Automate image-based inspection with artificial intelligence.

02/09/2020

High demands on products as well as high time and cost pressure are decisive competitive factors across all industries and sectors. Whether in the food or automotive industry quality, safety and speed are today more than ever before factors that determine the success of a company.

Zero-defect production is the goal. But how can it be guaranteed that only flawless products leave the production line? In order to make quality inspection as efficient, simple, reliable and cost-effective as possible, the German company sentin GmbH develops solutions that use deep learning and industrial cameras from IDS to enable fast and robust error detection. A sentin VISION system uses AI-based recognition software and can be trained using a few sample images. Together with a GigE Vision CMOS industrial camera from IDS and an evaluation unit, it can be easily embedded in existing processes.

High demands on products as well as high time and cost pressure are decisive competitive factors across all industries and sectors. Whether in the food or automotive industry – quality, safety and speed are today more than ever before factors that determine the success of a company. Zero-defect production is the goal. But how can it be guaranteed that only flawless products leave the production line? How can faulty quality decisions, which lead to high costs, be avoided? In order to test this reliably, a wide variety of methods are used in quality assurance.

A visual inspection with the human eye is possible, but it is often error-prone and expensive: the eye tires and working time is costly. A mechanical test, on the other hand, is usually accompanied by complex calibration, i.e. setting up and adjusting all parameters of both software and hardware in order to detect every error. In addition, product or material changes require recalibration. Furthermore, with the classic, rule-based approach, a programmer or image processor must program rules specifically for the system to explain to the system how to detect the errors. This is complex and with a very high variance of errors often a hardly solvable Herculean task. All this can cost disproportionately much time and money.

In order to make quality inspection as efficient, simple, reliable and cost-effective as possible, sentin GmbH uses IDS industrial cameras and deep learning to develop solutions that enable fast and robust error detection. This is because, in contrast to conventional image processing, a neural network learns to recognize the features on the basis of images themselves. This is exactly the approach of the intelligent sentin VISION system. It uses an AI-based recognition software and can be trained on the basis of a few sample images. Together with a GigE Vision CMOS industrial camera from IDS and an evaluation unit, it can be easily embedded in existing processes.

Application
The system is capable of segmenting objects, patterns and even defects. Even surfaces that are difficult to detect cannot stop the system. Classical applications can be found, for example, in the automotive industry (defect detection on metallic surfaces) or in the ceramics industry (defect detection by making dents visible on reflecting and mirroring surfaces), but also in the food industry (object and pattern recognition).

Depending on the application, the AI is trained to detect errors or anomalies. With the latter, the system learns to distinguish good from bad parts. If, for example, a surface structure is inspected, see metal part in the automotive industry or ceramic part, errors are detected by Artificial Intelligence as deviations from a comparison with reference images. By using anomaly detection and pre-trained models the system can detect defects based on just a few sample images of good parts.

The hardware setup required for the training and evaluation consists of an IDS industrial camera and appropriate lighting. The recognition models used are trained using reference images. For example, a system and AI model was configured for the error-prone inspection of fabric webs in the textile industry. A difficult task, as mistakes can be very subjective and very small. The system camera for optimum image material of textiles and web materials was selected together with IDS on the basis of specific customer requirements. A GigE Vision CMOS camera (GV-5880CP) was selected, which provides high-resolution data, triggered with precise timing, for accurate image evaluation.

The system learns what constitutes a “good” fabric structure and knows already from a few shots of the fabric what a clean and flawless product looks like. For quality inspection, the image captured by the IDS Vision CP camera is then forwarded via GigE interface to an evaluation computer and processed with the recognition model. This computer can then reliably distinguish good/bad parts and highlight deviations. It gives an output signal when an error is found. In this way, slippage and pseudo rejects can be reduced quickly and easily.

Slippage is the proportion of products that do not meet the standard but are overlooked and therefore not sorted out, often leading to complaints. Pseudo rejects, on the other hand, are those products that meet the quality standard but are nevertheless incorrectly sorted out.

Both hardware and software of the system are flexible: For multiple or wider webs, additional cameras can easily be integrated into the setup. If necessary, the software also allows for re-training of the AI models. “Experience simply shows that a certain amount of night training is always necessary due to small individual circumstances. With pre-trained models from our portfolio, you need fewer reference images for individualization and post training,” explains Christian Els, CEO and co-founder of sentin. In this case, the images show the structured surface of a fabric and a small anomaly on it, which was filtered out in the image on the right:

Anomaly extracted from a recording of a substance (sentin GmbH)

Camera
Extremely accurate image acquisition and precise image evaluation are among the most important requirements for the camera used. Perfectly suitable: The GigE Vision CMOS camera GV-5880CP. The model has a 1/1.8″ rolling shutter CMOS sensor Sony IMX178, which enables a very high resolution of 6.4 MP (3088 x 2076 px, aspect ratio 3:2). It delivers frame rates of up to 18 fps at full resolution and is therefore ideal for visualization tasks in quality control. The sensor from the Sony STARVIS series features BSI technology (“back-side-illumination”) and is one of the most light-sensitive sensors with a low dark current close to the SCMOS range (Scientific CMOS). It ensures impressive results even under very low light conditions. Thanks to the sensor size of 1/1.8″, a wide range of C-Mount lenses is available for the GigE Vision camera model GV-5880CP. “In addition to resolution and frame rate, the interface and the price were decisive factors in the decision for the camera. The direct exchange with the IDS development department has helped us to reduce the time needed for camera integration,” says Arkadius Gombos, Technical Manager at sentin. The integration into the sentin VISION system is done via GenTL and a Python interface.

