LXI for Collider Signal Monitoring at CERN

David Owen, Business Development Manager at  Pickering Interfaces talks about an application in one of the most complex scientific sites on the planet.


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), has come to the forefront of public attention recently with the discovery of the Higgs boson – the so called God’s particle. CERN operates a high energy collider 100m under the Swiss and French border near Geneva to explore the boundaries of high energy physics. It is high energy physics on a huge scale, matched by no other facility in the world.

The collider operates a pair of counter- rotating particle rings which have crossovers at four experiment sites where particles crash from opposite directions into each other and create the signatures that indicate the presence of short lived particles, and that has recently included the Higgs.

Much of the attention is focussed on the experiments which have to run to capture all the data available in order to identify new particles. However monitoring of the ring itself is also a major undertaking and this is accomplished through the Open Analogue Signal Information System, referred to as OASIS. Signals from the collider monitors can be tapped at many places to make sure all is well in the system.

Even a large budget operation like CERN though has to make sure that its budget matches the finances available from sponsoring governments (and therefore tax payers in many countries), so this system has to be cost effective. The OASIS system uses a set of digitisers to acquire the signals and this is relayed out to users over an Ethernet system, but the digitisers are expensive and there cannot be one digitiser for every monitor signal. A switching system is used to allow OASIS to select which signals to show from the variety of signals available, and that switching system has historically been based on VXI and more recently cPCI solutions, but that is changing.

CERN Upgrade
CERN is undergoing a major 2 year upgrade to its systems so the collider energy can be raised (almost doubled) and more new physics explored. The collider has now been closed down (as of February 2013) for this scheduled upgrade, and more upgrades will occur in the future. Inevitably part of that upgrade process requires the OASIS system to be upgraded.

The monitor signals present some challenges to a switching system. CERN concluded they wanted to be able to select up to 16 out of a maximum of 104 signals available for digitizing at each location. The analogue signals have frequency content to many MHz and there is potential for considerable differences in level from the different monitors. That put major constraints on the allowable crosstalk between channels as well as the bandwidth. If a signal from a high level source was selected and a signal from a low level source at the same time on a different channel then the large signal could breakthrough into the smaller signal and confuse the operators.

Another significant issue for CERN is the sheer size of the collider, you cannot walk from one location to another in any reasonable time – the tunnel is even equipped with bicycles to speed up transportation between locations. Management at a distance is an essential requirement for any solution.

Designing a New OASIS Switch
CERN approached Pickering Interfaces for ideas on a new switching system to be deployed during the scheduled upgrade. The basic requirement was for a matrix with 10’s of MHz of BW and a size of up to 104×16. Discussions made it apparent that crosstalk would be a major concern in any implementation, and the sheer size of the matrix required made it hard to use traditional approaches to solve the problem, meet the performance objectives and meet the budget requirements.

Clearly the cost of the matrix had to be significantly lower than placing a digitiser on each analogue signal. The preferred platform was PCI in an industrial computer but it became very apparent that the fixed modular structure of PCI did not lend itself to this sort of switching system, and the same problems applied to cPCI and PXI.

Figure 1. The CERN requirement requires a matrix to connect up to 104 analogue sources to up to 16 digitisers

Figure 1. The CERN requirement requires a matrix to connect up to 104 analogue sources to up to 16 digitisers

To implement a high performance matrix of this type required the switching system to determine the form factor of the final solution – and that ruled out using anything which could be described as fixed modular format. A modular approach was needed to make the matrix system size scalable as different locations required different sizes of matrix – one location might require a 64×16, another might require a 104×16. Systems could also have their requirements changed with time as the number of sensors changed and more (or less) channels added. That strongly indicated that a proprietary scalable modular approach was going to be required, the modules sized to fit the design requirement of the matrix. That encouraged Pickering Interfaces to investigate an LXI route where there is a freedom of size.

LXI Route
LXI had some major advantages for CERN, much of their system was already running Ethernet data connections so using it to manage a matrix was not an issue. LXI control also means that they could access the matrix state over their network without intervening controllers by accessing the LXI products web server.

During discussions another issue arose, the experiments being conducted on the collider are large and expensive operations and the last thing that CERN wanted was to find that a switch in the matrix had developed a fault and was preventing monitoring operations. Knowing that Pickering Interfaces had implemented self-test in both LXI and PXI (called BIRST) CERN requested some sort of self-test in the switching system, and ideally because the switch needed coaxial connectors the test had to be capable of running with the inputs and outputs connected to a non-powered source/load. Being able to initiate and run a self-test remotely would also be a powerful tool for OASIS.

