Bringing Britain’s key capabilities together driving strengths in robotics research & engineering.

24/06/2015

Britain’s ability to develop and exploit the vast potential of Robotics and Autonomous Systems was given a major boost today with the formal launch of The EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network).

UK-RASThe Network will bring together the country’s core academic capabilities in robotics innovation under national coordination for the first time and encourage academic and industry collaborations that will accelerate the development and adoption of robotics and autonomous systems.

The Network will be unveiled this evening at the Science Museum in London following a public lecture on Robot Ethics, organised by IET Robotics and Mechatronics Network in association with the Science Museum Lates and supported by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network.

The new network has already received strong support by major industrial partners, the Science Museum and Britain’s major professional engineering bodies including Royal Academy of Engineering, IET, and The Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The Network will expand to include broader stakeholders including key national laboratories and leading international collaborators in both academia and industry. The global market for service and industrial robots is estimated to reach $59.5 billion (€53.1 billion) by 2020.

Commenting on the launch, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson said: “Robotics and autonomous systems have huge growth potential for the UK as one of our Eight Great Technologies. To get it right we need to draw on the expertise of the UK’s research base and the ambition of industry. By working collaboratively, this network will only help to accelerate growth of a high-tech sector and pave the way for new high-value, skilled jobs – a win, win scenario for the UK.”

The EPSRC UK-RAS Network is funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – Britain’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The Network’s mission is to provide academic leadership in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, expand collaboration with industry and integrate and coordinate activities at eight EPSRC-funded RAS dedicated facilities and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the country.

The founding network members are Imperial College London, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Loughborough University, University of Oxford, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University College London, and University of Warwick.

Professor Guang-Zhong Yang PhD, FREng, Director and Co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery at Imperial College London and Chair of the UK-RAS Network commented: “Robotics and Autonomous Systems are set to play an increasingly vital role in the growth of the UK economy across all sectors of industry, from transport and healthcare to manufacturing and unmanned systems. This dedicated network provides a focus for the UK’s research and engineering excellence for the first time, ensuring that the UK can maintain its competitive edge in RAS innovation.”

Kedar Pandya, Head of the Engineering Theme for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, added: “Working with Innovate UK and other research council partners, EPSRC’s mission is to support and invest in the world-leading research base that has earned the UK its deserved reputation for research excellence. Robotics and Autonomous Systems are one of the Eight Great Technologies in which the UK is set to be a global leader, and the technology being developed at these EPSRC-funded RAS facilities will deliver a significant impact on the research landscape, and attract the kind of industrial investment that will maximise the UK’s stake in the worldwide robotics market.”

The Network will organise a wide range of activities including network and strategic roadmap events such as the UK Robotics conference, symposia and focused workshops, public engagement and exhibitions. It will also have extensive online engagement activities using social media and web and user forums. The Network aims to strengthen the relationship with industry by supporting interdisciplinary mobility and industrial secondment and developing proof-of-concept (PoC) projects and running design challenges. There is also a strong emphasis on government policy and high-level engagement with international stakeholders.


#WWEM14 “better, bigger, busier!”

21/11/2014
It is harder than ever to prize people away from their desks and laboratories these days, so it is all the more gratifying that WWEM continues to grow, with this year’s event attracting 15% more visitors than WWEM 2012 – that’s consistent growth with every event since the first in 2005.

Running over 2 days in early November, WWEM 2014 was an outstanding success, with sustained growth in every event since the first WWEM in 2005. “In comparison with the last WWEM in 2012, visitor numbers were up by 15% and even though the size of the exhibition was increased by 12% we were still unable to accommodate several potential exhibitors,” reports organiser Marcus Pattison.

WWEM2014WWEM 2014 focused on Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring, and is comprised of a wide range of activities that are designed to update and inform anyone in the water sector with a professional interest in testing and monitoring. “WWEM 2014 was different,” explains Marcus Pattison, “previous WWEM events have included Conferences, Workshops and an Exhibition, but this year’s show also included a number of specialist forums, seminars and a demonstration area, and I believe that this is the major reason for the event’s continued growth. 30% of the exhibitors were so pleased that they re-booked during the show and it is clear that there will be an influx of new exhibitors from those companies that visited WWEM 2014 as delegates.”