The GigE Vision camera GV-5880CP from IDS ensures precise image acquisition and accurate image evaluation when inspecting fabric webs. (sentin GmbH)

Conclusion
Automated, image-based quality control with Artificial Intelligence offers many advantages over human visual inspection or conventional machine vision applications. “In AI-based image interpretation, the aim is to create images on which humans can see the error, because then the AI model can do it too,” concludes Christian Els. The system learns to recognize the requirements of the product similar to a human being. But the human brain is beaten at any time by an artificial intelligence in terms of consistency and reliability. Even if the brain is capable of remarkable peak performance, an AI can recognize much more complex error patterns. The human eye, on the other hand, cannot stand up to any camera in terms of fatigue and vision. In combination with deep-learning recognition software, the image processing system therefore enables particularly fast and accurate inspection. Depending on the application, image acquisition and evaluation can take place in just a few milliseconds.

The system can also be applied to other areas such as surface testing. Similar applications are e.g. the testing of matte metal/coatings surfaces (automotive interior), natural materials (stone, wood) or technical textiles such as leather. Scratches, cracks and other defects on consumer goods can thus be detected and the respective products sorted out. Exclude quality defects and produce only “good stuff” – an indispensable process within the framework of quality assurance. IDS cameras in combination with the deep learning supported software of sentin GmbH significantly optimize the detection of defects and objects in quality control. This allows the personnel and time expenditure for complaints and rework, as well as pseudo rejects, to be significantly reduced in a wide range of industries and areas.

• See information on other IDS Imaging products. – published on the Read-out Signpost.

@sentin_ai @IDS_Imaging #mepaxIntPR #PAuto #Food


Understanding how to screen for people in an efficient and accurate manner.

03/08/2020
As we learn more and more about the symptoms and risks associated with COVID – 19 many companies have studied how their offerings can be used or adapted to cope and assist in the battle against this invisible enemy.

A thermal imaging camera can be an effective screening device for detecting individuals with an elevated skin temperature. This type of monitoring can provide useful information when used as a screening tool in high-traffic areas to help identify people with an elevated temperature compared to the general population. That individual can then be further screened using other body temperature measuring tools.

Although thermal imaging cameras are primarily designed for industrial and night vision uses, public health organizations have used FLIR cameras around the world at airports, seaports, office buildings and other mass gathering areas to provide rapid, efficient screening in high-traffic areas. FLIR thermal cameras are particularly well suited to this because they can provide a temperature reading of a person’s face in a matter of seconds.

How thermal imaging works
A thermal imaging camera produces infrared images or heat pictures that display small temperature differences. This allows thermal cameras to create and continually update a visual heat map of skin temperatures. In addition, FLIR thermal imaging cameras are sensitive devices capable of measuring small temperature differences.

Many of the FLIR thermal cameras that are appropriate for measuring skin temperatures also offer built-in functions like visual and sound alarms that can be set to go off when a certain temperature threshold is exceeded. The operator can then instantly decide whether the subject needs to be referred for further screening with additional temperature measurement tools.

Use in high-traffic areas, such as airports, as part of screening procedures.

As the thermal imaging camera produces images in near-realtime, the total evaluation process takes mere moments, making thermal imaging technology very useful for rapidly screening large numbers of people.

Measuring the temperature of the human body
It’s true that a person’s general skin temperature is typically not equal to the person’s core temperature. That doesn’t detract from the use of thermal cameras to detect elevated skin temperatures, however. Thermal cameras are useful in this role because the goal is not to measure absolute skin temperature, but to differentiate people who have an elevated skin temperature compared to others while also considering the environmental conditions of the location.

Some FLIR camera models offer an elevated skin temperature screening mode that is helpful in comparing the person being screened against the temperature of other people previously screened. When in Screening mode, the operator can save ten thermal images of faces that the camera automatically averages as a reference.

Hot spots in corner of the eyes

Sound and color alarms
All areas on the subject’s face that are hotter than a predefined temperature value can be displayed as a designated color on the thermal image. This built-in alarm allows users to make an immediate decision regarding whether the subject may need further screening with additional screening tools. In addition, some FLIR cameras are equipped with an audible alarm that can be activated to sound if the detected temperature exceeds a predefined value.

A small investment to enable high-traffic screening
Airports all over the world are using FLIR cameras and have applied this methodology to screen people entering and leaving a country. It is a quick, non-contact method that is safe for both the camera operator and the people being screened.

@flir #Transport


Post pandemic environmental monitoring

23/07/2020
Matt Dibbs, Managing Director Meteor Communications Ltd., explains how the Coronavirus pandemic presented significant challenges to the collection of environmental data. However, by utilising novel technology, British water companies and the Environment Agency have been able to continue gathering water quality data in locations from Cornwall to Cumbria. Matt believes that this provides a template for environmental monitoring on the future.

The Coronavirus pandemic presented significant challenges to the collection of environmental data. However, by utilising novel technology, water companies and the Environment Agency have been able to continue gathering key data in locations from Cornwall to Cumbria.

Water quality monitoring
The British Environment Agency and water utilities have statutory obligations to protect and enhance water resources; and in order to fulfil these obligations they undertake large numbers of measurements to establish baseline data, detect trends, monitor mitigation measures, and identify sources of pollution from both point and diffuse sources. This involves making a range of measurements; either collecting samples for laboratory analysis or employing portable instruments in the field. To support these activities, rapidly deployable, automatic, remote monitoring systems have also been developed to provide real-time access to data 24/7.

The Environment Agency’s Environmental Sensor Network (ESNET) is operated by the National Laboratory Service. This agile monitoring capability of over 150 sites is providing a template for sustainable, resilient, environmental monitoring. ESNET is comprised of modular water quality monitoring systems that can be quickly and easily deployed at remote sites. The telemetry modules and website capability are developed and supplied by Meteor Communications Ltd.

The laboratory analysis of samples is vitally important and allows industry and regulators to analyse for an extensive array of parameters. These samples inform a better understanding of longer term trends and facilitate the monitoring of trace and emerging pollutants. However, water bodies are highly dynamic environments. Precipitation, flow and the intermittent or diurnal nature of process and agricultural effluents mean that in some circumstances it is necessary to employ enhanced high-resolution monitoring techniques to provide evidence upon which informed operational and policy decisions can be made.

