#EmrEX: All change at Brussell Centraal.

18/04/2016
Emerson User Group EMEA in Brussels, Belgium – 12th – 14th April 2016

“Seems to me that #EMrex is focusing not so much on new technologies, though important, but looking closer at how we do things.”  our tweet on day one.
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Brussels looked lovely on the morning that the Emerson User Group meeting opened. There was little to suggest the trauma that the city had faced just a few short weeks previously as delegates strolled through the sun-lit streets to the conference centre. The security however was markedly tighter as we entered the building however with strict adherence to the best security practices. However once inside the building things were as normal.

 Emerson Exchange Brussels – The Videos!

Other Reports (as they appear)
• Operational Excellence at Emerson Exchange Brussels (Emerson’s Stuart Turner – 20/4/2016).
• Nick Denbow ‘s travel travails: My worst week as an air traveller!  (30/4/2016)

Speaking with the organisers it promised to be a bumper event, stretched as it was over three days examining all aspects of automation, experiences, applications and of course exciting new products and concepts. The attendance was slightly down on the last time in Stuttgart, some were reluctant to travel, others were unable to make it due to the inability of the severely damaged to adhere to a normal service. Those who attended were in part in broad agreement with the message penned by Emerson’s Travis Hesketh – Standing up for Brussels. Indeed the User Group very quickly confirmed after these terrible events that they were going ahead with #EMrex. At several of the social events at the periphery, like the evening reception for publishers and journalists the people who suffered were remembered.

The venue was a modern conference and the one hundred or so presentations and industry forums were stretched over about six floors including an exhibition floor and at the very top of the building was a cyber café and a wonderful panoramic hall with the breathtaking view (featured at the top of this page from a tweet by Emerson’s social media guru – Jim Cahill)

But on to the the meeting!

Peter Iles-Smith of GlaxoSmithKline opened proceedings as chair of the Users Exchange Board. He welcomed the over two thousand delegates from so many countries through out the EMEA who travelled for the event.

Steve_SonnenbergSteve Sonnenberg, President Emerson Process Management (pictured right) and Roel VanDoren, their President in Europe, in a joint presentation entitled “New Reality, New Opportunity” addressed the changes and challenges facing companies in the 21st Century. They did not talk about products or applications but on ways of doing things. Indeed during the presentation we tweeted: “Emerson’s approach – yes equipment, but more importantly perhaps is attitude or culture.”

Nobody does business the way they it was done even twenty years ago, when the internet was a baby and nobody imagined never mind thought possible social media platforms like twitter,  yet in many cases industry is way behind in adapting to change. Possibilities are there which were inconceivable a short time ago and these need to be harnessed for the good of humanity.

Research into these possibilities, new technologies are leading to changes especially the importance of planning including all stakeholders at the earliest opportunity. This thinking is leading to an innovative technology and engineering-based approach for improved capital efficiency such as their Project Certainty approach  which aims to tackle complexity by decoupling the dependencies suppliers have on each other, eliminating bottlenecks and allowing concurrent work streams. In a word it aims to transform capital investment and releasing the frightening amounts of money currently being lost in big and not so big projects.

And these figures are frightening. If the type of approach spoken of here is adopted savings of up to €400 Billion (yes BILLION) would be released to invest in, for instance,  production, reliability, safety, energy, training, security and innovation.

So what is involved?

Xavier_MarchantXavier Marchant, (right), Emerson’s Vice President Process Systems and Solutions in Europe, gave dramatic examples of the possible savings in labour and materials. For instance the decision to use smart junction boxes in a large project could save both money and space (95% in control room space). Spare parts are another area where there is phenomenal waste. He quoted a spokesman from a International Energy and Chemical Company, “On our last construction project we overspent on maintenance spares to the tune of €50,000,000…we just wrote it off….because we did not have a robust spares analysis process.” Reduce the complexity by the involvement of stake holders at the start of planning for a project and allowing them to develop it side by side. One simple idea is to separate software from hardware in the development. The “old way” is to tie them together from the start whereas this way the software can be developed using virtual systems and then later on when the actual operation is seen to work in the virtual world (he called it virtual FAT – Factory Acceptance Test) it may be introduced to the real or concrete world – or “late binding” as he called it.

vFAT
Virtual FAT has far less chance of harming one than the real thing?