Conference: ‘Regulation Updates for Process Operators’
The first day’s conference provided delegates with the latest information on the regulations, technologies and methods that are required for testing and monitoring the environmental emissions of regulated processes. This included advice from Rick Gould on how to obtain a good score in the Environment Agency’s Operator Monitoring Assessment (OMA) – a systematic tool for auditing the monitoring provisions required by legislation. Focusing on water quality monitoring, the Agency’s Andrew Chappell outlined many of the challenges faced by those responsible for this task and explained how the MCERTS scheme has underpinned the quality of monitoring. He also provided an update on the development of a CEN standard (BS EN 16479:2014) for automatic samplers and water quality monitoring equipment, and explained that this could be superseded by an ISO standard.

MCERTS is operated on behalf of the Environment Agency by Sira, and the British Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredits Sira to undertake MCERTS product and personnel certification. Sira’s Emily Alexander explained that whilst monitoring technology has advanced considerably, instrument performance has not always improved at the same rate, which underlines the need for independent testing and certification. Andy Godley from WRc then explained the testing procedure for instruments, both in the field and in the laboratory. Emphasising the need for robust traceable test programmes, Andy said: “Test plans should be agreed as early as possible and variations should be discussed as soon as they occur.”

Finally, Nick Richardson from Siris Environmental outlined ‘the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ of flow monitoring installations. His presentation featured photographs of good installations in addition to a broad selection of those that left room for improvement. The most common errors highlighted were: non-MCERTS compliant design; over-sized or under-sized installations; poorly designed access for maintenance; installations that are difficult to verify or calibrate, and installations at which the wrong system had been deployed (e.g. weir on inlet).

Laboratory Conference: Accreditation, Innovation and Communication
The second day’s Conference was hosted by the BMTA (British Measurement and Testing Association) and was aimed primarily at managers and senior staff in environmental laboratories, but the techniques and quality procedures discussed were also of interest to staff in other types of laboratory. The presentations dealt with the methods of achieving quality and consistency in sampling and in laboratory measurements, and the speakers represented the national accreditation body, UKAS, large water companies and commercial laboratory-based organisations.

Speakers from UKAS explained that all accredited laboratories should participate in proficiency testing where such schemes are available and relevant to their scope of accreditation. They also provided an outline of TPS 47, the UKAS document on Participation in Proficiency Testing Schemes, which describes the evaluation of participant performance against pre-established criteria by means of inter-laboratory comparisons.

Hazel Davidson from Derwentside Environmental Testing Services (DETS) then explained some of the issues relating to good sampling technique and described how lower limits of detection can be achieved by improved techniques, advanced instrumentation and by using larger sample volumes.

Professor Clive Thompson and Paul Gribble from ALcontrol delivered a presentation entitled: ‘Sampling and analysis in relation to the Priority Substances Directive 2012/39/EU’ in which they explained that some of the environmental quality standards limits that have been set are unrealistically low, “almost to homeopathic levels!” they said. Highlighting the enormous cost incurred by testing for extremely low levels of a large number of compounds, the speakers called for more realistic regulations. “Regulators should liaise with analysts when setting limits, and a group of accredited laboratories should be established to work together to develop achievable standards (similar to MCERTS).”

Explaining the advantages of a new mobile sample tracking technology Kyle Norris from the Water Quality Sampling Team at Northumbrian Water, and Sam Goddard from CSols Ltd gave a presentation on ‘Remote Sampler’, a secure mobile data capture system. Each water sampling technician operates remotely with a handheld device linked through a central hub to a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). The system improves sample data quality by reducing transcription errors while allowing existing accredited sampling procedures to be followed.

South West Water, in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth and Natural Resources Wales, have developed methods using the Chemcatcher™ passive sampler to monitor for a range of acid herbicides including Mecoprop and MCPA, and the molluscicide Metaldehyde in surface waters. This subject was addressed by Lewis Jones, South West Water’s Future Quality Obligations and R&D Manager, who outlined the development of a Chemcatcher-based sampling method for the monitoring of polar pesticides in water.

In the final presentation, Bob Poole from Thermo Fisher Scientific explained how today’s laboratory software can be applied to deliver a fully automated, efficient and intelligent approach to sample receipt and scheduling, resource management, collecting, processing and acting upon results, and securely managing the vast amounts of data produced.

