Particulate monitors selling like hot cakes.

03/12/2016

Palas, the German manufacturer of particulate monitoring instruments, is expanding production to cope with demand for its fine particulate monitor, the Fidas® 200. In the following article Jim Mills explains why Air Monitors, the British distributor, is being kept busy by the demand for this exciting new technology.

fidas_200PM monitoring – the ultimate goal
We monitor PM because of its acute health effects. It irritates our eyes and lungs, and some of the finer particles were more recently shown to be able to move directly from the nasal cavity to the brain. Monitoring is therefore essential, but there are almost as many monitoring methods as there are types of PM, so it is vitally important to monitor what matters. If you are measuring dust from a construction site, the PM is relatively large in diameter and heavy, but if you are monitoring PM from diesel emissions in a city, the smallest particles with much less mass but high particle numbers, are of greater interest. Monitoring a single size fraction provides an incomplete picture of particulate contamination and risks ignoring the PM of most interest, particularly if the ignored fractions are the finer particles that travel deepest into the lungs. The ideal PM monitor would therefore reliably and accurately monitor all important PM fractions, with high data capture rates and low service requirements… hence the heavy demand for the Fidas 200.

Fidas® 200
The Fidas 200 is a fine dust ambient air quality monitoring device, developed specifically for regulatory purposes; providing continuous and simultaneous measurement of PM1, PM2.5, PM4, PM10, TSP (PMtot), as well as particle number concentration and particle size distribution between 180nm and 18µm (further non-certified size ranges are also available on request).

Employing a well-established measurement technology – optical light scattering of single particles – the Fidas 200 is equipped with a high intensity LED light source, which is extremely stable, delivering a long lifetime, with minimal service requirements. An optical aerosol spectrometer determines the particle size using Lorenz‐Mie scattered light analysis of single particles. These particles move through an optical measurement volume that is homogeneously illuminated with white light, and each particle generates a scattered light impulse that is detected at an angle of 85° to 95° degrees. The particle number measurement is based on the number of scattered light impulses, and the level of the scattered light impulse is a measure of the particle diameter.

The Fidas 200 operates with a volume flow of approx. 0.3m3/h and is equipped with a Sigma‐2 sampling head, which enables representative measurements even under strong wind conditions. The sampling system includes a drying system that prevents measurement inaccuracies caused by condensation from high humidity, which means that it will continue to function correctly in misty or foggy conditions but without the loss of semi-volatile fractions of the PM. It is also equipped with a filter holder for the insertion of a plane filter (47 or 50 mm in diameter) which enables subsequent chemical analysis of the aerosol.

Different versions of the Fidas 200 allow for stand-alone outdoors installation or for installation inside a measurement cabinet or air quality monitoring station.

Performance
The Fidas 200 is the only ambient continuous PM monitor in the UK to have passed TÜV and MCERTS. The MCERTS certificate (Sira MC16290/01) confirms that the Fidas 200 complies with the MCERTS Performance Standards for Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems, and with MCERTS for UK Particulate Matter. The instrument has type-approval to the Standards EN 12341 (PM10), EN 14907 (PM2.5) and is certified to the Standards EN 15267-1 and -2.

Importantly, the FIDAS 200 has half the uncertainty of many of its rivals and one third of the required uncertainty (25%).

Typical data capture rates exceed 99%. This has been achieved by a design approach that is focused on reliability. For example, two pumps operate in parallel, providing redundancy protection, and the instrument continuously monitors status and calibration.

Monitoring frequency has an adjustable time resolution ranging from 1 second up to 24 hours. However, high frequency data provides almost real-time access to readings when deployed with a remote web-enabled Envirologger. This enables the detection of short-term spikes, providing much greater insight into the causes of PM pollution.

The Fidas instruments have been proven in many countries as well as Britain; Air Monitors has been supplying Fidas PM monitors for around three years and there are now over 30 monitors in operation Britain alone.