Real-time, high-resolution water quality monitoring systems
The Environment Agency uses two main types of continuous water quality monitors; a fixed, cabinet or kiosk based system (right), and a portable version which is housed in a rugged case (below). Evidence from these systems is utilised by environment planners, ecologists, fisheries and environment management teams across the agency. These continuous water quality monitoring systems have been developed and refined over the last 20 years, so that they can be quickly and easily deployed at almost any national location; delivering data via telemetry within minutes of installation. This high-intensity monitoring capability substantially improves the temporal and spatial quality of data. The rapid deployment of these monitors now enables the agency to respond more quickly to pollution events.

Each system is built around a battery-powered multi-parameter water quality sonde; situated in the river or located in a bankside flow-through chamber, with samples being taken at 15 minute intervals. Typically, the sondes are loaded with sensors for measuring parameters such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, conductivity, turbidity, ammonium, Blue Green Algae and chlorophyll. Additionally, the systems can incorporate an automatic sampler which can be triggered when pre-determined conditions arise. This means that event-triggered samples can be made available for subsequent laboratory investigation.

Measured data is transferred securely to the Meteor Data Cloud, where stakeholders access graphical, tabular and geospatial views to see live readings and retrieve recorded data. With this customisable data presentation, managers are able to communicate evidence in a form which is more accessible and meaningful to public representatives, interest groups and stakeholders. This also enables bodies such as the Environment Agency to promote the use of open data, providing live data links, advice and services to a diverse range of public groups and organisations such as flood awareness groups, rivers trusts and angling organisations.

During the coronavirus pandemic the Environment Agency collected over 16,000 samples per day using ESNET and the cloud-based viewer was made available to all water quality practitioners across the Defra family, as well as a wide range of external bodies.

The advantages of remote monitoring networks
By collecting data automatically; the volume of evidence increases dramatically, furthermore, such systems are resilient to the effects of issues such as a lockdown; because monitoring practitioners are able to collect and assess data; even if they are isolated at home.

In recent years, sensors and water quality sondes have undergone significant development to improve reliability and extend the period between service and calibration. Meteor Communications provides a comprehensive maintenance program for customers on a monthly basis and freshly calibrated units are constantly in circulation within the ESNET system.

Continuous monitoring enables the detection of transient spikes that can arise from pollution incidents; helping to raise timely alarms and identify ongoing sources of pollution. This evidence can be used to develop informed interventions by stakeholders in industry and agriculture, and to enable the adoption of practices that improve water quality.

Integrated systems such as those operated in the Thames Valley catchment are able to track pollution events as they move with the river, which means for example, that water treatment plants can adjust their intakes accordingly.

Tidal water presents a major monitoring challenge because large volumes of saline water are constantly moving back and forth, which significantly complicates the comparison of measurements at one point on the river. So, for example, a measurement at one location at 9am is not directly comparable with another measurement at 9am a week later, because one might be taken at low tide and the other at high tide. The transient effects of CSO’s and algal activity further complicate the picture. Water quality scientists at the Environment Agency have therefore worked closely with Meteor Communications to develop a software-based monitoring system, known as ‘Half Tide Correction’ (HTC). In simple terms, this corrects for the effects of the tide and allows assessment of the underlying water quality.

Continuous, accurate and robust data allows managers to assess the impact of developments and remediation measures. Good data, used as evidence, informs the evaluation of investments and leads to better decision making.

The ESNET network also provides image acquisition, and the Environment Agency and others have deployed over 600 ESNET camera sites. These remote cameras are used to continuously monitor a wide range of flood defence infrastructure and assets; rapidly detecting blockages or overflows and avoiding the need for unnecessary and costly site visits.

ESNET systems also provide an essential tool for measuring the effectiveness of Natural Flood Management (NFM) schemes. In Oxfordshire for example, working with a wide range of partners in the Evenlode catchment, the systems are helping to evaluate the effectiveness of NFM measures for the local community and other stakeholders.

Utilities – final effluent monitoring
The flexibility of the ESNET systems makes them ideal for monitoring water quality at waste water treatment works. The responsibility for monitoring discharges rests with the operators themselves under the terms of operator self-monitoring (OSM) agreements. OSM is now delivered by a spot sampling regime supported by real time monitors, so an opportunity exists for all stakeholders to benefit from the advantages of continuous monitoring.

A British water company is now operating 130 ESNET final effluent monitoring systems across their business. These sites have continued to operate during the COVID-19 lockdown providing operators and managers with vital data with which to assess performance and compliance during this challenging period.

Summary
Recent advances in technology have enabled the development of continuous monitoring systems that are quick and easy to install. The portable ESNET system is routinely commissioned in less than an hour, and the pumped kiosks can usually be installed within half a day.

With little or no capital works necessary prior to the installation of an ESNET system, continuous, easily accessible, multi-parameter data can be established quickly and cost effectively. Real-time monitoring means less travel, less time on site and a lower carbon footprint. Real time data can also be provided to stakeholders, timely alarms triggered and monitoring can continue unaffected by the impact of viral pandemics.

@MeteorComms @_Enviro_News #PAuto #Water #coróinvíreas #COVID19 #coronavirus

Real-time access to Antarctic tide data.

14/07/2020

One of the most important challenges, when designing monitoring facilities in remote locations, is resilience. Remote tide gauge systems operate in extremely harsh environments and require robust communications systems that almost never fail and are capable of storing large amounts of data locally as an extra protection for data. Scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) are therefore upgrading the South Atlantic Tide Gauge Network (SATGN) to include the latest low power dataloggers with built-in satellite telemetry capability – the SatLink 3 from OTT Hydromet.

