Mobile hydraulics powers vacuum lifting

Vacuum-lifting attachments make construction equipment more productive. Construction equipment has long been used to move material like large pipes and concrete slabs, typically with ropes, chains or slings tied to the bucket or stick. Lately, however, operators of these machines are turning to vacuum-lifting technology as a faster and safer alternative. vacuum-based devices can improve worksite productivity and, more importantly, keep workers out of harm’s way.



Benefits of vacuum-
Vacuum-lifting systems work much like simple pick-and-place vacuum cups seen in industrial packaging settings, but on a much larger scale. And they offer numerous benefits over conventional handling operations. First, vacuum eliminates the need for unsafe and time-consuming lifting mechanisms such as hooks, slings or chains. With no cables and chains to hook and unhook, there is less downtime between lifts and faster load and unload cycles. Second, vacuum ensures a powerful positive engagement of the load, where slings and chains can shift or loosen, endangering employees. And it reduces or eliminates the need for tag-line operators on the ground to hold and guide the load.   Consider the overall economics. A length of chain is obviously less expensive than a sophisticated vacuum handler, but in terms of dollars and cents, it becomes a speed and safety issue .

Varied applications-
Standard models lift a variety of materials. These include concrete and ductile iron pipe; steel pipe, including products wrapped in tape or with coatings like FBE (fusion-bonded epoxy) and coal-tar enamel; and plastic pipe such PVC and fiberglass. Other materials suitable for vacuum handling are concrete road barriers, saw-cut concrete, sidewalk sections, landscape pavers, pre-cast concrete slabs and culverts, and steel plate and piling. Lifting systems can also be customized for many applications and lift capacities. Lifters can attach to hydraulic excavators and backhoes (with or without coupler systems), wheel or track-type loaders, cranes, pipe layers, skid steers, forklifts and knuckle booms. They can also be mounted for a variety of in-plant applications. A couple trends are helping shape demand. One is for more-compact and lighter lifters. That’s because less weight hanging off the end of the host machines equates to a greater load capacity. Another is the number of recently introduced products designed for small machines such as skid steers, loader backhoes, and boom trucks with cranes.


Lifters can attach to hydraulic excavators and backhoes (with or without coupler systems), wheel or track-type loaders, cranes, pipe layers, skid steers, forklifts and knuckle booms. They can also be mounted for a variety of in-plant applications.


Methods Of Voltage Control In Power System

While learning the methods of voltage control in power system, we must first understand why we need to control voltage. In power systems, voltage is supposed to be constant which is obviously not. So we have to control it in such a way that it remains constant. But why does the voltage need to be constant at all? Because most of the devices, apparatus, electrical machines, consumer appliances etc. are all designed to work at a specified voltage. Wide variations of voltage may cause errors in operation, malfunctioning or performance deterioration. It is desirable that the consumers receive power at substantially constant voltage. In many countries, including India, the statutory limit of voltage variation is ±6% of the declared voltage at consumers’ end.

Therefore, it is important to apply certain techniques, certain methods to control the power system voltage to keep it constant. Following are the methods of voltage control in power system.

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Methods of Voltage Control In Power System

  1. Using excitation control or voltage regulators at generating stations
  2. By using tap changing transformers
  3. Using induction regulators
  4. By using shunt reactors
  5. By using shunt capacitors
  6. Using synchronous condensers

Environment Health and Safety

Warm Weather Safety

Heat related illness is a serious medical condition which results when the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently through sweating. Both personal and environmental factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing heat related illness which includes heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), heat exhaustion, and ultimately, heat stroke:

Factors that increase the risk of heat related illness:

  • Above average temperatures and high humidity
  • Direct exposure to the sun or other heat sources
  • Limited air movement
  • Age (especially individuals older than 65 and children younger than two years old)
  • Obesity and poor physical fitness
  • Lack of acclimatization
  • Consumption of alcohol, drugs and caffeine
  • Use of medications that affect tolerance to heat
  • Increased exertion and duration of physical activities
  • Dark non-breathable clothing, and/or personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by employees

Heat illness prevention measures to consider include the following:

  • Monitor weather conditions, and schedule outdoor work and other activities for cooler periods.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids (water and electrolyte beverages).
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Seek shade, and wear loose-fitting, breathable, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Take breaks often and limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone, or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
  • Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. During the summer, the inside temperature of a car can quickly rise to 120oF (49oC) or more.

Departments that have employees who work outdoors, or in indoor areas where heat related illness is likely to occur (kitchens, boiler room, etc.), are required to take certain measures to reduce the risk of heat related illness.

Why should I use a VFD?Blog2472018

1.Reduce Energy Consumption and Energy Costs

If you have an application that does not need to be run at full speed, then you can cut down energy costs by controlling the motor with a variable frequency drive, which is one of the benefits of Variable Frequency Drives. VFDs allow you to match the speed of the motor-driven equipment to the load requirement. There is no other method of AC electric motor control that allows you to accomplish this.

Electric motor systems are responsible for more than 65% of the power consumption in industry today. Optimizing motor control systems by installing or upgrading to VFDs can reduce energy consumption in your facility by as much as 70%. Additionally, the utilization of VFDs improves product quality, and reduces production costs. Combining energy efficiency tax incentives, and utility rebates, returns on investment for VFD installations can be as little as 6 months.

2. Increase Production Through Tighter Process Control

By operating your motors at the most efficient speed for your application, fewer mistakes will occur, and thus, production levels will increase, which earns your company higher revenues. On conveyors and belts you eliminate jerks on start-up allowing high through put.

3. Extend Equipment Life and Reduce Maintenance

Your equipment will last longer and will have less downtime due to maintenance when it’s controlled by VFDs ensuring optimal motor application speed. Because of the VFDs optimal control of the motor’s frequency and voltage, the VFD will offer better protection for your motor from issues such as electro thermal overloads, phase protection, under voltage, overvoltage, etc.. When you start a load with a VFD you will not subject the motor or driven load to the “instant shock” of across the line starting, but can start smoothly, thereby eliminating belt, gear and bearing wear. It also is an excellent way to reduce and/or eliminate water hammer since we can have smooth acceleration and deceleration cycles.

Automation Direct adds pneumatic rotary actuators and Grippers

Rotary actuators are available in four body sizes with or without shock absorbers. All are double acting and have an adjustable travel range from zero to 190 degrees, according to Automation Direct. Anodized aluminum bodies include integral mounting slots for position switches and a ball bearing hub and integrated piston magnets are standard. According to Automation Direct, the compact design of the Nitra rotary actuators is ideal for general material handling and other industrial applications such as conveying, clamping, transferring parts, positioning, and controlling valves.email49255044

The pneumatic grippers are compressed air actuators with jaws (or fingers) to pick up, hold and release objects and are used in a range of general automation processes such as pick and place, material transfer, clamping and indexing. Two jaw parallel and two jaw angle Nitra grippers are available in seven body sizes and with side mount or end mount grips. Parallel grippers open and close parallel to the object and angle (or angular) grippers open wider than parallel jaws requiring more space, notes Automation Direct.

8 Steps to Debug Your Process Control System

1. Plot the process.

Start by drawing a diagram of the system of interest and its core processes. You don’t need to break out a drawing program like Visio yet (though you may want to eventually); a “back of the envelope” drawing that captures the core processes in the system is enough to get started.

2. Identify key components.

Next, identify the key components in each process. Key components will vary by industry, but some key components of many industrial processes that you’ll want to consider are items such as motors, variable frequency drives, sensors and power supplies.

3.  Assign metrics for key components.

For each of the key components that you identified in the previous step, identify some “operational metrics”. These are that you can measure that reveal important information about the state of the component.
Good candidates for metrics are information about a component that can be measured easily and that you can gather data for at a single point in time (for example, meter measurements, waveform captures, observations, and photos). Capture relevant quantitative information (for example, a temperature measurement) or qualitative information (for example, the shape of a waveform from a variable speed drive).

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4. Take measurements.

Measure and record the metrics of the key components. Capturing this data doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Although you may eventually want to record and analyze component metrics in a spreadsheet or database, you can get started with pencil and paper.
Your experience and training is the best guide for both what and how to measure, (and for more ideas you can review the sidebar) but here are some simple “rules of thumb” for making effective measurements. Start measuring at the power source and follow the current flow. Work towards the furthest point or device, capturing measurements as you go, and at the input and the output of each step or key component. Keep track of key metrics over time and take measurements when the system is running at peak capacity. Measurements taken when the system is not being taxed are of much less value and be sure to look for changes (which can indicate that something may have happened) or measurements that exceed limits.

5. Create a data “dashboard”.

Statistical information such as that which you gathered in step 4 can be a powerful tool for analysis and prediction, but interpreting rows and columns of raw data can be overwhelming. An effective way to deal with this kind of data overload is to decide in advance the range of values for each metric that is OK, suspicious, serious, and extreme.
With data ranges in place, you can create a simple, color-coded status for each component in the system that you can view in a notebook, on a whiteboard, or in a spreadsheet. The simplified, high-level view of the system that results, free of distracting detail, can make data analysis and decision making for complex systems much simpler.

6. Prioritize components for attention, maintenance, and budget.

Now that you have a clear and uncluttered view of the status of the key components in the system, you can prioritize components for attention as needed.

7. Make the decision.

For each component on your prioritized list, make a decision about what to do next: Does it require attention (for example, resizing the motor on the conveyor to better handle the load demand)? Does it need replacement? Should you just keep an eye on it?
Another option is to simply let it run to failure, planning ahead by allocating budget and resources. Objective, prioritized information about key components can be a big help to the decision-making process.

8. Refine and extend, but stay flexible.

When you have a working strategy in place, you can refine and extend it as needed in an ongoing process. As your system strategy evolves, be sure to keep flexibility in mind. Taking a variety of measurements with general purpose, hand-held tools gives your system strategy the flexibility to adapt as processes, components, priorities, and your needs change.

Benefits of VFDs, Inverters, Drives


⦁ Energy Savings with Variable Speed Drives
⦁ Variable Torque Versus Constant Torque
⦁ Why Variable Torque Loads Offer Great Energy Savings
⦁ Energy Consumption
⦁ Extended Equipment Life and Reduced Maintenance

Energy Savings with Variable Speed Drives

If you have an AC motor-driven application that does not need to be run at full speed, then you can cut down energy costs by controlling the motor with a Variable Speed Drive (VSD). Variable Speed Drives (Also known as Variable Frequency Drives) allow you to match the speed of the motor-driven equipment to the process requirement.

Variable Torque Versus Constant Torque

Variable speed drives, and the loads they are applied to, can generally be divided into two groups: constant torque and variable torque. The energy savings potential of variable torque applications is much greater than that of constant torque applications. Variable torque loads include centrifugal pumps and fans, which make up the majority of HVAC applications. Constant torque loads include vibrating conveyors, punch presses, rock crushers, machine tools, and other applications where the drive follows a constant V/Hz ratio.

Why Variable Torque Loads Offer Great Energy Savings

In variable torque applications, the torque required varies roughly with the square of the speed, and the horsepower required varies approximately with the cube of the speed, resulting in a large reduction of horsepower for even a small reduction in speed. A motor in a variable torque application will consume only 25% as much energy at 50% speed as it will at 100% speed. This is referred to as the Affinity Laws, which define the relationships between speed, flow, torque, and horsepower.

Energy Consumption

Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) allow you to consume less energy than other speed control techniques when load requirements are less than full speed, as is usually the case in HVAC applications.

