit from lubrication using a vegetable-based water-soluble oil. Other attachments include a drilling and tapping system, and the ability to add a plasma cutter to the Routermate. Several software options are available for the Routermate. Routermate driver software is capable of starting and stopping the router motor, coolant and dust collection systems for a fully automated process.
Ultrasonics Testing System Has USB Interface

The USLT 2000 ultrasonic testing system from GE Sensing And Inspection Technologies is now supplied with a USB interface. This replaces the former PCMCIA card interface and will ensure universal connectivity with standard PCs. The modification will allow users, especially those carrying out spot-weld checks in the automotive sector, to achieve easier connectivity between USLT 2000 ultrasonic equipment and standard PC notebooks.

The USLT 2000 is an ultrasonic dialogue instrument that has been specially developed for testing the variety of welds, bondings and solders used in the automotive industry. It features purpose-designed software to provide universal evaluation options for detected indications to meet both national and international test specifications. It also offers high-resolution display of results for rapid sentencing.

Inspectors in the automotive sector are increasingly using notebooks without a PCMCIA interface, which has necessitated the design of the USB interface solution. The USLT USB retains all the features and benefits of the USLT 2000. It operates in a Windows environment, which means that test reports can be generated in Excel and all settings and findings can be stored in an Access database. Operation is via a keyboard or mouse, or via a remote control with eight assignable instrument functions.
Quadrature Encoder Features Eight Channels

Measurement Computing has announced the release of a high-speed, eight-channel quadrature encoder module. The USB-Quad08 data-acquisition device provides simultaneous input and decoding for up to eight incremental quadrature encoders at resolutions up to 48 bits. Its eight quadrature counters with indicator LEDs support both differential and single-ended inputs, and feature multiple programmable counting modes.

The counters have less than 10ns jitter, and accept input up to 10MHz. The streaming speed to the PC is software configurable up to 8MS/s. The USB-Quad08 can also serve as a high-speed pulse counter for general counting applications. The eight digital I/O bits support up to 42.4Vpk/50V DC with clamping diodes for CEMF suppression.

Other features include: configurable for either single ended or differential; two timer outputs capable of up to 5MHz output rate; 16-bit, 32-bit and 48-bit resolution; and pacing (external/internal) and triggers. The USB-Quad08 has detachable screw terminals, and a 37-pin D-sub connector, pin-compatible with Measurement Computing's PCI-Quad04.

A 2m-long USB cable is included with every USB-Quad08 module. A 1m-long DB37F to 4 x DB9F (C37F-4X9F-1M) cable for connecting the device to four encoders via the 37-pin D-sub connectors is available as an option. The Universal Library, programming libraries and drivers for most popular Windows-based programming languages, is included with the USB-Quad08 module. The module operates under Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista (32-bit) operating systems.
Resultancy Offers Business Process Health Check

Resultancy is offering business performance improvement services for manufacturing companies on a no success, no fee basis. The company's Success-as-a-Service business model (also known as the Consultancy 2.0 model) offers manufacturing businesses a risk free and self-financing method for beating the recession through competitive transformation. Up until now, many businesses have viewed the deployment of management coaching and business consultancy services as an expensive luxury.

Many manufacturing executives have either had unsatisfactory experiences of working with coaching and management consultancy firms, or know of executives who have. This situation is hurting businesses who could benefit from practical help and advice but are lacking confidence in the profession's track record to make a positive difference. Resultancy has built a team of multi-disciplinary coaches and consultants who differentiate the brand of professionalism by offering clients a quality of service guarantee.

Dr Matthew Barekat, founder and managing partner of Resultancy, believes the only way to restore trust and client confidence in the profession is through consistency of performance. Barekat has been developing the know-how and the cultural framework needed to offer clients a more accountable forms of management consultancy services. His research work has led to the development of the Success-as-a-Service coaching and consultancy business model that removes the client risks by making all fees fixed in advance, and conditional on the success of each and every element of any assignment.
Engis Designs Lapping And Polishing Machines

Engis UK has announced a range of floor-standing Engis Hyprez FL Fastlap systems, which are designed to process a wide range of advanced materials with speed and flexibility. The Fastlap range is the latest development in Engis' total systems strategy for tackling challenging lapping and polishing applications. This approach includes the design and manufacture of a large selection of polishes and polishing mediums, from micron and sub-micron diamond polishes, to more conventional and chemical products.

The new machines are available with four different lapping plate diameters: 24in, 28in, 36in and 42in, all of which are equipped with touch-screen digital controls, giving operators a range of pressure and speed settings up to 0-1,500lbf and 90rev/min respectively. Standard features include a 'soft start' ramp-up to protect parts during start up, as well as a corrosion-resistant worktable, chrome pressure plates and a splash/protective enclosure system.

The Fastlap machines also feature a fully adjustable work table, variable speed drive, pendent style operator control panel, independent tapered bearing support for the drive wheel and three roller yoke Ring Arms with single lever adjustment for both inboard and outboard positioning. Additional options include a water cooling system, an integrated slurry dispensing system, an abrasive slurry reservoir and a lap plate flatness gauge. In addition, Engis offers fully customisable solutions to suit specific requirements.
CRE Machines Launched By Holton Crest

Holton Crest has announced the launch of its continuous rotary extrusion machines, which it says are ideal for turning metal feedstocks into profitable bar, tube and complex profile products. The Holton Crest's continuous rotary extrusion (CRE) lines are capable of producing shapes and profiles across a large range of product cross-sectional areas from reductions to expansions. The machines are ideal for the continuous high-volume production of application-ready copper and aluminium electrical busbars and conductors requiring optimum surface quality and straightness.

Production scope includes transformer winding strips and motor commutators. The current application growth areas for Holton machines lie in the production of advanced materials, with their capability of processing material at a high rate. For example, in continuous high-volume production of application-ready copper, production rates of 4,000kg/h are achievable with the HC4000. The Holton Crest design ensures the product continually maintains a number of advantageous properties, namely high surface quality and cleanliness, and high dimensional accuracy and straightness.

The key machine feature enabling both high quality and productivity is DSPx2 (Dynamic Shoe Positioning Dual Axis). The DSPx2 system is a vital element of the real-time production control system as it maximises productivity and extends tooling and extrusion wheel life by continually optimising the gap between them in both the horizontal and vertical axis. Fine control of this multi-dimensional parameter is essential for high-pressure hollow and profile extrusions and when frequently changing between varying sized products.

A range of feedstock materials have been processed into high-value products using Holton Crest CRE technology. Feedstock handling and conditioning varies according to the material to be processed. Granules are usually fed by hopper into a specially designed compactor before entering the rotary extruder. Provided the feedstock is of sufficiently high purity and is in the form of solid particulate shapes, it may be suited to CRE. Clean in-house scrap or aluminium dross can be processed.

In some instances, quality issues may be overcome by a pre-cleaning step. Aluminium feedstocks are also readily made by Holton Crest machines into micro multi-port extrusions for cooling and vehicular applications. In another application, commercially available zinc granules are used with a rotary extruder to clad steel wire.

Rotary extrusion is a continuous process requiring no external heating where the product is usually coiled but can be cut to length. Put in its simplest terms, the material to be processed is fed into a groove on a rotating extrusion wheel and becomes compressed between the wheel, special tooling and an abutment. Once it becomes extrudable, it can be processed continuously through a suitable die.
Steelmaster Crane Systems Selected By Parkersteel

Demag Cranes And Components has supplied three Steelmaster crane systems to Parkersteel as part of the development of a new 14-acre steel processing and distribution facility. The dockside location of the new facility was chosen to allow imported steel to be offloaded, by dockside crane, directly into the stockyard and co-located processing plant, eliminating the costly transport from port to factory.

The dockside crane places the steel beams immediately under the Demag cranes, for further lifting and movement to the appropriate storage area within the stockyard. The steel beams are then loaded onto conveyor systems, which take them into the factory for processing and next-day delivery to customers or Parkersteel's other stock-holding sites. To meet the specific materials handling needs of Parkersteel's application, Demag supplied three double girder Steelmaster cranes, all of which have a span of 36m and are rated at 8 + 8 tonnes SWL.