Costs
One of the major financial considerations for Fidas 200 is its extremely low operating cost; the requirement for consumables is almost nil (no filter required) and its power consumption is around one fifth of its nearest rival. Calibration can be checked and adjusted, if necessary, quickly and easily in the field with a simple monodisperse powder test.

The purchase cost of a single Fidas 200 is a little more than some ambient PM monitors, but it is less expensive than others. However, for most instruments, a requirement to monitor two fractions, say PM2.5 and PM10, would necessitate two instruments and therefore double the cost. With budgets under pressure, Fidas therefore provides an opportunity to obtain better data for less cost.

In summary, the Fidas 200 offers better performance than all of its rivals; usually at significantly lower capital cost and always with dramatically lower operational costs. Consequently, it is no surprise that these instruments are selling like hot cakes.

@airmonitors #PAuto @_Enviro_News


Systems integration for Industrie 4.0.

22/11/2016
The latest trends and challenges in systems integration.

Our world is getting smaller every day. Never before have remote locations been more accessible thanks to communications technology, smartphones and the internet. Connected devices have infiltrated every aspect of our lives, including the most traditional industry sectors. Here, Nick Boughton, sales manager of Boulting Technology, discusses the challenges connectivity poses for industry, particularly with regard to systems integration and the water industry.

boulting_industrie_4-0One question industry has been unsuccessful in answering refers to the number of connected devices that exist in the world at the moment. Gartner says that by 2020, the Internet of Things will have grown to more than 26 billion units. According to Cisco, there will be 10 billion mobile-ready devices by 2018, including machine to machine – thus exceeding the world population.

The Industrial Internet of Things

Only fifteen years ago, an industrial plant operated on three separate levels. You had the plant processes or operational technology (OT), the IT layer and in between stood the grey area of middleware – connecting management systems to the shop floor. The problem in most enterprises was that the commercial and production systems were entirely separate, often as a deliberate policy. Trying to connect them was difficult not only because of the divergence in the technology, but also the limited collaboration between different parts of the organisation. For these reasons successful implementation of middleware was rare.

Fast forward to today’s smart factory floor that uses the almost ubiquitous Ethernet to make communications as smooth as possible. Supporting the new generation of networking technologies is an increased flow of data, collected and analysed in real-time. However, data is only useful when you can decipher and display it. The next step to industry nirvana is using relevant data for better decisions and predictive analysis, in which the system itself can detect issues and recommend solutions.

Smart manufacturing is based on a common, secure network infrastructure that allows a dialogue – or even better, convergence – between operational and information technology.

The trend goes beyond the factory floor and expands to big processes like national utilities, water treatment and distribution, energy and smart grids, everything in an effort to drive better decision making, improve asset utilisation and increase process performance and productivity.

In fact, some water and energy companies are using the same approach to perform self-analysis on energy efficiency, potential weak points and the integration of legacy systems with new technologies. In a highly regulated and driven sector like utilities, maximising assets and being able to make predictions are worth a king’s ransom.

System integration challenges
System integration in this connected industry landscape comes with its challenges, so companies need to keep up to speed and get creative with technology. Keeping existing systems up to date and working properly is one of the main challenges of industry and big processes alike.

Finally, ensuring your system is secure from cyber threats and attacks is a new challenge fit for Industry 4.0. Connecting a system or equipment to a network is all fine and dandy, but it also brings vulnerabilities that weren’t there before.

Systems integrators relish a challenge and they’re very good at adapting to new technologies. For this reason, some systems integrators have started working closely with industrial automation, IT and security experts to help overcome the challenges posed by Industrie 4.0.

Regardless of whether we’re talking about companies in utilities, manufacturing or transportation, the signs are showing that companies want to get more from their existing assets and are retrofitting systems more than ever.

Of course, retrofitting isn’t always easy. In many cases, upgrading a system without shutting it down is like trying to change the brakes on a speeding bus – impossible. However, unlike the bus scenario, there is usually a solution. All you have to do is find it.

Flexibility is essential for good systems integrators. Being familiar with a wide range of systems and working with different manufacturers is the best way to maximise industry knowledge and expertise, while also keeping up to date with the latest technologies. At Boulting Technology, we partner up with market leaders like Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Mitsubishi, Schneider, ABB and others, to design and supply tailor-made systems integration solutions for a diverse range of industries, processes and platforms.

