Most viewed stories in 2018.

02/01/2019

These are the most viewed stories on the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost website during 2017. The article on Radar Level Management (item 9 on this list) by Emerson’s Sarah Parker,  has consistantly appeared somewhere on this annual list in the last seven years.

As permanent links to the site we list these month by month. Those which were added during the year (2017) and in previous years may be found here!

First past the post!

Tapeswitch are now providing sensors for horse riding simulators to Racewood Equestrian Simulators .


No messing about on river conservation!

06/12/2018

Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have been investigating nutrient concentrations in the Upper River Itchen, in Hampshire (GB), on behalf of Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) to better understand where phosphorus is coming from and how it is impacting river ecology.

The work has been ongoing for over three years and Lauren Mattingley, Science Officer for S&TC says: “Continuous monitoring of phosphorus has improved our understanding of nutrient dynamics in the Itchen. So far, the results from this monitoring have influenced the lowering of discharge limits from watercress companies and trout breeding farms.

“The behaviour of phosphorus in our rivers is relatively poorly understood, and this is often reflected in water quality standards that, in our opinion, lack the scientific evidence to adequately protect the ecology of the UK’s diverse water resources. Research like that which we have commissioned on the Itchen is essential to set informed phosphorus permits to protect our water life.”

Background
The Itchen is a world famous chalk stream; renowned for its fly fishing and clear water. Designated a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ (SAC) the river supports populations of water-crowfoot, Southern damselfly, Bullhead, Brook lamprey, White-clawed crayfish and otters. The upper river does not suffer from wastewater treatment plant discharges, but does support two watercress farms, which have been the focus of initiatives to reduce phosphate concentrations.

S&TC is the only British charity campaigning for wild fish and their habitats. The organisation’s goal is for British waters to support abundant and sustainable populations of wild fish and all other water-dependent wildlife. Within its ‘Living Rivers’ campaign S&TC is seeking to tackle two of the major causes of poor water quality – fine sediment and phosphorus. The Itchen is therefore being treated as a pilot river for their water quality monitoring initiatives.

Phosphorus in fresh water is a major concern globally; mainly because of its role in the formation of algal blooms and eutrophication, which have a harmful effect on water quality and habitats. Under certain conditions, raised phosphate concentrations contribute to the proliferation of nuisance phytoplankton as well as epiphytic and benthic algae. Diffuse sources of phosphate include storm water and agricultural run-off from land, and point sources include septic tanks and wastewater discharges from industry and sewage treatment works. While soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) is the main concern, because of its availability for aquatic organism growth, other forms of phosphate such as particulate phosphate can contribute to nutrient enrichment.

Efforts to improve the quality of water bodies in Britain have been underway for many years. The EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) required Britain to achieve ‘good status’ of all water bodies (including rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater) by 2015, but in 2012 only 36% of water bodies were classified as ‘good’ or better.

In 2013 the UK Technical Advisory Group (UKTAG) published recommendations to revise the standards for phosphorus in rivers, because the standards set in 2009 were not sufficiently stringent – in 75% of rivers with clear ecological impacts of nutrient enrichment, the existing standards produced phosphorus classifications of good or even high status! DEFRA (British Government Department looking after environmental matters), therefore, revised the phosphorus standards to lower concentrations. However, the SRP concentration limits vary widely according to the location and alkalinity of the river.

Recognising a gap in the understanding of the relationship between phosphorus and aquatic ecology, S&TC has a unique agreement with the Environment Agency (EA) in Hampshire in which key environmental targets have been established for the Rivers Test and Itchen to help drive ecological improvements. The agreed targets are set around the number of key water insects that should be expected in a 3-minute kick-sweep sample. The targets are for the middle and lower reaches of the catchment to support at least 10 separate mayfly species and 500 freshwater shrimps (Gammarus) – all of which are susceptible to different forms of pollution so their presence provides an effective measure of the environmental health of the river.