BMSS Seminar
A further laboratory seminar was organised by the Environmental and Food Analysis Special Interest Group, EFASIG, which is a special interest group of the British Mass Spectrometry Society (BMSS). Entitled ‘The application of chromatography-mass spectrometry to environmental water analysis’ the seminar ran in the afternoon of the first day at WWEM 2014. Nine speakers from academia, commercial laboratories, instrument manufacturers and industrial companies provided short presentations focusing on specific environmental analytical challenges.

Flow Forum and Apprentice Competition
Hosted by Oliver Grievson from the Water Industry Process Automation & Control Group, the morning of the first day saw Instrumentation Apprentices from Anglian Water, Thames Water and Welsh Water gather at the Flow Forum where they were given a variety of scenarios/challenges to complete. They were then sent off into the exhibition to talk to the plethora of suppliers that held the key to their questions.

Oliver Grievson then described the experiences that he had gained from a programme of 80 flow meter installations during 2012. This demonstrated that the main cost was with the installation of flow meters rather than the flow meters themselves. Following this a presentation by Simon Richardson of Siris Environmental demonstrated where installations have typically gone right and wrong. He highlighted the case of a flume at Coltishall Wastewater Treatment Works which was an ‘ideal’ installation, and also cited others where installations were less than ideal.

WWEM2014Eight different suppliers then gave presentations on traditional technologies such as ultrasonic and time of flight flow measurement to the newer technologies involving microwave, laser and radar. The eight presentations covered ultrasonic level, time of flight ultrasonic, Coriolis mass flow measurement, radar non-contact area velocity, radar level, area velocity, laser non-contact area velocity and microwave flow measurement.

An open question session finished off the Flow Forum with an opportunity to discuss the various technologies presented as well as any other burning issues concerning flow measurement. Summing up, host Oliver Grievson offered to set up a permanent flow forum if it was desired by the water industry as a whole.

The Instrumentation Apprentice Competition resumed in the afternoon, with the contestants set tasks by the three sponsors – ABB, Partech and Siemens. The apprentices were asked to: diagnose (pre-arranged) faults in an electro-magnetic flow meter; change the seal on a Turbitech turbidity monitor, and programme an ultra-sonic level meter over a V-notch which had been provided by Siris Environmental. The final task of the competition was the WRc hosted Question & Answer session, at which Andy Godley posed questions that tested both their technical and practical knowledge of instrumentation. The sponsors and supporting organisations then marked and assessed the performance of the teams and the winners were announced at the WWEM 2014 Gala Dinner. The Apprentice Competition was won by the Anglian Water team of Matthew Stephens and Harry Power with the team from Welsh Water, Will Williams and Alexander Smith, coming second. The remaining two teams from Thames Water (Darren Ewer and Kayne Chamber-Blucher) and Anglian Water (Harry Myers and Dominic Prime) shared third place.

Commenting after the event, winner Matthew Stephens explained that his apprenticeship with Anglian Water started with a year at college, followed by three years of block release. “I found the tasks very interesting,” he said. “As a result of my training I found the practical tasks relatively simple, although the technical questions were more challenging. We came to WWEM not really knowing what to expect but it was great to see so much of the industry in one place, and a walk around the exhibition was a good learning experience.”

A separate seminar was also run on PROFIBUS, a fieldbus communication technology, focusing on its application in the water, waste and environmental sectors, and Merck Millipore delivered a special session on the possible ban of the manufacture of COD tube/cell tests.

Smart Water Forum
This session began with a dissemination workshop from UKWIR. The study, which was completed by Jacobs, examined the trends in wastewater instrumentation, process automation & control and described the needs, trends and barriers that the UK water industry faces, including a resistance to the use of instrumentation. Oliver Grievson (Water Industry Process Automation & Control), who hosted the Forum, then gave a presentation on the future of instrumentation and its worth in AMP 6, giving examples of “Smart Solutions” that are available now.

Laurie Reynolds of Aquamatix described the Internet of Things and its place in the Water Industry, and how the way in which instrumentation data is currently captured and processed is set to change from a distributed network to a more dynamic way of working.

James Dunning from Syrinix then explained that in order for Smart Water innovations to be adopted by the industry, an improved financial approach needs to be taken. Providing a case study on pressure transients within the water distribution network, James explained that the cost of instrumentation is far outweighed by the losses that pressure transients can cause.

Tony Halker from Intellitect Water then described the involvement of miniature sensors and sonde technology in the Smart Water4Europe Project. Tony explained that the measurement and visibility of water quality in the potable water distribution network, between the treatment plant and the customer’s tap, is something the industry has sought for decades.