He quoted  François Davin of Sanofi “Emerson’s Remote Virtual Office allowed us to collaborate with experts and resources from multiple sites to conduct our Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). The result was less travel and site disturbance to our operations. Also, more operators could participate remotely which improved the new automation system adoption.”

We were introduced to the concept of  quartile performance and their site Top Quartile Performance is a exposé of how they view this as a concept and how it is influencing their thinking as a group.

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Of course all these changes would be impossible without the availability and enthusiastic embracing of the so-called “new” technologies. Peter Zornio (right), Emerson’s irrepressible Chief Strategic Officer, gave us an insight into these and how the company is using these and its co-operative involvement with the pioneers in these , the Internet of Everything(CISCO),  Industrial Internet (GE), Smart Planet (IBM) and The Internet of Things (Microsoft). These technologies, and others embryonic or not even conceived of are guiding  the current and future development of technology used in the manufacturing and processing sectors.

Keynotes: The Emerson User Exchanges whether in the USA or EMEA always have exciting and inspirational keynote speakers each day. This event was no exception. Jack Uldrich, a futurist spoke about future-proofing business. The majority of businesses are not ready for what is happening in the real world or for the speed at which it is happening.

Another of these speakers Prof Jan Rotmans who spoke about change. He maintains that we are not living through an “era of change” as a “change of era!” Many of us are in the old era, our mobile phone is just that, we read newspapers, buy books in bookshops. Our kids live on their mobile phones, they are their liveline. We are “old-fashioned” our kids are “cool!” Change is disruptive and the old ways are totally unable to cope. The old top-down certainties are dissolving and the “common man” is taking charge, sometimes violently. Chaos is the name of the game.

Finally a veteran at EmrEX, David Beckman, brought all the thoughts and ideas of New Reality, New Opportunity together. In view of Rotmans’ talk earlier the title he chose was more than relevant as he introduced delegates to the “Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.” Although he prepared us for worst case scenarios he described real opportunities for industrial automation.

Presentations. The various threads were divided into five headings or sectors, Business & Projects; Operate Safely, Securely and Legally; Process Optimisation; Maintenance & Reliabilitym and, Control System Applications & Migrations and were held through each of the days.

Forums: There were also Industry Forums with panels and general discussions on the various specialities e.g. Life Sciences or Refining & Petrochemicals. These were opportunities for participants to learn and exchange information and experiences with each other.

Training: There were also training  sessions and other sessions (called Roadmaps) on Emerson products and possible future developments.

projcertExpo

ExpoEmrEx16274Solutions EXPO: Of course no event is complete without actually seeing product and EmrEX is no exception. The floor was divided under the same zone headings as the threads of presentations above. (See sketch on left).

There were several unique exhibits. One was the Operations Centre of the Future. This was an imaginative presentation of a plant with a H.A.L. like computer responding (or not) to commands or requests from the operatives. It featured a drone delivery of spare parts and a really effective alarm situation which featured a realistic vibration of the floor. Of course the real message is that though it is the future most of the technology used is possible today.

Of course the Project Certainty concept featured prominently in the Business & Projects area and we were show possible scenarios. They had also rather bravely set up a wall where delegates could post what they consider are the features that should be addressed in projects. This should help “to focus ruthlessly on what’s directly relevent to a company strategy.”

Of course there were actual instruments on display to examine and handle.

Ind1stNotable was this industry first, the Rosemount X-well system, a wireless transmitter, accurately measuring process temperature without need for thermowell. Accurate process temperature measurement is possible without requiring any intrusions or penetrations into the process, allowing for quicker and easier installation along with simplified long-term maintenance. Users do not have to design, size or maintain thermowells. Wake Frequency Calculations are eliminated, as well as time spent determining material compatibility, the right insertion length and the necessary profile.

pressure_gaugeAlso the new Emerson Wireless Pressure Gauge created quite buzz among delgates. Th“This new gauge design fundamentally will change how customers use pressure gauges by helping them make better business decisions!”  It is another industry first. Does this signal the end of the Bourdon Tube?