All three cranes have two Steelmaster crab units, each equipped with an independently controlled 4 tonne SWL magnet. The magnets were specified to eliminate the time-consuming operation of 'slinging' loads and to improve safety by excluding operators from the loading process. The cranes have long travel speeds of 4-125m/min, cross-travel speeds of 5/32m/min and hoisting speeds of 2-12.5m/min under load.

Drive motors feature AC inverters for infinite control of movement and precise positioning accuracy in all motions. Operation of the cranes and the magnets is via joystick radio remote control. In designing and engineering the crane systems, Demag took into account the harsh and potentially corrosive environment of the seaside location. To maximise operational time and promote safe handling, anti-pendulation reeving systems have been incorporated to eliminate 'load sway', even in the severe winds associated with the coastal location.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Boge Screw Compressor Reduces Energy Costs

RSL Steeper has reduced its compressed-air energy costs by 45 per cent through replacing an ageing compressor with a Boge S15 screw compressor at its manufacturing facility in Leeds. RSL Steeper is a supplier of prosthetic and orthotic patient care services in the UK.

At its Leeds site, RSL manufactures a range of upper extremity prosthetic systems and components including cosmetic products, as well as mechanical and electric-powered systems from simple passive hands with silicone cosmetic gloves to multi-function Myo electric hands and powered elbows. Compressed air is used in the manufacturing process to power a number of air tools as well as a bio-reactor. The bio-reactor performs an important health and safety role in the production process.

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are generated in the manufacturing process from applications such as gluing. The bio-reactor purifies such air pollutants. The company has recently realised reductions in its compressed-air-related energy costs by replacing an ageing compressor with a Boge S15 screw compressor. A compressor breakdown caused Ian Hamilton, the product supplies production manager at RSL Stepper, to call on the recently appointed local compressed air service provider, Boge Compressors for assistance.

'On attending the breakdown, Boge recommended replacing the ageing compressor - an option that they suggested would be more cost effective than affecting the repair,' said Hamilton. 'Boge subsequently performed an audit on the existing compressed air system, which additionally highlighted that energy cost savings would also be made by upgrading the equipment. 'The estimated energy savings were significant.

'As a result we agreed to the recommendation to upgrade the compressor,' he added. A Boge S15 screw compressor was subsequently installed. 'Since the installation of the S15, Boge has been back to re-audit the upgraded compressed air system,' said Hamilton. 'Results have since been produced that demonstrate the compressor is creating a 45 per cent reduction in compressed air energy costs on a week-to-week basis.'.

Citizen To Demonstrate Benefits Of A32 CNC Centre

Citizen Machinery UK will stage a series of demonstrations of its Citizen A32 CNC sliding-head turn-mill centre at its headquarters in Bushey, Watford from 2-5 June 2009. The heavy-duty Citizen A32 generates higher returns from single operational cycles on parts up to 32mm diameter. The combination of control system and specially developed Citizen software, improved spindle powers and rigidity typically gives users a 30 per cent advantage, enabling them to decimate previous cycle times and demonstrate new orders of productivity on turn-mill components.

The advantages of the machine specification will be put to the test at the A32 productivity demonstrations. They will show how the 7.5kW main and 3.7kW two-axis sub-spindles with 40 per cent improvement in torque and 45m/min rapid traverse rates can combine with the advantages of Citizen's 'Streamline Control' software to minimise non-cutting times through the likes of axis-overlap, enabling the next axis movement to be initiated prior to the current position being completed.

Citizen will also display eight further machines from the range, with capacities of between 4 and 32mm. It will display the Coolblaster II high-pressure coolant system; programming and editing software and a range of high-performance tooling. Competitive financial advice will be available at the event, including details of how recent capital-allowance incentives can be effectively applied to pre-owned and new machines.

To this end a selection of seven warranted, pre-owned Citizen machines will also be available to view. Anyone interested in attending the demonstrations can obtain more details and register to attend on the Citizen UK website.
Thomas Updates Baccus Stock-Control System

Thomas Micro Systems has introduced version 3.0 of the Baccus Manufacturing Control system, which provides ease of use to small and medium-sized manufacturers. Baccus is an integrated stock control/order processing/MRP system covering: stock control (raw materials and bought-in components), assemblies, purchase-order processing, sales-order processing, work orders and quotations.

Baccus can automatically plan work orders and purchase orders from sales orders, ensuring the manufacture only of what is needed and that materials are ordered in the optimum quantities at the optimum time to fulfil those orders. Baccus also keeps track of actual costs against estimated costs for each work order.
Schuler Fits Blankloaders For Servo Press Lines

A German car manufacturer is using Schuler high-speed sheet-metal blank loaders for automated feeding of its new power-press lines. The high-speed blankloaders enable the mass manufacturing of single and multiple parts on three new Schuler servo press lines. The blankloader is flexible and can process single or double blanks made of steel or aluminium, either next to or behind each other, and offers a high de-stacking performance.

Two robots alternately remove the blanks from the first de-stacking station and place them on a transport belt. The blanks are then transported through a spray lubrication unit to the optical centring station, where a robot centres them ready for loading into the first press stage. Schuler's automation solution includes a crossbar feeder that then places the blanks into the die of the first press. Reiner Doerner, head of product management at Schuler Automation, said: 'Once the first de-stacking station has been emptied, the robots automatically change to the second.' The blankloader can handle up to 20 single or 40 double blanks a minute.

There is also the possibility of providing the press line with up to 60 quadruple blanks. Doerner added: 'On the one hand, both steel and aluminium blanks can be processed and at the same time the entire system is very gentle on the material used, as the two robots work alternately.' The loader can also process single blanks of up to 4100 x 2000mm or double blanks that can lie either next to or behind each other. Doerner said: 'In view of these possibilities, the system is ideally suited to the manufacturing of panels or structural parts for cars.' The blankloader's optical centring station further benefits production.

At this stage in the automation chain, the position of the blanks can still be changed so that their positions in the de-stacking station don't necessarily have to be the same as their subsequent positions in the die. Moreover, the blanks cannot be damaged in the centring station as they are centred optically (without the use of mechanical pushers). Schuler installed the entire system, comprising blankloaders, servo presses, press linkage with crossbar feeder and finished-part removal.
Linx SL301 30W Scribing Laser Gets IP65 Rating

Linx Printing Technologies has added IP65 capability to the latest version of its Linx SL301 30W Scribing Laser, making it suitable for use in harsh, wet and dusty environments. Part of Linx's SL laser range, the versatile Linx SL301 is ideal for coding onto a range of products at low or high speed, in a variety of manufacturing industries. The coder offers low running costs, reduced downtime, user-friendly operation and reliable coding without the need for manual intervention or high-quality codes, even at higher line speeds.

The IP65 rating extends these benefits to challenging production environments where washdown processes are common, providing companies with effective 24/7 coding regardless of factory conditions. The Linx SL301 can be quickly installed into existing production-line set-ups. The coder operates without requiring factory air or water to keep it cool, removing costly and time-consuming integration procedures.

Similarly, flexible-head extension arms and beam turning units enable the coder to be manoeuvred into tight, hard to reach spaces. Operation is equally clear, thanks to an intuitive interface in the form of a remote hand-held control unit that allows users to create, change and set up codes at the touch of a button. The Linxdraw PC software enables more complex code creation, including graphics and 2D codes.

Rubate To Make Appearance At Subcon 2009

Metal-processor Rubate will exhibit on stand N118 at Subcon 2009, which will take place at the NEC Birmingham from 9-11 June. Rubate's products include excavator buckets, containers, components for agricultural equipment and stainless-steel chimneys. Rubate's metal-processing business evolved from its original activities in plumbing and construction and now accounts for 65 per cent of turnover, with export a high priority.