The world might be getting smaller and we might be more connected than ever before, but some things never change. Relevant experience, partnerships and the desire to innovate are as valuable as they have ever been in this connected new world of Industrie 4.0.

@BoultingTech #PAuto #IoT #Industrie4 @StoneJunctionPR

Innovation drives flue gas treatment.

08/11/2016
Working closely with Gasmet’s Belgian Distributor, Kelma NV, Lhoist has developed laboratory, pilot scale and mobile process monitoring capabilities to evaluate FGT products that are still in the development phase or to demonstrate the effectiveness of existing FGT products at customers’ sites.
lhoistpilotA business strategy with a heavy focus on innovation has enabled Lhoist, a family owned Belgian company, to become one of the world’s leading providers of Flue Gas Treatment (FGT) products and solutions. In this following article, Johan Heiszwolf, Lhoist’s R & D Director for environmental applications and Antti Heikkilä from gas analyser manufacturer Gasmet Technologies explain how Lhoist’s continual investment in innovation has led to impressive growth in a variety of market sectors, including FGT.

Sharing a common goal, experts in emissions monitoring and emissions abatement have formed a working partnership to develop innovative new materials for treating pollutants in flue gas emissions.

Lhoist history
Lhoist’s roots go back to 1889 when Hippolyte Dumont opened a factory in Belgium. Since that time, the firm has spread internationally: first to France in 1926 on the impetus of the founder’s son-in-law, Léon Lhoist, who further developed the company by acquiring lime, limestone and dolomite plants in Belgium and France. Today, Lhoist is a world leading producer of lime, dolime and minerals, with facilities across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Over the past 35 years, Lhoist’s production has grown significantly and Lhoist now operates more than 100 facilities in 25 countries, with around 6,000 employees of around 40 nationalities.

Lime, clay and the derivatives of these materials are used in an extremely broad spectrum of industries including agriculture, construction, oil and gas, chemicals, glass, metals and environmental protection including water, wastewater and FGT.

The FGT market has grown considerably in recent decades as a result of higher environmental standards and the development of regulations that imposed emissions limits on industrial processes. These regulations have also driven growth in Gasmet’s business as process operators around the world have sought to monitor multiple gases simultaneously with FTIR analysers in order to demonstrate compliance with emission limits.

One of the reasons for the diversity of Lhoist’s markets is the company’s focus on innovation. Just outside Brussels, the company has established a ‘Business Innovation Centre’ (BIC) which is known as a ‘360 degree talent incubator’ because many of the group’s new recruits spend time at the BIC in order to learn about the group’s culture and its core competencies. Focusing on Research & Development, Intellectual Property, and Strategic Marketing, the BIC staff come from 15 different nations and are given time to spend ‘scouting’ for new scientific solutions to commercial challenges. This strong focus on inorganic and application research is one of the ways in which Lhoist retains its position as a leader in key markets and ensures that innovation continues to drive the growth of the company.

FGT Research
One of the first product groups to be developed by the Lhoist BIC was Sorbacal® which is employed for the removal of major acid pollutants (SOx, HCl and HF) in gaseous emissions from combustion plants such as power stations and incinerators. A number of different products within the Sorbacal® range were developed to meet the needs of different processes. For example, particles of Sorbacal® SP/SPS have a much larger surface area and pore volume in comparison with standard hydrated lime, so this product is employed in applications that require enhanced performance.

An enormous number of tests have to be undertaken to evaluate potential new products and in the case of FGT, the effectiveness of candidate products to remove pollutant gases is key. The BIC laboratory therefore developed a capability to generate artificial flue gas mixtures containing acid gases (SO2 and HCl) in a mixture of N2, O2, CO2, H2O and NOx. The gas composition of this artificial flue gas was tightly managed with mass flow controllers in order to ensure an accurate comparison of pre- and post-treated gas for each product under evaluation.