S&TC has also conducted research investigating the effects of fine sediment and SRP on the hatching of the blue winged olive, Serratella ignita (Ephemerellidae: Ephemeroptera) a crucial component of the aquatic food chain. The results found that a cocktail of SRP and fine sediment at concentrations exceeding those found in many UK rivers (25 mg/L fine sediment and 0.07 mg/L phosphate) caused 80% of the eggs in the experiment to die. This work was unique because it showed environmental damage caused by phosphorus beyond eutrophication.

River Itchen sampling and analysis
Five automatic water samplers have been strategically located on the river each collecting daily samples. This generates 120 samples per 24 day cycle, which are collected and transferred to the laboratory in Portsmouth. The samples are split into three for the analysis of Total Phosphate, Soluble Reactive Phosphate (SRP) and Total Dissolved Phosphate (TDP). To cope with such a high volume of work, the laboratory in the University of Portsmouth’s School of Earth & Environmental Sciences employs a QuAAtro 5-channel segmented flow autoanalyzer, from SEAL Analytical.

“The QuAAtro has been in heavy use for over 9 years,” says Senior Scientific Officer Dr Adil Bakir. “It has been employed on a number of academic and commercial research projects, and is also used for teaching purposes. As a 5-channel instrument, we are able to study phosphate, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and silicate, but our work on the River Itchen is focused on the different forms of phosphate.”

The University of Portsmouth’s Environmental Chemistry Analytical Laboratory provides analytical and consultancy services for businesses, universities and other organisations. Dr Bakir says: “Using the QuaAAttro we are able to analyse diverse matrices including river water, sea water and wastewater, and with automatic dilution and high levels of sensitivity, we are able to measure a wide range of concentrations.”

Creating effective discharge consents
The analytical work undertaken by the laboratory at the University of Portsmouth has greatly improved the understanding of the ecology of the River Itchen and thereby informed the development of appropriate discharge consents for the two watercress farms. Effective 1st January 2016, new discharge permits were issued by the Environment Agency that set limits on phosphate discharges to the River Itchen system. For the Vitacress Pinglestone Farm these limits are set at 0.064 mg/L and are measured as an annual mean increase compared to the inlet sample.

S&TC now works closely with Vitacress, monitoring immediately downstream of the discharge so that the effects of the new discharge limit can be effectively assessed.

Looking forward, Lauren says: “The lessons that we have learned on the Itchen are transferrable, and do not just apply to chalk streams. All rivers have their issues and inputs, so proper diagnosis and understanding of how these inputs shape the biology is essential to the successful restoration of degraded systems.

“In an ideal world phosphorus targets would be bespoke, on a river by river basis, and determined by tailored research and proper monitoring.

“River ecology is impacted by a wide variety of factors and whilst nutrients represent a serious risk, it is important for us to understand all of the threats, and the relationships between them. In summary, without high-resolution monitoring, river standards and river restoration efforts will be blind to their consequences.”

#SealAnalytical #Environmental @SalmonTroutCons @_Enviro_News


Smart manufacturing standards.

28/11/2018

A major international standards program on smart manufacturing will receive end-user input from the International Society of Automation (ISA), the developer of widely used international consensus standards in key areas of industrial automation, including cybersecurity, safety and enterprise-control integration.

In early November (2018), the International Electrotechnical Commission held the first meeting of a new IEC systems committee on smart manufacturing in Frankfurt (D). An IEC systems committee is intended to set high-level interfaces and functional requirements that span multiple work areas across the IEC and its partner, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), to achieve a coordinated standards development plan.

The definition of smart manufacturing to be used by new IEC systems committee is:

Manufacturing that improves its performance aspects with integrated and intelligent use of processes and resources in cyber, physical and human spheres to create and deliver products and services, which also collaborates with other domains within an enterprise’s value chain. (Performance aspects can include agility, efficiency, safety, security, sustainability or other indicators. Enterprise domains, in addition to manufacturing, can include engineering, logistics, marketing, procurement, sales or other domains.)