65-110-Photo 65-110-Chassis-Open

Figure 2. 65-110 wideband modular chassis 48×16 matrix, with the drawer system out the plugins can be added or removed

The solution arrived at for CERN was the 65-110 Wideband Modular Matrix. The switching matrix is based on a chassis which has a dedicated analogue bus system. Into the chassis a set of plugins can be installed, the left hand pair providing the 16 Y access connections required for the digitisers. A set of X plugins then provide the analogue signal inputs, 8 signals to a plugin module. The number of X plugins can be scaled from just one (8off X connections) up to 13 (104 off X connections), allowing the user to create a matrix of any required size within the chassis constraints. Not installing the second Y plugin allowed Y=8 systems to be created – though CERN had no specific requirements for that configuration other users might find it an advantage if they had smaller system requirements. The design is fully user configurable, plugin modules can be physically installed and uninstalled and the firmware in the LXI controller will recognise the configuration and amend the available matrix size to match the plugin modules installed. The web based soft front panel, a feature strongly encouraged by the LXI standard, allows driverless control of the matrix.

Figure 3. The soft front panel of the 65-110 can be accessed through the LXI configuration pages to either control or monitor the matrix settings. The LXI controller presents the matrix as a single entity, greatly simplifying the user understanding of the setting

Figure 3. The soft front panel of the 65-110 can be accessed through the LXI configuration pages to either control or monitor the matrix settings. The LXI controller presents the matrix as a single entity, greatly simplifying the user understanding of the setting

The matrix is a modular solution, but the module size is scaled to fit the application rather than to abide by a particular standard. The 65-110 plugin and analogue bus system had to be very carefully designed to maintain the RF performance, and in particular the crosstalk, to ensure it was fit for the application. The RF BW in a typical configuration is above 300MHz, driven largely by the need for low crosstalk, and has excellent VSWR.

Like many modern instruments the modules communicate internally to the LXI controller via a PCIe interface and the LXI controller “virtualises” this as a single matrix, so the LXI controller makes the user task of programming the matrix much easier. The LXI controller hides the complexity of the switch system from the user, the matrix appears as just one entity to the user and not a set of separate sub-assemblies (modules). It behaves like a bench instrument rather than a modular instrument.

The design uses an analogue bus underneath the plugin modules rather than being at the back of the plugin which is normally the case with modular systems – in a matrix it makes much more sense to have the X and Y signals lines at right angles to each other to improve crosstalk and isolation. This is a feature of LXI – there are no particular restraints on the size of the modules or the placement of an analogue bus so Pickering Interfaces were able to design a modular structure to suit the switching requirements.

Figure 4 The web interface on 65-110 allows easy access to the self test facility through the standard LXI cofiguration pages.

Figure 4 The web interface on 65-110 allows easy access to the self test facility through the standard LXI cofiguration pages.

The 65-110 includes a self-test facility checks all the signals paths for failed relays (closed, open or high resistance). The design uses low level signals so that the user connections do not need to be disconnected in order to run the test (a time consuming process with over 100 coaxial leads connected, and not very practical given the distances involved) and the self-test can be initiated over the LXI compliant web interface without the use of an external controller program while a user is many kilometres from the matrix. The user simply initiates the test, the embedded LXI controller runs the test and the results can be viewed over the web interface or reported to the user as a file.

Animation shows LHC Data Processing
Engineering at CERN
The Accelerator Complex
Project OASIS

A monitor facility is also included in Pickering Interfaces LXI products that allows a user to graphically display the matrix setting without having any program access to the matrix – LXI systems allow the easy creation of systems where multiple controllers are present. One controller can be setting the switch, a different controller can be monitoring what is the settings are without disrupting the programming.

The CERN requirement shows why LXI provides an excellent platform for the creation of difficult switching systems where the performance objectives are high, the switch is complicated and easy remote access is required. CERN will be making full use of the LXI aspects of 65-110 as part of the OASIS system during its next rounds of experiments running at ever higher collider energies.

Where’s the automation?


ABB’s Houston party may have invited the automation community . . . but in the event it was all about power

By Andrew Bond (Industrial Automation Insider)

The ABB Automation and Power World event, held in Houston (TX US) from May 18th to 20th, gave an impressive display of the total ABB capability: it was the second time that ABB had joined Automation and Power together, presented as a complete complementary product package. The event was impressive, in logistics and size, with around 4500 delegates from 40 countries, listening to a selection of 500 hours of seminars and workshops, plus visiting the 100,000 sq ft of product exhibition area. Attendance at the main public days from customers and press was up 35% on last year: these three days were sandwiched between two busy weekends of ABB sales conferences and meetings, also covering the 800 staff from their distributors and sales partners, so a lot of leverage was added on top of the customer event. From the 1500 ABB staff present in Houston, the most regular comment – even from the power side – was that they had never realized just quite what a broad range of products was indeed available from ABB – but this was always made with a nod towards the power transmission products. (See also our blog Power, Energy and er Automation? last May)

What about Automation?