Installation at Vernadsky

Installation at Vernadsky 1400KM south of Argentina

The SATGN is maintained and operated by the National Oceanography Centre, which is the British centre of excellence for sea level monitoring, coastal flood forecasting and the analysis of sea levels. It is the focus for marine water level research in Britain and for the provision of advice for policy makers, planners and coastal engineers.

Satellite telemetry is becoming increasingly popular in many other parts of the world. “Some government and non-commercial organisations are able to utilise a variety of satellites free of charge,” explains OTT’s Nigel Grimsley. “However, the cost of transmitting data via satellite has reduced considerably recently, and now rivals the cost of cellular communications.”

The SATGN measures sea levels in some of the most remote places on Earth. Monitoring sites include Antarctic locations such as Rothera and Vernadsky; located around 1,400km below the southern tip of Argentina. Prior to the installation of this network there was a lack of information on sea level variations in the Southern Atlantic and a bias in tide gauge records towards the more densely populated Northern hemisphere. Over the last 30 years data from the SATGN have improved estimates of global sea level change, such as those reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The NOC at Liverpool operates and maintains the SATGN providing near real-time sea level data for operational purposes and scientific research. This has helped to provide a long-term sea level record that is used by British scientists and the wider scientific community to monitor the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) variability. The data is also being used to help in the ‘ground truthing’ of satellite altimetry as well as the evaluation of climate variability on various timescales including longer term changes. In addition, the data is being used by local communities to provide essential information for both government and port authorities.

Monitoring/telemetry system upgrade
In recent years, the SATGN has undergone a refurbishment programme to reduce running costs and to safeguard local populations and infrastructure by providing tsunami monitoring capability and improving resilience. These new gauges couple Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) land level monitoring technology with tsunami capable radar and pressure sensors, transmitting data in near real-time by satellite based communications systems to operational monitoring centres.

SatLink3_satellite_transmitter_loggerAs part of this NOC ongoing program, the tide gauges’ main datalogger and transmitter have been upgraded to incorporate OTT’s new Sutron SatLink3. The first site to receive this upgrade was the Vernadsky station located in Antarctica, which is now operated by Ukrainian scientists and is soon to be followed by the tide gauge at King Edward point, on the South Georgia islands.

A further advantage of the upgrade is the SatLink3’s ability to communicate via Wi-Fi with wireless devices, including smart phones, tablets and computers. This means that local staff can connect wirelessly to the logger from a few metres away, which is a major advantage during inclement weather conditions.

Sensors
The SatLink3 datalogger is capable of accepting readings from a wide variety of sensors, with 2 independent SDI-12 channels, 5 analogue channels, one 4-20 mA channel and 2 digital inputs. The Vernadsky station includes a barometric pressure sensor, a radar level sensor installed over a heated/insulated stilling well (keeps the inner core free of ice) and two OTT PLS pressure level sensors which provide accurate measurements of water depth.

Tide Gauge Hut at Vernadsky Antarctica

Tide Gauge Hut at Vernadsky

The network is using the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to transmit data. GOES is operated by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. One minute averaged data is transmitted every 15 minutes. The data is then made freely available on the IOC Sea Level Station Monitoring Facility web site.

Summary
By upgrading to the SatLink3 logger/transmitter, the NOC is enhancing the resilience of the South Atlantic Tide Gauge Network. Jeff Pugh from the Marine Physics and Ocean Climate Group at the NOC, says: “The data from this network informs models that assist with projections relating to climate change, and others which provide advance warnings that can help protect life and property. Given the remote locations of the monitoring sites, it is vitally important, therefore, that the instruments are extremely reliable, operating on low power, with very little requirement for service or spares. By transmitting almost live data via satellite, these monitoring systems enable the models to deliver timely warnings; advance notice of tsunami, for example, can be of critical importance.”

@_Enviro_News @NOCnews #OTThydromat #Environment #PAuto

 

 


Sensors for Mars.

02/07/2020
International collaboration takes Vaisala and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) to Mars onboard NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. The rover is scheduled for launch on July 30, 2020. Vaisala’s sensor technology combined with FMI’s measurement instrumentation will be used to obtain accurate and reliable pressure and humidity data from the surface of the red planet.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) is among the scientific partners providing measurement equipment for the new Perseverance rover, expected to launch in July and land on Mars in February 2021. The pressure and humidity measurement devices developed by the FMI are based on Vaisala’s world known sensor technology and are similar but more advanced to the ones sent to Mars on the first Curiosity rover in 2012.

Is there anybody out there?
Join this live webcast to hear more!
Welcome to learn about space-proof technology, how it works, what it does, why it’s important, and why measurements play a key role in space research. You’ll hear examples and stories by our experts, and by a special guest speaker, who will be sharing his own experiences and insights of space.
• Date: July 20, 2020
•Time: 15.30-16.30 EEST – 14.30-15.30 CEST – 08.30-09.30 EDT

Place: Virtual event – Sign up here
The event is organized by Vaisala and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It will be held in English and it is free of charge. Live subtitles in Finnish will be available.
Learn more about space-proof technology before the event here and follow the discussion on social media using #spacetechFI.

The new mission equipment complements the Curiosity rover. While working on Mars, the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers will form a small-scale observation network. The network is only the first step, anticipating the extensive observation network planned on Mars in the future.

International and scientific collaboration aims to gather knowledge of the Martian atmosphere and other environmental conditions
The Mars 2020 mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. In order to obtain data from the surface from the Red Planet, NASA selected trusted partners to provide measurement instruments for installation on the Mars rover. A Spanish-led European consortium provides the rover with Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA); a set of sensors that provides measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, and the amount and size of dust particles.

As part of the consortium, FMI delivers instrumentation to MEDA for humidity and pressure measurements based on Vaisala’s top quality sensors.