Different gas analysers were initially used to measure different gases. For example, an InfraRed analyser was used to measure SO2, but for this instrument it was necessary to remove moisture from the sample gas before analysis and some SO2 was lost from the sample as a result. “This complicated the work and incurred delays,” comments Alain Brasseur, Lhoist FGT Senior Research Engineer. “It was also necessary to operate a separate bench for HCl, which further extended the time taken for the tests and introduced a higher possibility of experimental error. A key advantage of FTIR is that it measures both SO2 and HCl, and does so without removing water from the sample.”

Bart De Backer from Gasmet’s local distributor Kelma was therefore contacted and asked to provide information on multigas monitoring with FTIR, which led to the utilisation of a Gasmet DX4000 analyser within the BIC laboratory. At the same time, the staff developed an automated system for running the test unattended, and as a result of the FTIR’s ability to monitor multiple gases in almost real-time in conjunction with test automation, the throughput of the laboratory was increased 10-fold. “The use of Gasmet FTIR gave us a greater insight into the characteristics of the sorbent and facilitated a major step forward in our development programme,” comments Alain Brasseur. “By dramatically increasing the throughput we were able to evaluate a larger number of samples in a shorter period of time, which enabled us to discount those products that failed to meet the required levels of performance at an early stage.”

The laboratory trials effectively assess the intrinsic capacity of the sorbents and if they perform well, the assessment process is continued in a pilot plant to evaluate performance under simulated operating conditions. The pilot plant was also developed by the Lhoist BIC, and is capable of generating a mixture of gases and steam at 180 Deg C to mimic aggressive emissions. The pilot plant is also able to measure sorbent performance under dynamic conditions with varying gas concentrations and temperature.

The pilot plant consists of two separate units – each capable of generating dynamic emissions across a broad range of conditions. The emissions from the older of the two units are monitored with a Gasmet DX4000 heated multigas FTIR analyser. A new pilot unit is monitored by Gasmet’s fixed Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS) which analyzes gas both before and after treatment using a heated switch-over system.

In addition to the chemical characteristics of the sorbent, Lhoist also places a heavy emphasis on its physical characteristics. For example, the grains of a dry powder product have to be fine enough to be reactive, but not too small to negatively impact the flow behavior of the powder.

In addition to the laboratory and pilot plant facilities, Lhoist has also developed a mobile system that is able to operate at customer sites. Historically, this necessitated the deployment of a large truck, but thanks to the compact nature of the portable FTIR analysers, this is no longer necessary; KELMA has supplied two Gasmet DX4000 portable FTIR analysers in customised rugged transport cases so that the monitoring equipment can be quickly and simply shipped around the world to customer sites. The FTIR analysers can even be operated completely remotely at a customer site. For example in a recent trial two FTIR analyzers, measuring inlet and outlet gas composition, were installed in a plant in the USA while they were monitored remotely from Belgium. The experts from KELMA could log-in to the FTIR analyzers and could perform a software update and calibration.

Onsite monitoring is conducted by Lhoist technical support teams to:

  • demonstrate the enhanced performance of the Sorbacal® products
  • show customers how to maximise treatment efficiency
  • help customers troubleshoot abatement issues

The benefits of onsite demonstrations are considerably advanced by the capabilities of FTIR gas analysis.

Advantages of FTIR gas analysis
FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed) is a sophisticated technology for analysing sample gases both qualitatively and quantitatively. The key feature of these instruments is their ability to monitor multiple compounds simultaneously. The Gasmet FTIR analysers are capable of measuring almost any gas and have been developed over many years specifically for the emissions monitoring market. This means that they are extremely rugged and work reliably in both fixed and portable versions. However, a key benefit for environmental applications is their ability to analyse hot, wet, aggressive gas mixtures.

All of the company’s FTIR instruments, fixed and portable, contain exactly the same core analyser which means that they can be operated with the same software, no extra training is necessary and results are directly comparable.