Peter Terwiesch - more power for major population centres

Well the word is right in there, in the title of the event. This was right where it stayed, in the ABB Automation and Power World Daily Blog from Malcolm Shearmur, from ABB’s corporate communications. Shearmur says he is “particularly interested in the energy challenges facing the world in the 21st century”. Rather than a total blanking of automation news he did include two relevant paragraphs at the end of one report, on a presentation by Peter Terwiesch, ABB’s chief technology officer, mentioning the trend towards wireless measurement: obviously automation is not Shearmur’s main interest. The major topic of Terwiesch’s excellent, and balanced, presentation was the world need to deliver more power to the major population centres, while reducing emissions and using additions from renewable sources, such as hydropower. High Voltage Direct Current transmission (HVDC) is offering the technology to transmit huge amounts of power, over long distances, and not just for power links to offshore platforms. For example ABB is helping to build the 200km 800kV o v e r h e a d transmission line from the Xiangjiaba hydro power plant, in southwest China, over to Shanghai, to deliver 6400MW of power (which is almost as much as used by Switzerland, admits Shearmur).

This project exceeds previous technology levels, providing twice the power rating and using a 33 percent higher voltage than all existing installations. ABB has invested in the new equipment development, manufacturing and testing facilities to enable this new technology to be used commercially. This ABB equipment has been under successful test operation at 850kV DC since 2006, at the STRI Laboratory in Sweden. US Investment in HVDC ABB see this as an area of major opportunity: Enrique Santacana, head of ABB in the US and North America, announced at a press briefing in Houston that they plan to invest about $90m to build a new highvoltage cable factory, in the USA. This is to meet the strong growth in demand for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) applications, in overlay grids being developed to complement the AC grids in use in Europe and the USA.

The Terwiesch presentation did pay particular attention to the convergence and commonalities between power and automation systems. Back in 2004, ANSI, IEC and the main vendors adopted an Ethernet-based global standard for communications and system architecture in substation automation and power distribution systems, providing interoperability between intelligent electrical devices (unfortunately given the acronym “IED”), engineering tools and a flexible and open architecture. And so IEC allocated the next number in their standards list, and called it IEC61850, uniquely – so that industries will not be confused with other standards, for example the functional safety standard, which is of course IEC61508.

Having developed the electrical interfaces to substations and switchgear to IEC61850, an interface module built for the AC800M controller allows the standard System 800xA to provide operator control of process electrification, substation automation and power management. ABB reports the supply of over 800 substation automation projects based on IEC61850. More important is that the same 800xA system can use another standard interface module in the AC800M to communicate with instrumentation fieldbus networks, and provide process control as well. One common 800xA-based operations console can deal with both power and process control, and plant events from either side are recorded on one centralized historian and archive, which also helps track event causality, being on one timeframe.

Twenty projects to date
ABB has combined process and power control systems in this way on over 20 projects to date, primarily in oil and gas plants, but also in mining and minerals, as well as power generation plants. Although overall a small number so far, there was a considerable geographical bias towards such projects in Brazil and South America – coincidentally, the next Automation and Power World event is scheduled for a location in Brazil, in August.
Johan Hansson, the manager of the Control Systems Electrical Integration Centre of Excellence in Sweden, explained some of the advantages of combined control systems in oil and gas plants, where the integral power management system initiates load shedding according to an operator managed priority table, in less than 100msec, whereas previously the selection was hard wired, and much slower. Petrobras have not yet established operational cost savings, but already have saved 20% on training costs by combining the process and power systems: in Petrobras the protection and control relays are a mixture of ABB and Schweitzer IEDs, all to IEC61850.

. . . And so to Instrumentation
ABB in total spends $1bn annually on R&D, employing 6000 scientists. Terwiesch mentioned their recent development of an optical calliper for measurements in the paper industry, monitoring web thicknesses equivalent to 1/ 50th of a human hair, at 60mph. They are also working on energy scavenging techniques for powering wireless enabled sensors, using energy sources such as vibration, solar power, fluid flow, and temperature differences. The major instrument product launch announcements at Houston centred on wireless sensors, with the main product being the loop-powered FieldKey WirelessHART upgrade adapter, which mounts into any available cable gland on an existing HART instrument. As such it follows the same principle as the Emerson THUM adapter (INSIDER, December 2009, page 2 and also Conquering Complexity on this blog) but claims a “small footprint” as it is indeed a smaller package and antenna than the Emerson unit. ABB see the FieldKey as providing the capability to unlock the stranded information held within the 90% of the 3 million HART instruments already installed, whose systems cannot access their intelligence. The data can be accessed, and the devices remotely configured (if needed) using asset management software in 800xA, or with an Asset Vision Professional standalone product. The FieldKey adapters form a self building mesh network, and working to WirelessHART standard specifications can be accessed via any WirelessHART Gateway: ABB demonstrated their system with a new Pepperl+Fuchs gateway, which is shortly to become available. FieldKey is currently submitted for hazardous area approvals, and ABB are still interested in further field testing, for example in European sites.

FieldKey is a basic building block for ABB to incorporate WirelessHART connectivity in various new product developments: so also presented in Houston was an ABB pressure transmitter that has been adapted to become a wire-less transmitter, by incorporating the radio board and a 5 year life battery within the normal transmitter housing, plus a FieldKey antenna mounted in one of the standard conduit connections.