“Mars, as well as Venus, the other sister planet of Earth, is a particularly important area of atmospheric investigations due to its similarities to Earth. Studying Mars helps us also better understand the behavior of Earth’s atmosphere”, comments Maria Genzer, Head of Planetary Research and Space Technology group at FMI.

The harsh and demanding conditions of Mars require the most reliable sensor technology that provides accurate and reliable data without maintenance or repair.

“We are honored that Vaisala’s core sensor technologies have been selected to provide accurate and reliable measurement data on Mars. In line with our mission to enable observations for a better world, we are excited to be part of this collaboration. Hopefully the measurement technology will provide tools for finding answers to the most pressing challenges of our time, such as climate change,” says Liisa Åström, Vice President, Products and Systems of Vaisala.

Same technology, different planet – utilizing Vaisala core technologies for accuracy and long-term stability
In the extreme conditions of the Martian atmosphere, NASA will be able to obtain accurate readings of pressure and humidity levels with Vaisala’s HUMICAP® and BAROCAP® sensors. The sensors’ long-term stability and accuracy, as well as their ability to tolerate dust, chemicals, and harsh environmental conditions, make them suitable for very demanding measurement needs, also in space. The same technology is used in numerous industrial and environmental applications such as weather stations, radiosondes, greenhouses and datacenters.

Barocap Wafer

The humidity measurement device MEDA HS, developed by FMI for Perseverance, utilizes standard Vaisala HUMICAP® humidity sensors. HUMICAP® is a capacitive thin-film polymer sensor consisting of a substrate on which a thin film of polymer is deposited between two conductive electrodes. The humidity sensor onboard is a new generation sensor, with superior performance also in the low pressure conditions expected on the red planet.

In addition to humidity measurements, FMI has developed a device for pressure measurement, MEDA PS, which uses customized Vaisala BAROCAP® pressure sensors, optimized to operate in the Martian climate. BAROCAP® is a silicon-based micromechanical pressure sensor that offers reliable performance in a wide variety of applications, from meteorology to pressure sensitive industrial equipment in semiconductor industry and laboratory pressure standard measurements. Combining two powerful technologies – single-crystal silicon material and capacitive measurement – BAROCAP® sensors feature low hysteresis combined with excellent accuracy and long-term stability, both essential for measurements in space.

“Our sensor technologies are used widely in demanding everyday measurement environments here on Earth. And why not – if they work on Mars, they will work anywhere,” Åström concludes.

@VaisalaGroup @FMIspace @NASAPersevere #Metrology #Finland


Robotics tackling pandemics.

19/06/2020
Poll for UK Robotics Week reports that over 1 in 3 British adults believe robotics could help manufacture PPE, while over a third think that robot deliveries could aid social distancing.

One in three British adults see a key role for the use of robotics in tackling the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics, research released today reveals. The public poll*, commissioned by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network, is being released ahead of the annual UK Robotics Week, which returns for its fifth year from 22nd – 28th June 2020.  

36% of a representative sample of British adults believe that robotics technology could help to ramp up the manufacture of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), while 33% feel that robot deliveries and the use of Unattended Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) could aid social distancing during public health crises such as the current global pandemic1.  28% of those polled also think that robotics could play a vital role in automating the cleaning and disinfecting of public places.

The survey reports that the manufacturing sector tops the list of industries in which people think robotics are most useful, highlighted by 42% of respondents, ahead of logistics (30%) and military and defence (20%).  While just under a fifth of those polled (17%) indicated that robotics should be most used in the medical sector, the medical field is also where most people (38%) expect to see the most rapid advancements in the next 12 months. A surge in robotics innovation is also anticipated by the public in 3D printing (34%), logistics (30%) and in the household (29%).

Other key findings from the research include:

– Almost one in five (19%) adults think that robotics should replace people doing physical work

– Whilst 56% of people have stayed as trusting since last year towards robotics, 16% of people have become more trusting

Professor Robert Richardson

Professor Robert Richardson, Chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, comments: “These findings from our latest survey into attitudes towards robotics show that the public is taking a real interest in how robotics technology is developing, and the benefits of using robots across a gamut of sectors. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen examples of specific tasks that robots are able to carry out while removing humans from risk – including disinfecting spaces and transporting medical supplies and food around hospitals – and UK Robotics Week offers a fantastic opportunity to explore how robotic systems can both contribute to our everyday life and work, and also help us prepare for and adapt to unexpected events.”

UK Robotics Week is organised annually by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, which was founded in 2015 to bring cohesion to the robotics and autonomous systems research base, enhance capital facilities across the country, and support education programmes and public engagement activities.  This year’s programme is showcasing the state-of-the-art in robotics systems research and development and includes prestigious academic challenges and engaging school competitions.  New for this year is the Medical Robotics for Contagious Diseases Challenge, which invites the leading robotics research teams from across the world to submit innovative ideas that could offer solutions as part of a multi-faceted response to the current COVID-19 health crisis and future global pandemics.

* Research carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout 07/06/2020 to 11/06/2020 amongst a panel resulting in 2,014 UK adults responding. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

@UKRobotics @Rob8Richardson @NeonDrum #Robotics #Health #UKRW20 #coróinvíreas #COVID19 #coronavirus


Tyre automated tirelessly.

15/06/2020
2D-code readers get automation rolling

Autarky Automation is one of the leading British developers and manufacturers of automation and conveyor systems. To meet the demanding requirements on an automated tyre system, Autarky opted for the latest 2D-code readers from Leuze.

Figure 1: Automated conveyor application at Tyre-Line from assembly identification to tire inflation

A large part of what Autarky Automation offers is in the area of modular conveyor technology. Here, Autarky offers a wide range of standardized components and accessories. The company thereby contributes to minimizing project planning times and assembly costs. A good example of this is the project for Tyre-Line: Since 1984 the company has been supplying the industry with wheel and tire assemblies – from wheelbarrows to high-performance sports cars.