Using Calcmet™ software users of Gasmet analysers are able to analyse sample spectra, producing almost real-time data for pre-selected compounds. However, the retention of recorded spectra offers an opportunity to identify ‘unknowns’ by comparison with reference spectra, and to analyse recorded spectra retrospectively for compounds that were not necessarily of interest at the time of the measurement. For example, Lhoist now includes SO3 in many of its measurements and now has the ability to study measurements for this compound from readings that were taken in the past. This highlights an important advantage of FTIR – when it becomes necessary to measure new compounds, because of new legislation for example, no extra hardware is necessary, so the additional costs are negligible.

In contrast with many traditional gas analysers, the Gasmet FTIR instruments do not require periodic recalibration. A daily background spectrum measurement with zero gas (nitrogen) is enough to preserve measurement accuracy. Instead of periodic span calibrations, reference spectra for analysed gases are measured at the factory when the instrument is made and these do not drift.

From Lhoist’s perspective, Alain Brasseur says: “The ability to work with wet, corrosive gases is obviously a major advantage, and since we routinely analyse over 10 gases, monitoring is much less complicated now that we can do so with just one analyser.

“The size of the Gasmet analysers is also a major advantage for us – they fit neatly into the automated testing system which is installed in a normal lab fume cupboard, and the portable equipment is easy to transport to remote customer sites.

“We have found the instruments to be extremely reliable, requiring minimal maintenance. Also, the support from Gasmet and Kelma has been extremely good and the facility to connect to overseas instruments from Brussels via the internet has been a significant benefit.”

In summary, the evolution of Lhoist’s FGT products has been made possible by giving a talented pool of international experts the freedom to innovate and by working in partnership with like-minded technology leaders such as Gasmet.

@Gasmet_Tech #PAuto #Sorbacal #Lhoist

Why PLCs fail!

24/10/2016

Boulting Technology has released an infographic to help engineers mitigate problems with programmable logic controller (PLC) based control systems. The handy guide highlights the top five causes of failure and can be downloaded, free of charge, from their news page.boulting_plc_failure_paperPLC-based control systems are invaluable to a manufacturing or processing business because they control and regulate critical production systems and processes. A failed control system can cause significant plant downtime and is likely to be extremely costly; it can also create a hazardous situation when the system is controlling a critical process. By following correct maintenance procedures, businesses can minimise the chances of system failure, which in turn increases productivity, minimises costs and helps to maintain a valuable business reputation.

Faults with PLC input/output (I/O) modules and field devices account for 80 per cent of system failures. Usually, fixing these types of issues is relatively straightforward; however diagnosing them requires a basic knowledge of the system and on occasion specialist test equipment such as a multimeter. In addition, more often than not some form of PLC software diagnosis can aid with identifying the root cause of the fault. Although diagnosing the fault can often be time-consuming and requires specialist knowledge and experience, rectifying it can be as simple as replacing an I/O module or reconfiguring a field device.

Other common causes of failure include environmental issues, the integrity of the system earth, power supplies, failure of battery back-up during a power outage, electromagnetic or radio frequency interference and network and communication problems.

“Understanding the main causes of PLC control system failure means engineers can do more to prevent them,” explained James Davey, service manager of Boulting Technology. “In most cases, the minute a control system fails a business starts to lose money through downtime and missed deadlines. At worst it can result in a hazardous situation that needs immediate attention. Simple steps, such as regular control system health-checks, backing up PLC software and planning for contingency in the event of a power outage helps keep production processes up and running.

“At Boulting Technology, we pride ourselves on our ability and experience to use planned maintenance to prevent problems before they occur. Similarly, our guide to PLC control system failure will help plant engineers look out for warning signs of a failing system and take action before the issue becomes severe.”

@BoultingTech #PAuto #PLC

Switches in critical control networks in petrochem plant!

03/10/2016

unipetrol_rpa_plant_01

Unipetrol is a major refinery and petrochemical company in the Czech Republic. One of the company’s biggest assets is the industrial premises Chempark Záluží which is the largest chemical production facility in the country. The facility is currently the seat of several dozens of important chemical and service companies and is a daily workplace for 6,500 employees from 180 companies.