Vibration sensor?

Such battery-powered wireless transmitters are likely to be developed as needed: an example occasionally on display, but mostly kept under wraps, was from the oil and gas development group. This was a prototype of a battery powered vibration monitor, presumably an accelerometer rather than an acoustic emission sensor, built into a housing no bigger than a standard FieldKey. However, the main emphasis of corporate research appears to be focused onto alternative power scavenging techniques to power such wireless sensors, using heat, vibration, solar or process flow energy. Obviously this vibration sensor is work in progress, but judging by the size of the Perpetuum Free Standing (vibration energy) Harvester (68Ø and 63H, delivering 4mA at 5V), launched in May and to be on-show at the Sensors Expo in Illinois in June, ABB will find it difficult to incorporate vibration energy scavenging into the current package size.

Energy scavenging using Peltier techniques was the example featured in a demonstration sensor for temperature monitoring, explained further by Philipp Nenninger from the corporate research labs in Karlsruhe (D). Previously shown at the Hanover Fair this year, a temperature difference of 30K between the process fluid and the electronics housing can create the power to drive the temperature monitoring circuit, and the WirelessHART data transmission. Included within the housing is a standard non-rechargeable battery, which allows the sensor to continue functioning and transmitting data even as the process goes into shutdown, when the temperature difference might drop below the 30 degrees required. While process requirements for this type of specification are difficult to postulate,Nenninger quoted some keen interest in certain applications. Slowly beginning to think like ABB, the deduction is that the planned applications have to be in temperature monitoring of power transformers, or other power industry duties where wired connections are not possible.

Five year average age
Greg Livelli, US Marketing Manager for Instrumentation, presented a review of the total ABB offering, from pressure transmitters right through to sophisticated spectrometers and ion analysers. Several common themes emerged in the product design concepts, which have been rolled out as a result of the continuous investment and development effort, which will result in the average product age being reduced to five years by 2011. The programming format across all microprocessor instrumentation uses the same style, and the operator keypad follows the principles of the mobile phone, resulting in a common and intuitive look and feel, reducing the need for extensive reading of new manuals for each different instrument: learn one and the rest follow. Equally all diagnostics follow the NAMUR NE107 format, whether on a flue gas analyser or a magnetic flowmeter. Significantly most of the more unusual instrumentation from ABB is dedicated to power industry applications, whether these are for trace iron, aluminium, silica or manganese in boiler feed-water, or for SF6 gas emissions monitoring from HV switchgear.

System 800xA
Roy Tanner, global marketing manager for System 800xA, explained the reasoning behind the recent developments to be launched in Version 5.1 of System 800xA in June. “The System 800xA is designed to meet the challenges produced by the emerging trends in the process industries, such as consolidation of control rooms, intelligent field devices, monitoring and reducing energy consumption and unplanned shutdowns. We need to finally end the ‘islands of automation’ and provide information access for all disciplines. You need more than a DCS. The combined automation and power projects we’re doing have seriously increased the number of I/O and tags required.”

So Version 5.1 will run on Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server, with double the present system capacity, and introduces the new AC800M PM891 field controller with twice the performance, eight times the memory and three times the clock speed of the PM866 version. Advanced alarm management systems will hide alarms to stop alarm overloads: new Alarm Analysis functions are natively accessible to operators based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) graphics. A new “Point of Control” feature in this release allows an operator in a remote location to request permission to control an area or unit from the responsible operator. Once approved, operation is transferred to the requesting operator and captured in the audit trail: any system alarms occurring in that transferred unit are only flagged up to the remote operator. “We now have interfaces for Profinet, DeviceNet via Ethernet IP and WirelessHART. Our Foundation fieldbus interfaces also support EDDL, and we have connectivity to all ABB legacy systems, and to Provox and TDC3000 systems, that act just like a natural part of the 800xA system” said Tanner. Since introducing System 800xA, ABB now claim to have sold over 5750 systems, with 37,500 AC800M controllers and over 24,500 operator workplaces.

Tanner also mentioned the 800xA safety architecture, with the TÜV-approved logical separation of functions between safety and control qualified up to SIL3 (INSIDER April 2010 page 7). Kristian Olsson of the Process Automation Safety Center of Excellence in Norway explains that he has the ideal situation of the SIL3 approval of 800xA and 19 Safety Execution Centres (ie engineering centres capable of delivery and implementation of safety system projects in accordance with international industry standards). In April the centres in Beijing, Shanghai (CN), Bangalore (IND) and Buenos Aires (ARG) were reported as gaining TÜV certification, joining Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Singapore in the ABB listing: ten further centres are in the process of applying for the certification, including those in Canada, the USA, Brazil, Taiwan and South Korea. With more experience and engineering resources available than any other supplier, Olsson is looking to expand this activity into other markets and critical safety areas, maybe even as far as machinery safety systems, he suggested.