Extended Equipment Life and Reduced Maintenance

Single-speed starting methods start motors abruptly, subjecting the motor to a high starting torque and to current surges that are up to 10 times the full-load current. Variable speed drives, on the other hand, gradually ramp the motor up to operating speed to lessen mechanical and electrical stress, reducing maintenance and repair costs, and extending the life of the motor and the driven equipment.

Soft starts, or reduced-voltage soft starters (RVSS), are also able to step a motor up gradually, but drives can be programmed to ramp up the motor much more gradually and smoothly, and can operate the motor at less than full speed to decrease wear and tear. Variable speed drives can also run a motor in specialized patterns to further minimize mechanical and electrical stress. For example, an S-curve pattern can be applied to a conveyor application for smoother decel/accel control, which reduces the backlash that can occur when a conveyor is accelerating or decelerating.

Automation Drives Food and Beverage Processing Machinery Growth

Reducing the workforce, delivering operator ease of use, and building in machine flexibility to meet shifting consumer demands are top must-haves for CPGs.12-6-18

The food and beverage industry will see continued growth in automation, with machine-to-machine communication being paramount, according to a new study from PMMI Business Intelligence. The industry is seeing growth in the use of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), servos and software to improve safety, offer real-time monitoring, improve machine vision inspection, provide data collection, and generally improve machine-to-machine communication

This is necessary in no small part because of each food processing OEM typically focusing on one specialized niche. This makes it difficult for CPGs to find providers of whole systems, so the ability to integrate machines from various suppliers is critical. This especially means growth of technologies within Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to connect the integrated line to the enterprise.

Visualization for Batch Operations

The ability for operators to see a comprehensive timeline of every task required to complete a product batch, including the ability to look ahead into future processes.

When it comes to controlling a batch, the process itself can be inefficient. It’s filled with stops and starts related to manual interventions, and there is no visibility into the next task in the sequence or an explanation for a delay.

The findings proved that batch manufacturing is a process that is constantly interrupted, causing operators to have to reorient themselves with each step. In addition, if something was held up, causing a step to take too long, there was no good way to troubleshoot what was happening before a complete bottleneck or a quality issue emerged.

We needed to address the workflow, which is more than visualization. According to the company, makes it easier for operators to conduct multiple tasks, take appropriate actions sooner and adjust next steps accordingly. It also makes operations less critically dependent on individual operator experience, which will help manufacturers overcome skill gaps at a time when more veteran operators are retiring.
The visual interface includes a graphic representing a unit timeline to see what has historically happened from an ISA S88 perspective, as well as what’s happening at the very moment and what additional operations are scheduled next. A message center allows the operator to see the scope of responsibilities with the ability to interact with active instructions.

Another key feature is the ability to predict what will happen in the future from an operational perspective—if a current step is taking longer than it should, for example. The interface can also show delays in specific operations, providing the user with the ability to scroll around to see where in the process there might be an issue.

In the batch timeline view, an operator can click on a batch ID to drill down on the current batch and where it will go through to the next units. Everything on the unit and batch timeline views are all system displays that come directly out of unit or operational procedures.

Experion Batch is designed specifically for industries such as pharmaceutical, specialty chemical and food processing, where manufacturers are challenged to increase operator efficiency and product quality while using fewer resources to reduce costs. The technology simplifies ongoing maintenance by eliminating the need for a centralized, dedicated batch server. Experion Batch also allows plants to easily and quickly transition from recipe testing to execution while reducing testing and validation efforts, and it is aligned with international batch standards ISA S88 and IEC 61512-1.

Automation Direct adds pneumatic rotary actuators and grippers

Rotary actuators are available in four body sizes with or without shock absorbers. All are double acting and have an adjustable travel range from zero to 190 degrees, according to Automation Direct. Anodized aluminum bodies include integral mounting slots for position switches and a ball bearing hub and integrated piston magnets are standard. According to Automation Direct, the compact design of the Nitra rotary actuators is ideal for general material handling and other industrial applications such as conveying, clamping, transferring parts, positioning, and controlling valves.


The pneumatic grippers are compressed air actuators with jaws (or fingers) to pick up ,hold and release objects and are used in a range of general automation processes such as pick and place, material transfer, clamping and indexing. Two jaw parallel and two jaw angle Nitra grippers are available in seven body sizes and with side mount or end mount grips. Parallel grippers open and close parallel to the object and angle (or angular) grippers open wider than parallel jaws requiring more space, notes Automation Direct.

Types of PLC Programming Language

PLC user program is under the control system designer process control requirements, through the establishment of PLC programming language design. Developed by the International Electro technical Commission standard industrial control programming language (IE PLC user program is under the control system designer process control requirements, through the establishment of PLC programming language design.

The five languages in the IEC Standard 61131-3 are:

Instruction List (IL): A low-level language very similar to assembly language. The code is compact and suitable for small projects. It is not very powerful. The other languages are easier to use and document. It has been years since I have used it and do not miss it.

Structured Text (ST):A high level language structured like Pascal. Users trained in high level text languages would be comfortable with ST.

Ladder Diagrams (LD): Also commonly known as Ladder Logic, Modeled after the electrical wiring of contacts and relays used to create logic. It made the transition from Relay logic (using actually electrical relays) to the PLC easier. It falls short when tasks become complex. Not the best for modular PLC programming. This language will look very familiar to Electricians.

Function Block Diagram (FBD):The blocks contain procedures or functions to act on the input “wires” and output the result. It lends itself readily to standardizing, modulating, and maintaining programs. I prefer this over LD, and many are coming to realize its advantages. Ladder Diagrams will die a slow death.

Sequential Function Chart (SFC): This graphic language is great for concurrent parallel sequential operations. It is self documenting. It very useful pulling together in a flow chart form the other PLC programming elements such as function blocks (FB) or structured text (ST). Its format shows overall program flow very well making it faster and easier to understand what the program is doing, Easy to identify the section of interest for troubleshooting and program improvement.
A common belief is that you would be able to quickly convert between the above languages. This is false. Although they have common elements they also have differences that preclude the possibility.

PLC vs Embedded System: When You Should Choose a PLC Despite the Higher Cost per Unit

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In electronics system, you had experiences with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and localized embedded systems. You can achieve significant cost reduction by replacing PLCs with localized embedded systems. where a PLC, the more expensive option, is the better choice.

1.PLCs and their applications:

A programmable logic controller is a specialized industrial computer. It is custom programmed to monitor input signals (digital or analog), perform logical operations, and trigger specific output signals. PLCs are known to be rugged and are commonly used in extreme industrial environments or applications that have almost no room for failure.

PLCs are popular because of their modular structure. This makes them easy to install in a plug-and-play manner. At their most basic, they consist of a central processing unit (CPU), a power supply and input/output (I/O) modules. Programming PLCs is less complicated than coding a microcontroller. This is because it revolves around ladder diagram, functional block diagram, and structured text on software provided by the manufacturers.

PLCs are not strangers to industrial applications. They are commonly used in production lines, road traffic signals, escalator and HVAC systems. They’re capable of basic data manipulation and support various communication protocols like Modbus, and DeviceNet. This has made them a preferred option in automated control systems.

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PLC installation is mostly plug-and-play.

Why Localized Embedded Systems Are Sometimes Replacing PLCs

In general, an embedded system is defined as a dedicated set of hardware and software working together to provide application-specific functionality. From an electronic designer’s point of view, it consists of a microcontroller (MCU), memory chips, power management circuits, communication modules and input/output functionality.This might sound similar to a PLC, but there are distinct differences between them.

Configuration: PLCs are known to be modular and easily replaceable if a specific module fails. On the other hand, embedded systems are mostly designed as a single board. This reduces their cost.

Programming: PLC programming is generally less time consuming since they come with easy to understand ladder diagrams. However, embedded systems are coded in high-level programming languages, like C, and their firmware takes longer to write.

Cost: PLCs are associated with having a high cost, especially when they are from reputable manufacturers. Alternatively, an embedded system, when localized, has a very low production cost per unit.
Despite the differences in hardware build-ups and programming methods, an embedded system can easily replicate a PLC’s functions. This was for one reason only, cost. In certain applications, a localized embedded system can cost as little as 20% of a branded PLC. In business, that translates into a healthy profit margin while still achieving the same functionality.

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Technical support is critical regardless of whether you choose a PLC or an embedded system

When To Use PLC Despite The Higher Cost Per Unit?

You might be wondering why we aren’t all switching over to embedded systems. Cost is always a consideration, but it is a mistake to automatically prefer a localized embedded system for cost alone. There are times when it is best to stick with using a PLC despite the fact that it can significantly increase your expenses. Here are some factors that make the cost of PLCs worthwhile.

Volume: Unless you’re working on a project that requires hundreds of PLCs with the same setup, it can be more cost effective to purchase a commercial off the shelf PLC. The costs in time of developing a localized embedded system and manufacturing its setup might not be worthwhile.

Certification: In certain industrial applications, there are requirements for the electronics control system to be certified by standard organizations. Branded PLCs usually came with CE, UL and other certifications. If the cost of certifying your own embedded system outweighs the cost of the PLC, then it’s better to stick with the latter option.

Support: PLCs often come with support from a reputable company. If you’re outsourcing the manufacturing of your localized embedded system to a contractor, make sure that you’ll receive a decent amount of technical support. Otherwise it’s better to stay safe with PLC.

Reliability: If your intended application involves your control systems operating in harsh electrical and physical environments, it is often better to go with a PLC that is already proven to work in these environments. Unless you’re set on developing localized embedded systems for these conditions and have budgeted to do so, there’s a good chance that they won’t have sufficient lab testing.

Enhanced HMI Software

Version 9.0 of Factory Talk View from Rockwell Automation Software enables operators to make quicker, better informed decisions with access to Trend Pro, a new trending tool that gives access to real-time data with built-in analysis tools.

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The tool showcases contextualized production data by pulling from a variety of sources that were once difficult to access: Factory Talk View SE data logs, Factory Talk Live Data and Factory Talk Historian data. The new release gives operators easy, ad-hoc, drag-and-drop capabilities that bring trends front and center. In addition, new Control Logix tag-extended properties eliminate the need for redundant engineering work. The properties also enable simplified language switching; instead of requiring a developer to program language strings within the HMI, translated content can now be directly accessed from the controller, further saving design time. Also new is Recipe Pro+, a recipe manager that offers an easy way to download and upload multiple machine parameters at once. The editor includes a user-friendly interface to create and edit recipe files, and allows for importing and exporting files. For RS View 32 users looking to modernize their HMI SCADA, it will greatly streamline migration to Factory Talk View SE software. As part of a continued focus on the mobile workforce, Factory Talk View Point mobile HMI software offers yet another layer of improved productivity in version 9.0. Operators are now able to acknowledge or shelve an alarm notification directly from a mobile device. The alarm table is optimized for mobile devices and built into the framework with complete alarm details

Factory Talk View SE provides robust and reliable functionality in a single software package that scales from a stand-alone HMI system to a distributed visualization solution. As our customers have experienced over the past few years, Factory Talk View SE enables you to take advantage of mobility, virtualization, and other new technologies, meeting HMI challenges in process, batch and discrete applications and delivering critical visibility when and where you need it.

Capacitive Proximity Sensors for Accurate Level Detection

The CD34 Series is designed to detect water-based liquids through non-metallic walls, i.e. plastic or glass. The sensors automatically account for the thickness of plastic or glass walls and compensate for any residual films, moisture or foam accumulation while reliably sensing the presence of the liquid to be detected. The sensor is packed with a universal bracket, which provides great mounting versatility for a variety of surfaces, circular (e.g. sight glass, round containers) or flat.vk blog

The CD34 works out of the box for most applications, as it’s capable of detecting the media (liquid) with a conductivity of 50mS/cm. For the most demanding applications, the CD34 offers teach-in capabilities, which assists in solving the most challenging level applications. Through the teach-in function, the sensor can be calibrated to overcome highly conductive, viscous liquids or tanks with very thin or thick walls.
What’s more, the compact and robust sensor housing with NEMA250 (1, 2, 4, 4x, 5 and 12), IP69K ratings and ECOLAB certification make it very suitable for wash-down applications and harsh environments typically found in the food and beverage industry or applications that are exposed to wind and weather.