Energy management is of course critical in all processes. It is effected not only by cost factors but also by legislation driven by concerns on pollution and global warming. Here Emerson demonstrated some prototypes of monitoring and control equipment not yet available. They emphasised savings on space occupied and of course ease of use by operatives.

Jim_CahillAnother very popular item was on the Maintenance & Reliability Zone. Here was an opportunity to experience the immersive training simulator. A goggle like apparatus was placed on the head and using a game-like hand piece the engineer is able to travel through a plant and see where various problems may be without any danger to him or her. It is a fascinating experience and one really feels that one is travelling through the plant rather than sitting or standing in a control room or office.  In this picture we see Emerson’s Chief Blogger, Surface Dweller, Head of Social Media enter the virtual world for real! We can confirm that he returned to real reality afterwards.

Around the periphery of the EXPO were the booths of companies which compliment the Emerson offering – what they call their complementary and strategic partners.

history-passageThere was also a section dedicated to history featuring milestones in science and automation over the years. It was a demonstration of change in the past. What will feature in future shows? The new opportunities taking advantage of the new realities of the past.

Always a major highlight of the Emerson User Group events is waht the call the “Networking Event.” This year was rather unique in that it was a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Magritte Museum. This was an unique opportunity to see the best of Belgian painters – creativity of a different type than that extolled during the day sessions. Artists such as the Brueghels, Rubens, Jordaens and Magritte were enjoyed during this evening. Food and beverages were served – Belgium is famous for its beers of course but it also has its own cuisine and of course it’s chocolate is to die for.

This years event, despite the unexpected difficulties, was on a par, indeed because of these difficulties had perhaps more user participation than previous ones. There were many exciting things to see, concepts to understands and friends with which to share experiences.  And of course fun with a capital F.

Look at this and tell me people weren’t enjoying themselves! (Twitter pic ‏@Julian_Annison)

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Emerson’s Travis Hesketh and Nick Taylor appreciating (?) art.


Our unedited photos from the conferenceon the Read-out Facebook page.

Follow on twitter #EmrEX

The videos here give an impression of each day:
Day One


Day Two


Day Three

• We have written about our travelling experiences to and from Brussels in our personnel blog (Sa Bhaile: (“Home” in Irish). These were relatively smooth if labourious but there is indeed no comparison to the experiences of Nick Denbow of ProcessingTalk which he outlines on their blog: My worst week as an air traveller! 


Previous EmrEX EMEA Events.
2014: Stuttgart: Revving up in Stuttgart!
2012: Duesseldorf: Automation returns to Düsseldorf!

All our reports on EmrEX Events (including North America).


#EMrex #PAuto @EmersonExchange @EmersonProcess #PAuto #IoT

Wireless I/O vs. Wireless Distributed I/O.

14/02/2016

We all know that one of the biggest challenges to connecting legacy or remote equipment to the network is the cost of running wires. If you have an indoor application, you have to run conduit and wires to the devices you want to monitor or measure. In most cases it is just too painful and expensive. Outdoors, there are trenches to dig, cables to bury underground and the permits…don’t forget about the time it takes for permitting. What if the equipment you need to connect to is across a major street or parking lot? That would mean more costs and permits to tear up city streets. Many times it just isn’t feasible to run conduit between items like water pumps, generators or chillers and your control room. But, how are you supposed to get to the data in this equipment?

prosoft IO.jpg_ico500There is the traditional method of installing a wireless Distributed I/O system using Ethernet radios. Depending on the application, this would work just fine. However, it can be a daunting process that involves costly downtime. And we all know that downtime doesn’t pay the bills.

“With a Wireless I/O system from ProSoft Technology, the cost, hassle and expensive downtime of installing wire goes away.”