International Exhibition
The core WWEM exhibitors come back time after time, but as the importance of the event continues to grow, new companies from all over the world are drawn in with each show. This year, the exhibition was bigger than ever, featuring over 130 stands representing more than 250 of the world’s leading providers of test and monitoring equipment and related services.

WWEM2014As a specialist event, the aisles of the WWEM exhibition are populated by visitors with a professional interest in testing or monitoring in the water sector, so feedback from the exhibitors was unanimously positive. “Great venue, well organised, well attended, great leads, what more can I say?” said Jeremy Smith from Aquamatic. Nigel Grimsley from OTT Hydrometry agreed: “WWEM 2014 was very good for us – we received some excellent leads and held some very interesting discussions with key players in the water and weather monitoring sectors. Our flow monitoring products, the new HL4 water quality monitoring system and the Pluvio2 raingauge were particularly popular with visitors.”

Emphasising the importance of the event as an opportunity to meet the whole industry, Steve Tuck from PPM said: “WWEM is an ideal opportunity for knowledge transfer and networking amongst the water community.”

From a laboratory equipment supplier’s perspective, Natalie Barton from SEAL Analytical said: “We launched a new discrete analyser at WWEM so we were delighted to meet so many customers and prospects from commercial, utility and research labs.”

Xylem Analytics launched three major new products at the show. Expressing his delight, General Manager Darren Hanson said: “WWEM 2014 was a particularly important event for us, and with a focus on water testing and monitoring almost every WWEM visitor was interested in at least one of the new products. The new YSI ProDSS is the most advanced portable multiparameter instrument that we have ever developed and was the subject of a well-attended workshop, as was the new WTW UV-VIS sensor range. We also took advantage of the demonstration area to explain the advantages of the IQ SENSOR NET wastewater treatment plant monitoring system.”

Over 80 Workshops!
The Workshops ran almost continuously throughout the 2 days and covered an enormous variety of subjects within the overall testing and monitoring theme. These included flow monitoring presentations covering technologies such as laser, ultrasonics, clamp-on, magnetic flow and integrated flow and pressure metering. Water quality workshops covered the measurement of almost every parameter of interest including TOC, turbidity, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, trace metals, organic loading and toxicity. These presentations included handheld instruments as well as continuous and remote monitors, and also addressed data collection techniques and data management software.

Many of the process monitoring workshops examined common operational issues such as chemical precipitation in wastewater treatment, flood defence and asset monitoring, real-time sewer and CSO monitoring, and leakage monitoring and management.

Two of the eight workshop rooms were dedicated to gas detection and monitoring and these presentations covered technologies such as PID, NDIR, electrochemical and pyroelectric sensors. Workplace exposure, instrument calibration and the creation and certification of calibration standards were among the themes of these workshops.

Laboratory analysis was a common theme of many workshops. For example, a presentation by CitySprint examined the challenges faced by sample couriers and another looked at AQC charting software. Laboratory accreditation was also addressed in addition to specialist subjects such as the preparation of inorganic standards, complete ion analysis, TOC, COD, total cyanide and toxicity testing. There were presentations on automated pH and turbidity testing in addition to seminars on lab robotics. One of the speakers also provided a comparison between online and laboratory analysis of TOC, ammonia and BOD. With US EPA approval for the ChlordioX™ Plus, Palintest delivered a workshop entitled ’10 things you need to know about the monitoring of total residual oxidants’.

Instrumentation Demonstration Area
This year and for the first time, WWEM included a Supplier Instrumentation Demo area. WRc hosted this area which, over the 2 days, saw 25 companies provide demonstrations of their technology to those attending the exhibition. Everything from sample preparation technology through to toxic gas detection was demonstrated highlighting the breadth of technologies on show.

WWEM2014Leo Carswell, Head of Technology at WRc, comments: “WRc were delighted to be the first host the new ‘Demo Lab’ which has been a huge success and offered delegates the hands-on experience that is often lacking at exhibitions. The high quality of these demonstrations showed the passion and enthusiasm that suppliers have for their technologies.”