The features of the CD34 Series capacitive proximity sensors include:

” Supply voltage: 10 to 30VDC
” NPN or PNP output function
” N.O. or N.C. switching
” LED to indicate output and power ON
” Reverse polarity, short circuit and transient protected
” 2m cable or pigtail M8 connector
” IP69K for wash-down applications
” NEMA 250 (1, 2, 4, 4x, 5 and 12) ratings
” cULus approved
” ECOLAB Certified
The CD34 Series liquid level capacitive proximity sensors are perfect for level applications in markets such as Packaging, Food and Beverage, Agriculture and Water Treatment.

Solutions in Industrial Service:

1.Solutions for Building Intelligent Industrial Services

As leading player in the industrial market, Advantech has offered various factory automation and machine automation solutions, such as manufacturing execution system and equipment control terminals, for factories and pharmaceutical laboratories to make their manufacturing process more efficient and safe. From the information and visualization system at a work station to the remote control terminals in a central control room, Advantech’s industrial solutions can help to streamline manufacturing processes and enable staff and managers to monitor manufacturing equipment just on their mobile devices.


2.Smart Factory Solutions

Advantech’s wide range of MES and equipment control terminals are designed to increase manufacturing automation and operational efficiency, while its various workstation information systems support process visualization for enhanced manufacturing.


3.Smart Warehouse Solutions

Advantech offers smart warehouse solutions that comprise intelligent all-in-one touch computers and mobile tablets for diverse warehouse management applications. When integrated with warehouse management systems, these all-in-one terminals and mobile tablets optimize processes and enhance inventory management for more efficient warehouse operations.

Benefits of Soft Starters on Resistive Loads

A lot of resistive load applications use solid-state contactors or in some cases, properly sized standard contactors to perform the control.

The downfall of standard contactors is the duty cycle wear and tear of the contactor itself. Electro-mechanical components have a finite duty life cycle compared with solid-state devices that have a much longer life due to little or no mechanical parts.

To keep a process at a certain temperature, some type of control is to be needed to cycle the contactors on and off.

That control could come from a programmable logic controller (PLC), temperature single loop controller or something in between.



Standard silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs) will generally use a form of control known as zero cross, basically turning on and off at the zero cross of the sine wave.

The on-and-off function could be for one cycle or could sometimes use a zero cross time base function. Time base function has the SCRs fire for “x” time, and then off for “y” time, then repeat.

If used on a resistive heater application, this method needs some adjusting in timing to kee a temperature.

These are best suited for low hot to cold ratios. For example, resistive loads such as nickel-chromium, iron chromium and aluminum alloy have very little change in resistance as the temperature changes

The advantage of zero cross functionality:

  • Minimizes load current when turning on the SCR

  • Reduction of noise put both on the power line and what is released in the air

  • Great for constant resistance type elements

Another option of controlling resistive loads is phase angle switching or firing. This type of control provides precise voltage control when it is needed and thereby giving a consistent output.

With resistive load control, it can turn on with a command and turns off at zero cross voltage.

Advantages of phase angle control include:

  • Provides the fastest and most accurate response time for controlling temperature hysteresis

  • A versatile resistive starting method

  • Control of the SCR firing each half cycle of the sine wave

  • Best used in high inrush application characteristics

  • Aging loads where the resistance changes

With the variety of possible resistive loads, the most universal control method is phase angle control.

Resistive loads best suited for phase angle control are:

  • Heating resistors in an autoclave

  • Heater elements to heat a vat of a liquid

  • Applications with a high hot to cold ratio

  • Tungsten, molybdenum quartz or other elements that show an increase in resistance during increases in temperature.

Help the BRX PLC Take the Top Spot in Control Engineering’s 2018 Engineers’ Choice Awards!

Automation Direct’ s BRX PLC was announced as aControl Engineering 2018 Engineers’ Choice Awards finalist in the Machine and Embedded Control – PLCs category


The new BRX is making innovation affordable by providing high performance at low cost. This overachiever is built to last and is engineered, manufactured and supported in the U.S., with hardware design and fabrication facilities located in Tennessee and Florida. Over 25 years of PLC hardware design knowledge has gone into the BRX design, to the benefit of control system designers, programmers, technicians and end users.

The BRX comes with built-in data handling and storage, with data-centric instructions enabling custom data logging and file handling operations. It also includes integrated motion control and a range of instructions for performing simple to advanced move profiles.

The BRX PLC platform includes onboard serial communication with an Ethernet option, and an additional hot-swappable communications port providing support for Modbus, EtherNet/IP and ASCII.

Integrated or expansion discrete, high-speed and analog I/O is offered. Four form factors are available to choose from with various I/O configurations. The BRX PLC units are also expandable with up to eight additional I/O modules, depending on the model selected.

The BRX comes with flexible hardware and communications options that help bring automation to life on the factory floor, and it works well in a variety of industry applications including automotive assembly, custom machines, packaging, process skids, building controls and more. But that’s just part of the story. The free Do-more Designer programming software was developed and is also supported in the U.S. by expert developers with years of experience at the Host Engineering facility in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Designed with American ingenuity, built by your neighbors and supported at home, it’s a better solution.


New SCADA Improves Reliability, Speed for Brazil’s Power

The SCADA system at Engie Brasil Energia’s operations center monitors 32 plants, six of which are remotely operated.

Engie Brasil Energia is Brazil’s largest private power company, with 7,069 MW of installed capacity. The company needed to centralize the operation of its assets, seeking not only to operate its plants remotely, but also to coordinate and monitor their activities.

The process began with the creation of the System Operations Center (SOC) and later the Generation Operations Center (GOC). Although their purposes are very similar and they are operated from the same location, the systems have different focuses and teams.

The SOC was created to address the need to centralize scheduling interventions, plant dispatch, coordination of operational aspects (unit synchronization, generator/compensator conversion, automatic generation control, daily schedule execution, active/reactive voltage control and switch of generating units), management of the relationship between the plants and the Operator of the National Electricity System (Operador Nacional do Sistema Elétrico, ONS), and to monitor the plants’ performance.

For the SOC, an Elipse E3 was used as the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, with the application developed by scadaHUB Technology. The SOC has a gateway (also developed with Elipse) in a demilitarized zone (DMZ), where data from the plants are collected. From the gateway, the information goes to the SCADA system’s main servers, which allow operators to monitor all of Engie Brasil Energia’s assets at its headquarters in Florianópolis.

For the GOC, the focus was the remote control of the plants, aiming to centralize their operation in Engie’s Operations Center. The work began in 2016 with the Ponte de Pedra hydroelectric power plant (HPP), which has an installed capacity of 176 MW; and the José Gelázio da Rocha and Rondonópolis small hydroelectric plants (SHPs), which were already operated remotely from the Ponte de Pedra HPP control room. Similar to the work that was done with the SOC, Engie prepared a DMZ to collect data from the units. The same level of security was also applied in the field. This work involved not only the creation of the new monitoring system, but also the substitution of the local SCADA for the new system.

Remote and local SCADA systems have the same displays and logic of operation, plus a protection mechanism that prevents both levels from sending commands at the same time. As with the SOC system, the displays were designed together with scadaHUB. We adopted best practices for high-performance human-machine interface (HMI), looking for pleasing and objective screens without causing confusion.

This work involved not only the creation of the new monitoring system, but also the substitution of the local SCADA for the new system.
This system is designed to provide operational availability and robustness, as well as a standardized high-performance interface according to Engie’s interface guidelines. It allows the assets to be easily identified independently without each having to follow its own design standard.

The set of systems for the SOC and GOC brought a series of benefits that aimed to reach the demand of the company, highlighting greater availability and reliability in resources for monitoring and control of plants; and the improvement of maintenance processes.

5 Reasons to Consider a Power Monitoring System

Besides providing an easy way to retrieve and analyze power quality events, a power monitoring system offers several other benefits related to energy use.

A power monitoring system provides an easy way to automatically retrieve and analyze power quality events. Unlike building automation software, which typically counts the number of events, a power monitoring system extracts event forensics. And unlike software that comes bundled with power quality meters, a power monitoring system automatically raises a flag to mark significant events with the potential to cause damage within your facility.

Here are five more reasons you might want to think about a power monitoring system:

1. If you’ve experienced premature failure of key equipment within your facility

A power monitoring system can act as your crystal ball to clarify if your motors, pumps, transformers, control devices or any electrical-type equipment are susceptible to premature failure. If they fail earlier than predicted, you can investigate the possible causes, such as:

  • Harmonics that cause excessive heat in transformer windings.
  • Transients that cause micro-jogging and motor vibration in motor bearings.
  • Transients that cause cable insulation to heat and wear, resulting in short circuits.

If your power quality issues might shorten your published mean time between failure (MTBF) statistics, wouldn’t you want to mitigate those events to ensure your equipment lasts as long as the OEM outlined?

2. If you’ve had nuisance tripping or unexplained resetting of control devices

Do you have a programmable logic controller (PLC) or distributed control system (DCS) that automatically resets or cycles power? Do you have a circuit breaker that trips for no apparent reason? Nuisance tripping can negatively affect your facility, ruin the quality of a manufactured product, or even cause an emergency power supply system to come online during a non-emergency.

Under voltage is one of the biggest culprits behind nuisance tripping. If you’ve had voltage fall below IEEE standards (i.e., 10 percent for a period of time), it will often cause the equipment’s power supply to reset.

The other common cause of resetting and tripping is harmonics. This is typically the case when a circuit breaker opens and there are no forensic traces behind why it tripped.

3. If reliable clean power is critical to facility operations or personnel safety

Facilities where power is critical to operation must understand the current status of any critical power components. By interfacing to the generator control system, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and normal electrical distribution equipment using a power monitoring system, you can ensure no equipment is overloaded or has alarms/faults present. You can also track UPS run hours and the number of times a particular piece of equipment has turned off and on.

Gaining visibility into reliability metrics allows you to increase equipment lifespan and decrease maintenance costs.

4. If you wish to automate emergency power supply system (EPSS) reporting for compliance purposes

Most supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems provided by EPSS OEMs (e.g., Russelectric or Asco) are centered around real-time monitoring, alarming and set point adjustment. The ability for those systems to automate testing and reporting of transfer switches and generators is often not included.

Not only can a power monitoring solution schedule tests, evaluate results and automatically generate reports for distribution, it saves an organization numerous man hours each month.

Any event that causes automatic transfer switches (ATSs) or generators to operate can potentially satisfy your monthly NFPA 110 test requirement. However, if you don’t have an automated system always watching these assets, you’ll miss that opportunity.

5. If you want to allocate costs with a complicated electric rate schedule

In facilities with electric rate structures that require on-peak/off-peak time of use, peak demand charges, power factor penalties or even real-time pricing, most automation solutions don’t have the capability to handle complex cost allocation calculations.

A power monitoring solution can. For example, an industrial facility’s peak demand charges might be larger than the energy charge. Software that detects when the plant is at its peak demand and then maps each cost center’s contribution makes the allocation of energy costs more accurate.

Manage everything in one place

Not only does a power monitoring system, such as Schneider Electric’s Power Monitoring Expert or equivalent, automatically collect data, it also provides an extensive library of templates and reports to guide you through data analysis.