What is the difference between Wireless I/O and Traditional Distributed I/O with an Ethernet Radio?
A traditional distributed I/O system using an Ethernet radio requires plant operators to support network communications and program a data communications network. Not so with ProSoft Technology’s Wireless I/O.

Wireless I/O, sometimes referred to as a Wireless Terminal Block, is a simplified form of wireless communication designed to make reliable, secure connections between two locations. Unlike data radios, the Wireless I/O system requires no software to program or network protocol to configure. The Wireless I/O radios are sold in pairs, already programmed to connect to one another. The I/O signal sent between the radios is encrypted with 128-bit AES encryption to make sure only the paired radio on the other end can read the information. The individual I/O modules read the physical signals from the machine – 24VDC digital signals, 0-10V or 4-20mA analog signals – and send that information to a corresponding I/O module at the other end. The corresponding module simply reproduces the signal on its output terminals. The digital I/O module has 4 digital inputs and 4 digital outputs, while the analog modules each have two inputs and two outputs. The system is bi-directional, so each radio can send inputs to and receive outputs from the other. Each radio pair can support 16 I/O module pairs, for 64 digital inputs and outputs or 32 analog inputs and outputs.

Because the system only needs to handle a small amount of data, the wireless I/O radios use a technique called “frequency hopping spread spectrum” modulation. This method is ideal for reducing potential interference from other radio signals in the area and provides very reliable transmission of the I/O signals. The radios are available in either 2.4 GHz or 900 MHz versions. By default, the system transmits the status of its I/O once per second. A “Turbo Mode” option boosts the update rate to as fast as 10 times per second.

Typical Example of a Wireless I/O System
Let’s consider an application with a storm water retention system including pumps and valves, several hundred meters from the control room. The building maintenance team wants to gather information about the storm water system, such as basin water level, pump status, and outflow rate. Digging a trench from the building to the basin control panel could easily cost USD 10,000, even more if the path requires trenching through parking lots or roadways. If you add the cost of cabling and conduit, the project cost quickly exceeds the benefit of bringing the data into the control system.

With ProSoft Technology’s Wireless I/O, this type of project becomes much easier and much less expensive! Using the pre-paired radios, the building maintenance team can install input and output cards right in the cabinet with the basin control equipment. With the wireless I/O there is no need for the basin control equipment to support network communications, and no need for the installer to program a data communications network to make it work.

So, if you have abandoned the idea of gathering information from hard-to-reach or remote equipment in the past…think again. ProSoft Technology’s Wireless I/O system is an easy and cost-effective way to bring your data back into your control system for analysis and action, and most importantly, an increase in your bottom line.


Future factory – a moderator’s impression!

01/02/2016

Read-out was asked to moderate the automation stream at the National Manufacturing & Supplies conference held last week outside Dublin. (26th January 2016). In their wisdom the organisers selected “Future Factory!” as a title for this half day seminar and there were 11 speakers organised to speak on their particular subjects for about 15 minutes each. This was replicated in the the over a dozen different seminars held on this one day.

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Long queues lasted well into the morning to enter the event!

We were a little sceptical that this would work but with the help of the organisers and the discipline of the speakers the time targets were achieved. Another target achieved was the number of attendees at the event as well as those who attended this particular seminar.
In all between exhibitors, speakers and visitors well over 3000 packed the venue. Probably far more than the organisers had anticipated and hopefully a potent sign that the economy is again on the upturn. Indeed it was so successful that it was trending (#MSC16) on twitter for most of the day.

Seminar
But back to our seminar. If you google the term Future Factory you get back 207million links, yet it is difficult to find a simple definition as to what it means. The term automation similarly is a very difficult term to define though the term in Irish “uathoibriú” perhaps is a bit clearer literally meaning “self-working.”

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Good attendance at the Seminar

Background
The world of automation has changed to an extrordinary degree and yet in other ways it remains the same. The areas where it has experienced least change is in the areas of sensing – a thermometer is a thermometer – and final control – a valve is a valve. Where it has changed almost to the point of unrecognisability is in that bit in the middle, what one does with the signal from the sensor to activate the final control element.