The ABB Low Voltage Products Group, exhibiting a few feet away from the System 800xA presentations, was the source of one of the A+P World acquisition announcements, confirming the February acquisition of Jokab Safety International AB, a supplier of innovative products and solutions for machine safety, with 120 employees worldwide, 50 in the USA. We’ve clearly reached that point in the economic cycle where those who’ve survived and have the cash are in a position to make significant acquisitions, though nobody seems prepared as yet to go for the big one. Nevertheless ABB is deploying another $1bn of that fabled cash mountain to buy Atlanta, (GA US) based energy network management software provider Ventyx from venture capitalist Vista Equity Partners. ABB is paying approximately four times Ventyx’s annual revenues of $250m for the company whose portfolio includes solutions for asset management, mobile workforce management, energy trading and risk management, energy operations, energy analytics and planning and forecasting of electricity demand including renewables. ABB CEO Joe Hogan described Ventyx as “a cashgenerating acquisition in an exciting growth market.”

Meanwhile, ABB Process Automation has added Louisiana-based K-Tek, a manufacturer of liquid level detection and measurement systems, to their Measurement Products Business Unit. Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of the Process Automation division, commented that “K-Tek is well established, particularly in the oil and gas industry, which is a growth area for ABB”. K-Tek is quoted as being recognized as a global leader in magnetic level gauges, magnetostrictive level transmitters and laser level transmitters, with sales of $50 million and 250 employees.

This article appeared in the June 2010 issue of IAI

Power, Energy and er Automation? #APW10


Last week the ABB Users’ Conference, Automation & Power World, descended on the oil city of Houston with something over 4000 participants.

ABB Automation & Power World 2010 Blog Spot

APW10 Blogspot

YouTube Presentations

on Facebook


on Twitter #APW10

ARC’s Forum at APW10
IBM Workshop Sessions at APW10

As we learn of other reports and comments we will add them!

Read-out’s resources have never been sufficient to attend many of the user-group meetings of the various “big boy” automation companies but of late we have been able to get a flavour of them vicariously through the tweets and other online sharings of the attendees with active thumbs and a friendly mobile phone or Blackberry. The ABB event was no exception. As the different talks and presentations occured so tweets were being sent on twitter using the hashtag #APW10 so although people who were not among the throngs present they could eavesdrop while at their desks or on their mobile devices!

“Automation & Power World,” according to ABB, “was designed with a specific focus – to provide engineers and business leaders with a single event where they can experience and learn the latest in Automation and Power technology, and more importantly how it can benefit their business’ profitability.”

Malcolm Shearmur of ABB in Zurich (CH), reported from this ABB’s largest customer event for ABB in a special blog, (though his views, as he points out, are his own rather than those of ABB!). The exhibit area was some 9000 squre metres and opened on the 17th May. Some idea of the exhibits and the venue may be gained from the limited number of pictures on their picasa album and also from presentations which may be found of YouTube (See box on right for links to these and other reports!)

ControlGlobal’s Walt Boyes was among those tweeting and his publisher also provided a daily update of the talks and presentations suplemented by additional “in-depth” clarifications from Walt’s own “Sound Off” blog. For instance his “Peter Terwiesch Explains It All to Us!” and “Who Says the single loop controller is dead?” (Incidentally, and compl;etely of the point, Walt, always looking for information, recounts an encounter while he  was waiting for his plane at Houston airport with a guy who’s product sounds like the answer to a maiden’s prayer post the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – take a look!)

The event kicked off with a wide-ranging address from ABB Group CEO Joe Hogan. He seems to have covered virtually everything from the Greek failure inside the Euro-zone, to the future for e-mobility; the fact that ABB robots polish the back of iPads and Carbon Dioxide emission (“60% of CO2 reduction solution will come from energy efficiency!”). He said “Smart Grids are where Power and Automation will merge!”

“Much of Hogan’s talk, as well as many sessions and exhibits in the 100,000 square foot exhibition hall, focused on power and energy efficiency. The theme begun last year at the merged “Power World” and “Automation World” conferences continued this year–the confluence of power and process automation.” reports Automation World’s Gary Mintchel in his Feed Forward blog. He goes on, “This fact was backed up by Chief Technology Officer Peter Terwisch’s presentation at the press briefing where he threw in one process automation comment at the end of an otherwise power and energy focused talk.”

So what new products impressed from afar? The new ABB Fieldkey device is a loop powered small footprint WirelessHART adaptor. Also a new generation of Swirlmeters. And Gary mentions an as yet un-launched producy “cpmPlus History – a new historian that not only is capable of acquiring tremendous quantities of data, but also has built-in tools for analysis and scripting capability for development custom analysis built on more complex math and algorithms if required by the customer application.”

Also highlighted was ABB’s recent acquisition of Ventyx an Atlanta (GA US) based software provider to global energy, utility, communications etc enterprises. They increase ABB’s offering with a broad range of solutions including: asset management, mobile workforce management, energy trading and risk management, energy operations and energy analytics. The company also provides software solutions for planning and forecasting electricity needs, including renewables.