An owner using a power monitoring system has a simple way of proactively identifying facility inefficiencies and major contributors to energy use without going through a difficult customization program in SCADA or building automation.

SIMOCODE “Pro V” Offers Even More Communication Option

SIMOCODE now speaks EtherNet/IP! The proven motor management system adds a new communication interface for “SIMOCODE pro V: EtherNet/IP.”

In addition to PROFIBUS and PROFINET, OPC UA, and Modbus RTU, the EtherNet/IP capability offers a comprehensive solution to even more applications.

EtherNet/IP is an open, industrial Ethernet protocol whose standard is driven by the Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA). It is widely used in North America and Latin America in particular.

SIMOCODE “Pro V” Offers Even More Communication Option

Other features of “pro V EIP” include:

  • Two communication ports with integrated switch
  • Supports redundancy mechanisms
  • Ring structures via Device Level Ring (DLR)
  • Integrated web server for diagnostics and analysis of measured values
  • Additional Ethernet-based services such as Network Time Protocol (NTP)
  • Parameter assignment via SIMOCODE ES V14, the comprehensive software for parameterization, project administration and device diagnosis
  • Assignment is via local device interface and Ethernet, so a completely graphical engineering is possible

The Open Process Automation Journey Continues


The Open Process Automation Journey Continues

It was just over a year ago that the Open Process Automation Forum officially launched as a vendor-neutral technology consortium. Its mission is to provide a collaborative environment where members can work to create standards for a technology framework from which agile, secure and manageable automation systems can be specified, built, purchased and operated.

This initiative, which began with a major nudge from Exxon Mobil years earlier, is an effort to rally suppliers and end users from a variety of industries around the need to develop an open, process control framework that would supplant the closed, proprietary control systems that stifle innovation and options due to vendor lock-in.

A year ago, the group outlined four key areas that the consortium would tackle, including understanding industry value-chains and business models, developing a standard that will deliver the interoperability and application portability that end-users are seeking, developing a conformance program to make it easy to identify products that comply with the standards created by the forum, and promoting global adoption of the agreed upon standards.

A year later, this past January, they tackled the first deliverable with the publication of the Open Process Automation Business Guide, which outlines the value proposition and business case for the development of the Open Process Automation standard the development of a standard across the process control community would inject more innovation.”
The business guide is built to address common themes across industries, where standard interfaces can enable best-in-class technologies that minimize downtime, improve safety, reduce engineering hours and increase flexibility and speed to market.

The business guide is built to address common themes across industries. It explains how and where standard interfaces can be used to enable best-in-class technologies that minimize downtime, improve safety, reduce engineering hours and increase flexibility and speed to market. “We wanted to set up an environment where all players could look at the business guide and see the roles they play and then translate that into the future,” Tung said during a presentation at the ARC Industry Forum. It’s a future where every player can also prosper, Tung noted in a nod to the potential for new revenue models. “We see a value proposition for all in the future state.”

So, what’s next on the road to the future? According to other presenters at the ARC conference, there will be a technical reference model available in the second quarter of this year. It is not a system architecture, but a technical architecture that shows how components could interact together to build a system. Part two of the technical roadmap includes the configuration of the system so that all of the components understand the role they play. And part three will specify companion specifications designed to give portability of apps.
If you are an end user, this all probably sounds great. But suppliers may be a bit more frightened by the future. However, the developers of this system have said that the technology architecture defines specific interfaces, but there will still be a “black box” to house the vendor’s intellectual property so that they still have something to sell.

Industrial Automation Top 10 Trends

1. Multi-Touch Technology
Like many trends, multi-touch started in the commercial world and migrated to industrial automation. The driving force for this trend is user demand for the speed, power and flexibility of multi-touch in their plant floor operator interface applications. After exposure to the advantages of multi-touch through smart phones and tablets, users will no longer accept the older, inferior single-touch technology. Suppliers are responding by incorporating multi-touch technology into their products. Newer versions of Windows have built-in multi-touch support, as do most modern touch screens. Application software like Automation Direct’s Point of View also has native multi-touch support, making it easy for users to design their applications to take full advantage of its capabilities.

2. Industrial Automation Mobile Apps
Smartphone and tablet users love their apps as it’s much faster to obtain information by touching a single button than by starting up a web browser, typing in a URL and navigating to the correct page. Developers have responded by making thousands of apps available for everything from finding the nearest happy hour to checking the latest sports score. In the world of industrial automation, apps are finding a home as the latest and greatest way to quickly access plant operating information from smart phones and tablets. Simply press an on-screen button, and a customized view of a manufacturing facility quickly appears on the screen, ready for instant access.

3. Built-in HTML5 Support
Although apps are great for users, they take much longer to develop than browser-based access. Most plants have a number of PC-based human machine interface (HMI) platforms, and most of these run off-the-shelf HMI software. Leading HMI software packages offer built-in HTML5 support, as does most every mobile device operating system. This mutual support for the HTML5 standard allows users to develop remote access screens conforming to the HTML5 standard, and then deploy these screens to almost any remote device. This write-once and deploy-many-times functionality saves time and simplifies browser-based remote access.

Rare is the industrial automation professional who doesn’t own a smart phone, a tablet or both. Ownership and constant use brings familiarity, and the desire to use these personal devices for business purposes is increasingly supported by employers. For the end user, bringing your own device (BYOD) to work offers convenience, ease-of-use and built-in remote access. For their employers, BYOD is much cheaper than supplying a separate mobile device to each employee. There are some security concerns, but methods exist to deal with these, ensuring BYOD practices will continue to grow and prosper.

5. Online Research and Purchasing
Back in the day, industrial automation products were purchased from distributors who came to plants bearing donuts, product brochures and pricing information. In many cases, these same users are choosing to continue their online experience from research to purchase, mimicking the path many follow to buy products ranging from plane tickets to purses.

6. Online Learning
Just as growing numbers of people want to use the Internet to research and buy products, so it is with learning. The old paradigm of employment for life with a company that would provide lifelong training has gone by the wayside. In its place is the requirement for automation professionals to be responsible for their own professional development, and many are turning to the Internet as a source for this training. Vendors are responding by providing online content in the form of videos, e-books and other training materials, allowing users to select topics of interest and proceed with learning at times and places of their choosing.

7. Grid Computing & Virtualization
As the PC has become more powerful, its resources have become more underutilized in many commercial and industrial applications. Virtualization provides a means to efficiently utilize these resources by allowing multiple instances of operating systems to run on a single PC. One typical industrial automation application consolidates multiple server-level functions such as I/O, database and SCADA onto fewer PCs. This not only saves money as fewer PCs need to be purchased and maintained, it can also increase reliability by allowing near instantaneous switching from a failed to an operating PC.

8. Industrial Wireless
This trend doesn’t have to do with wireless access by remote devices, but rather with wireless transmission of data from sensors to control systems. In a typical application, a sensor is installed in a remote location, maybe a tank farm, and transmits information via radio to a control system which may be located far away. In these and other similar applications, wireless communication is much cheaper to install and maintain as there are no wires to run and repair.

9. Robot Revolution
Unlike many industrial automation trends, this one isn’t borrowed from the commercial world, but is instead migrating in the other direction, from industrial to commercial. Industrial robots used to be dumb devices designed to perform the same simple operation over and over, like picking a particular part from one specific location and placing it to the same spot. Nowadays, robots driven by software and vision systems can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks, which fits with today’s demand for flexible manufacturing.

10. Rise of DC Power
DC power is coming to the forefront, supplanting AC power in many instances. With high voltage transmission lines, DC provides advantages over AC in terms of efficiency and lower construction costs. At the user level, more end devices such as VFDs, computer hardware and other components use DC and have to provide conversion from AC internally. This is driving in-plant distribution systems to DC, as with server farms where most power consumption is DC.

Emergency Stop Control Stations: One Push Can Save Your Life

Let’s take a minute to think about how far we have advanced with innovation and technology. From a simple small piece of wood with a spring-loaded thin u-shaped metal rod and an extremely simple trigger mechanism designed to reduce the rodent population, to extremely complex electronic devices we just can’t even imagine living without in today’s world.

But how did we get here? Well, along with a long list of inventors and innovators that created incredible contraptions and discovered new materials and ways to make life for us humans better, there was the development in 1798 of mass production of interchangeable parts. Once industry and production lines began to spread, innovations in machinery and safety were developed. However, as production lines became more advanced, a new set of problems arose, industrial accidents. There was a problem with operators and workers being injured, sometimes fatally, by becoming tangled in or trapped by the powerful and fast-moving machines.

Emergency Stop Control Stations One Push Can Save Your Life 1

Through the years machines were improved with cover guards, shields, and designs requiring minimal operator access while in operation. However, one device became one of the most important devices for operator safety, the emergency stop push button.

Emergency Stop Control Stations One Push Can Save Your Life 2

The emergency stop pushbutton is a very simple way to quickly and completely freeze machine operation to prevent injury to an operator or costly damage to the machine. If the machine becomes dangerously unstable or the machine operator finds him/herself in danger, a simple push of the Emergency Stop pushbutton stops the danger. Keep in mind that some machines are simple and safe enough or have enough moving parts that a simple shield can provide the safety required. However, machines that can pose danger to operators most times require a more thorough safety system to ensure protection of human lives and equipment.

The best thing to do when trying to determine if you need an emergency stop for your machine or production line, or how many emergency stop stations are required and their locations, is to follow a few recommendations. Of course, one of the first things to do is to visit OSHA and any other applicable safety and standards websites that indicate any mandates, recommendations and requirements for your specific area or industry. This will ensure you meet all safety requirements that apply to your specific area.

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding emergency stop needs:

  • Carefully inspect all areas of your machines and production lines to make clear assessments of areas where danger zones can be identified. This is preferably done by a safety expert or Engineer.
  • When a risk area that can benefit from an Emergency Stop station is identified, ensure that the location of the Emergency stop station is easily accessible by an operator.
  • Operators must be able to quickly and effectively push the emergency stop pushbutton.
  • Emergency stop stations should be clearly visible. They are commonly bright yellow stations with a red pushbutton operator, which makes them easy to identify. They should not be obstructed from clear view in any way.
  • The emergency stop pushbutton should be tied to a control system that requires some type of system reset once the e-stop pushbutton itself is reset. This ensures that all safety covers and devices are in place and that resuming machine operation is safe.

Use the Emergency Stop pushbutton as part of a lockout/tagout procedure for added safety.

Automation Direct offers a line of quality and robust emergency stop stations made by IDEM that are ideal to tie to your system and provide protection to your employees and machinery. They are designed with a special lid safety trip mechanism that opens the contacts if the station lid is removed. Various models are available from a simple pushbutton station to models with a pushbutton protection shroud that accepts a padlock for lockout/tagout procedures, and IP69K rated models that can be used for areas that require high-pressure washdowns.

In addition, Automation Direct offers a wide range of safety devices such as safety light curtains and various safety switches such as interlock, cable-pull, limit, magnetic and many others that provide additional protection for both people and machines.

Controlling Multiple Motors with One VFD

Controlling Multiple Motors with One VFD

A variable frequency drive (VFD) can be used to control multiple motors in some applications provided the right design considerations are made and appropriate protection is provided for each motor.
This offers several advantages such as lower cost, reduction in panel space and reduced control complexity.
If the application falls within these specific conditions – and each motor can operate at the same speed and can accommodate a VFD as a single point of failure – the next step is to review design considerations and to select the right components. The VFD must be sized properly, and each motor needs protection. The following guidelines are recommended:

  • Add FLA of all the motors and add 20% (to accommodate lower leakage inductance) to select the VFD size
  • Set correct current ratings
  • On some drives it is not recommended to size below 3 hp due to capacitive coupling (cable charging current)
  • Adding a common mode core and using XLPE cable will help to minimize cable charging current
  • Drives should be set in V/Hz motor control
  • It is not recommended to “line start/stop” the motor when the VFD is running
  • Provide overload protection for the individual motor

In multiple motor applications, NEC §430, part III, requires individual motor overload protection, which is (thermal) overload function, on the load side of a VFD.
This is required because a VFD can only sense its total connected load and cannot sense which individual motor is drawing high current. Therefore it cannot provide appropriate overload protection.