The company has customers in Sweden, Norway, Germany and Belgium. When Rubate was set up it focused on installing external and internal water supplies, sewerage, ventilation and heating systems. In 1997 it opened its first plumbing store, with additional stores following. In 2003 Rubate started building and reconstructing roads and in order to support its plumbing and construction facilities it set up a metal-processing facility.

At first the main activity was sheet-metal working, producing stainless-steel chimneys according to EN1865-1:2003. Then, with the support of European funding, the shop was equipped with modern CNC machines - including a Bystronic laser and Beyeler press brake - to provide a wider range of metal-processing services. The company said it is committed to investing in capabilities and in increasing quality based on its ISO 9001-2000 quality system.

Typical products include excavator buckets, containers, components for agricultural equipment and stainless-steel chimneys. Subcon 2009 will give buyers the chance to source all types of subcontract manufacturing services from the UK's biggest showcase of national and international suppliers.
Zwick Combination Efficiently Measures Strain

Zwick has combined the Videoxtens transverse strain extensometer with the Macro extensometer to make an optical/contact strain-measurement system for metal and automotive industries. Compared with mechanical systems, the optical measuring system can be used for specimens with small gauge lengths (from 15mm).

Videoxtens's non-contact, high-resolution measurement allows determination of r-values to ISO 10113 and removes the need for specimen markings by using a sophisticated edge-identification algorithm. The non-contact measurement principle eliminates contact forces in the transverse direction, allowing thin and/or sensitive specimens to be tested. The Macro extensometer records strain in elastic and plastic ranges during the entire tensile test, up to specimen break.

The system is easy to set up and operate and is well suited to production-related testing of sheet and strip used for forming into bodywork panels and structural metal sheets, while high durability and low wear make it suitable for integrating into robotic testing units.
Exact Measures Inner And Outer Structures In 3D

Wenzel Volumetrik has brought out the Exact Computed Tomography Workstation for industrial applications. The Exact can take contactless 3D measurements of inner and outer structures, enabling non-destructive and timesaving inspection for industry processes such as quality control, test engineering and reverse engineering. The Exact features precise mechanical engineering, high image-quality detectors and CT-Software.

Its control software allows optimal acquisition of projections pictures; the reconstruction software allows the exact evaluation of 3D voxel data. Data analysis is realised with the Quartis software from Wenzel Metromec and Pointmaster from Wenzel Knotenpunkt. The Software Pointmaster from Wenzel Knotenpunkt offers excellent options for Reverse Engineering, for correcting tool shapes and for site-specific analysis against CAD models.

Accurate free-form surfaces can be generated and processed from CT data. The functions for the iterative compensation of material depletion from tools for injection moulding and casting moulds speed up the development and sampling process and reduce the costs. The functionality of Pointmaster for the normal-actual value comparison against 3D CAD models with colour illustration can also be used with the Computer Tomograph.

Interfaces are available to integrate with the major capturing software packages such as VGStudio MAX 2.0. The solution is perfect for inspecting and measuring small and medium parts made from plastics, composites, ceramics, aluminium or magnesium. Also planned for the future are systems from Wenzel Volumetrik for larger parts. The new Computer Tomograph can supplement co-ordinate-measuring machine methods.
Lasertube Cutting Speeds Up Tube-Profile Cutting

Lasertube Cutting has announced it will exhibit its services at Subcon 2009, to be held at NEC Birmingham from 9-11 June. Lasertube Cutting claims it can complete saddling tubes for applications such as truss work and bridge structures in 30 per cent of the time taken by traditional methods. With five advanced tube lasers it can offer a complete service for profiling tube and structural hollow sections.

Lasertube Cutting has an Adige Jumbo laser, which allows it to process tubes up to 508mm in diameter, square hollow sections up to 400 x 400mm and rectangular hollow sections up to 500 x 300mm in thicknesses up to 16mm, including weld preparations with a maximum input length of 18m and finished lengths of 15m.

Tubes UK, a sister company of Lasertube Cutting, carries more than 6,000 tonnes ex-stock of Grade S355J2H hollow sections, hot finished and cold formed in lengths up to 18m. These can be supplied cut to length, including square cuts and mitres. Lasertube Cutting will exhibit at Subcon on Stand C100. Subcon 2009 will give buyers the chance to source all types of subcontract manufacturing services from the UK's biggest showcase of national and international suppliers.
Deritend Moves Gearbox Production To New Facility

Deritend Industries will move its West Midlands gearbox production, repair and fabrication work to a 32,000 square-feet (9754 square-metres) engineering workshop in West Bromwich. The new facility will house the smaller gearbox work for the West Midlands and the Deritend Large Rotating Machines business established there in early 2008.

The new facility joins several of Deritend's 14 other workshops across the UK in offering 24-hour maintenance support and engineering services. The workshop is designed for working with gearboxes and large machines. It has already let Deritend expand its capacity to serve industries such as power generation, mining and steel production with large gearboxes and fabrication work.

The integration of the smaller gearbox business completes the change-over to the new site, based just a mile away from the original facility. Deritend offers a comprehensive breakdown engineering, machining and fabrication service.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Combined Starter-Alternator Reduces Petrol Use

Dow Corning is helping auto manufacturers and suppliers boost gas mileage and reduce emissions. Dow Corning's technical centres are delivering process engineering, testing and even prototyping to help customers accelerate product development and reduce time to market. Among recent fuel-saving advances is a design for a combination starter-alternator that outperforms the conventional starter and alternator as separate components. The device is at the heart of the 'start-stop' system, which conserves fuel and reduces pollution by automatically shutting off the engine when a vehicle is stationary.

The system immediately and silently restarts the motor as soon as a gear is engaged; or in the case of a car with automatic transmission, whenever the driver releases the brake. In starter mode, the belt drive and low inertia of the device mean it starts three-times faster than a conventional starter and with a fraction of the noise. When the vehicle stops, noise and tailpipe emissions drop to zero. The approach has been estimated to reduce consumer fuel-consumption by up to 10 per cent in urban traffic conditions, operating discreetly and without disrupting normal driving habits.

Reduced weight from the dual-function unit contributes to the gain. Unfortunately, the under-hood environment presents some of the toughest operating conditions in any automotive application, where below-zero ambient temperatures can quickly rise to 150C (302F) or even higher. Fuel, oil, glycol coolant and solid contaminants can all interfere with sensitive electronics, forcing device manufacturers to protect circuits and components from harsh service conditions. To achieve the reliability and longevity needed in the starter/alternator combo, a French manufacturer has specified Dow Corning 7091 Adhesive/Sealant for critical lid-sealing of its designs.

The silicone formulation easily withstands the temperature range and repeated thermal shock, remaining virtually unaffected by automotive fluids and cleaners. Dow Corning's role wasn't limited to material supply in this application, however. Once the customer finalised and tested the design, the company faced significant costs and lead time to develop the 40 prototypes needed for customer trials. Instead, the Dow Corning Applications Center in Seneffe, Belgium fabricated the prototype units, helping to reduce expenses and shorten development time.

The lid-sealing operation was completed using automated dispensing-equipment with a six-axis robot, controlling the location, application speed and volume of the one-part silicone formulation. The non-slumping RTV material requires no energy to cure. Once the adhesive skins over, it cures from the surface inward, typically requiring about 24 hours (at room temperature and 50 per cent humidity) for sections 2mm thick. The material reacts with moisture in the ambient air, ultimately forming a tough, flexible elastomer that remains stable from -55 to +180C.
Flowline Reveals Portable Ultrasonic Flowmeter

Flowline has introduced the Ultraflux UF801-P portable ultrasonic flowmeter. It incorporates dual processors that increase the speed of signal acquisition and accuracy of measurement to +/-0.5 per cent. The UF801-P is ideal for diagnostic and flow monitoring duties in all water and waste applications. The non-invasive external probes are simply clamped onto the pipe for immediate measurement.