Major supplier and government organizations from across the globe were well represented at the Frankfurt meeting, but participation from end users in industrial processing and manufacturing was noticeably low. However, ISA’s long-standing focus in its consensus industry standards on end-user performance, safety, and security, will be important in filling that void, as evident already in widely used IEC standards that are based on original ISA standards: 

  • ISA-99/IEC 62443: Industrial Automation & Control Systems Security
  • ISA-95/IEC 62264: Enterprise-Control System Integration
  • ISA-88/IEC 61512: Batch Control
  • ISA-84/IEC 61511: Functional Safety
  • ISA-18 IEC 62682: Management of Alarms
  • ISA-100/IEC 62734: Wireless Systems for Automation 

ISA’s participation will be facilitated through an IEC organizational liaison by which ISA standards and technical reports, both published and in development, can be directly circulated and reviewed within the systems committee as appropriate.

“The liaison status will enable ISA to participate more efficiently than would the traditional country-based structure of the IEC,” points out Charley Robinson, ISA’s Director of Standards, who attended the Frankfurt meeting. “This is important and appropriate because ISA’s standards development committees are open to experts from any country.”

In fact, experts from more than 40 countries participate in ISA standards—many on the committees that developed the original work for the widely used IEC standards noted above.

@ISA_Interchange #PAuto @IECStandards @isostandards

Soil carbon flux research!

21/11/2018
Measuring soil carbon flux gives an insight into the health of forest ecosystems and provides feedback on the effects of global warming. This article, from Edinburgh Instruments, outlines how soil CO2 efflux is determined and the applications of soil carbon flux research.

Soil is an important part of the Earth’s carbon cycle.
Pic: pixabay.com/Picography

The Earth’s carbon cycle maintains a steady balance of carbon in the atmosphere that supports plant and animal life. In recent years, concerns about the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, indicating a problem in Earth’s carbon cycle, has been a prominent global issue.1,2

As a part of a stable carbon cycle, carbon is exchanged between carbon pools including the atmosphere, the ocean, the land and living things in a process known as carbon flux. Carbon exchange typically takes place as a result of a variety of natural processes including respiration, photosynthesis, and decomposition.

Since the industrial age, humans have begun to contribute to carbon exchange with activities such as fuel burning, and chemical processes, which are believed to be responsible for increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations and increasing global temperatures.1-3

Soil carbon flux provides feedback on environmental conditions
Soil is a vital aspect of the Earth’s carbon cycle, containing almost three times more carbon than the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon is present in soil as ‘solid organic carbon’ including decomposing plant and animal matter. Over time, microbial decomposition of the organic components of soil releases carbon into the atmosphere as CO2.4,5

The amount of carbon present in soil affects soil fertility, plant growth, microbial activity, and water quality. Studying the carbon flux of soil gives an insight into an ecosystem as a whole and specific information about microbial activity and plant growth.4-6

Soil carbon flux can also help us to understand and predict the effects of global warming. As global temperatures increase, is it expected that microbial activity will also increase, resulting in faster plant decomposition and increased CO2 efflux into the atmosphere.5,6

Measuring soil CO2 efflux
Determining soil-surface CO2 efflux can be challenging. Researchers commonly employ a chamber combined with CO2 concentration measurements to determine CO2 efflux. A variety of chambers have been designed for such research, some of which are commercially available.7-10

Closed-chamber systems typically pump air through a gas analyzer, which measures CO2 concentration, before returning the air to the chamber. Soil CO2 efflux is then estimated from the rate of increase of CO2 concentration in the chamber.

Open-chambers pump ambient air into the chamber and measure the change in CO2concentration between the air entering the chamber and the air leaving the chamber to determine the soil CO2 efflux.

Of the two chamber types, open chambers are considered more accurate. Closed chambers tend to underestimate CO2 efflux as increased CO2 concentrations in the chamber cause less CO2 to diffuse out of the soil while the chamber is in place.10,11.

Often, CO2 concentrations in chambers are measured periodically and then extrapolated to give an estimation of CO2 efflux. This method can be inaccurate because CO2 efflux can vary significantly between measurements with changes in environmental conditions.

A further limitation of using chambers for CO2 efflux measurements is that chambers typically only provide measurements in one location, while CO2 efflux has been found to vary widely even in relatively homogeneous environments. The overall result is CO2 efflux data with limited temporal and spatial resolution, that does not reflect the environmental situation as a whole.10,12,13

Naishen Liang

A group of researchers from the National Institute for Environmental Studies (Japan) led by Naishen Liang has designed an automated, multi-chamber chamber system for measuring soil-surface CO2 efflux.