The part of the plant where Ethylene is produced is particularly important since it is widely used as a component in many other products produced at the plant. A stoppage in the Ethylene production would have enormous economic implications because it would affect the overall production. A complete new network backbone for power control and distribution as well as an upgraded network backbone for the emergency shutdown system has been built with Westermo switches to support the applications in the Ethylene unit.

The communication infrastructure and the systems has been built and implemented by Inelsev, a Czech company that provides services for industrial automation and energetic systems. The decision to use Westermo devices was based on a strong working relationship between Inelsev and Westermo’s Czech distributor.

Pavel Ješina with one of the Westermo RedFox switches.

Pavel Ješina with one of the Westermo RedFox switches.

“This is a plant where reliability is absolutely crucial. The systems are designed to be extremely robust in order to guarantee continuous operation and to protect the plant and the people who work here. In the previous network solution, we used another switch brand that we had to replace. The main reason for that was the network ring recovery time. Whenever the network had to recover, it took so long that connected equipment (OPC servers) would not start up and connect properly. WeOS powered Westermo products, including the ring network protocol FRNT with 20 ms recovery time, was a perfect fit. Extremely fast, robust and easy to use,” said Pavel Ješina, R&D manager at Inelsev, who has designed and implemented both networks.

The two networks were built in 2011. The emergency shutdown system was an upgrade project where old switches from another brand were replaced with Westermo Lynx switches in a dual ring network topology. The purpose of this network is to shut down the plant in an emergency situation. The power control and distribution network was built as a completely new system and connects 30 substations throughout the plant with a central control room. The network consists of 270 communication devices, over 500 process screens and panels, 13,000 I/O connections and more than 300,000 alarms. The network consists mainly of Lynx L210-F2G and a variety of RedFox industrial switches.

The many combinations of ports and the possibility to mix copper and fibre media was another big driver for selecting Westermo products. “Inside a building we can use regular copper Ethernet cables, but the cables connecting the different buildings must be fibre due to safety legislations,” explained Pavel. “The many models and port combinations in the RedFox Industrial range allowed us to select the ideal product at every location and to prepare for expanding the network in the future.”

Another positive outcome from using Westermo devices is that configuration and maintenance is extremely simple. All managed Westermo devices are powered by the same operating system, WeOS. This means that you will get an identical experience whether you configure a Lynx, RedFox or any other managed Westermo device, regardless of model. It also means that any new functionality added to any new WeOS version will be backwards compatible and available in any previously installed WeOS device. The operating system is designed to be as robust as the hardware. It is made to be simple to use and configure and thoroughly tested in the Westermo software test lab. “I have worked with many different brands of switches and routers, and compared to many others, configuring a Westermo switch is like kindergarten,” said Pavel.

To make configuration and maintenance even simpler, the company also provides WeConfig, a “Made Easy” network configuration management tool designed to simplify both the initial configuration and network commissioning which can be performed much quicker than before and over the lifetime of a network hundreds of man hours can be saved. “I use WeConfig for upgrading the Westermo devices when a new firmware upgrade is made available. The tool makes upgrades simple and hassle free and I can access all units from one central point and automated updates are performed swiftly and securely. I am excited to start experimenting more with WeConfig when we expand our network.

“We have created a straightforward, robust and reliable network solution. This is exactly what is needed here and the Westermo units have been working flawlessly since they were installed. The products are easy to use and I would not hesitate to select Westermo products for another application where the same type of requirements are needed,” he concluded.

 @westermo_global #CzechR #PAuto

Preparing pharmaceutical and medical technology for the future.

27/09/2016

Production environment requirements in the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors are very high and producers need to keep abreast of current industry trends. Such trends include; process optimisation for the purpose of increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), effective asset life cycle management and predictive maintenance using enterprise mobility and intelligent solutions (smart apps). Increasing networking along with the use of automation technology in accordance with Industry 4.0 have paved the way for these developments.