The task: conveyor system for tyre inflation.
For a long time, the tire line at Tyre-Line operated with a simple tire inflation device for standard steel wheel sets. The tires for high-end alloy wheels were inflated manually. Due to increasing growth in orders, a Hofmann tire filling machine was purchased that could handle the complete range of wheel and tire assemblies.

The entire process of storing and retrieving assemblies in the machine was now to be automated. Autarky won the tender to produce a suitable conveyor system and relied on Leuze.

Attached to each wheel and tire assembly at Tyre-Line is a slightly adhesive bar code label. It would have been too complicated for Tyre-Line to affix the label at exactly the same location on each assembly. Autarky was therefore charged with developing a solution that could reliably read the bar code. And could do so at any location and at any position over the entire width of the conveyor belt.

“A round object that always looks the same independent of its position is a true challenge for a code reader.

“Proper identification of the assemblies was, however, of decisive importance for the success of the line: the detection of the bar code information needed to tell the Hofmann machine which assembly is approaching and, thus, what air pressure is necessary. That’s why it was so important to select the best possible code reader for this task,” explains Brad North, managing director of Autarky. To solve this problem, Autarky turned to the Sensor People at Leuze.

The solution: the DCR 200i from Leuze.
After discussing the application with the Leuze experts, we selected the DCR 200i 2D-code reader,” explains North. Leuze, a leading manufacturer of bar code readers with more than 50 years of experience, developed this model especially for fast and omnidirectional reading of 1D- and 2D-codes.

“We mounted three devices on a strap arrangement at the optimum angle and height so that the bar code could be read at any position on the assembly and the conveyor belt.

“In combination with the existing PROFINET communication network, the DCR 200i 2D-code readers from Leuze detect data on the bar code. This is then passed on to the Hofmann machine.” Autarky had already used hundreds of standard bar code readers and photoelectric sensors from Leuze. “Our longstanding cooperation with Leuze and the good service made the decision easy for us,” says Brad North.

The DCR 200i camera-based code reader is used to detect and identify bar codes, stacked codes and Data Matrix codes. It is characterized above all by its very fast reading performance. The DCR 200i achieves speeds of up to 6 m/s. It reliably reads 1D- and 2D-codes omnidirectionally. It plays no role here whether they are printed or directly marked, static or moving, inverted or mirrored. This is ensured by the fast imager, the integrated high-performance LED illumination, as well as the high resolution in combination with
a very high depth of field.

In the stainless steel housing model with degree of protection IP69K/IP67, the DCR 200i can be cleaned without problem and even used in harsh environments.

Its compact design, its fastening concept and its simple handling means that the DCR 200i can be integrated easily and quickly in a wide range of different applications. This applies to its mechanical installation as well as its commissioning and configuration.

Figure 2: Assembly identification using 2D bar code readers from Leuze

The code readers of the DCR 200i series are operated and configured using the graphical user interface of the integrated Leuze webConfig tool via an Ethernet interface. An external program is not required. The DCR 200i can be put into operation by the user in just three minutes using the configuration wizard. Moreover, the teach function is also a possibility. This is run using the two buttons on the control panel of the DCR 200i in combination with a smartphone app developed by Leuze for configuration.

“Today, a wheel and tire assembly passes through the inflation machine every seven seconds. In addition to the sheer speed, Tyre-Line also benefits from an increased inflation accuracy and repeatability. Because the automated system has eliminated any possibility for human error.”
The conclusion drawn by Autarky Managing Director Brad North is entirely positive:

“At Tyre-Line, the Leuze 2D-code readers now work daily from morning to evening and help the company achieve significantly higher throughputs rates.”

@TheSensorPeople @AutarkySales #PAuto


The Arms Race Between Cybercriminals and Cybersecurity

28/05/2020

The number of devices connected to the internet is expected to reach 50 billion worldwide by the end of 20301, posing dangerous risks to people, businesses, and critical systems. To illustrate the divide between cyberattacks on these devices and business preparedness, Sectigo, a leading provider of automated digital identity management and web security solutions, today released its Evolution of IoT Attacks study.

The study report and associated infographic chronicle the progression, variety, and growing sophistication of many of the most infamous vulnerabilities and attacks on connected devices, as well as the emerging defenses used by organizations to fight them.

Sectigo has categorized IoT attacks into three eras: 

The Era of Exploration
Beginning in 2005, cybercriminals started to explore the potential to cause lasting damage to critical infrastructure, and even life. Security defenses at the time were rudimentary, with organizations unaware of the value the IoT could have for hostile actors.

The Era of Exploitation
Spanning 2011-2018, cybercriminals actively exploited the lucrative and damaging potential of attacking the IoT, thus expanding attacks to more targets with increased severity. However, they found organizations more prepared to withstand the onslaught. White hat hackers exposed potential IoT vulnerabilities to help shore up defenses before attacks occurred in the wild. Meanwhile, as organizations fortified their defenses, cybercriminals found more ways to monetize their attacks through crypto mining, ad-click fraud, ransomware, and spam email campaigns.

The Era of Protection
By 2019, enterprises and other organizations had become increasingly capable of countering these attacks. Just recently, governments have begun enacting regulations to protect IoT assets, and businesses and manufacturers are heeding the warnings. In fact, according to the recent 451 Research Enterprise IoT Budgets and Outlook report
, organizations are investing more than half of their IoT budgets, 51%, to implement security controls in devices, using security frameworks and unified solutions with strong technologies that work together to provide multiple layers of protection.

“As we move into this decade, protecting the vast Internet of Things has never been more critical for our safety and business continuity,” said Alan Grau, VP of IoT/Embedded Solutions at Sectigo. “Cybercriminals are retooling and honing their techniques to keep striking at vulnerable targets. Yes, businesses and governments are making laudable efforts to protect all things connected, but we are only at the beginning of the Era of Protection and should assume that these efforts will be met by hackers doubling down on their efforts.”