The unit can be used on pipe diameters from 10mm up to 10m, includes an integral logger with a data capacity of over six months at two-minute intervals, and has a 14-hour battery life. Operation and set-up can be carried out using the integral keypad or via software, while the digital signal processing feature using multiple processors enhances response times. External input options can now be included, such as current, voltage, pulse, frequency, and RTD input for heat metering.

The programming and set include multi-parameter inputs, including up to three layers of differing pipe materials, and there is a thickness gauge input option. The UF801-P is highly effective in challenging flow monitoring applications; for example, where fluids contain a high volume of solids, or air, it is able to detect and process any signal that propagates through the fluid to ensure reliable and accurate flow measurement.

The unit is compact, robust and watertight (to IP67), yet weighs only 1kg and is suited to a wide range of applications. These include measuring and monitoring flows in networks of potable water, raw water, sewage and pump metering. It can also measure flows in oil production, petrochemicals, food industries, and process metering and control.

CJ1 PLC And GRT1 To Support Profinet

Omron plans to add Profinet units to two of its main product lines. A CJ1 module, CJ1W-PNT21, will enable the CJ1 PLC to support Profinet I/O. Set-up and monitoring over all possible connections to the PLC will be supported, using the latest FDT configuration tools, and will be as easy as setting up a traditional field network. The Smartslice modular I/O system has built-in intelligence that reduces engineering effort and machine changeover times, and early-warning functions to avoid unplanned machine maintenance.

With the GRT1-PNT bus coupler for Profinet I/O, these PLC-independent functions will be easily accessible through any FDT-based software tool. Equipped with a built-in Ethernet switch, it will be possible to link Profinet I/O stations together in a line topology without having to install additional hardware, saving costs, space and installation time. Features include: standard Ethernet set-up using FDT tools, as with a traditional Fieldbus; remote I/O with two ports, for onward connection without external switches; single-point access to all devices; large data capacity; high speed.
ICR Rod-Style Actuator Simplifies Motion Control

Tolomatic has released the ICR Basic rod-style actuator, the first model in the company's new Smartactuator series of compact, all-in-one linear actuators. These actuators (integrated servomotor, drive, controller and actuator) simplify motion control for industrial applications. The Smartactuator series can be built to order and is ready to ship in five days from factory order. The series is designed for durability and 100 per cent duty cycle performance.

It combines a powerful servomotor with a rugged ball-screw housed in a sturdy aluminium extrusion. The series also incorporates Tolomatic's Endurance TechnologySM features for long service life and to remove the need for maintenance. Aaron Dietrich, electric product manager for Tolomatic, said: 'When applying traditional electric motion-control systems, engineers have to specify each component in the system, often purchasing them from different suppliers, and then assemble and test them to suit their specific application requirements.

'There are many motion-control applications where a Smartactuator series solution can meet performance requirements while saving time, reducing machinery footprints and significantly reducing costs.' The ICR Basic Smartactuator unit requires only a DC power source and motion inputs from the host PLC. It can be installed as a direct replacement for pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders in a variety of packaging, material handling, machine tool and general industrial-automation applications.

Force and speed control are fully adjustable via potentiometers using a standard screwdriver. The ICR Basic Smartactuator model operates on either 24 or 48V DC. Digital signal inputs from the host PLC trigger extend and retract movements; the same signals are often used for pneumatic cylinder motion-control systems. Unlike pneumatic cylinders, ICR Basic units are capable of mid-stroke positioning by removing the extend/retract signal from the PLC.

Once the signal is removed, the actuator will stop and hold its position until it receives the next motion signal. The ICR Basic actuator is stroke-configurable and provides 100 per cent duty-cycle durability for low-to-medium-force applications. Maximum stroke length is 24in (609.6mm). Two screws can be selected, providing up to 80lb (36.29kg) continuous force (150lb peak) for speeds of up to 23in per second, or up to 200lb continuous force (400lb peak) for speeds up to 9in per second.
RTP's APWA Compounds Improve Wear-Resistance

RTP Company has commercialised a line of all-polymeric wear-additive (APWA) compounds that offer improved wear resistance. The materials are free of particulate or fluid additives and provide excellent plastic-on-plastic performance without sacrificing properties inherent to the host resin. Tom Cordes, general manger of wear products at RTP Company, said: 'By eliminating traditional wear-reducing additives, such as PTFE or silicone, we have been able to significantly increase mechanical performance in these compounds.

'Using our new olefin-based APWA technology we are able to better maintain crucial base-resin properties - such as strength, impact resistance and specific gravity - allowing moulded parts to perform more consistently in end-use applications. 'Not only are wear performance and all-round properties improved, our APWA compounds are both non-halogenated and RoHS-compliant, making them more environmentally responsible.' APWA materials don't produce 'plate-out', which is a common issue with PTFE materials.

Plate-out is additive residue that builds up in mould cavities; it requires processors to regularly stop production to perform cleaning, reducing production yields. Other benefits of RTP Company's APWA compounds include: improved plastic-on-plastic wear resistance and reduced friction, resulting in higher PV load capacity during standard ASTM D3702 thrust-washer testing; better flow during moulding, permitting thin walls and intricate designs to fill easily; blemish-free surface appearance and complete colourability, making them ideal for visible components and consumer items; production of more parts or use of less material, with specific gravity reductions of up to 10 per cent over similar PTFE-lubricated materials; and better lot-to-lot and part-to-part consistency, because unlike other olefin-based wear-reducing additives, APWA compounds are not reactively extruded.

RTP Company's APWA compounds are available worldwide in five resin-systems commonly used for wear-resistant applications: nylon 6/6 (PA), polycarbonate (PC), acetal (POM), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), and polycarbonate/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene alloy (PC/ABS). A flame-retardant grade in PC is also available and product-development work with other resins systems continues.

The new olefin-based APWA technology is ideal for gears, bushings, rollers, impellers and moving/sliding parts in industrial equipment, business machine and fluid-handling applications. A complete portfolio of wear-resistant compounds, using all available additive technologies, is available from RTP Company. RTP's polymer experts can help determine which wear-resistant compound provides the best solution for unique end-use application requirements. RTP Company can engineer products that provide multiple solutions in a single material, allowing wear resistance to be combined with conductivity, flame retardance or other performance criteria.
ISO-Designer 3.0 Allows IOP Files To Be Imported

Jetter AG has released version 3.0 of its ISO-Designer software, a design environment for creating masks that conform to the requirements of the ISO 11783 standard. The tool is based on the Jetviewsoft visualisation and Scada software. Masks that meet the requirements of the ISO 11783 standard are used for utility vehicles within the agricultural and forestry sectors as well as in municipal vehicles.

Masks can be designed using ISO-Designer and saved as IOP files. If IOP files have already been created using some other tool, the user can import these into ISO-Designer and continue editing them there. The product even allows the user to import DXF files.

Objects can be taken from a library and inserted into masks using drag-and-drop. Convenient functions for arranging graphical include align, rotate, flip and a function for editing complex geometrical objects (for example polygons). ISO-Designer supports a range of languages.

ABB Low Voltage has released a drive module with an in-built energy saving calculator, embedded Modbus and drive-to-drive link, a user interface with a series of assistant wizards and integrated safety functions. It also features modular hardware and software along with a removable memory unit, and uses the latest motor control platform, Direct Torque Control (DTC). Targeted specifically at OEMs, panel builders and system integrators, the ABB industrial drive modules are designed for industrial machinery and applications such as extruders, cranes, mixers, pumps and fans, in the power range 1.1kW to 400kW, with voltages from 380V to 480V.

An on-board energy saving calculator indicates the amount of energy consumed and the amount of energy saved in kW hours and money, as well as showing the duration curve showing the load profile of the drive. It also has an automatic energy optimiser that provides for optimum drive efficiency. The drive's internal fan features an automatic on/off control, which provides even further energy savings by switching the cooling fan off when the drive is not active.