There are many applications that use multiple motors of the same capacity operating in parallel at the same speed. Here is the opportunity to ask:

  • Can I use one variable frequency drive (VFD) to control these multiple motors?
  • Does it help to optimize the panel for cost as well as space?
  • Do I have the right components to help protect individual motors in such a configuration?

Not all types of overload protection devices are suitable for application at the output of a VFD. Due to the PWM voltage pulses and surge impedance of the motor, reflections of the voltage pulses occur at the terminals of the motor. Their amplitude is dependent upon:

  • System voltage
  • Voltage rise time of the VFD
  • Current rating (surge impedance) of the motor protection circuit breaker (MPCB)
  • Operational voltage
  • Location of the MPCB and cable type and length between MPCB and motor (surge impedance)

Here are some challenges for overload protection devices at the output of VFDs:

  • For electronic overload relays, their current sensor technology may not be able to measure the load current and harmonics correctly when operating at frequencies outside their nominal sensing range.
  • For standard MPCB, their challenges are related to reflection of voltage pulse that cause high dielectric stress on the MPCB magnetic trip coils resulting in accelerated aging.

It is recommended to restrict the cable length between the MPCB and the motor below the maximum permissible (“critical”) cable length at which the reflected voltage phenomena is fully developed.
Using one VFD to control multiple motors, with the right design considerations, helps reduce the cost, footprint and control complexity of your application.

Importance of Industrial Automation

The major advantages of using automation are:

  • Reduced direct human labor costs and expenses
  • Increased productivity
  • Enhanced consistency of processes or product
  • Delivery of quality products

Why is industrial automation so important?
The industrial world is facing many technological changes which increased the urgent demand for the premium quality products and services that can only be supplied by a high level of productivity. This requirement needs process engineering systems, automated manufacturing, and industrial automation.

Hence, industrial automation plays a key role in solving the requirements of companies. It is extremely significant to face the tasks of:

Globalization – Global industrial automation market demands superior, practical services
Productivity – Automation companies want to enhance their productivity by producing a higher level of Automation. The key factors include costs, time and quality.
On the other hand, industrial automation is all about working smarter, faster, and proficiently. This makes automation more powerful and that’s why customers are looking for pioneering, end-to-end technologies with open, modern architecture and new data from new connections. As the industrial automation industry comprehends the advantages of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is becoming essential that organizations adopt these technologies.

Industrial Automation Becomes a ‘Solutions’ Business:
Industrial automation is important as it becomes a solution business. Let us check how it becomes a solutions business:
Industrial automation refers the categorization of software and hardware and a mechanism that combines them (hardware & software). Moreover, it involves the process of rolling out new features using advanced technology in business to reduce limitations. Automation can be achieved by installing automated devices or embedded systems as well as automation software performing the logical tasks and control the operation processes.
Implementation of these devices, software, and hardware will be the ‘Solution’ to deliver the operation to be automated. These solutions are widely used nowadays to enhance efficiency and productivity of businesses.

Future of Industrial Automation:
Industrial Automation is moving towards exceptional productivity spurred by superior energy efficiency, rigorous safety standards, and better design. Instrumentation and controls have always been a source of new products such as amplifiers, displays, control elements etc.
Automation has been using everywhere nowadays. SCADA, DCS, Process Instruments etc have made automation more reliable and powerful.

Hydraulics in Everyday Life

Hydraulics is our lifeblood. We know all there is to know about them but we mostly encounter them in heavy machinery through the calibration, repair and installation of rail for example. We also use hydraulics in bolting with hydraulic torque wrenches for example.
But surely it’s not just used for lifting trains and tightening bolts? We racked our brains in the office to come up with ideas for where hydraulics is used in everyday life. Here’s our list, can you come up with any others?

  • Gasoline pumps. They make use of hydraulics to draw the fuel from their storage tank to the vehicle.
  • Cars. A hydraulic brake circuit operates a car’s brakes on all four wheels
  • Vehicle repair and maintenance. A hydraulic system is what makes it possible for a very heavy car to be raised and brought down while being serviced.
  • Dishwashers. They use hydraulics to increase water pressure for better cleaning. Dishwashers fitted with hydraulics are also generally quieter.
  • Construction machines. Equipment such as cranes, forklifts, jacks, pumps and fall arrest safety harnesses use hydraulics to lift and lower objects.
  • Airplanes. They use hydraulic mechanisms to operate their control panels.
  • Amusement park rides. Hydraulic machines provide and control motion for attractions such as the Ferris Wheel.
  • Theatrical presentations. Hydraulic power makes it possible for stages to be raised higher and bring them back into place.
  • Elevators. Some types of elevators use a hydraulic mechanism to power the elevator car’s movement and make them stop when needed.
  • Snowplows. Hydraulic mechanisms allow the plow to move up or down and side to side.
  • Bakeries. They make use of hydraulics to mass produce breads and pastries, allowing them to be lifted, flipped over and moved along conveyor belts for packaging.
  • Barber chairs. The pump that the barber steps on uses a hydraulic lift mechanism to adjust the chair’s height accordingly.
    Office chairs. Hydraulics makes it possible for the chair to rise up or go down, lean backwards or forwards as you adjust its corresponding levers.

The list does not end here as there are a lot of hydraulic machines that also power factories where things ranging from car parts and accessories through to doors, fences and hoses are assembled and fitted.

Structural Fabrication Technology : Welding Automation

A reality but still in the early stages of adoption, is adding robotics to the structural fabrication shop. Robotic welding and thermal cutting are not new to structural fabricators, but automated welding is—that is, welding with no manual intervention whatsoever. This includes program development and moving material in and out of rotating fixtures.

Two technology advancements make fully automated robotic welding possible. First, weld programming in these systems now can be automated. Traditionally, robotic welding systems still require programming, so a structural fabricator usually takes a welder and makes him a programmer. But the goal is to reduce overhead and increase efficiency, not increase the labor burden.

Second, robots use sensors and probes (including the use of the welding wire tip as a touch probe) to measure and adapt to workpiece variation. For instance, intelligent systems now can probe toed-in or -out flanges, off-center webs, and whether material is within mill tolerances.

Intelligent welding systems can import data from CAD, if the welding information is in the model. If it is not, a database can recommend the welding information to add to the model; a programmer then can take this recommendation or add in the welding information separately.

At the end of the beam line, beams are automatically loaded into the welding system. From here the detail (that is, the part to be welded onto the beam) is transported, deburred, scanned, and positioned correctly so that the material handling robot can place the part on the beam. Using the wire tip as a touch probe, the welding robot detects the beam’s true position, and then tacks the part. Finally, when all the parts are tacked in position, the robot arm welds the pieces.


Structural Fabrication Technology : The Road To Full Automation

Today’s automated systems—known as multisystem integration, or MSI— position workpieces using electric motors, inverters, and encoders. Monitoring the position of each piece, the MSI combines multiple machines into one production line. Once the production requirement is created and material is loaded, an MSI operates without manual input.

For example, material moves from a shot blasting machine to a drill machine, a layout marking machine, a sawing machine, and finally a plasma and oxyfuel robotic structural cutting system. All machines are mechanically connected to each other by roller conveyors and cross transports.

The production process starts at the detailing office where the project is created in a 3-D CAD system. Each product is broken down into a DSTV file that is then imported into the machine’s software. After this step, nested files are generated in a DSTV+ format, which is then uploaded to the master control of one of the machines. The product is then distributed from the master to all machines in the production line. Because every machine is connected to the master, each one always has the most up-to-date production data available.

Today the operator simply selects the loaded profiles on the control panel and starts the process. Data then is updated automatically at the production office and at every machine. The material handling system has built-in buffers so the production line knows the order in which the beams go through and which processes are required on each piece.

Cross transports with photocells detect the profiles and position them at the correct distance apart for the shot blasting of multiple pieces in one pass. Immediately after processing, transfer mechanisms move the beams to the next operation. Encoders and sensors in the roller conveyor register the exact position of the batch. When the sensor on the infeed control is passed, a new batch of beams is transported onto the infeed conveyor. The new batch holds position until the first bundle passes the outfeed sensor. The height of the beams is monitored to ensure the dimensions comply with the data in the software, and the height of the brush and blowoff unit is adjusted to remove any blast media from the web area before the beam moves to the next operation.

Cross transports between two machines function as a buffer to equalize differences in production speed. Beams on the cross transports are automatically repositioned to create enough space for the next bundle of beams. The software knows the beam positions and dimensions to ensure all operations connect seamlessly to each other—and all of this is followed in real time by the production office.

Mechanical drag-dogs move beams rapidly over the cross transports to minimize transfer time between machines. Before the beam crosses the infeed roller conveyor, the feed slows as it approaches the datum line to prevent damage.

A servo-driven feeder truck moves the beam, and at the same moment, the roller conveyor moves the beam toward the servo-driven feeder truck. This also reduces the transfer time. The beam is then processed while the next beam is transferred close to the infeed roller conveyor.

Short pieces (less than 47 in. long, for example) are removed and pushed sideways into a bin by a short product removal system. Leading and trailing edge trim cuts are removed and deposited in the scrap bin with no manual intervention. Finally, the long pieces are transported to the outfeed cross transports and are removed.


Modern Trends of Mechatronic Systems Development

World production of MS is constantly increasing and expands new spheres. Today mechatronic modules and systems find wide application in the following areas:

  • Machine-tool construction and equipment for automation of technological processes;
  • Robotics (industrial and special);
  • Aviation, space and military techniques;
  • Motor car construction (for example, ant blocking brake system (ABS), systems of car movement stabilization and automatic parking);
  • Non-conventional vehicles (electro bicycles, cargo carriages, electro scooters, invalid carriages);
  • Office equipment (for example, copy and fax machines);
  • Computer facilities (for example, printers, plotters, disk drives);
  • Medical equipment (rehabilitation, clinical, service);
  • Home appliances (washing, sewing and other machines);
  • Micro machines (for medicine, biotechnology, means of telecommunications);
  • Control and measuring devices and machines;
  • Photo and video equipment;
  • Simulators for training of pilots and operators;
  • Show-industry (sound and illumination systems).

Impetuous development of mechatronics as new scientific and technical direction in the 90ies was caused by a lot of factors among which there are the following key factors: trends of global industrial development; development of fundamental basic and mechatronic methodology (the base scientific ideas, essentially new technical and technological decisions), activity of experts in research and educational spheres.

It is possible to distinguish the following tendencies to change and key requirements of the world market in the considered area:

  • Necessity for production and service of equipment according to the international system of the quality standards stated in the Standard ISO 9000;
  • Internationalization of scientific and technical production market and, as a consequence;
  • Necessity for active introduction of forms and methods of international engineering and putting new technologies into practice;
  • Increasing role of small and average industrial enterprises in economy owing to their ability to quick and flexible reaction to changing requirements of the market;
  • Structural integration of mechanical, electronic and information departments (which as a rule, work independently) into a uniform creative staff.

Direct Drive

In today’s highly competitive world, the better someone understands the advantages and benefits of direct drive technology, then the more they will have an advantage in machine building, giving them an edge over their competition.