All in all it appears to have been an interesting event, well attended and hopefully indicating the start of a slow climb into optimism!

It is hoped that  Automation & Power World will return to Orlando (FL US) April 19-21, 2011 where the 2009 event was held!

Automation & Power World Brazil – 17/19 Aug 2010

Large attendance at ABB's biggest customer event!

Cracking the new safety code


By John McAuliffe, Managing Director, Pilz Ireland.

John McAuliffe, Managing Director Pilz Ireland

On December 31st 2009, the new European machinery directive 2006/42/EC came into force. (So did the corresponding revision to Irish legislation “Machinery Regulations 2008 (SI 407/08)”). For some it will be considered as more Eurocentric red tape, but those who use the framework of the regulations in a positive process will find a code for preventing serious injury in the workplace.

Twenty years ago the EU introduced the Machinery Directive with the aim of ensuring the free movement of machinery by guaranteeing a high and a common level of protection in the areas of health and safety. Despite improvements, accidents relating to the use of machinery still remain a tragic and costly reality today. In the EU each year more than 500 million workdays, and 3% of member countries’ GDP, are estimated to be lost to workplace accidents, while research by the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland shows that 11% of workplace accidents related to “machine problems” – Health and Safety Workplace Accidents (2005) – the majority within the manufacturing sector. Research here by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), meanwhile, showed that out of eleven awards of compensation for personal injury in excess of €100,000 granted in 2008 seven related to machinery accidents.

The new safety directive takes into account extensive work into uncovering the nature of such accidents, such as research carried out by The BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Germany (BGIA) and the Swiss Agency SUVA. Such studies show for instance, that once automated systems became the norm, accidents decreased due to less human machine interaction. However occupational accident incidence reached a plateau and did not decline any further.

In 25% of accidents studied, workers’ bypassing safety systems is a contributory cause of the accident, with research showing that workers do so because there is a benefit for them and because management supported such behavior. Similarly, safety concepts that do not hinder the working process are usually not tampered with, while those that do are more likely to be bypassed.

To counter such behaviours, and reflect new thinking in workplace safety, under the new directive manufacturers are required to consider “the hazards that exist … in the conditions foreseen by the manufacturer… or in foreseeable abnormal situations”. New prevention methods and technologies need to be considered to ensure a safe intervention if for certain operations, the machinery must be operated with a protective device removed or disabled.

Risk assessment as an ongoing, iterative process is now enshrined unambiguously in the new directive, with the previous obligation “… to assess the hazards ….” replaced with a much stronger statement:

  • “The manufacturer of machinery … must ensure that a risk assessment is carried out …. By the iterative process of risk assessment and risk reduction …, the manufacturer … shall: eliminate the hazards or reduce the risks associated with these hazards by application of protective measures…”

In practical terms, companies manufacturing machines will therefore need to ensure that a defined iterative process is carried out effectively and that the results are demonstrably incorporated in the machine design, recorded in the technical file and reflected in the instructions for use.

Some of the other most significant changes include:

  • there is a requirement to consider foreseeable human error
  • a new definitions of machinery including the introduction of the new concept, that of partly completed machinery
  • instructions on the use of machines must not only take account of the intended use of a machine, but also any reasonably foreseeable misuse
  • there is an obligation to consider control systems and protective devices to automatically prevent start up if it detects somebody in a danger zone.

For manufacturers and users alike the implementation of the new safety directives will prove challenging initially. Ultimately the effort will be rewarded when the new directive is used in a collaborative effort involving the manufacturer of the machine, the machine user and those responsible for developing the machine safety concepts to prevent serious injury.

The author, John McAuliffe is Managing Director of Pilz Ireland – experts in the safety of human, machine and the environment.

ProfiBus seminar


In what is hoped to be a biennial affair the first ProfiBus Ireland seminar was hosted by Limerick University’s Automation Research Centre (ARC) on January20th 2010. Hassan Kaghazchi of ProfiBus Ireland and the Limerick University was responsible for the organisation of this very successful event.

Speakers and Organisers: From left: Joost Van der Nat, Hassan Kaghazchi, Conal O'Reilly, Steve Dickinson, David Maher, Joachim Lauer, Nigel DeHaas, Eric Gory, Jorg Freitag.

Conal O'Reilly

It was very well attended and over 50 people attended. The progamme comprised of a morning with eight short presentations from a truly international group of speakers including Profibus International (PI) Chairman Jörg Freitag. There were many opportunities for hands-on demonstrations. The demonstartions panels constructed by ProfiBus Ireland members under David Maher of Elmar Engineering, The afternoon was an optional tour of the Bulmers, state of the art cider making facility in Clonmel where many of the ProfiBus techniques, discussed in the morning were seen in an actual plant. This part of the day was organised by Matt Wilhite of molex with the cooperation of the Bulmers plant engineers.