Industry 4.0
The Internet of Things has found its way into production in the form of Industry 4.0: increasingly networked systems with more communication-capable components have meant an ever-increasing volume of data. Thanks to “big data”, production is being made more and more intelligent, with the pinnacle of achievement being the smart factory. The key to success lies in determining the right information from the mass of data available, analysing the data and drawing findings from them. The aim of such Smart Data Management is to optimise the plant in question and prepare it for the future in terms of site operational excellence.

Robots are increasingly taking on handling tasks to reduce human effort in the medical/pharma sectors, for example by supplying filled syringes to the end-of-line packaging station.

Robots are increasingly taking on handling tasks to reduce human effort in the medical/pharma sectors, for example by supplying filled syringes to the end-of-line packaging station.

In addition, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) has developed into an obvious trend. The main factors that have contributed towards this have been optimised plant utilisation and productivity for which manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are of vital importance. Interfaces such as the MES interface from Mitsubishi Electric enable data to be collected quickly and easily at plant level and transferred to higher-level MES or ERP systems at the control level for further analysis. OEE can be specifically optimised based on the results without the need for a gateway PC to transfer the data. Based on the System Q PLC from Mitsubishi Electric the MES interface can be configured by a plant engineer in just around 15 minutes.

Cost control strategies look for a more compact design, shorter production cycles and substantially minimised waste. Automation technologies strongly support these approaches with robot technology in particular being used to achieve these aims.

Collaboration between Robots and Humans
Today’s pharmaceutical and medical technology production environments see robots and human operators increasingly working side by side. Mitsubishi Electric’s integrated Robot Safety Solution helps manufacturers to boost productivity and lift human-machine collaboration by allowing the robot to continue operation, within tight constraints, while operators access its work cell. Safety sensing technology detects movements in two predefined zones within the operating environment of the manufacturing cell and transmits the information to the SafePlus safety system. A reduced operating speed or a movement stop is then assigned to the robot in real time, thus enabling operators to work in close proximity to the moving robot without a safety cage. As a result, humans and robots are able to work within an environment where the risk of danger is eliminated.

Robot-assisted handling solutions: compact, flexible and quick
Space is an expensive commodity, especially in cleanrooms. The manufacture and maintenance of these plants where an extremely high level of hygiene is required are extremely costly. Compact components are all the more important as ultimately, the machine needs to be space-saving. Mitsubishi Electric components such as SCARA and articulated arm robots, controllers and servo drives are characterised by their particularly space-saving design and are suitable for flexible applications even when space is restricted. Easy handling enables fast integration, commissioning and adjustment.

One example of a highly compact handling solution came from Robotronic AG. Their required a secondary packaging solution for supplying and packing filled vials of various sizes. The solution needed to be integrated in an existing system with limited available space. The modular design principle of the modular robot technology (MRT) produced by Robotronic provides excellent design flexibility. As a result, the basic module for the MRT cell has a footprint of just 1.0 x 1.30 metres and is approximately 2.20 metres high, so it also meets the minimal space requirements. The solution for the cleanroom class in accordance with GMP standard level D consists of two MRT cells, each with a compact robot from Mitsubishi Electric and a conveyor line with eight positioning screws, driven by Mitsubishi Electric servo motors. The robots place the vials in the blister packs at a processing speed of 300 units per minute.

Hygiene in cleanroom systems
The increasing use of automation technologies, especially robots, has led to an increase in the demand for systems which meet high cleanroom requirements. It is also just as important to be able to clean a plant before a production changeover without any major costs being incurred. That means that it must be possible to clean the components in place (i.e. be CIP-compatible) using aggressive chemicals like H2O2. For that reason, Mitsubishi Electric also offers its customers multi-resistant versions of its new generation of MELFA robots which have been approved for regular CIP cleaning using H2O2. MELFA robots can even meet cleanroom class requirements; ISO 3, are dust proof, and have IP67 environmental protection.

@MitsubishiFAEU #PAuto


Treating wastewater as a resource.

27/09/2016
A number of British landfill operators are turning wastewater into a resource by utilising OTT monitoring and control systems to manage the irrigation of Willow crops (for renewable energy generation) with pre-treated effluent.