From single parameter dedicated Indicator/Controller/Recorders in the sixties which transmitted either pnuematically (3-15psi) or electrically (4-20mA). Gradually (relatively speaking) most instruments became electronic, smaller in size and multifunctional. The means of communication changed too and fieldbus communication became more common to intercact with computors which themselves were developing at breaknech speed. Then transmission via wireless became more common and finally the internet and the ability to control a process from the computer that we call the intelligent phone. There are problems with these latter, internet/cellphone, of course. One is that the reach of the internet is focussed at present on areas of high population. Another is the danger of infiltration of systems by hostile or mischivous strangers. The importance of security protocols is one that has only recently been apparent to Automation professionals.

• Many of the presentations are available on-line here. The password is manufac2016

The Presentations
Maria Archer of Ericsson spoke on the enabling and facilitating IoT in the manufacturing industry. Diving straight into topic she drew on her experience of big data, e-commerce, media, cyber security, IOT and connected devices.

The second speaker was Cormac Garvey of Hal Software who addressed Supply Chain prototyping. The Supply Chain ecosystem is incredibly complex, usually requiring significant integration of each suppliers’ standards and processes to the manufacturer’s. Cormac will introduce the concept of supply chain prototyping, where easy-to-use, standards-based technology is used to wireframe out the entire supply chain ecosystem prior to integration, thus significantly reducing cost, time and risk on the project. This wireframe can then be used as a model for future integration projects.

Two speakers from the Tralee Institute of Technology, Dr. Pat Doody and Dr. Daniel Riordan spoke on RFID, IoT, Sensor & Process Automation for Industry 4.0. They explained how IMaR’s (Intelligent Mechatronics and RFID) expertise is delivering for their industrial partners and is available to those aiming to become a part of Industry 4.0.

Smart Manufacturing – the power of actionable data was the topic addressed by Mark Higgins of Fast Technology. He shared his understanding of the acute issues companies face on their journey to Business Excellence and how leveraging IT solutions can elevate the business to a new point on that journey.

Assistant Professor (Mechanical & Manuf. Eng) at TCD, Dr Garret O’Donnell,   explained how one of the most significant initiatives in the last 2 years has been the concept of the 4th industrial revolution promoted by the National Academy for Science and Engineering in Germany- ACATECH, known as Industrie 4.0. (Industrie 4.0 was first used as a term in Germany in 2011).

Another speaker from Fast Technologies, Joe Gallaher, addressed the area of Robotics and how Collaborative Robots are the “Game Changer” in the modern manufacturing facility.

Dr. Hassan Kaghazchi of the University of Limerick and Profibus spoke on PROFINET and Industrie 4.0. Industrial communications systems play a major role in today’s manufacturing systems. The ability to provide connectivity, handle large amount of data, uptime, open standards, safety, and security are the major deciding factors. This presentation shows how PROFINET fits into Industrial Internet of Things (Industrie 4.0).

White Andreetto

Maurice Buckley CEO NSAI

The CEO of NSAI, the Irish National Standards Authority, Maurice Buckley explained how standards and the National Standards Authority of Ireland can help Irish businesses take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution and become more prepared to reap the rewards digitisation can bring.

The next two speakers stressed the impact of low forecast accuracy on the bottom line and how this coulbe be addressed. Jaap Piersma a consultant with SAS UK & Ireland explained that low forecast accuracies on the business performance is high in industry but with the right tools, the right approach and experienced resources you can achieve very significant result and benefits for your business. Following him Dave Clarke, Chief Data Scientist at Asystec, who mantains the company strategy for big data analytics service development for customers. He showed how are incredible business opportunities possible by harnessing the massive data sets generated in the machine to machine and person to machine hyper connected IoT world.

The final speaker David Goodstein, Connected Living Project Director, GSMA, described new form factor mobile SIMs which are robust, remotely manageable which are an essential enabler for applications and services in the connected world.