British Water & WWEM 2014 Innovation Exchange
Running throughout the first day of WWEM 2014, this event brought together Water Companies, their partners, and representatives from other water-using industries with British Water members and non-members to identify technology needs and explore available and potential solutions. The day included concurrent workshops on Water Monitoring, Wastewater Monitoring, and Environmental Monitoring, led by British Water, Black & Veatch, and J.Murphy & Sons respectively. The participants included Affinity Water, Bristol Water, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Thames Water and many of the industry’s key contractors.

Gala Dinner
Following a black-tie dinner, MCERTS instrument certificates were awarded to ABB, BioTector, Endress+Hauser, GE, HACH LANGE, Krohne, Mobrey, Nivus, Partech, PPM, Pulsar, Siemens, Sirco Controls, Teledyne ISCO and YSI. MCERTS inspector certificates were awarded to Aaron Hiden and Phil Rose from Critical Flow Systems, and to Simon Richardson from SIRIS Environmental Flow Surveys.

Reflecting on the success of WWEM 2014, organiser Marcus Pattison said: “In this internet age it can be difficult to prize people away from their desks and lab benches. However, it is important to remember that there are 3 ways in which people find new opportunities: active searching, opportunity creation and fortuitous discovery. People can actively search on the internet, but they only usually find what they are looking for, whereas visitors to WWEM events are creating opportunity; they are actively seeking and finding information that they need, and they are also creating opportunity for fortuitous discovery – finding something that they weren’t necessarily looking for!

“I hope that every visitor to WWEM found what they were looking for, networked with key industry professionals and returned home tired but content in the knowledge that they had invested their time wisely. I look forward to helping them to do so again at WWEM 2016 on 2nd and 3rd November.”


Failure is not an option!

18/10/2014

ProSoft Technology’s PROFIBUS Modules and Industrial Radios allow critical data to be transmitted from ControlLogix PACs at Flood Defense System.

Failure is not an option when upgrading a flood barrier’s control system. Should a flood barrier malfunction, thousands of homes and businesses could be severely impacted.

Upgrading a flood barrier isn’t a task that can be done overnight. It takes months and months of work. The barrier has to remain available for use throughout the upgrade, making it a considered and careful task. There has to be several fail safe measures and redundancies in place. Whoever said redundancies are a bad thing hasn’t taken a look at a flood barrier system.

dartford_scheme

Two concrete towers stand 20 meters above the ground on either side of the mouth of Dartford Creek. This is the UK Environment Agency’s Dartford Barrier Flood Defense System in Kent, South East England. The barrier is routinely closed, in conjunction with the bigger Thames Barrier upstream, to prevent high tide water levels in the River Thames Estuary flowing back up the creek and flooding Dartford and the surrounding area.

Two steel gates, each 30-metre across and weighing over 160 tons each, are suspended at high level between the two concrete towers. Like a huge guillotine at the creek mouth, one gate may be slowly lowered on its supporting chains onto the river bed to block the flow of water. Then the second gate may be slowly lowered to rest onto the top of the first gate. When closed together, the 160 ton steel gates can withstand up to 10.4 meters of water.

The gates are raised and lowered by direct drive oil hydraulic motors. The drive system comprises two 18.5kW pump and motor units, providing both duty and standby facilities, enabling a gate to be raised or lowered in 15-minutes. When not in use both gate structures are safely held in the fully raised position and latched using hydraulic latch mechanisms. This permits vessels to pass underneath the gates along the creek.

It is envisaged that due to climate change that the barrier may need to operate an average of 50 times per annum over the next 25 years.

“The system has to be highly available with many fallback systems in case of failures,” said Andrew Garwood, a Senior Contracts Manager in the Controls Division of Qualter Hall & Co Limited, Barnsley (GB).

Just a couple of years ago, the control system was starting to show its age. As part of a large upgrade to the barrier, its associated control system was overhauled. The original control system was a completely hardwired based relay system that was over 30 years old. Spare parts for the 30 year-old system were becoming scarce.

Qualter Hall provided the M&E contracted works on behalf of the principal contractor Birse Civils, who had engaged Qualter Hall as the Systems Integrator for the project and as the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Contractor in charge of upgrading the control system; they had several goals in mind. Number one was safety and reliability. Flooding, should it occur, could cause extensive damage to the surrounding area.

instrument_inst_DartfordQualter Hall, who provides an attractive ‘one stop shop’ for a multitude of engineering solutions, decided to call ProSoft Technology. Qualter Hall selected this company, because it was a reliable, cost effective solution that was endorsed by Rockwell Automation. ProSoft Technology is a Rockwell Automation Encompass Partner.