As CO2 concentrations are measured automatically using an infrared gas sensor, COefflux can be determined accurately throughout the experiment. The improved temporal resolution, combined with increased spatial detail resulting from the use of multiple chambers gives a better overview of how CO2 efflux varies with time, location, and environmental conditions within an ecosystem.10

Liang and his team have applied his method to gather information about a range of forest ecosystems. Their automated chambers have been used in a variety of forest locations combined with heat lamps to provide high-resolution, long-term data about the effects of warming on microbial activity and CO2 efflux.

Liang’s research has shown that soil temperatures have a significant effect on COefflux in a wide range of forest environments, information that is vital for understanding how global warming will affect forest ecosystems and the Earth’s carbon cycle as a whole.14-17

All chamber systems for determining CO2 efflux rely on accurate CO2 concentration analysis. Infrared gas analyzers are the most widely used method of instrumentation for determining CO2 concentrations in soil CO2 efflux measurement chambers.8,10,18

Infrared gas sensors, such as gascard sensors from Edinburgh Sensors, are well suited to providing CO2 concentration measurements in soil chambers, and are the sensors of choice used by Liang and his team.

The gascard sensors are robust, low-maintenance, and easy to use compared with other sensors. They provide rapid easy-to-interpret results and can be supplied as either complete boxed sensors (the Boxed Gascard) or as individual sensors (the Gascard NG) for easy integration into automated chambers.19,20


Notes, References and further reading
1. ‘The Carbon Cycle’
2. ‘Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Change’ — Kondratyev KY, Krapivin VF, Varotsos CA, Springer Science & Business Media, 2003.
3. ‘Land Use and the Carbon Cycle: Advances in Integrated Science, Management, and Policy’ — Brown DG, Robinson DT, French NHF, Reed BC, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
4. ‘Soil organic matter and soil function – Review of the literature and underlying data’ — Murphy BW, Department of Environment and Energy, 2014
5. ‘The whole-soil carbon flux in response to warming’ — Hicks Pries CE, Castanha C, Porras RC, Torn MS, Science, 2017.
6. ‘Temperature-associated increases in the global soil respiration record’ — Bond-Lamberty B, Thomson A, Nature, 2010.
7. ‘Measuring Emissions from Soil and Water’ — Matson PA, Harriss RC, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1995.
8. ‘Minimize artifacts and biases in chamber-based measurements of soil respiration’ — Davidson EA, Savage K, Verchot LV, Navarro R, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2002.
9. ‘Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 1. Physical Methods, 3rd Edition’ — Dane JH, Topp GC, Soil Science Society of America, 2002.
10. ‘A multichannel automated chamber system for continuous measurement of forest soil CO2 efflux’ — Liang N, Inoue G, Fujinuma Y, Tree Physiology, 2003.
11. ‘A comparion of six methods for measuring soil-surface carbon dioxide fluxes’ — Norman JM, Kucharik CJ, Gower ST, Baldocchi DD, Grill PM, Rayment M, Savage K, Striegl RG, Journal of Geophysical Research, 1997.
12. ‘An automated chamber system for measuring soil respiration’ — McGinn SM, Akinremi OO, McLean HDJ, Ellert B, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 1998.
13. ‘Temporal and spatial variation of soil CO2 efflux in a Canadian boreal forest’ — Rayment MB, Jarvis PG, Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 2000.
14. ‘High-resolution data on the impact of warming on soil CO2 efflux from an Asian monsoon forest’ — Liang N, Teramoto M, Takagi M, Zeng J, Scientific Data, 2017.
15. ‘Long‐Term Stimulatory Warming Effect on Soil Heterotrophic Respiration in a Cool‐Temperate Broad‐Leaved Deciduous Forest in Northern Japan’ —Teramoto M, Liang N, Ishida S, Zeng J, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeoscience, 2018.
16. ‘Sustained large stimulation of soil heterotrophic respiration rate and its temperature sensitivity by soil warming in a cool-temperate forested peatland’ — Aguilos M, Takagi K, Liang N, Watanabe Y, Teramoto M, Goto S, Takahashi Y, Mukai H, Sasa K, Tellus Series B : Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 2013.
17. ‘Liang Automatic Chamber (LAC) Network
18. ‘Interpreting, measuring, and modeling soil respiration’ — Ryan MG, Law BE, Biogeochemistry, 2005.
19. ‘Boxed Gascard’
20. ‘Gascard NG’

@edinsensors #Environment #NIESJp

EMrex in San Antonio!