Background
Leachate from landfill sites represents a significant potential environmental liability, extending long into the future after a landfill site has closed. Conventional treatment and disposal options involve biological treatment and consented discharge to either the wastewater treatment network or to the environment. Alternatively, effluent may be collected by tanker for treatment and disposal off-site. However, to improve sustainability and broaden the treatment options, work initiated in the 1990s developed an approach that sought to use effluent as a source of nutrients and water for a Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) crop planted upon the restored landfill.

Willows fed on wastewater!

Willows fed on wastewater!

Following the success of early trials, the Environment Agency published a Regulatory Position Statement in 2008, which said: ‘SRC as part of a landfill leachate treatment process… is a technique (that) can be an environmentally acceptable option if managed appropriately.’

Early systems were operated and managed manually but with the addition of OTT sensors, telemetry and control systems, the process was automated to optimise irrigation and maximise both the disposal of effluent and biomass yield.

Willow SRC has become increasingly popular in environmental restoration work, providing a cost-effective material for stabilisation and reclamation of disturbed landscapes, bioremediation and biomass production.

SRC involves the planting of high yielding varieties of willow at a high density, typically 15,000 plants per hectare. The crop can be expected to last for around 30 years, with harvesting taking place every 3-5 years, and yields varying from 8 to 18 tonnes of dry woodchip per hectare per year. Willow grows quickly and has a particularly high demand for water, so it is ideal for the disposal of large volumes of treated effluent. In addition, the high planting density results in the development of a dense root hair system; effectively creating a biological filter for the treatment of organic compounds and the absorption of nutrients and some heavy metals. Soil fauna help to break down the effluents applied to the crop and soil particles control the availability of nutrients to the willow.

Monitoring and control
In early schemes, irrigation was managed manually on a timed basis with irrigation quantities based on external estimates of evapotranspiration. However, increased levels of monitoring and control are now possible. OTT’s Matthew Ellison explains: “The key objective is to supply the crop with an optimised amount of water, whilst minimising the requirement for staff on site. Too much irrigation would cause run-off and too little would under-utilise the treated effluent and result in poor growth conditions which would affect yield and potentially threaten the crop.

Soil moisture sensors

Soil moisture sensors

“An on-site weather station feeds local weather data to the system which uses crop data to predict evapotranspiration that is used to determine irrigation rates. Soil moisture sensors then check that soil moisture status is correct. Other sensors monitor the performance of the system; checking irrigation feed reservoir level, in-pipe pressure and there are sensors to check flow rates from the drip-feed irrigation. This communication capability is made possible with OTT’s Adcon Telemetry radio network.

“Our latest monitoring and control equipment automates the management of the system for unattended operation and staff are only required by exception. This means that the system is able to operate autonomously, delivering regular data reports, and staff are notified by email or text if alarm conditions occur.”

Emphasising the advantages of controlling the entire network, Matthew adds: “This system facilitates the ability to control and synchronise the main pump, and to open and close the valves at each irrigation zone.”

The latest OTT monitoring and control systems include:

  1. Soil moisture sensors
  2. Irrigation tank level sensors
  3. Irrigation function check sensors
  4. Pipe valves and pressure sensors
  5. Automatic weather station (to calculate local evapotranspiration)
  6. Radio telemetry
  7. ADCON Gateway and PC running addVANTAGE software
  8. Internet connectivity for remote log in

Summary
Looking back over a number of SRC projects, Stephen Farrow one of the instigators of this approach in the UK, and now an Independent Consultant says: “When viewed practically, environmentally and commercially, experience has demonstrated the viability of the overall approach.

“It is also clear that process optimisation with relatively low cost investment in OTT’s monitoring and control equipment has significantly added to the support functionality in terms of both operation and regulatory management.’’

OTT’s Matthew Ellison agrees, adding: “SRC clearly offers a sustainable option for effluent treatment, with highly positive effects on carbon footprint and biodiversity.

“In addition to the environmental benefits, process automation has significantly reduced labour requirements and helped to demonstrate compliance with the site-specific requirements of the Environment Agency.”