Two Rockwell Automation ControlLogix redundant PACs are inside each of the 20-meter towers to control the opening and closing of the barrier, but much of the equipment the control system spoke to was PROFIBUS or Siemens based. Two PROFIBUS Master communication module (MVI56-PDPMV1) from ProSoft Technology were installed inside the ControlLogix PACs to facilitate communication from the Rockwell Automation processors.

“The ProSoft Technology modules were utilized to provide PROFIBUS DP into the ControlLogix rack and permitted four separate PROFIBUS DP segments for redundant operation,” Andrew Garwood said.
Fiber optic cables were installed between the two towers, as part of the control system overhaul. While the cable links were being constructed, ProSoft Technology 802.11 Industrial Hotspot radios served as the communication link.

“The wireless link was then used as an automatic fallback connection should fiber optic connection be lost. The ProSoft Technology equipment was selected for its flexibility and support of the spanning tree protocol (RSTP) “, Andrew Garwood said.

ProSoft Technology’s solutions helped ease the engineering work by making it possible for the ControlLogix system to communicate as one single protocol.

The system now allows data to be reviewed quickly, centrally and remotely, providing convenience when accessing diagnostic information.

Thousands of homes and businesses are now safely protected.


Process optimisation by Real-Time Control!

23/08/2014
Major installation at English sewage treatment works.

Wessex Water, an English water authority,  is investing around £20m at its Taunton sewage treatment works to improve the facilities for wastewater and sludge treatment in a project that is due for completion by the end of March 2015. The upgrade to the works under the DWF (Dry Weather Flow) Improvements Scheme will increase the site’s treatment capacity whilst also improving the efficiency and quality of the treatment process, lowering energy costs and reducing the site’s carbon footprint.

Prior to the implementation of the DWF Scheme, the STW was comprised of an inlet pumping station and balance tank, coarse and fine screens, grit removal (detritor), primary settlement tanks, a conventional ASP & biological filter beds, final & humus tanks and final effluent lagoons. The construction work involves the creation of a new four-lane ASP to replace the existing 16 biological filters. To facilitate this, one of the lagoons and four of the filters are being taken out of service to create space for the new works, and this has allowed all development to remain within the existing site boundaries enabling most works to be constructed under permitted development rights.

tauntonProcess optimisation of the new ASP stage will be achieved through implementation of Hach Lange’s Real-Time Control (RTC) system, which monitors influent ammonium concentration and dissolved oxygen concentrations along the aeration lanes, providing more efficient control of the fine bubble diffused aeration. The measurement of other quality parameters in the process train provides feedback to the RTC. A reduction of up to 15% energy usage is anticipated as a result.

Balfour Beatty has provided the civil works and Nomenca Ltd is responsible for the supply, installation, commissioning, and performance testing of the mechanical and electrical components of the new works. Contracts Manager Trevor Farrow says, “Nomenca’s reputation is built on a track record of successfully delivered projects, and the relationships that we develop with both clients and suppliers are key to this success. We have already worked with Hach Lange’s instrumentation on a wide variety of projects, so we are confident that this project will be a further success.”

As Project Manager for Wessex Water, Garry Orford says: “The drivers for this works upgrade include an increased treatment capacity requirement and a tightening of the consent, taking in to account longer-term requirements that may be implemented in AMP6. We have already implemented Hach Lange’s RTC process optimisation systems at our Holdenhurst plant – 175,000 PE – near Bournemouth, and this has delivered energy savings of around 25% so we are confident that we can repeat this success at Taunton – 85,000 PE.”

taunton2Following completion of the new works, the site will meet the following consent conditions:

  • Dry Weather Flow (DWF)   30,595 m3/d
  • Sanitary parameters BOD:SS:AmmN 15:30:3 mg/l

In addition to the upgrade of the sewage treatment facilities, a third anaerobic digester (AD) is also being built at the Taunton works. “This will increase our capacity to generate renewable energy and further reduce our electricity bill,” according to Garry Orford. “The power generation of the AD plants is fairly stable, but the energy demand of the treatment plant varies according to the load, so there will be occasions where we can sell energy back to the grid, and others where we will continue to have a power requirement. It is essential therefore that we use this power as efficiently as possible.” 