15/10/2018

We were unable to follow the events in this year’s Emerson User Group Meeting in San Antonio, Texas USA. There were lots of tweets which may be viewed under the Hashtag #EMrex. However we did get a number of releases which we have published and present them here as a group.

Mike Train hands over to Lal Karsanbhai

Mike Train used the occasion to  announce his replacement as Executive President of Emerson Process Automation, Lal Karsanbhai, while Mike Train is to assume the role of President at Emerson!

The Emerson Exchange 365 Community is a useful group for Emerson users to keep up with developments and applications.

• Dependable & responsive delivery! (5 Oct 2018)

• Connection to take the next step in digital transformation. (5 Oct 2018)

Where are you? (4 Oct 2018)

• Scalable Digital Twin to Bridge Plant Design. (4 Oct 2018)

• PLC technology company to be acquired. (4 Oct 2018)

• Acquisition strengthens service to descrete markets! (3 Oct 2018)
      Irish company acquired – HTE Engineering Services Ltd.

• Helping customers seize €22 billion ($25b) savings! (3 Oct 2018)

Roadmap towards Digital Transformation. (2 Oct 2018)

• Programme fast-tracks digital transformation. (1Oct 2018)

The next Emerson User Group Americas is scheduled for Nashville (TN USA) next September 23-27 2019. Always a good show!


Power needs for autonomous robots!

20/08/2018
Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at EU Automation, argues that the way we power six axis robots needs to be reassessed to meet the needs of new applications such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

Since industrial six-axis robots were popularised back in the 1960s, the technology that makes up robots, as well as the way in which we now use robots, has changed considerably.

What was once considered a high-risk sector, where robots were relegated to operating in cells and cages behind no-go zones, has changed to one where robots can now work in collaboration with human workers.

Advances in motor technology, actuation, gearing, proximity sensing and artificial intelligence has resulted in the advent of various robots, such as CoBots, that are portable enough to be desktop mounted, as well as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that can move freely around a facility.

These systems are not only capable of delivering high payloads weighing hundreds of kilograms, but are also sensitive enough to sense the presence of a human being at distances ranging from a few millimetres to a few metres. The robot can then respond in under a millisecond to stimuli, such as a person reaching out to guide the robot’s hand, and automatically change its power and force-limiting system to respond accordingly.

Although six-axis robots and CoBots are predominantly mains powered, portable AMR service robots are gaining popularity in sectors as diverse as industrial manufacturing, warehousing, healthcare and even hotels. In these settings, they can operate 24/7, only taking themselves out of action for charging and taken offline by an engineer for essential repairs and maintenance.

In the warehousing sector, for example, the picking and packing process can be manually intensive, with operators walking up and down long aisles picking products from a shelf to fulfil each order. This is a time consuming and inefficient process that adds time to the customer order. Using an autonomous mobile robot in this situation can allow the compact robot to pick up the shelf and move it to the human operator in true “goods-to-man” style.

However, this demanding use-cycle prompts the question: are the batteries that power these robots sufficiently suited to this new environment? To answer this, we need to understand the types of batteries used.

The two most popular types of secondary, rechargeable, battery are sealed lead acid (SLA) and lithium-ion (li-ion). Having been around for nearly 160 years, lead acid technology is capable of delivering high surge currents due to its low impedance. However, this type of battery can be large and heavy, making it impractical for smaller machines.

Alternatively, lithium-ion provides the highest density and delivers the highest energy-to-weight ratio of any battery chemistry, which allows design engineers to use it in even the most compact devices. It also maintains a stable voltage throughout its discharge cycle, resulting in highly efficient, long runtimes.