The seminar programme

Introduction, HassanKaghazchi (IR), ARC Limerick University
Present and Future, Jörg Freitag (D), PI Germany
HART over PROFIBUS, Nigel DeHaas (ZA), DH Controls
Wireless HART, Joachim Lauer (CH), Endress+Hauser
Diagnosing PROFIBUS, Joost Van derNat (NL), Procentric
Industrial Wireless , Conal O’Reilly (IRL), Phoenix Contact
PROFINET, Eric Gory (F), molex
Redundant PA, Steve Dickinson (GB), Pepperl & Fuchs

A pdf version of each presentation is available to download from the Profibus Ireland site.

The tour of the Bulmers Clonmel plant took place in the afternoon. This plant manufactures the traditional Bulmers range for Ireland and Magners Irish Cider for the export market. As part of the C&C Group it also produces Carolan’s Irish Cream, Tullamore Dew and other products at the site. The tour was fascinating as it concentrated on the technical aspects of control especially in the very impressive bottling plant and then in the manufacturing of the cider itself from the simple apple to the finished refreshing brew. The tour also emphasised the complete use of the raw materials and its minimum impact on the environment. For instance the pulp left after the extraction of the apple juice is used for anamal feed – primarily for deer.

Part of the attendance at the seminar

Group for plant tour at Bulmers Clonmel

PROFIBUS: A Pocket Guide by Ron Mitchell is a pocket guide provides a basic overview of PROFIBUS operations, installation and configuration, wiring schemes, troubleshooting, and tips and tricks. Also useful for engineering management seeking a summary understanding of PROFIBUS. Illustrative figures and technical tips are provided for quick reference. It is published by the International Society of Automation.

ABB regroups


Realigns automation divisions

“Will enhance growth opportunities!”


Joe Hogan

Low Volatage Products

Tom Sjokvist

 Discrete Automation and Motion

Ulrich Spiesshofer

Executive Committee

Anders Jonsson

Process Automation

Veli-Matti Reinikkala

ABB is reorganizing its automation divisions to align their activities more closely with those of its customers. These changes will enable ABB to better tap growth opportunities in service, expand its presence in the discrete manufacturing sector and better respond to the increasing demand for energy efficient solutions.
From Jan. 1, 2010, the business units currently in the Automation Products and Robotics divisions will be regrouped into two new divisions – Discrete Automation and Motion, and Low Voltage Products. The Process Automation division will remain unchanged except for the addition of the instrumentation business from the Automation Products division.

“ABB’s automation businesses with their focus on productivity and energy efficiency have tremendous scope for growth,” said Joe Hogan, ABB’s chief executive officer. “We have strengthened the market approach by grouping together businesses with similar customers, technologies and service models, which will help us accelerate the development of solutions for our customers.”

The new divisions will be comprised as follows:

    The new Low Voltage Products division includes businesses producing mainly low-voltage electrical equipment that is sold to wholesalers, original equipment manufacturers as well as system integrators, and has moderate service requirements. The division had 2008 pro-forma revenue of $4.8 billion and about 19,000 employees.

    The new Discrete Automation and Motion division includes products and systems targeted at discrete manufacturing applications, such as robotics and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and providing motion in plants, such as motors and drives. These businesses help customers to increase the productivity and energy efficiency of their assets. It also includes a significant offering for the renewable sectors of solar and wind, as well as the rail segment. The businesses sell mainly to original equipment manufacturers, system integrators and directly to end users, and require a more intensive, tailored level of service. The division had 2008 pro-forma revenue of $6.6 billion and also about 19,000 employees.

    Process Automation will remain unchanged except for the addition of ABB’s instrumentation business, currently part of the Automation Products division. The move will strengthen the division’s process automation platform as instruments measuring temperature, flow, pressure, etc. are key to optimizing industrial processes. The division had 2008 pro-forma revenue of $8.4 billion and about 29,500 employees.

ABB intends to provide pro-forma orders, revenues and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the period 2007 to 2009 under the new structure when it reports its fourth-quarter results in February next year. The company will also update at that time the divisional guidance on its 2007-2011 targets, to align them with the new organization.

The reorganization of the automation businesses will be accompanied by several related leadership changes as of Jan. 1, 2010.

Tom Sjökvist, currently responsible for Automation Products, will become head of the new Low Voltage Products division. Sjökvist has provided successful leadership for the low-voltage business for many years and has driven the Automation Products division to new levels of profitability.

Ulrich Spiesshofer, currently responsible for Corporate Development on the Executive Committee, has been appointed to run the Discrete Automation and Motion division. Spiesshofer, who joined ABB in 2005, has led ABB’s strategic growth initiatives such as its service activities, and has played a key role in managing the company’s global footprint optimization efforts and its $2-billion cost take-out program

Anders Jonsson, currently responsible for the Robotics division, will have an Executive Committee role with responsibility for continuing the implementation of ABB’s current cost take-out program as well as the company’s Global Footprint program, which aligns ABB’s resources with the company’s growth opportunities. Jonsson has successfully repositioned the robotics business for long-term profitable growth.