IoT security must start on the factory floor with manufacturers and continue throughout the device’s lifecycle. Power grids, highways, data security, and more depend on organizations adopting ever- evolving, cutting-edge security technologies in order to withstand attacks.

#PAuto #IoT @SectigoHQ


Greenhouse reduces Carbon Dioxide emissions.

17/04/2020
The Dutch horticultural sector aims to be climate-neutral by 2040. Scientists at Wageningen University & Research have therefore recently built a new demonstration greenhouse ‘Greenhouse 2030’ in an effort to find ways to reduce CO2 emissions as well eliminating the need for crop protection chemicals and optimizing the use of water and nutrients.

Greenhouses helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Scientists at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands have employed Vaisala carbon dioxide sensors in their research greenhouses for over a decade. Carbon dioxide is an extremely important measurement parameter in plant science, not just because plants need carbon dioxide to grow, but also because environmental emissions contribute to climate change, so enormous threats and opportunities surround this gas. As a world renowned research organisation, the value of the institute’s work is partly dependent on the accuracy and reliability of sensors, so it is important that its researchers do not compromise on sensor quality.

Wageningen has been one of the driving forces in research and technology development for greenhouse horticulture in the Netherlands. The institute’s expertise in the greenhouse cultivation of ornamental, fruit and vegetable crops is unique, and together with growers and technology partners, it has developed new cultivation systems, climate control systems, revolutionary greenhouse cover materials and other innovations. The application of these new technologies has made greenhouse horticulture in the Netherlands a world leader.

The Plant Research Institute operates over 100 greenhouse compartments at its Bleiswijk site, which means that researchers are able to generate a wide variety of environmental conditions. Typical environmental variables include light, water, growing medium, nutrients, (biological) pest/disease control, temperature, humidity and of course carbon dioxide (CO2); all of which have significant effects on crop yields.

The Dutch horticultural sector aims to be climate-neutral by 2040. The Wageningen researchers have therefore recently built a new demonstration greenhouse ‘Greenhouse 2030’ for the cultivation of vegetables, fruit and flowers in an effort to find ways to reduce CO2 emissions as well eliminating the need for crop protection chemicals and optimizing the use of water and nutrients. Pests and diseases are preferably tackled biologically, and the energy-efficient greenhouse reuses water and nutrients as much as possible; leading to cleaner cultivation and improved yields.

Carbon Dioxide in Greenhouses
Carbon dioxide is a by-product of many processes in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, but it is also required by plants to grow through photosynthesis, so Dutch greenhouse operators have collaborated with the country’s industrial sector to utilise this byproduct and thereby contribute in the fight against climate change by lowering the country’s net CO2 emissions. Globally, many greenhouse operators burn natural gas to generate CO2, but this also generates heat that may not be needed in the summer months, so the utilisation of an industrial byproduct is significantly preferable.

Carbon dioxide was first delivered to Dutch greenhouses in 2005 via a pipe network established by the company Organic Carbon Dioxide for Assimilation of Plants (OCAP). Commercial greenhouse operators pay for this CO2 supply, which is largely derived from a bio ethanol plant. A key feature of the Institute’s research is work to optimise the utilisation of CO2, along with other plant growth variables. For example, the Institute has developed a simulation tool for CO2 dosing: the “CO2-viewer.” This programme monitors and displays the effects of a grower’s dosing strategy. For instance, it enables the evaluation of CO2 dosing around midday compared with dosing in the morning. The computational results of such an evaluation take all relevant greenhouse building characteristics and climate control settings into account.

Monitoring Carbon Dioxide

CO2 Probe

After around 10 years of operation, the institute is replacing around 150 of the older model probes with a newer model. The calibration of all probes is checked prior to the commencement of every project, utilizing certified reference gases. It is important that calibration data is traceable, so each probe’s calibration certificate is retained and subsequent calibration checks are documented. A portable CO2 monitor (a Vaisala GM70) with a GMP252 CO2 probe are also used as a validation tool to check installed probes, even though further calibration is not necessary.

Currently, the Institute’s installed probes provide 4-20 mA signals which feed into ‘climate computers’ that are programmed to manage the greenhouses automatically. This system also raises alarms if CO2 levels approach dangerous levels for any reason.

CO2 Sensor Technology
Carbon dioxide absorbs light in the infrared (IR) region at a wavelength of 4.26 μm. This means that when IR radiation is passed through a gas containing CO2, part of the radiation is absorbed, and this absorbance can be measured. The Vaisala CARBOCAP® carbon dioxide sensor features an innovative micro-machined, electrically tunable Fabry-Perot Interferometer (FPI) filter. In addition to measuring CO2 absorption, the FPI filter enables a reference measurement at a wavelength where no absorption occurs. When taking the reference measurement, the FPI filter is electrically adjusted to switch the bypass band from the absorption wavelength to a non-absorption wavelength. This reference measurement compensates for any potential changes in the light source intensity, as well as for contamination or dirt accumulation in the optical path. Consequently, the CARBOCAP® sensor is highly stable over time, and by incorporating both measurements in one sensor, this compact technology can be incorporated into small probes, modules, and transmitters.

The CARBOCAP® technology means that the researchers don’t have to worry about calibration drift or sensor failure.

Carbon Dioxide Plant Science Research
Two projects are currently underway evaluating the effects of different CO2 levels on plant production. One is studying soft fruit and the other tomatoes; however with CO2 playing such an important role in both plant growth and climate change, the value of accurate measurements of this gas continues to grow. Most of the greenhouses are now connected to the institute’s Ethernet and a wide variety of new sensors are continually being added to the monitoring network; providing an opportunity to utilise new ‘smart’ sensors.

Summary
The accuracy, stability and reliability of the CO2 sensors at Bleiswijk are clearly vitally important to the success of the Institute’s research, particularly because data from one greenhouse are often compared with data from others.