Real-Time Control in industrial processes is commonplace. However, wastewater monitoring represents a greater challenge because of its physical and chemical variability. Historically, wastewater monitoring technology was prone to drift (especially galvanic dissolved oxygen monitors) and required a high level of maintenance, so RTC was not feasible. However, the latest sensors offer much higher levels of reliability than was possible in the past, with substantially lower levels of maintenance and recalibration. This has been a major factor in enabling the development of RTC in wastewater treatment. In addition, many of the latest sensors provide a ‘health status’ output in addition to the readings. As a result, if any problems arise they can be quickly remedied, and control systems can ignore data from sensors that are not performing to their target specification.

Monitoring technology
The capital outlay for the addition of RTC to a treatment plant is relatively small; the most significant extra cost is the requirement for extra sensors plus the RTC unit. The Taunton build includes the installation of the latest sensors for dissolved oxygen, ammonium and turbidity, controlled by an sc1000 network, providing reliable data on the influent, and from within the treatment process.

IMG_0056The LDO sc dissolved oxygen sensor employs an optical luminescence method for calibration-free and drift-free measurements. Once the construction work is complete there will be four new lanes, each with three zones, so a total of 12 LDO probes will monitor dissolved oxygen.

In addition, two SOLITAX ts line dip probes will measure Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS) content in the aeration lanes and the solids content of the Returned Activated Sludge. The RTC at Taunton will also control sludge retention time, which enhances plant efficiency. The suspended solids probes employ a patented dual scattered light method with a built-in wiper, to provide colour-independent measurement of solids without a requirement for calibration. Ammonium measurements will be undertaken at both the entrance and exit of the aeration lanes with two AMTAX sc instruments; high-precision analysers that continuously collect samples via an air-bubble cleaned filter probe. The ammonium analysers will be mounted directly over the filters to minimise the distance travelled by samples.

Real-Time Control
The Hach Lange RTC is implemented on an industrial PC which communicates with an sc controller network and the local PLC. The RTC system determines the most efficient aeration level and continuously feeds DO set points to the PLC which controls the blowers. This means that under RTC, DO set points are no longer ‘fixed’, instead they ‘float’ according to the load. The RTC modules continuously deliver set points to the PLC, which applies them to the process. This ensures that response to changing conditions is immediate. The algorithms employed by the N-RTC (Nitrification Real Time Controller) are mainly based on the Activated Sludge Models of the International Water Association.

The N-RTC also constantly reads the NH4-N concentration at the outlet of the aeration lane. This value provides a feedback control loop and ensures that the DO concentration is fine tuned to achieve the desired ammonium set point at the end of the ASP. In this way, the N-RTC control module combines the advantages of feed forward and feedback control, which are (1) rapid response, (2) set point accuracy and (3) robust compliance.

Aeration to achieve the biological oxidation of ammoniacal compounds to nitrate is the most energy intensive process at activated sludge plants because blower power consumption can represent over 50% of total costs at some plants. However, in addition to the advantages of the process optimisation system, four new Sulzer high speed HST-20 turbo-compressors are being installed by Nomenca, following trials on similar units by Wessex Water. These machines employ a control system that manages both the number of blowers to run, and the speed of the blowers, which will further improve energy efficiency.

Summarising, Garry Orford says: “Wessex Water has an ambitious long-term objective of carbon neutrality, and these improvement works projects provide us with useful opportunities to make a significant contribution to that goal.”


Promising signs in process automation market

03/05/2011

Promising signs point toward a continuing recovery for process automation market during this year and beyond

Automation expenditures for process industriesPromising signs continue to point toward a sustained process automation market recovery to continue through 2011. During 2010, the automation market was at the point where suppliers serving the installed base with MRO activities fared better than those relying heavily on project business. Suppliers ate through a huge chunk of their project backlog and finished product inventory while new projects were postponed or canceled during the recession. Also, shipments for many new project orders received during 2010 were delayed until 2011.

ARC expects the tepid growth seen during 2010 to accelerate in 2011, but remains skeptical about the process automation market reaching pre-recession growth levels. Historically, the process automation market has been characterized by slow yet steady growth, and we expect the market will return to this pattern with an overall CAGR of roughly 6 percent over the five-year period of 2009-2014. “Suppliers with quick access to raw materials and components and an efficient supply chain to enable quick ramp-up of production and inventory will be in the best position to partici-pate in the increase in demand,” according to Senior Analyst David Clayton, the principle author of ARC’s Automation Expenditures for Process Industries Worldwide Outlook .