Veli-Matti Reinikkala remains head of the Process Automation division.

Milk pressure


Pressure Monitoring in Milk Production

The Nestlé research and development centre in Konolfingen, Switzerland, is developing milk-based constitutional food products. The pressure monitoring at the heat exchangers in the new testing facility is conducted by Baumer pressure transmitters, which are equipped with hygienic CombiConnect process connections made of stainless steel.

Nestle Products

Nestle Products

In Konolfingen, the international nutrition company Nestlé operates the Nestlé Product Technology Centre (PTC) – one of 24 research centres worldwide. For more than 30 years, the company has been developing milk-based products and the respective production processes there, with the main focus lying on infant food, special diet nutrition and health care food. The Konolfingen developers are researching appropriate recipes and testing processes for all operational Nestlé companies worldwide requiring new products for these areas.

Heat Exchangers in the New Testing Facility
For hygienic reasons, all measuring devices in their new testing facilities had to be equipped with an aseptic screw connection according to DIN 11864-1. All over the PTC, pressure transmitters of the ED701 series were already being used in various other applications such as homogenisers, mills and filling equipment. Since Nestlé had been very satisfied with those devices, they were also chosen for the pressure measurement at the new facility’s heat exchangers. Depending on the processes to be tested, up to six heat exchangers are used for heating and/or cooling the products, with the temperatures going up to 150°C.

At high temperatures, the products precipitate protein, which then sediments at the heat exchanger’s metal plates. If there is too much sediment on the exchanging face, the differential pressure between the product and medium side rises and the heat exchangers have to be cleaned. With this application, the PTC developers test the recipes and manufacturing processes with different kinds of liquid products ranging from milk to dessert crème. Among other results, the tests show the possible range of process temperatures between medium and product as well as the time period the production can run without the heat exchanger needing to be cleaned.

Differential Pressure Measurement with the ED701
The differential pressure is measured by the ED701, a piezo-resistive pressure transmitter with a stainless steel diaphragm for industrial and hygienic applications. It is based on a silicon sensor designed for high precision within the widest possible range of temperature. Its downstream digital compensation reduces the signal drift. The piezo-resistive silicon sensor is anodically bonded to a very stable glass base attached to a stainless steel construction, which guarantees an excellent thermal isolation. A stainless steel diaphragm and a specially processed filling liquid isolate the sensor from the process medium.

The electronics are located within the hermetically sealed transmitter housing, making the ED 701 extremely resistant to humidity, shock and vibration. Depending on the choice of the electrical connection, the protection classes vary from IP 65 to IP 67. The electronics’ core piece is a micro-controller compensating any drift effects on the sensor signal due to temperature changes. Therefore, these effects can be eliminated over a wide range of temperatures with a short response time.

The ED 701 is available with a great variety of pressure and electrical connections, a 4…20 mA current loop and various voltage output signals. The line’s most distinctive features are its short response time (max. 5 ms) and an excellent repeatability and long-term stability. The hygienic design makes the ED 701 series most suitable for applications in the food and beverage processing industry as well as in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Any parts contacting the media are made of stainless steel 316L / 1.4435 and all materials, including the white oil used as standard filling liquid, are compliant with the FDA standards.

For the use in the heat exchangers, the pressure transmitters were constructed with an accuracy of 0.4% FS and a compensated temperature range of -10 to 125°C (on the cooling water side) respectively a high medium temperature of 300°C maximum (on the heating side). The measuring range of the gauge pressure covers 0 to 20 bar.

Connection for the Milk Tube Fitting
Since a new process connection was also required for the new milk tube, the Nestlé PTC developed a special adapter for the ED701 in co-operation with Baumer.

CombiConnect connections

CombiConnect connections

Whereas Baumer delivered the connection for the pressure-receiving side, the matching part on the product side was constructed by Nestlé. “For the milk tube fitting, Baumer offered us the CombiConnect adapter, which we found most suitable thanks to its flush-mounted O-ring”, says Ernst Strahm, measurement technologist at the Nestlé PTC in Konolfingen. The CombiConnect system provides a series of hygienic, replaceable process connections made of acid-proof stainless steel. Since they can be used with the pressure transmitters FlexBar and ED701 as well as the temperature measuring device CombiTemp, they offer a high flexibility. The connections were developed according to the demands of the food industry fulfilling the FDA and EHEDG criteria.

A further challenge this application posed was the very small pipe with a diameter of only 10mm, making it very difficult to clean. The problem was solved by choosing a high flow rate and a pressure transmitter with a small volume compared to that of the tube.

Decision Criteria
The Nestlé product developers had already been convinced by the reliability of the pressure transmitters used in various other applications. Concerning the heat exchanger applications in the new testing facilities, all upcoming challenges were mastered thanks to the flexible CombiConnect connections and a close collaboration with the manufacturer in developing an adapter. “For a hygienic pressure measurement, the quality of the measuring devices is the decisive criterion. With the ED701, we have had consistently good experiences”, resumes Strahm.