The same on/off control can control the additional fan used to cool the cabinet, saving more energy and reducing control room noise. The intelligent user interface with advanced assistants means there is no need to refer to manuals. Macros, predefined parameter settings for specific applications, provide for faster start-up. The settings can be changed later, if required. The start-up assistant complements the start-up assistant by guiding the user through the needed parameters during the drive start-up process, allowing a more precise parameter tuning.

There are several other features such as short/long parameter menus, I/O mapping and list of latest parameter changes that make the use of the drive easier. The drive also includes an embedded Modbus serial link that can be also configured as a high-speed drive-to-drive link for master/follower functionality. Fieldbus is also supported. The maintenance and diagnostics assistants help keep the process up and running and, in cases of disturbance, minimise the downtime.

The maintenance assistant gives an advanced warning for maintenance needs of the drive, motor or related components. The diagnostics assistant helps in locating the cause of a disturbance such as overload or overcurrent and in restoring the process operation, and gives sensible rectification advice. Safety is provided by an integrated Safe Torque Off (STO) feature, which removes the torque from the motor shaft. This safety feature conforms with the requirements of SIL 3/IEC 61508, Cat 4/EN 954-1, EN ISO 13849-1:PLe.

There are also solutions available for Safe Stop 1 (SS1), Safe Limited Speed (SLS), Safe Brake Control (SBC), Safe Speed Monitor (SSM) and Safe Direction (SDI). The performance and functionality of the drive module is based on the latest motor control technology as provided by the Direct Torque Control (DTC), with enhanced features such as improved performance close to zero speed without encoder, low motor noise mode, higher output frequency and improved motor identification at stand still.

This provides excellent process control for asynchronous and permanent magnet motors, yielding higher productivity and a high overall efficiency. These compact drive modules, with protection class IP20, are optimised for installation into cabinets. The smallest module width is 90mm. The modules can be installed side-by-side, which saves space as more drives can be placed into the same cabinet, also allowing smaller cabinets, and in turn, smaller control rooms. Removable I/O terminals provide for easy cabling and help save time in installation. The power cable terminals are located optimally for cabinet assembly (power in at the top, motor connections at the bottom).

The modularity of the product and a wide range of options such as fieldbus adapters, I/O extensions and various encoder interfaces increases the level of drive customisation. The large number of standard I/Os is sufficient for most applications but the modular hardware and software design provides OEMs, panel builders and system integrators with the ability to tailor a drive for a specific end-user application by only choosing the options and features required. In addition to the standard parameter settings, the drive can be customised with an in-built logic functionality programming using IEC 61131-3 function blocks.

This is supported by the user-friendly PC tools that can be connected to the drive. A removable memory unit increases the flexibility of the drive. The unit stores the complete firmware, including all user settings and motor data. If the power unit or control unit is replaced, the drive can be re-commissioned without any drive knowledge, by simply plugging the memory unit into the new drive. Moreover, the memory unit allows the application software and parameter configuration changes to be made at an OEM's own assembly plant before being sent to the end-user site, just-in-time for commissioning the drive.

The drive contains an extensive set of standard features that are programmed via parameters. Internal pointers allow for customisation, to produce end customer specific solutions. If further programmability is needed, then IEC 61131 programming is also available when using the Drivestudio PC tool.
Multi-Speed Transmission Improves Electric Cars

Vocis has developed a multi-speed transmission that will contribute to the acceptance of electric vehicles, and will display it at EVS, the Electric Vehicle Symposium (to be held 13-16 May in Norway). Simulations show that a two-speed configuration could reduce the battery energy consumed by five to 10 per cent over the industry-standard New European Drive Cycle, without increasing cost or packaging volume; it could also extend battery life and potentially help downsize the power-train and battery pack.

Andy Turner, EV transmissions specialist at Vocis, said: 'Electric motors have a very wide operating range, but that doesn't mean that they are equally efficient at every speed. 'The torque curve of a typical traction motor is well suited to vehicle propulsion, having maximum torque from zero speed and a wide constant power region. 'However, there is a 'sweet spot', typically at medium speed and medium to high loads, where the delivery of power is most efficient.

'A choice of gear ratios allows the motor to be kept in this operating region during more of the drive-cycle.' There are many benefits to this strategy. Because operating efficiency is increased, range can be substantially improved or the battery capacity can be decreased, reducing weight, cost and recycling issues. The availability of a low gear-ratio for pull-away and for climbing gradients (especially important for laden commercial vehicles) allows the size, cost and weight of the motor to be reduced and this and the increased motor efficiency allow a smaller and lighter cooling system.

Battery life is increased as there is less need for deep discharge to deliver the required range; this improves the financial viability of electric vehicles. The heart of the system is a novel gear-shifting concept, based on proven twin-shaft principles, that allows the ratio to be changed with no break in torque delivery. New high-precision electromechanical actuators are being developed, working at traction battery voltage (typically 300V) to improve efficiency.

Electronic control provides full driveline integration, which, combined with multiple ratios, will allow the implementation of alternative calibrations to tailor the feel and performance of the vehicle to the driver's personal preferences. Mike Everitt, managing director of Vocis, said: 'This is not the first two-speed EV transmission concept, but it is the first that overcomes the issues that have so far prevented their successful introduction.

'Fundamental benefits of our technology are zero torque-interruption during shifts, very low additional losses compared with a single-speed transmission, scalability to any practical number of ratios, and mechanical robustness through the use of technologies that have all been proven in other applications.' An electric vehicle fitted with a Vocis two-speed transmission will be available for demonstrations before the end of 2009.
Transmagic STL PRO Converts 3D CAD Into STL Files

Transmagic has brought out Transmagic STL PRO, a product for the rapid prototyping (RP) and direct manufacturing (DM) markets. This software lets anyone view, repair and convert 3D CAD models into STL files for a variety of uses, including additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, FEA and other applications that require STL files. With the growing use of 3D printers and new methods of direct manufacturing, the use of STL files is becoming pervasive.

With this new application, anyone can convert 3D CAD files into high-quality STL files without having to be a CAD expert. Transmagic STL PRO opens and views all major 3D CAD formats without needing any additional CAD software. The product gives customers single-click 'best practice' options to quickly repair geometry. This ensures the STL models have the quality needed for applications that require water-tight geometry.

The new product offers options to control surface deviation and maximum chord length, putting the user in control of the STL file parameters. Ken Feitz, marketing manager of Transmagic, said: 'Many people are not familiar with the best practices for creating STL files and may not have the native CAD software available to optimise the model before converting to STL. 'With Transmagic STL PRO, manufacturers can use the original CAD file to create an STL model with the exact parameters required for the job, any time they need it.

'Having tight control over the CAD to STL conversion process will produce accurate parts and reduce wasted time and materials.' Transmagic STL PRO is fast and easy-to-use. It reduces the costs of translating and repairing design data to STL. Visit Transmagic's website for more information.
Renold Couplings Protect Against Eddy Currents

The Renold Hi-Tec coupling range of rubber in compression couplings protects the bearings of large rotating machines from eddy current damage. Eddy currents pose a problem in rotating machinery. The larger the machine and the higher its rotating speed, the stronger these currents become. The resulting eddy currents can cause extreme damage to both sleeve and rolling element bearings.

In some extreme cases, they can even cause the bearings to weld together. The high rubber content of the Renold couplings combine with the no metal-to-metal contact of the two coupling halves, which effectively insulates the motor from the driven machine. This ensures that damaging shaft currents are not allowed to flow from the motor to the bearings of the driven machine and effectively safe guards against a costly repair and failures.

Machines that are most affected by eddy current damage to bearings are: fans, compressors, turbines and pumps. However, any rotating machine with bearings can suffer from this.
Centa-Sec Ensures Fail-Safe Compressor Operation

Centa-Sec, Centa's flexible coupling system, offers a torsionally soft alternative to standard all-metal couplings used in gas and oil industry businesses. These couplings shift harmful resonances to subcritical ranges, ensuring fail-safe operation of the compressor system. The couplings are type-approved by renowned classification societies and are designed in consultation with the customer to meet API standards. Companies in the oil and gas industries look for large compressor units with high performance and efficacy.