Global Manufacturing PMIs Show Expansion
Purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) provide a good barometer of overall health in the manufacturing and automation markets. PMIs typically in-clude data, such as production level, new orders, supplier deliveries, inventories, and employment level. A PMI reading below 50 indicates a general contraction in the manufacturing economy being measured while any reading over 50 indicates expansion. The J.P. Morgan global manufacturing PMI edged up to 57.8 from 57.1 in January, marking the second-fastest reading ever in the global gauge, which is based on other surveys covering over 7,500 purchasing managers in nearly 30 countries. Output and new order components accelerated, and the input price gauge rose to 76.7 from 73.3 in January. The US ISM represents 28.6 percent of the gauge, followed by Japan at 12.3 percent, China at 7.4 percent, Germany at 5 per-cent and the UK at 4.2 percent.

Plan for Increasing Demand
Most automation suppliers followed a conservative strategy of cutting cost and inventories to match declining demand during the lengthy economic slowdown. Suppliers accustomed to taking risks should put themselves in a position to take advantage of growth opportunities that are taking root in developing countries. Sluggish demand has hurt the bottom lines of sub-suppliers, making them more open to negotiate on both prices and terms.

As the economy recovers, automation suppliers must make plans to make the necessary changes and emerge as stronger organizations that are able to meet renewed demand. However, this confidence will only come if there is a clear understanding in their organizations about the long-term trends that drive demand for automation and develop strategies to satisfy those demands.

Some of these long-term trends include:
• Emerging markets will need to expand their power grids for years to come
• Mature economies in North America and Europe will have to renew their aging infrastructures
• Energy efficiency initiatives will be implemented across all areas of industrial organizations
• Industry must efficiently comply with regulatory agencies without losing productivity
• Most countries must tackle climate change before the emissions from the growing use of fossil fuels stifles progress, an issue that is plaguing China
• The intense competition of global markets will continue to drive industry to become more efficient
• Many of the easy gains have already been realised by industry, so now they will look for new ways to raise productivity
• Organizations will require even more information to make optimised business decisions
• Sustainability will be part of all discussions and implementations
• EH&S requirements will drive new automation investments beyond productivity improvements
• Discovery and production of new energy sources, such as shale gas, geothermal, and clean coal

While one can list many more long-term trends, the message is that new strategies must be formed based on these emerging trends, which will im-pact automation suppliers in a variety of ways, from new product development programs, to establishing added service capabilities, to making regional investments. Satisfying these long-term trends will require producing automation that provides manufacturers with improved productivity, energy efficiencies, optimised processes, real-time data and asset management programs, along with personnel that have a profound under-standing of these industrial processes.

Suppliers should limit their exposure and begin identifying preferred sub-suppliers and define a product mix that will be most in demand. Suppliers should plan appropriate inventory based on production and sourcing lead times and demand forecast. The most important step is to carefully analyse end user purchasing history and projected demand. When combined with supply chain and logistics efficiency, it could mean the difference between success and failure. Miscalculations in these areas will hurt profitability; getting it right will allow suppliers to leapfrog the competition.

• See also Manufacturing recovery firmly on track says CBI for a British point-of-view in DPA on the Net!


Britain to lead offshore wind market?

31/03/2010

Frost & Sullivan comments on Siemens Plans supporting British wind power

Frost & Sullivan’s Wind Energy Industry Analyst Gouri Kumar has commented on the news that Siemens plans to invest about £80m in a manufacturing plant to manufacture wind turbines in Britain, creating more than 700 jobs.

“A combination of factors such as the UK government’s efforts to attract these companies to set up plants in the UK, the support to the offshore wind industry in the recent UK budget as well as the announcement of Round Three offshore wind project leasing, has sent the right signals to the market about how serious the UK is about developing the offshore wind market.

The string of announcements from Clipper Windpower a few months ago to Siemens today is conveying to the market that the UK is finally converting rhetoric to some action and is one step ahead in creating a much-needed supply chain in the UK. There is no doubt that the UK is going to be the centre of offshore wind development and therefore needs to bring jobs and investment to the country in order to support that development. The commitment to the sector from the government and industry participants need to continue.”

See also UK energy sector is getting the wind up in HazardEX.