To understand these benefits, we start with the basic concept of direct drive whereby the force of a motor is directly applied to a mechanism without any intermediate drive train such as a gearbox or toothed belt etc. The core working principles of direct drive motor technology is in essence based on the right hand rule of electromagnetism, whereby a current moving through a wound coil creates a magnetic field.

direct drive 1

Changing the direction of current changes polarity and changing the amount of current changes the magnetic force. Put a highly conductive material within the coil, such as iron, and the magnetic force is increased exponentially.

direct drive 2

The last factor is to have some magnetic material for this field with which to interact. In this case, it is a row of permanent magnets. Depending on the coils location relative to the magnet, the current can be adjusted in terms of its strength and polarity, creating a push/pull force on the magnets. The resulting force is capable of moving an object without making physical contact. This force generates a linear motion when using a flatbed track of magnets and a rotary motion when using a curled-up ring of magnets.

Pneumatics Powers Soft Hands

Conventional robotic grippers with rigid “fingers” tend to be expensive, have limited capabilities and aren’t particularly suited for safely handling delicate objects. To overcome such hurdles, researchers at the Robotics and Biology Laboratory (RBO Lab) at the Technical University Berlin are developing soft robotic grippers that are adaptive, simple and inexpensive. The ultimate goal is to closely mimic the actions of a human hand.

pneumatic-27-10-2017Among other projects, the RBO Lab performs basic research on how to create and control what they term Soft Hands. The main focus is to design robust, customizable and effective soft actuators and related control technology.

According to lab officials, traditional electromechanical actuators built from components like motors, gears, tendons and links are prone to wear, require many parts, and are difficult to assemble. This makes the resulting robots expensive and, for most applications, unaffordable.

Soft Hands represent a departure from classical robot-hand design because they specifically exploit mechanical compliance coupled with sophisticated control strategies. Finger movements are powered by compressed air. The aim is to make grasping simple, flexible and adaptable while sacrificing ultra-precise positioning that isn’t necessary in many applications.

The lab has developed several prototypes. The latest version is dubbed the RBO Hand 2, reportedly an inexpensive, highly compliant and dexterous anthropomorphic hand. The fingers, called PneuFlex actuators, are made of fiber-reinforced silicone rubber using additive-manufacturing and molding processes. In the future, the soft actuators may be 3D printed in a single manufacturing step using a variety of materials and designs, to provide specific user-defined capabilities.

Finger construction includes a rubber top section, and rubber embedded with inelastic fibers in the bottom section. Inflating the finger with pressurized air forces the top to extend while the bottom half does not. The resulting dierences in length between top and bottom causes the actuator to bend. Helically wound reinforcement fibers strengthen and stabilize the actuator’s shape, so inflation leads to bending rather than to radial expansion.

The team is also investigating embedding soft sensors into the PneuFlex actuators. Due to high deformability, most existing sensor technologies are not compatible with flexible actuators. To add tactile feedback capabilities, the researchers are exploring alternative sensor technologies such as: liquid-metal strain sensors for sensing deformation; grating of optical fibers to sense shape; conductive thermoplastic-elastomer fibers to measure strain; and touch sensing with stretchable multi-layer capacitive surfaces.

The RBO Hand 2 is controlled using a relatively inexpensive PneumaticBox, a system developed for real-time synchronization and control of the pneumatic fingers. The PneumaticBox hardware includes of an array of 5/3 valves, and embedded computer (Beaglebone Black) along with valve drivers, pressure sensors, and a 24-V power supply. It uses widely used, open-source robotic software (such as ROS, RoboticsLab RLab and Python scripting) and can be controlled remotely via a TCP/IP network.

The RBO Hand 2 was developed to investigate the capabilities and limits of robotic hands when relying only on soft, deformable structures. The device’s unique adaptability offers several benefits, such as:

  • Readily withstands blunt collisions
  • Offers low impact energies
  • Passively compliant fingers and palm decouple contact from the robot arm, stabilizing force control
  • Adaptability to various object shapes simplifies finger control
  • Pneumatic actuation permits complex hand and actuator geometries

Finally, another important aspect of the work, according to RBO Lab officials, is that soft-robot engineering is still in its infancy, compared to electromechanical hands. Continued research into designs, controls and technologies related to soft hands should result in further breakthroughs.

Future of PLC in Industrial Automation

Latest Trends in Industrial Automation

Latest trends in industrial automation include increased use of analytics, growing use of PLCs, PACs, and increased cloud-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. These trends will influence the industrial automation control market. Automation industry is moving towards a future of unparalleled productivity spurred by superior energy efficiency, better design and operator visualization, and rigorous safety standards.

Scope of PLC Programming

PLCs are continuously growing and evolving to be the best option for a variety of industrial automation applications. Scope of plc programming is increasing rapidly because of greater programming flexibility and ease, scalability, more memory, smaller sizes, very high-speed (gigabit) Ethernet, and built-in wireless features. PLCs are getting benefits from USB technology and thus make it easier than ever before to get online, program, and monitor your control systems. PLC programming will evolve, and with the availability of smaller micro and mini USB connectors, you can expect to see this option on more of the smaller PLCs. In the future, PLCs will continuously evolve while adapting technology enhancements in communications, hardware, and software.

Latest PLC technology

Latest PLC technology helps to monitor and control distributed server/multi user applications. It also provides a comprehensive and accurate picture of operations, meeting the demands of multiple stakeholders including maintenance, engineering, operations, and production information technology (IT). Reliable and robust functionalities can be obtained using the latest technologies of PLC. These technologies enable you to take advantage of visualization, mobility and other new technologies, meeting various challenges in process, discrete applications and delivering critical visibility when you need it.

Winkel Board: A Powerful, Integrated Solution for Makers

While building an Internet of Things (IoT) product, there is one thing that consumes a lot of time. Despite being a vital part, finding the right components to use and figuring out ways to interface these is always a huge task. To get started, it requires knowledge of various chips and libraries, a powerful set of input/output (I/O) pins and a simple integrated development environment (IDE).

Any engineer at some point or the other has yearned for a magic wand that can quickly accelerate the initial design stage so that he or she can quickly get on with actual building or prototyping. This wish was heard by Rishi Hedge, a maker from Pune and founder of Mintbox Technologies, who built a unique Arduino-compatible open source hardware development platform for makers and hardware hackers, called Winkel Board.

Overcoming the usual mess

Arduino has proven its usefulness to most makers and product developers in the recent past. The actual problem arises when a project demands various shields. In all IoT projects, connecting to the Internet is the vital part.

Connecting Arduino to the Internet requires an Ethernet or Wi-Fi shield. You may require accurate timing in your project so that the controller can fulfil the tasks at particular intervals, which means that your controller should be connected to a real-time clock.

If you want to create a mesh network using radio nodes, you need to know how to get started with NRF24l01 or, alternately, a radio shield. Similarly, interfacing Bluetooth requires a separate Bluetooth shield.

In India, shields are expensive, and sourcing these from abroad affects the speed of prototyping to a huge extent. Despite that, you can imagine the number of wires and modules and space used and, of course, the mess created in a project that uses all these shields.

This was, in fact, one problem faced by the makers of Winkel Board, which they soon found out to be a common problem among makers. “Some suggested Raspberry Pi 3 to be the answer to many projects. But not every project needs an operating system and not every project can be housed with Arduino with all its shields. Some projects require too many communication protocols at once and need to perform a lot of I/O operations,” says Hedge.

What Winkel Board does

Winkel shows up as a standard board under Arduino IDE. All you need to do is perform a standard board’s manager installation. It also provides support to non-IDE users with avrdude programming, which runs on AVR command lines.

Unique and efficient.

While other Arduino boards help you learn the basics, these do not offer what is really needed to get started with a real-world project prototype. Other boards also require you to find, add and configure other components yourself—a time-consuming, expensive and frustrating process.

Work together flawlessly.

Winkel Board has a seamless working system. When you power on the board, the Wi-Fi module automatically goes into configuration mode, allowing you to connect the ESP module to your Wi-Fi network and retrieve an IP address assignment. Then, all you have to do is send a code to the module from any connected device.

A huge number of peripherals and modules on the board bring up the design challenge of bulkiness. The makers of Winkel Board have tried to pull off a two-sided PCB to fit everything in a form factor of 5cm×5cm, thereby making the board compact and handy.

The secret

By bringing together all basic components that may be used for an IoT project and interfacing these to a powerful ATmega core, Winkel Board was created with the aim of being not just compact but also cheap.

The new powerful microcontroller core.

The core of Winkel Board is Atmel ATmega128 microcontroller, which is accompanied by onboard Wi-Fi controller, radio transreceiver, Bluetooth Low Energy, real-time clock, accelerometer, gyroscope and more. It is an all-in-one module that provides all basic peripherals needed for a prototyping idea.

The board is equipped with 38 digital input pins, seven pulse-width modulation digital I/O pins and eight analogue input pins. It also has a connector input for power and programming port wired micro-USB, thereby facilitating numerous operations.

Use only what you need.

Onboard peripherals are built with Smart Opt, which helps you power down the components that are of no use to the project. This selective turn-off feature is a big boon for battery-powered devices for saving power.

Code travels over the air.

Winkel supports over-the-air programming, which helps you burn the code to ATmega128 and ESP8266 wirelessly. “This is accomplished by pairing the board’s HC-05 Bluetooth module to a laptop and then using Bluetooth’s serial COM port to upload the new program,” says Hedge.

Dual microcontroller units.

ESP8266 being a Wi-Fi module with a system-on-chip, ATmega128 and ESP8266 ESP12E combination on Winkel Board provides dual microcontrollers. The two universal asynchronous receivers/transmitters of ATmega128 are connected to ESP8266, thereby helping these communicate with each other at the same time these run their own code.

Ease of programming.

Winkel Board can be programmed with Arduino IDE via a micro-USB cable, but you could also program ATmega128 over Bluetooth and ESP12 module over Wi-Fi wirelessly. This makes it easy to update the firmware while the board is inside a case or is hard to access. Winkel Board also supports conventional wired serial programming.

Open source hardware platform

The best part of Winkel Board is that it is completely open source. The source code and the pin diagram are available at Github, Instructables, and other forums. This is a huge contribution to the open source hardware community, which facilitates makers like you to make your own Winkel Board.

Winkel Board is truly a boon for makers who work on electronic projects that involve a lot of I/O operations, and involve using different communication protocols to fulfil different tasks. It gives you more time to focus on actual building and completing the important parts of your project rather than wasting it on routine, common-place, low-level tasks.

Services Oriented Drives (SODs) and IIoT to Improve the Efficiency of Industrial Operations

The emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) trend is beginning to provide new opportunities for efficiency improvements.  In an IIoT world, connected industrial devices produce huge quantities of “Big Data.” This free-flowing yet structured management of data allows industrial sites to improve real-time energy consumption tracking and analysis. This, in turn, allows for lower energy spend and better control of a whole host of industrial equipment assets.

A common example of a practical IIoT application is a device known as a variable speed drive (VSD). The latest VSD iteration, the Services Oriented Drive (SOD), comes with added intelligence which allows for embedded energy and asset management services capabilities. SODs can measure energy consumption of attached devices (like motors or pumps), can monitor performance of those assets, can improve energy performance through adjustment of operational parameters, and can record the data for analysis.