All in all a very interesting event and useful to attendees. Papers are being collected and should be available shortly on-line.

It is hoped to do it all again next year on 24th January 2017- #MSC17.

See you there.

@NationalMSC #MSC16 #PAuto #IoT


Wireless production test.

07/08/2015

The Wireless Test System (WTS), is a solution from National Instruments (NI), that dramatically lowers the cost of high-volume wireless manufacturing test. Although faced with the rising complexity of wireless test, companies can confidently reduce test costs and multiply throughput on the production floor with a system optimised for measurement speed and parallel test.

wts_05_bdr“Megatrends, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), will push more devices to include RF and sensor functionality, which has traditionally been expensive to test. But test cost shouldn’t limit innovation or the economic viability of a product,” said Olga Shapiro, Program Manager for Measurement and Instrumentation at Frost & Sullivan. “To remain profitable in the future, companies will need to rethink their approach for wireless test and embrace new paradigms. Because the WTS is built on the industry-proven PXI platform and backed with the market expertise of NI, we expect it to have significant impact on the profitability of the IoT.”

The WTS combines the latest advances in PXI hardware to offer a single platform for multi-standard, multi- DUT and multi-port testing. When used with flexible test sequencing software, such as the TestStand Wireless Test Module, manufacturers can significantly improve instrument utilization when testing multiple devices in parallel. The WTS integrates easily into a manufacturing line with ready-to-run test sequences for devices that use chipsets from suppliers like Qualcomm and Broadcom as well as integrated DUT and remote automation control. With these features, customers are seeing considerable efficiency gains from their RF test equipment and further reducing their cost of test.

“We tested multiple wireless technologies ranging from Bluetooth to WiFi to GPS and cellular all with the same equipment using the NI Wireless Test System,” said Markus Krauss, HARMAN/Becker Automotive Systems GmbH. “The WTS and NOFFZ’s RF test engineering expertise helped us significantly reduce test time and the time it took to get our test systems up and running.”

The WTS is the latest system from NI built on PXI hardware and LabVIEW and TestStand software (see the Semiconductor Test System launched in 2014). With support for wireless standards from LTE Advanced to 802.11ac to Bluetooth Low Energy, the WTS is designed for manufacturing test of WLAN access points, cellular handsets, infotainment systems and other multi-standard devices that include cellular, wireless connectivity and navigation standards. Software-designedPXIvector signal transceiver technology inside the WTS delivers superior RF performance in the manufacturing test environment and a platform that can scale with the evolving requirements of RF test.


New monitoring network for Scottish ports!

05/07/2015

Historically, ferry masters operating off the west coast of Scotland would have to sail to a port and on arrival visually assess the weather and tide conditions before deciding whether safe berthing alongside the pier or quayside would be possible. This wastes time and fuel, and can causes immense frustration among passengers, who may see ferries come close to a port, but thereafter depart without berthing when conditions are determined by the ferry Master to be unsafe. These ferries provide a critically important lifeline service to the islands, so the reliability of ferry services is extremely important.

MV_Caledonian_Isles

With multiple sites in island locations, remote access to accurate local data providing live information on tide level and key climatic conditions could facilitate substantial improvements to the service by aiding the Masters to make a more informed decision at an earlier stage in the voyage – in some instances even before departing the previous port or harbour. The berthing of ferries is a highly skilled job, particularly during bad weather, and the decision on whether a specific ferry can safely berth at a specific port is subjective and ultimately can only be taken by the ferry Master.

Following a competitive tendering process Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), which owns many of the ferries, ports and harbours in the region, procured a network of 15 tide and weather stations from instrumentation specialist OTT Hydrometry. The new monitoring equipment provides live data on port conditions to enable the ferry sailing decisions to be made in a timely manner.

CMAL Harbour Master David McHardie says: “OTT installed the first monitoring station in August 2014 and the network is now almost complete with sensors providing data every 1 minute via UHF radio to ‘gateways’ in the ferry offices, which then submit the data via the internet to a central server, which can be remotely accessed by authorised users.