These units are normally driven by a powerful electric engine, which is connected to the compressor unit by an all-metal coupling. The drawback of this design is that harmful vibrations induced by the piston compressor, caused by high torsional stiffness and weak damping characteristics of the couplings, are transmitted to the drive unit. They result in damages to the coupling and high loads for the bearing units, which may even cause a total breakdown of the system.

Centa-Sec offers an alternative solution to standard all-metal couplings. Torsionally soft, the couplings shift harmful resonances to ranges beyond the operating speed. With only minimum impact on the system, these couplings even equalise misalignments caused by installation and operation. The principle of a modular-design coupling system is based on one or more highly flexible Centax rubber elements made of natural rubber or silicone, supplied in different ranges of shore-hardness.

Combined with a membrane coupling, a link or a bolt coupling and an array of flanges and hubs, the couplings achieve top flexibility in all directions, extreme adaptability with regard to design and construction, as well as an extremely manageable torsional stiffness. The torques cover a range from 2.5 to 650kNm. Close co-operation with the customers ensures the couplings meet API standards.

Centa couplings have been type-approved by several leading international classification societies. Since 1990, the company's quality-management system was approved according to DIN ISO 9001. Since that time, all subsequent audits have been passed successfully.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Atlas Controls Reduce Compressed-Air Costs

Atlas Copco Compressors has introduced the next generation in compressor controls across its oil-injected screw compressor range 11-90 kW GA/GA+/GA VSD. The new fifth-generation Elektronikon graphical-display controller and the integrated Energy Saving (ES) Systems ES4/6i increase compressed-air efficiency, resulting in lower operating costs. In addition, free online visualisation enables remote monitoring, allowing for anticipation of operating and maintenance needs.

Atlas has expanded the Energy Saving (ES) System to simultaneously control, with the ES6i, up to six variable-speed drives or fixed-speed compressors. The Elektronikon graphical-display controller is a colour display, housed on the compressor, that shows several compressor and dryer parameters while built-in algorithms automatically implement energy-saving cycles for fan and dryer. Additional features such as dual-pressure band and timer-based controls enable Atlas Copco to maximise energy savings by matching the operating pressure to air demand.

The optionally integrated Energy Saving Control System, ES6i, is capable of regulating and sequencing up to six variable or fixed-speed compressors. It can also optimise the customer's installation by reducing the overall working pressure-band of each compressor to meet the varying air demand. The possibility to manage up to six variable-speed compressors with one integrated controller (up to four compressors with the ES4i) reduces installation costs while minimising energy and maintenance costs through reduced pressure band.

Depending on the compressor configuration and air demand, the improved ES control system can reduce yearly running costs by up to 30 per cent. This Elektronikon features a user-friendly interface that keeps the user informed about the operating condition of the unit. The hardware innovations include a new human machine interface with durable keyboard and a user-friendly navigation system. The Elektronikon graphical display controller has a high-quality 3.5in colour display. The built-in web-server technology uses Ethernet communication to provide instant online compressor-status visualisation.

The graphic visualisation provides service intervals in real time and displays a graphical service plan assisting in preventive maintenance. Customers can select one of 32 languages while all registered data is stored for later use. The optional AIRConnect allows for remote or local monitoring (through the phone or wireless-internet connection) for additional on or off-line readings. The Atlas Copco oil-injected screw compressor features efficient components (compressor element, coolers, motor) that provide premium performance in free-air delivery and specific energy requirements. Coupled with superior controls, overall efficiency is increased further by complete system optimisation, which results in reduced operating costs.
Iwis Presents Flat-Top Chains And Modular Belts

At this year's Hannover Fair, Iwis has presented a range of chains for the beverage and packaging industries. Sold under the Flexon label, the flat-top chains and modular belts can be used for conveying almost all types of piece goods. With its plastic chains, Munich-based precision chain systems manufacturer Iwis now offers chains for all drive and conveying applications.

Flexon flat-top chains are available in various plastic and stainless-steel versions that cover a range of customer requirements. Their physical dimensions, mechanical properties and materials fully meet the applicable market standards. The Flexon range of modular belts is also available in various plastic versions in both metric and inch widths. Flat-top chains and modular belts are typically used for conveying glass and plastic bottles, cans, cases, barrels and cartons in bottling and packaging plants, transporting of foodstuffs in the food and beverage industry, and transporting light- to medium-weight goods in many other sectors.

In addition to the Flexon plastic chains, the Iwis Group's product range comprises timing drive systems, high-performance roller chains, conveyor chains, maintenance-free and corrosion-resistant chains, power and free conveyor chains, special-purpose conveyor chains, chains for agricultural machinery as well as chain wheels and accessories. Sold under the Iwis and Elite brands, these products are used for material handling and conveying tasks in mechanical and plant construction, the packaging, printing, food and beverage industries, plus many other industrial applications.
Inspection System Checks Internal Welds

A weld scanning inspects the internal size and shape of girth welds on pipes for use in subsea oil and gas applications and is available from Optical Metrology Services (OMS). The Internal Weld Scanning Tool scans welds inside pipes - both visually and dimensionally - enabling engineers to quickly assess the quality of the root weld. In oil and gas pipes, the quality of the root pass of a weld is critical to the structural integrity of the girth weld.

Oil and gas companies, therefore, have stringent inspection requirements for checking welds. Welding of clad pipe is especially challenging and requires accurate measurement of the weld area in order to ensure zero defects and to avoid the delay and cost of a weld cut out later in the welding process. The technology can be deployed onshore and offshore at different stages of the pipe welding process. The tool can be used on corrosion-resistant alloy-lined pipe to identify sour (aggressive) ingress points, in both clad butt-weld and clad weld inlay applications.

The tool can also be used to improve weld procedure development efficiency and to check the root weld and geometry before next passes are deposited. The technology provides similar uses in fatigue-sensitive applications (SCRs) where the pipe is subject to higher dynamic stresses. The system can be mounted to a purge dam, with an integrated camera for positioning and inspection. Pipe can be inspected as it is being spooled onto a pipe laying vessel or during stalk fabrication/tie-in. Here, the tool is retrieved using a winch and wire system, with weld positioning controlled by a camera and precision motorised system.

Richard Gooch, director of technology at OMS, said: 'We demonstrated the Internal Weld Scanning Tool at the Offshore Technology Conference 2009 and the response was very positive. 'Engineers said the tool gives them complete confidence that the best possible review of the root weld has been carried out quickly and efficiently. 'Our tool helps the inspector to better understand the correlation between the various welding process parameters and the resulting physical weld,' he added. In the past, some engineers would inspect the girth weld at the final stage of the welding process (AUT inspection) - if a defect were found at that stage, the delay could be in excess of four hours.

Most reported AUT defects are in the root region of the weld. 'You need to get the root weld right first time,' said Gooch. 'This ensures that there are no delays in the welding process. 'The root weld geometry can be checked before the next welding passes and any defects dealt with prior to subsequent passes. 'This results in fewer defects at the automatic ultrasonic testing stage [AUT inspection] and improves overall productivity and efficiency,' he adds. The OMS Internal Weld Scanning Tool comprises two main systems: a digital colour camera with sophisticated optics and lighting, plus a high resolution laser scanner.

The tool can be used to detect a wide range of weld features, including root penetration, root concavity, cracks, lack of penetration, discolouration, oxidisation, surface porosity and burn-through. To ensure that all these features are detected, the scanning system measures a 25mm wide cross-section, with complete profiles at millimetre intervals around the inside diameter of the pipe. The camera takes overlapping pictures around the pipe for review and archival. Software provided by OMS enables the user to document and interpret these features, as well as measure the cross-sectional data.

Scanning a typical 10, 12 or 14in diameter pipe takes around 45 seconds in total. Once the automated scanning of the root weld is complete, the OMS software enables the user to identify the features of the weld and measure them. Cross-sections around the weld, for example, can be chosen and the main features of the weld then measured. The software also acts as a traceability tool. Inspectors can choose cross-sections around the pipe at regular angles and log any defects as they are found. The software automatically records all measurements, as well as typed comments from the inspector.