These advanced capabilities improve operational efficiencies in three important ways:

  1. Energy management– Within the industrial sector, electrical motors consume more than half of all electricity consumption. Depending on the torque profile of the load, when motors are connected to VSDs, up to 30% in energy savings can be achieved (if compared to traditional direct online start methods). The added intelligence of the SOD provides more opportunities for savings by tracking, with high accuracy, the efficiency and performance of the drive and the motor. This allows for better optimization of the industrial application.
  2. Asset management– As SODs are integrated into the network, equipment performance can be measured remotely via a central control panel or even a mobile device. This helps simplify the maintenance process. The SODs perform advanced asset diagnostics which helps to drive optimized predictive maintenance strategies.  Asset performance of the drive, motor and mechanical transmission is all monitored. The possibility of performing true predictive maintenance helps operators identify weakened assets and proactively replace what needs replacing without incurring unanticipated downtime, saving hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars per year.
  3. Process optimization– SODs control essential process equipment like pumps, fans and compressors by maintaining their operation at best efficiency point (BEP). In the case of industrial pumping systems, SODs can improve the efficiency of system by managing multiple pumps at their best efficiency point and controlling pump speed, system pressure and flow in conjunction with dynamic process and production requirements.

Smart Technology in Food and Beverage Operations

The food and beverage industry is more complex and fast-changing than ever before. Specialty and local food producers are becoming greater competition, and regulations are constantly changing. With rapidly changing consumer tastes, food and beverage manufacturers need to be able to quickly respond to the speed of these market dynamics. To remain competitive, food and beverage manufacturing systems must perform at the highest level. This requires continuous operations improvement. New technologies are helping food and beverage manufacturers better understand and use their food processing operations. Smart manufacturing can help:

  • Improve asset utilization
  • Increase yield
  • Drive workforce productivity
  • Optimize resource management
  • Mitigate security risks

Smart manufacturing can create a single view of operations and enable seamless communications across people, data and assets. So, when new challenges arise, food and beverage manufacturers can avoid downtime and optimize their business process in a way that was previously unimaginable. New developments in technology are redefining food and beverage manufacturing. By combining the Internet of Things, wireless and mobile technologies, data analytics and network infrastructure, companies can access and act on the data from their operations.

Industrial Robots: Future of the Automation World

Robots are the trend today and will continue to be so in the future to a very great extent in the automation industry. The ones which are utilized in plants, factories are termed as industrial robots.

An industrial robot is a manipulator which is designed in order to shift materials, parts and tools and even carry out various programmed tasks in the manufacturing as well as production settings.

They’re restructuring the manufacturing industry and very often utilized to execute duties that are dangerous and inappropriate for humans.

Why industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world?

  1. Enhancement of Work:

The human being is all-time prone to injuries in the plant but this is not the case with industrial robots.  They’re susceptible to injuries and can perform the same work for long period with augmented quality and output.

Therefore, Industrial robots can be applicable for heavy lifting, monotonous work, working in harmful & contaminated environment and work which requires excessive levels of concentration.

Sometimes, humans have to work in environments which give out immense solvents, noise, heat, dust. These can be very much harmful to the health of the being in a long run. Hence, industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world.

  1. Economical:

Industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world because of economic reasons as well. As humans, we tend to charge nominal wages when working on our daily routine. But, then again, when it comes to working dangerous situations, we ask greater and expensive amounts.

But, this is not the same case with industrial robots. All one i.e. manufacturer has to do install robots whenever required in a way that they can operate continuously for 24 hours per day and get the best productivity from them.

Yes, 24 hrs. Making humans work continuously for 24hrs is also not possible in the manufacturing sectors. Because of fatigue and many other reasons, human needs breaks as well.

  1. Pliability:

Robots can be more flexible to change and faster as well. The other benefit of using a robot for any kind of application includes the quality of the resultant components has augmented.

Because of the available programmable controls, end-of-arm tooling and machine vision systems, the industrial robots can perform an extensive variety of repeatable tasks without any break and expensive wages.

Some advanced robotics also brings in flexibility and adaptability to unstable customer needs and on rising expectations for developing new products faster.

Hence, industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world and a knight in shining armor every single time when a human gives up.

Role of Internet of Things in India’s Digital Transformation

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an all-encompassing term for a network backbone that will host billions of devices and sensors that communicate intelligently. The ‘things’ that make up the IoT range from smart phones, RFID chips, sensors built into vehicles, medical devices, buildings (basically anything that needs to be monitored) – all with a unique identity on the network and with the ability to ‘machine talk’.

This ecosystem of interconnected things and the technology that manages them is expected to have a market potential of $15 billion by 2020 in India alone. The IoT is in fact the inflection point that is expected to transform the global economy, and specifically those economies that plan around it. The Indian government believes in the tremendous opportunities that the IoT presents, and is planning a close synergy between the Digital India programme and the IoT, and has already drafted it into policy. The IoT will be part of the broadband highway that will deliver a wide range of e-governance and citizen services to all corners of the country.

Clearly, the IoT will play a major role in the transformation of India into a digital economy – as the catalyst that empowers our citizens by providing them with transparent governance and services (education, health, legal, financial and safety) at their fingertips. At the heart of this transformation will be a re-engineering and digitizing of government processes, using IT and supporting database and cloud infrastructure to simplify, improve and optimize the various government functions.

Digital India projects like Smart Cities are already going forward using the public-private partnership (PPP) model and will showcase IoT-based solutions for almost all aspects of personal and work lives of Indians. For example, smart traffic and parking solutions to address the pressing urban problem of congestion, smart buildings that automatically manage lighting and ambient temperature based on occupancy, and solid waste management using sensor and location intelligence are a few examples of IoT enabled solutions that directly improve the quality of life of citizens.

IoT-based solutions are not just for urban India; they offer rural citizens access to services that were earlier out of reach. On the premise that a well-connected nation is the first step towards a well-served nation, the first objective of the Digital India programme is providing digital infrastructure as a basic utility to all citizens, so educational, health, governance and financial services can be delivered to otherwise underserved areas.

Digital channels provide farmers and artisans the ability to directly reach extensive national and even global markets. A host of ‘localization’ technologies can help different regions communicate so language is not a barrier. Relevant information and updates are now provided in local languages and scripts. Rural India has demonstrated it is hungry for technology, and has rapidly and instinctively adopted it as quickly as it is offered.
Complementing the Digital India programme is the Make in India programme to encourage local and foreign companies to manufacture IoT infrastructure in India, to supply local and global markets. Here again lies the opportunity to engage rural India by setting up units in these areas and training the local population to take on the employment opportunities that come with it. Providing local opportunities helps stem the rural-urban migration that results in pockets of overpopulation and the associated urban problems.

The IoT is a very real network that promises to bring together the vast and varied country that we are, so we can all move forward into a digital world without losing what makes us unique both at the individual and regional levels.

Totally Integrated Automation in the Digital Enterprise

Digitalization is changing our world – and the production methods used by state-of-the-art manufacturing companies to ensure their long-term competitiveness. Customer requests are becoming more and more individualized. To be able to respond appropriately, plant operators have to shorten their time-to-market and become more efficient and flexible, while maintaining or even improving their quality. It’s no longer enough just to optimize the automation processes: digitalization offers real potential throughout the entire value chain.

Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) already offers everything needed to turn the benefits of digitalization into genuine added value. This is where the data is generated from a common base to form the digital twin. Enhanced with new discoveries, the data is fed back again into the automation level to ensure continuous optimization of production – all to ensure your competitive edge.

The Totally Integrated Automation Portal (TIA Portal) can be used to automate engineering tasks. This makes it possible to automatically generate the HMI visualization using SiVArc, and to create standard modules in the TIA Portal that can be re-used to save time. Communication uses the open TIA Portal Openness interface.

Use STEP 7 and TIA Portal to simulate and test the controller functions right at the configuration and engineering stages, with no need for real hardware. This greatly reduces the time and error rate involved in the actual commissioning process.

Data isn’t only generated by individual machines: entire production lines create data, too. With the open interface OPC UA, TIA not only lets machines share this data with each other but also enables it to be used by the enterprise IT systems or via the Cloud. Data analysis then facilitates valuable insights into how your production lines are performing.

The Future of Manufacturing

As manufacturing facilities incorporate greater levels of automation, the demand for new technologies continues to grow. Recent years have seen several trends create a shift in the way the industry operates. With 2017 nearing, it’s time to reflect on the automation trends that will influence and change manufacturing operations in 2017.

Machine Learning: Improving Accuracy at Every Phase

Promising an answer to many modern manufacturing challenges, machine learning is one area of technology that has been subject to rapid development in the last year. Machine learning describes computer science techniques that allow a machine to independently learn a task, rather than being programmed to complete that task. In the era of big data, the greatest advantages of machine learning will come to manufacturers with data-rich production lines. Using the technology, machines can derive patterns and information from existing datasets.

Potential uses include optical part sorting, automated quality control, failure detection and improved productivity and efficiency. Machine learning can improve production capacity by up to 20% and lower material consumption rates by 4%.

Modularization: Fulfilling the Need for Flexibility

Fulfilling customer demand will always be a priority for manufacturers. Changing consumer needs and habits require manufacturers to offer a wider range of products, without reducing product quality and consistency. Considering the competitive nature of today’s industry, the potential to create flexible production lines could not be more valuable. Modularization allows manufacturers to separate, connect or combine different production modules to create customized and varied products in one facility. This change requires the interconnection of industrial machinery and the implementation of intelligent control software.

SCADA: More than Data Acquisition

The integration of predictive analytics in modern SCADA software has made it easy for manufacturers to collect and archive production data and make future predictions based on this intelligence. However, SCADA systems provide much more than an insight into the lifespan of machinery. The integration of cloud computing with SCADA systems has enabled operators to control production from any location, further improving the flexibility of the plant.

As with any cloud migration, there are security concerns. However, as cloud security features become more sophisticated and SCADA providers increasingly adopt a security by design approach to their software, this concern is unlikely to deter manufacturers from embracing – and benefitting from – cloud-based SCADA.

Improving Plant Safety with Industrial Automation

From collaborative robots to machine vision, there is a smart solution to most problems with Industry 4.0. Plant safety is the latest issue which automation is tackling.

Modern components

Traditionally, robots and humans worked separately, with risk of injury reduced only by barriers such as cages and light curtains keeping the partners apart. However, a new generation of collaborative robots specifically designed to work alongside humans is becoming more commonplace in the factory environment.

Collaborative safety solutions such as ABB’s Safe Move allow for humans and robots to work simultaneously on the same task. Through features such as safe position and speed supervision, the flexibility and intuitiveness of humans is combined with the precision, strength and speed of robots. This collaboration increases safety and efficiency during both operations and maintenance.


Machine vision allows automated decision making based on image processing. Primarily used for automated inspections to ensure machinery is optimally running, machine vision can reduce the chance of dangerous events. One example of this is thermal imaging cameras produced by Flir, which allow for an image to be formed from infrared radiation, rather than visual light.

Process control through machine vision uses real time information about a product to improve the manufacturing process, fine tune production and ensure consistent quality control. This happens autonomously, removing the need for humans to work with hot products or in dangerous areas.

Continuous monitoring detects problems before failures occur, preventing stops in production and hazardous situations such as dangerous gases not being burnt off. Specialized technology, like Flir’s thermal cameras, can capture information the naked eye can’t

Smart systems

Machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence (AI), allows computer systems to learn without being explicitly programmed by searching data to find patterns. Any system which uses information to alter the controls of a machine can be subject to machine learning integration. If programmed correctly, machine learning allows the system to not only constantly monitor and adapt to changing conditions, it can also prevent the repetition of previously learnt unsafe scenarios.

Advances in automation technology are aiding in improving both the safety of workers and consumers, by combining the unique problem solving and flexibility of humans with the benefits of robots and automation. This is reminiscent of the collaboration between automotive and technology companies to produce driverless cars, and the resulting inspirational safety record.