When choosing robotic systems for their application, it’s important that engineers match the right type of battery to the load. As we increasingly begin to rely on smart factories with high levels of portable and mobile automation, considering the power needs of each device will be vital in delivering long run times with high efficiency.

@euautomation #PAuto #Robotics

Power take-off torque monitoring.

07/08/2018
AIM – Precisely & Quickly Monitor Power Take-Off Torque on A Wave Energy Converter

Challenge
As part of a project funded by Wave Energy Scotland, 4c Engineering needed to test various configurations of the SeaPower Platform, a Wave Energy Converter (WEC), to determine the effects on power capture.   To do this they needed a reliable and accurate way of measuring power take-off (PTO) torque, forces, positions and pressures of the waves on the SeaPower Platform.

Why? Establishing the most efficient design with the highest wave power generation, will make it a more cost-efficient form of wave energy.

The SeaPower Platform extracts energy from deep water ocean waves by reacting to long prevailing wavelengths in high resource sites.

Solution – Accurate DTD-P Parallel Shaft Reaction Torque Transducer
“We chose the DTD-P torque transducer for its high accuracy and compact size which we needed for tank testing the SeaPower Platform,” explains Andy Hall, Director at 4c Engineering.

  • Designed for In-Line Static or Semi-Rotary Torque Measurement
  • Capacities: 0-10Nm to 0-10kNm
  • High Accuracy – Ideal for Calibration, Development and Testing Applications
  • Accuracy: <±0.15% / Full Scale Output
  • Customised Capacities, Shaft and Configuration Options Available
  • IP67 Waterproof and IP68 Fully Submersible Versions Available

Complete Torque Monitoring System
Applied Measurements Ltd provided 4c Engineering with a DTD-P 100Nm parallel shaft torque sensor fitted with an ICA4H miniature load cell amplifier, calibrated to UKAS traceable standards and sealed to IP68 to allow complete submersion. This complete torque measuring system enabled their engineers to reliably and accurately monitor the torque applied by the WEC as it responded to waves in the test tank.

Save on Installation Time
The DTD-P torque transducer has keyed parallel shaft connections for in-line static or semi-rotary torque measurement in capacities from 0-10Nm up to 0-10kNm (custom capacities readily available). This version was fitted with a flying lead, however versions with an integral bayonet lock military connector are also available which promise simple and easy connection.

Guaranteed High Accuracy
The DTD-P torque transducer is highly accurate to better than ±0.15% (typically ±0.05%) of the full scale output, making it ideal for this high precision development and testing application. Additional applications include the testing of electrical motors, hydraulic pumps, automotive transmissions, steering systems and aircraft actuators.

Need a Specific Design?
The DTD-P torque transducer can be customised with bespoke shaft, configuration options and capacities (to 50kNm+) specific to your application. For 4c Engineering we customised the design of the DTD-P torque transducer to IP68 submersible for continuous use underwater to 1m, which was essential for use in the wave test tank.

High Stability, Fast Response, ICA4H Miniature Load Cell Amplifier
“The high speed, reliability and clean output of the ICA4H miniature amplifier enabled the data to be analysed immediately after each test.” says Andy Hall.

  • Very Compact 19mm Diameter
  • Low Current Consumption
  • High Speed 1kHz Bandwidth (max.)
  • 4-20mA (3-wire) Output (10 to 30Vdc supply)

Very Compact
To deliver a conditioned load cell output signal we supplied the DTD-P torque transducer with an ICA4H high performance miniature load cell amplifier. The ICA miniature load cell amplifiers are very compact at only 19mm in diameter allowing them to fit inside the body of most load cells. In this application the ICA4H was supplied in a gel filled IP68 immersion protected compact enclosure (see image above) along with 10 metres of cable making it suitable for this underwater application.

With High Speed Response
The engineers at 4c Engineering needed to have a quick and reliable way to process the power take-off torque data from the tests, to determine the power capture and effects of the control settings before running the next test. The ICA4H miniature load cell amplifier was chosen not only for its high stability and compact size but also for its 1000Hz fast response.


A sea platform off the Galway (Ireland) Coast – not far from the Read-out offices.

@AppMeas @4c_Eng #power #PAuto