This information, including sample images and cross-sectional profile data, can then be archived. Logged data can be directly imported to Microsoft Excel as part of a weld inspection record. OMS is a specialist measurement technology company that provides measurement services and precision measurement systems to the oil and gas industry. A key focus for the company is in the dimensional measurement of oil and gas pipes or other similar structures such as aero engines, process industry tubes or manufactured cylindrical objects, where dimensions are critical.
Chainflex Wire Is Highly Flame Resistant

Igus has supplemented its range of 850 energy chain rated cable types with NFPA 79-conforming machine cables for companies that want to export machines and plant to the US. The Chainflex CF130.US and CF140.US machine tool wire (MTW) are highly flame-resistant and meet the strict US standards in terms of materials and insulation wall thicknesses.

The outer material is oil-resistant in line with the regulations and provides high fire-resistance according to FT4. Areas of application are both indoors and outdoors, short to medium travel distances, and self-supporting energy chain use up to 10m. They cope with medium mechanical loads, such as in the areas of tool machining, packaging, wood and stone processing as well as general handling tasks.

These PVC control cables are available immediately without any cutting costs or minimum quantity surcharge. The NFPA standard originated in the construction field and prohibits the use of some AWM cables (UL recognised) in machines. Due to the very high fire-resistance requirement, NFPA 79 restricts the selection of cable materials used to PVC only.
Stemmer Enhances Common Vision Blox

Stemmer Imaging has announced Version 10.1 of the Common Vision Blox (CVB) programming library. New tools in Version 10.1 include CVB GigE Vision Server for standardised remote imaging, CVB Match 3D for demanding 3D surface inspection and the CVB GPU Processing tool, which offers image processing acceleration.

CVB GigE Vision Server allows a suitably equipped computer to be used as both an image receiver and as an image source. It acts like a GigE Vision compliant image source with configurable features. CVB GigE Vision Server opens up a range of opportunities including full application remote control, distributed pre-processing and computing, or multicast transfers to multiple monitoring stations.

CVB Match 3D offers a practical approach for 3D imaging, providing high accuracy and a processing speed fast enough to keep track with modern production lines. The 3D image of a perfect sample (golden template) is compared to the 3D images of upcoming test parts in the production line, complete with full alignment of the two images. Differences between the images of the template and the object highlight part deviations and can be identified in real time, allowing pass/fail decisions to be made.

The CVB GPU Processing tool enables the power of the computer's graphic processing unit to be used for image processing applications. Since CVB already supports multiple processors using multiple cores it is now possible to extend this to the fastest processor in the computer. Image data can be transferred to the GPU memory, passed through one of the GPU's hardware arithmetic logical units for pre-processing purposes and then transferred back to host memory for further post-processing.

Pre-processing includes filtering, frame averaging and Bayer conversion. CVB Version 10.1 is available for download and is free of charge for registered users of Common Vision Blox. All documentation, samples and components are included. A free 14-day trial version for all components is also available for feasibility and performance tests.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Spacefeeder Solves Sachet-Handling Problems

RNA has released a high-speed feeding system that eliminates the problems normally associated with handling sachets and pouches. Spacefeeder provides a long-needed solution to the handling of flexible packaged products, which are now growing in importance, especially in the food and snacks and process packaging sectors. Spacefeeder has been developed by Swiss friction-feeder specialist Rontech and will be marketed by RNA in the UK and Ireland.

The design can feed at speeds of up to 300 parts per minute and boasts quick and simple changeover between differing products. The capacity to easily accept changed or new products provides a genuinely future-proof investment. Each system is constructed of stainless steel and food-grade materials, suitable for full wash-down environments. Bulk parts are simply loaded into a storage hopper and gently elevated and fed onto the upper level of the system, where separation and singulation begins.

Intelligent servo-driven roller sections progressively space the product until the desired gap between products is achieved. Each roller segment is controlled independently and precise spacing of up to 1mm can be consistently attained, before onward transfer to the downstream processing line. The high-speed system has been designed so that the roller segments have no critical guarding issues and noise emissions are kept at low levels.

Spacefeeder is fitted with a compact HMI for control of the desired distance between products. Key features and benefits of the Spacefeeder include: the ability to handle a variety of pouches and sachets; fast changeover times with no mechanical intervention required; being based on a standard system with worldwide support; a simple HMI control panel; a robust design, heavy-duty rollers and standard components, ensuring a long operating life; high feed-speeds of up to 300 parts per minute; food and pharmaceutical design, suitable for wash-down environments; and simple integration via a Harting plug and socket for robotic systems and process lines.

The system can be moved from production line to production line. It has low start-up costs normally associated with special-purpose machinery in line with short payback periods.
Tubeinspect HS Provides 50-Micron Accuracy

Aicon has introduced the Tubeinspect HS camera-based 3D tube measuring system, which uses ten digital cameras with higher resolutions. A spatial reference point field made from glass, especially stable with respect to shape and temperature, is located in the measuring cell. Thus the measuring system can resort to reference points in different spatial planes, which leads to a more precise measurement of the tube geometries.

Also in terms of the software, basic changes have been implemented. Tubeinspect HS uses Aicon's software version 4.5, which contributes to a higher measuring accuracy thanks to an improved algorithm. Dr Ing Werner Boesemann, Aicon's president, explained the value of the new Tubeinspect system by saying: 'Let's take a closer look at an injection pipe.

'This pipe must fit exactly into the available installation space - and this space becomes more and more confined. 'Furthermore, the connectors of the tubes have to be very accurate because it is not possible to compensate any deviation from the target geometry during assembly in case of such an inflexible and short pipe. 'This is the reason why the tolerances for injection pipes are getting smaller.

'With Tubeinspect HS it is possible to inspect the geometric features of these pipes with the required precision and in a reliable way. 'This is impossible with traditional measuring methods such as co-ordinate-measuring machines.' Tubeinspect HS reaches a precision of up to 50 micron (1 sigma). Compared with conventional tube-measuring technology, it additionally scores with an unprecedented measuring repeatability.

The measuring results can be documented in a clear way with the help of graphical reports. In general, Tubeinspect allows for the measurement of any tube geometry independent from surface colour or texture. Tubeinspect HS measures tubes with diameters ranging from 2 to 100mm. The measuring range of the system is 1080 x 980 x 500mm. Tubeinspect HS will make its public debut at the Control trade show.

Banner Engineering has introduced the World-Beam QS30 Clear Object Sensor, which provides reliable clear-object detection. The Clear Object Sensor utilises an advanced optical design to allow the sensor to see translucent materials, ensuring dependable detection of clear targets including PET bottles and glass containers. Additionally, the optical design prevents the sensor from being tricked by specular reflections, allowing the sensor to detect optically engineered surfaces such as mirrors, LCD glass with polarising films, and semiconductor wafers.

Dennis Smith, technical marketing engineer at Banner, said: 'The optical design of the Clear Object Sensor controls how the emitted light strikes the reflector and it prevents false light signals from reaching the photodetector. 'The stable and controlled optical path allows the sensor's microcontroller to detect small changes in the light level, so even clear objects that alter the light level only slightly will activate the sensor.

'It is a very sensitive and highly reliable clear-object detector.' The Clear Object Sensor can be configured using either the push button on the sensor or via a remote input line. The user can select from one of three switching thresholds - light, medium or dark, depending on the target's transparency level - to optimise detection and maximise sensing stability.

The sensor also features an automatic compensation algorithm, which adapts the switching threshold to the sensor's environment in real time. Small changes caused by dust or contamination on the sensor and reflector or small changes caused by ambient temperature shifts are filtered out by the microcontroller. These features ensure long and trouble-free sensor operation. The World-Beam QS30 Clear Object Sensor delivers accurate clear-object detection in a range of applications, including: bottle jam detection, bottle counting and bottle down detection; food processing and packaging machines; plate glass or clear web detection; and semiconductor wafer detection.