“We have a regulatory requirement to monitor the tide level in our statutory harbours, but this system also provides essential weather information for our ports. In the past, these measurements were taken manually, so the availability of continuous multiparameter data is an enormous improvement – not just in the quality and value of the information, but also in the safety benefits for harbour operations staff, that this provides.”

OTT_Monitoring_Station

OTT Monitoring Station

The safety considerations involved with the berthing of ferries relates not just to passengers and crew but also to the pier hands that assist with mooring operations in a wide variety of often extreme weather conditions. “Mooring operations are inherently high risk activities; handling ropes can become extremely heavy when wet and subject to enormous forces when under strain,” David says. “So, it is important for us to be able to assess the impact of wind, temperature and waves to protect harbour operations staff. Severe weather berthing conditions can also potentially cause damage to ferries and the structures within the ports, so again, detailed data on localised conditions can help prevent accidents and support insurance claims when necessary.”

The availability of live data on port conditions therefore enables the ferry Masters to make better informed decisions at an earlier stage, thereby saving time, fuel and costs. It also means that passengers are provided with earlier warnings of potential ferry cancellation.

Emphasising the growing need for data, David says: “In recent years, severe weather events appear to have become more frequent and they seem to develop faster; for example, since the monitoring network was installed, we have recorded a sudden drop in temperature of 8°C in just 5 minutes at the port of Armadale on the Isle of Skye, and a maximum wind gust of 96 knots at Castlebay on the Isle of Barra. These conditions represent a rapid deterioration of conditions and the monitoring network enables us to respond quickly and effectively.”

Each monitor is located adjacent to the main berthing area on the pier with a lockable GRP control box. The system is comprised of: an OTT radar level sensor; a Lüfft ultrasonic weather monitor measuring wind speed, gust and direction, air temperature and barometric pressure; an Adcon radio unit with back-up batteries and a marine grade antenna. The radar tide level sensor is an OTT RLS, a non-contact sensor employing pulse radar technology with a large 35m measurement range. Both the RLS and the weather sensors, which have no moving parts, have extremely low power consumption, which is vitally important for installations at remote sites. At two locations it was not possible to install a radar sensor so an OTT CBS (bubbler sensor) was installed providing comparable levels of accuracy and reliability.

Robin Guy managed the monitoring network project on behalf of OTT Hydrometry. He says: “We were obviously delighted to be awarded this contract; it’s a good example of the bespoke monitoring systems that we are able to develop, integrating our sensor, datalogging and telemetry technologies to meet customers’ specific needs.

“Before awarding the contract to OTT, David visited four of our existing installations at the Greenock Ocean Terminal near Glasgow to check the reliability of our equipment in demanding conditions. However, in addition to the ruggedness of this equipment, it has also been designed to cope with interruptions to the mains power supply. The monitors are therefore battery powered and data is transferred from the monitors to the port office gateway via low power radio.”

Monitors on end of pier!

Monitors on end of pier!

Now that the CMAL monitoring system is installed, David is looking for ways to leverage the value of the data. For example, radio data transmission works very well over water, so it should be possible to fit the same technology on ferries so that the ferry Masters can access the data directly, instead of having to call the port office for a verbal update. The OTT monitoring network also incorporates an email alert system, and whilst this has not yet been configured, it will be possible in the future for ferry masters to receive email alerts warning them when pre-specified port conditions arise. “We would also like to eventually make the data available to the public as part of an enhanced harbours information system,” David says. “However, when a ferry has berthed, with the monitoring system being located on the pier, the vessel can cause a wind shadow; which means the wind data during that period can be potentially misleading. It has to be remembered that this system remains only an aid to navigation.”

Summarising, Robin Guy says: “This system demonstrates the value of remote monitoring data, but also highlights the importance of low power, rugged, reliable instruments in harsh environments. The modularity of the system is also very important because it enables us to deploy the most appropriate instruments in each individual location.”