The CO2 supply has a cost; it is therefore important that this resource is monitored and supplied effectively so that plant production can be optimized.

Clearly, moves to lower the use of fossil fuels and develop more efficient energy management systems will help to reduce CO2 emissions from the greenhouse sector. However, the importance of CO2 utilization is set to grow, given the 2040 climate-neutral target and the world’s need to find new and better ways to capture CO2 emissions in ways that are both sustainable and economically viable.

#Hortoculture #Environment @VaisalaGroup @_Enviro_News


Gas detection equipment benefits from international co-operation.

08/04/2020

Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc. (CETCI) was founded by Frank and Shirley Britton in 1995. Since that time, the company has expanded considerably and now employs around 35 people; developing and manufacturing gas detection equipment for global markets. One of the keys to the company’s success has been the relationship that it has built with sensor supplier Alphasense.

Frank’s career in gas detection stretches back to 1982, and when he was first visited by a sales person from Alphasense in 2003, he was immediately impressed with the representative’s technical knowledge. “It was clear that he understood the issues that manufacturers face, and had a good knowledge of the challenging applications in which our equipment is commonly deployed. This was important, because it helped to build trust.”

Following that initial meeting, it was agreed that CETCI would trial some of Alphasense’s electrochemical gas detection sensors, and Frank was pleased to see how well they performed. “It was also very encouraging to note the high level of service that we enjoyed,” he adds. “Even though there were 5,000 miles between us and 8 hours in time difference, we have always received very prompt and useful responses to our service requests.

“In fact, I would go so far as to say that Alphasense has delivered superb levels of service from day one, and as a consequence is one of our best suppliers. It is also very useful that Arthur Burnley from Alphasense visits us every year to review progress and explore new ways for us to work together in the future.”

YesAir portable

As the relationship with Alphasense has grown the range of sensor technologies employed has expanded to include electrochemical, catalytic, optical, metal oxide and PID. For example, some of these sensors are deployed in portable indoor air quality instruments such as the YESAIR range. Available in two models (pump or diffusion) and battery powered with onboard datalogging, the YESAIR instruments have been designed for intermittent or continuous indoor air quality monitoring of temperature, RH, particulates and up to 5 gases. Each can be configured with parameter selection from more than 30 different plug and play gas sensors, as well as a particulate sensor.

CETCI also manufactures fixed gas detection systems, controllers and transmitters that are deployed to monitor hazardous gases; protecting health and safety in confined spaces and indoor environments. Customers are able to select from a range of target gases including Ammonia, Carbon monoxide, Chlorine dioxide, Chlorine, Ethylene, Ethylene oxide, Fluorine, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen, Hydrogen sulphide, Hydrogen chloride, Hydrogen cyanide, Hydrogen fluoride, Nitric oxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Oxygen, Ozone, Phosphine, Silane, Sulfur dioxide, Methane, Propane, Hydrogen, TVOCs and Refrigerants. The company’s products are employed in commercial, institutional, municipal and light industrial markets, and in a wide variety of applications. These include refrigeration plants, indoor swimming pools, water treatment plants, ice arenas, wineries and breweries, airports, hotels, fish farms, battery charging rooms, HVAC systems, food processing plants, vehicle exhausts and many more.

One of the main reasons for CETCI’s success is its ability to develop gas detectors that meet the precise requirements for specific markets. “We are large enough to employ talented people with the skills and experience to develop products that meet the latest requirements,” Frank explains. “But we are not so large that we are uninterested in niche applications – in fact we relish the challenge when a customer asks us to do something new, and this is where our relationship with Alphasense, and the technical support that they can provide, comes into its own.”

The market for gas detection equipment is constantly changing as new safety and environmental regulations are created around the world, and as new markets emerge. Again, the close relationship with Alphasense is vitally important; as new sensors are being developed, CETCI is moving into new markets that are able to utilise these technologies.

New market example – cannabis cultivation
Following the legalisation of marijuana in Canada and some other North American regions, greenhouses and other plant growth rooms have proliferated. These facilities can present a variety of potential hazards to human health. Gas powered equipment may be a source of carbon monoxide; carbon dioxide enrichment systems may be utilised; air conditioning systems can potentially leak refrigerants, and propane or natural gas furnaces may be employed for heating purposes. All of these pose a potential risk, so an appropriate detection and alarm system is necessary.

Responding to market demand, CETCI developed monitoring systems that met the requirements of the market. This included appropriate gas detectors connected to a controller with logging capability and a live display of gas levels. In the event of a leak or high gas concentration, the system can provide an audible or visual alarm, and relays can be configured to control equipment such as the ventilation system or a furnace.

Developing market example – car parking facilities

Car park installation

In recent years, the effects of vehicular air pollution on human health have become better understood, and received greater political and media attention. As a result, the owners and operators of parking facilities have become more aware of the ways in which they can protect their customers and staff.

Carbon monoxide is a major component of vehicle exhaust, and nitrogen dioxide levels are high in the emissions of diesel powered engines. In more modern facilities, hydrogen may accumulate as a result of electric car charging stations. CETCI has therefore developed hazardousgas detection systems to protect air quality in parking locations. This equipment includes output relays which can minimise energy costs by controlling the operation of ventilation systems.

Summarising the secrets to a long and successful partnership in gas detection, Frank says: “One of the most important issues is of course the quality of the products, and we have always been impressed with the fact that Alphasense differentiates itself from other sensor manufacturers by testing every sensor.

“The next important issue is the quality of service; we need sensors to be delivered on time and in perfect condition, and when we have a technical query we have become accustomed to a very prompt response.

“We also value highly the opportunity to develop our businesses together – through regular conversations with Arthur and his colleagues we are able to plan our future product development and marketing strategies, so that we can meet the ever changing needs of the market. This has worked extremely well for the last 17 years and we foresee it doing so for many years to come.”

 

#Environment #Alphasense @cetci @_Enviro_News