The following features of the Clear Object Sensor make it useful in the above applications: reliable detection of clear, translucent, or opaque targets, including reflective surfaces; rugged housing for harsh environments; rated IP67 (NEMA 6), 1200lb/in2 washdown per NEMA PW12; automatic compensation algorithm compensates for dust or contamination on the sensor or reflector and for ambient temperature changes; range of 100mm to two metres, with a fast 0.5 millisecond response rate; easy-to-read bar-graph display for easy configuration and status-monitoring during operation; three selectable thresholds based on type of target being detected; visible red emitter beam for simple alignment; easy configuration via push buttons or remote wire; compact worldwide standard housing; mounting versatility: 30mm threaded barrel or side-mount; bright LED indicators for power and output status - 10 to 30V DC operation.
Analogue Input Module Added To USB-2404 DAQs

Adept Scientific has announced the release of Measurement Computing's universal analogue input module to the USB-2404 series of simultaneous data acquisition devices. The module provides four channels of 24-bit universal analogue input with integrated signal conditioning. Whereas the USB-2404-10 and USB-2404-60 modules measured voltage only (+/- 10V and +/- 60V, respectively), the USB-2404-UI can be used to measure a variety of signal types, from sensors such as RTDs, thermocouples, load cells and other powered sensors.

Each of the four channels has a detachable six-position spring terminal, which is individually configurable, so a different measurement type can be performed on each channel. All channels are measured simultaneously at up to 100 S/s per channel. The USB-2404-UI can perform the following measurements: voltage; current; thermocouple; RTD (four-wire and three-wire); resistance (four-wire and two-wire); and bridge-based sensors (quarter-, half-, and full-bridge).

Measurement ranges vary for each type of measurement. The device features built-in current and voltage excitation, which is protected from both overcurrent and overvoltage fault conditions. Each channel also has a built-in thermistor for cold-junction compensation (CJC) calculations when measuring thermocouples. An analogue pre-filter removes noise that may be present in the signals prior to conversion.

With 250VAC channel-to-channel and channel-to-ground isolation, the USB-2404-UI protects the individual channels and connected computer and ensures a reliable data stream. The status of the device is indicated by an on-board LED. Each channel has a detachable six-position spring terminal for field wiring connections. Additional connectors are available for purchase. A strain relief kit is also available to secure signal wires.

The USB-2404-UI ships with a 2m USB cable and is powered by the +5V USB supply from a computer - no external power is required. The USB-2404-UI series modules ship with an array of software, including TracerDAQ, a full-featured, out-of-the-box data logging, viewing and analysis application; Universal Library and Instacal installation, calibration and test utility. The USB-2404-UI operates under Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista (32-bit) operating systems.
Panel Thermostats Offer Peak Current Rating Of 10A

The 1T series of panel thermostats from Finder are aimed at designers and manufacturers of electrical control panels, motor control centres, distribution and server cabinets and automation systems. They are designed to maintain acceptable ambient temperature levels in electrical control panels and enclosures by controlling on/off status of heating and/or ventilation components.

The thermostats are ideal for use in controlling heating and ventilation within panels and equipment installed in areas subjected to wide variations in ambient temperature, and where temperatures inside enclosures are likely to rise considerably due to the normal operation of equipment and components contained within. Reliability is the main factor driving the demand for this type of thermostat by reducing damage to, and minimising the potential failure of equipment caused either by the effects of overheating or by condensation resulting from rapid cooling.

The units' compact 35mm (EN 60715) rail-mounting form enables easy installation, requiring minimal space requirements. Rated at 250VAC at 5A, the thermostats offer a peak current rating of 10A. For safety and reliability, a dielectric strength of 500VAC is provided between open contacts. The units' 'snap action' thermostatic bimetal sensor provides a positive switching action minimising arcing and promoting long electrical life (100,000 cycles).

A protection level of IP20 is provided. Suitable for applications in a range of environments, the 1T series thermostats feature an easily adjustable 0-60C temperature setting range for both heating and cooling outputs. The use of colour-coded dials for temperature setting - heating (red) and cooling/ventilation (blue) - facilitates quick recognition of type and control function.

CE-approved, the range of 1T thermostats comprises three compact models: one for heating, one for cooling and a combined unit providing both heating and cooling functions. All are equipped with integral sensor and simple connections ideal for quick and easy control panel installation.
Pneumatic Vibration Isolators Launched By Newport

Newport has announced the release of the S-2000 Stabilizer series of pneumatic vibration isolators. The offering incorporates Newport's self-centring pendulum design, laminar flow damping system, and precision auto-levelling valves.

In addition, the S-2000 design incorporates enhanced levelling indicators, recessed lifting channels and a lower magnetic permeability design. Newport said the S-2000, with a 2000lb load capacity per isolator, is an ideal solution for isolating optical tables, large inspection equipment, heavy machinery, and large area sub-floors. Newport is also making available a standard offering of fully non-magnetic models as well as clean-room compatible versions in the near future.

The initial offering of the S-2000 will be available in six heights ranging from 16-28in all equipped with precision re-levelling valves. The S-2000 Stabilizer performance delivers a 1Hz vertical resonant frequency and a vertical isolation efficiency of 98 per cent at 10Hz. Horizontal isolation begins at 2.5Hz and reaches 95 per cent efficiency at 10Hz.
IM100 To Test Air Spring Impact Properties

Imatek has completed the installation of an IM100 impact tester at Firestone Industrial Products that will be used to test and develop the impact properties of air springs and their component parts. The parts are used in suspension systems for the automotive and rail industries. Imatek's IM100 is an instrumented impact tester providing impact speeds up to 6m/s and uses a variable mass system of up to 200kg to provide impact energies from 1000 Joules to 5000 Joules.

Instrumentation is based around a 250KN precision load cell coupled to Imatek's C3008 data-capture system and a PC running the Impacqt system control and data analysis software. Imatek's Impacqt software is designed to allow for the configuration of the drop parameter, the data capture and the analysis of resulting data. The software is designed for high productivity.

There is no limit to the number or complexity of results that may be defined, so analysis can be tailored to specific applications. The software provides a rich set of functions for analysing measured and calculated data. Reconfiguring reporting requirements between metric and US imperial takes just a couple of mouse clicks.

The IM100 features a versatile and configurable specimen support area accommodating a range of specimen types to replicate typical in-use conditions found in the range of vehicle applications. Firestone intends to use the impact tester for quality control and research purposes to test and improve the performance of air springs and their component parts. In particular, it will be investigating the transition of components to brittle failure due to temperature change.
Microtrace Expands Anti-Counterfeit Taggant Range

Microtrace LLC has added several ready-to-use solutions for product security and brand protection to its traceable anti-counterfeit Microtaggant technology. Taggants are uniquely encoded for each customer or application and address counterfeiting, product liability / warranty and other product security / brand protection issues in a variety of industries.

In the plastics industry, the anti-counterfeit technology is compounded into a master-batch for easy processing. In its basic form, the Microtaggant is a unique numeric-code sequence in a multi-coloured layer format. In more complex form, it delivers multiple layers of security through the incorporation of several nano / taggant technologies in a single microscopic particle.

Verification and detection are performed with a variety of inexpensive hand-held readers and scanners. Microtrace taggants are delivered to the plastics industry in two formats. For the compounder or master-batcher, the taggants are delivered in dry-particle form for compounding into a master-batch. For the plastic processor, the taggants are delivered in a finished master-batch per customer specification, ready for processing.

The anti-counterfeit taggant master-batch is processed as normal, so no special equipment is required. Taggants can be incorporated into a variety of plastic resin types and colours. The end result is a finished plastic product with covert identification and authentication capabilities for product security and brand protection. Other anti-counterfeit technologies offer only a single level of authentication, whether it is visual, spectral or another identification method.

Microtrace can incorporate one or all of these nano / taggant technologies within the structure of a single Microtaggant identification particle to provide the highest possible level of security for each application.