How the Industrial Internet of Things is Changing the Manufacturing Landscape

In the last few years, manufacturers and industrial organizations around the world are starting to invest in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) programs and initiatives to help accelerate the era of IT-optimized smart manufacturing. As IIoT solutions providers better frame, define and create IIoT strategies, many organizations have started to look at what is possible in the age of Industry 4.0 by embracing the Internet of Things and smart manufacturing. In the United States, the number of industrial device-to-device connections is expected to rise to nearly 180 million in 2020 from approximately 50 million in 2014. In China, the rise in machine digitalization is projected to be double that of the U.S. in 2020.

How the Industrial Internet of Things is Changing the Manufacturing Landscape

According to Beth Parkinson, market development director for The Connected Enterprise, Rockwell Automation, there are now four key areas that impact IIoT adoption:

Competition – Economic and political factors are putting more competitive pressure on global companies. Business models – including the people, technology and brand proposition – are under close scrutiny to remain relevant for the long term. As industrial organizations converge their IT and OT systems, and build in more flexibility, they can more easily communicate across their enterprises and respond to market changes.

Workforce – Retirement, economic expansion and technology evolution are overwhelming companies’ ability to staff their operations. Tribal knowledge is leaving with the aging workforce, and incoming talent often lacks the necessary technology skills. Companies that take a multifaceted approach – including more intuitive machine designs, IoT-enabling technologies and advanced training – can better prepare their operations and empower employees through the workforce transformations.

Risks – Smart-manufacturing strategies like remote monitoring and BYOD tactics can create security risks. As a result, companies are starting to implement policies to address these concerns, and help maintain and strengthen system security.

Technology – The ability for an organization to collaborate across departments, including design, operation, maintenance and support is becoming more possible through the IIoT. Companies are able to connect many intelligent devices on one standard network, such as Ethernet, which allows them to capture, move and analyze data across an entire enterprise.

Flexibility – With IIoT and web technology software, the ability for organizations to install, configure and control manufacturing applications from a centralized location is finally a reality. Up until recently, only large industrial organizations could accomplish this. Now, every manufacturer, regardless of size or budget, can embrace digitalization.

Scalability – As scalability has applied to machinery, assembly lines, and conveyance, it now applies to manufacturing software. Software applications can be purchased as manufacturers need them and when production demand requires. Across a broader range of industries different configurations are continuing to expand as manufacturers recognize the value proposition. Strategic IIoT demands that organizations take a fresh look at scalable manufacturing and apply it to equipment that hasn’t traditionally been in the industrial automation mix.

How tomorrow’s plant automation systems will empower users and simplify tasks

Industrial automation systems have helped processing plants increase production value, reduce costs, improve safety, comply with environmental regulations, and more. However, as plants increase in size and complexity, there is the potential for information overload.

New automation systems will enable operators, engineers; maintenance technicians, safety teams, and management to extract context-rich data, helping them gain new levels of operational insight and simplify tasks.

Future-ready teams

Operators are challenged with more instrumentation, more data to be processed, more steps needed to assess and resolve problems, and potentially more human error. New automation systems will bridge the gap between complexity and human capability. Situational libraries based on modeling tools will help reduce response time. Pre-configured templates will improve operator effectiveness, reduce fatigue and errors, and ensure consistency with company procedures. Critical information will be accessible through mobile devices, depending on the process and safety considerations.

Systems engineers need to remedy any production problems quickly. Their environment comprises large numbers of systems, typically from different vendors, each with evolving technologies. With no time to deal with complex flow charts, ladder logic, etc., what’s needed are intuitive, easier-to-use interfaces. One approach is the use of Scientific Apparatus Manufacturer’s Association (SAMA) configuration tools, which present a more accurate representation of the relevant proportional-integral-derivative (PID) blocks and data flows. Users are reporting that SAMA intuitive modeling and dynamism can reduce engineering workloads by as much as 60%.

Project engineers need to stay on top of requirements and costs to be able to deliver upgrades on time. An automation system that decouples the configuration layer from the runtime layers enables portions of a system to be configured and tested in the cloud, speeding project delivery. In addition, cloud-based engineering and project management tools enable real-time, worldwide collaboration.

Maintenance technicians are now dealing with an unprecedented quantity of alarms, and systems from different vendors with multiple communication protocols, toolsets, and manuals. A maintenance response center – akin to an operations alarm management system – will offer dashboards and other information to help technicians determine where to drill down into procedures, as well as help synchronize work with other teams.

Safety team members are responsible for securing the plant from safety breaches and cyber-attacks. To maintain operational integrity, a modern process automation system must integrate safety. This will give the operations team enhanced information regarding where an emergency shutdown is being deployed and the safety protection levels in operation. Dashboards can then provide further context on the company’s risk profile.

Plant executives and managers need a future-ready automation solution that provides an effective perspective across the enterprise, facilitating better and faster business decisions. It should also help integrate execution of plant strategies at every level. For example, a template of the operator situational awareness library would display real-time performance against raw material or energy cost reduction objectives. In this way, new automation systems can help align everyone on the same strategic page, yielding a greater competitive advantage.

A future-proof platform

Many of the applications needed to manage the future have not yet been developed or even imagined. To accommodate them, it’s critical to build on an open, secure system platform. Adherence to common object models will ensure users can more simply incorporate applications built to open computing standards as they become available. These could include:

  • Simulation and modeling – training, online optimization, process control
  • Enterprise manufacturing intelligence – trends in production and operation
  • Corporate energy management – respond to fluctuating energy costs and supply
  • Customized SCADA – e.g. well-field, pipeline, water/wastewater
  • Enterprise asset management – diagnostics, inventory, and predictive maintenance
  • Mobile field apps – procedure guidance and reporting

A future-ready automation system will deliver tremendous competitive and protective benefits. But it will also enlighten plant personnel with the context-rich information they need to improve performance, safety, and gains – for themselves, their employers, and the consumers of their products.

Smart SCADA and Automation System in Power Plants

  1. Introduction :

The goal for any power utility is to maximize their profits and have customer satisfaction. This can be achieved through continuous 24×7 supply of power, cheap, safe and reliable power which should not damage any appliances of the customer .This can be achieved by efficient ,automated power production and distribution and having less power system breakdowns which is achieved by using SCADA systems and automated systems.

An illustration of how a utility can attain maximum profit.-15-4-2017

Fig.1 An illustration of how a utility can attain maximum profit.

  1. SCADA:

SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition is a system operating with coded signals over communication channels so as to provide control of remote equipment. It is an open loop system. The supervisory system may be combined with a data acquisition system by adding the use of coded signals over communication channels to acquire information about the status of the remote equipment for display or for recording functions. SCADA system is used for real time control and monitoring of electrical network from the remote location. The components present in a SCADA system are divided into two units control room and remote station.

  1. Remote Station

Remote Station consists of sensors and actuators that are directly interfaced to the generation plant or equipment’s. The components present in a remote station are:

3.1 Remote Terminal Unit (RTU)

Remote Terminal unit acts as an interface between the field and the SCADA master (D. Bailey et al, 2003; http:// profile.html; Rajeev Kumar Chandra). It supports control and monitoring of digital and analog data. The RTU panels consist of a power supply card and DO cards, processor, and memory communication card. The RTU panel is powered at 48V.The digital inputs are used to provide the status of switchyard equipment and station auxiliaries. The digital outputs are used for breaker and isolator commands and relay reset commands. There are also junction boxes which are present along with the equipment in order constantly. The general specifications of RTUs are:

  • RTU has two TCP/IP Ethernet ports for communication with Master station(s) using IEC 60870-5-104.
  • Minimum 15 analog values (including 4 energy values) to be considered per energy meter
  • The RTU shall be designed to connect maximum 5 Master stations
  • RTU shall be capable of acquiring analog values through transducers having output as 4-20 mA, 0-10 mA, 0-+10 mA or +/- 5 volts using analog input modules

3.2 Bay Control Unit (BCU)

It is a De-centralized architecture. It is an interface between the field and the SCADA master;it supports the control and monitoring of digital and analog data. BCU has memory unit, DI/DO modules, processor unit, communication unit, power supply unit.

  1. Application of SCADA systems in power plants

4.1 Fault location, Isolation and Service Restoration

This function helps the utility in detecting faults in the the transmission line isolating it from the other grids in order not to affect the flow of power in the neighboring grid. SCADA systems are also responsible to restore the fault area back into service.

4.2 Load Balancing

This function distributes the system total load among the available transformers and the feeders in proportion to their capacities.

Basic functional block diagram of the automation vision in power plants-15-4-2017

Fig.2 Basic functional block diagram of the automation vision in power plants

Emerging Trends Impacting Industrial Automation Control Market

  • Cloud-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems
  • Increased use of analytics
  • Growing use of programmable automation controllers (PACs)

These are the three biggest trends to influence the industrial automation control market from 2016 to 2020, according to a new report released by international market research company Technavio.

The report predicts these trends will result in an eight percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the Asia-Pacific region, but the trends are likely to be seen globally.

SCADA Systems to See Growth in Adoption

A SCADA system is used for remote monitoring and control of industrial processes such as power generation, fabrication and refining. These systems use coded signals to communicate over channels with remote stations.

Emerging Trends Impacting Industrial Automation Control Market

These systems are predicted to see a growth in adoption due to their scalability, ease of updating and upgrading, as well as general use through the Cloud.

“Generally, SCADA systems are installed to control and monitor sensors and transmitters installed in the facility,” said Bharath Kanniappan, a lead automation analyst at Technavio. “A controller or operator sits inside the facility and controls applications with the help of a human-machine interface. The integration of cloud computing technology with SCADA systems enables operators to control applications via the Internet.”

The chance that hackers could infiltrate cloud-based SCADA systems has raised security concerns. However, this concern is believed to be an unlikely deterrent from adopting the technology, as Cloud security features become more sophisticated.

Analytical Software Will Identify and Reduce Error

Technavio’s report predicts a significant growth in the adoption of data management and analytical software for the purposes of reducing error and assisting with decision making.

The integration of predictive modeling, forecasting, optimization and statistical analysis in software such as SCADA and advanced process control (APC) has made it easier to identify and predict possible errors. In accordance with this prediction, automation vendors have reportedly started to incorporate analytics tools into SCADA and APC.

For example, sophisticated SCADA systems are used in wind and solar-powered energy generation plants.

At times, false alarms in these plants result in shutdowns that reduce efficiency and productivity. Predictive analytics can be used to identify the instance of faulty alarms, thereby raising the efficiency of SCADA systems.

Programmable Automation Controllers to Increase in Use

PAC’s combine the elements of a PC-based controller and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

Common issues with PLCs are found in the use of ladder logic programming.

This programming language is robust, but time-consuming when compared to the easier-to-program C, C++ and C# languages used in PACs.

Emerging Trends Impacting Industrial Automation Control Market2

Additionally, ladder logic programs are unique between providers, which limits a manufacturer to a single suite of products.

Using C languages with PACs and even some PLCs, a manufacturer can allow logic controllers from different providers to communicate – this flexibility can allow for best-product purchases if one brand doesn’t meet all application requirements.

“PAC uses standard communication protocols that enable it to download and transfer information from various connected systems,” Bharath said. “The technology is more reliable than other control systems such as (DCS), in terms of scalability of production and product flexibility in automotive plants.”

Cloud in Industrial Automation

cloud in automation industryEmbedded devices are becoming increasingly interconnected to enterprises and have become the most least expensive methods to implement. Cloud architecture in automation can be a trend to stay for long, says leading experts.

So what does it mean in the context of industrial automation?

Embedded systems are increasingly being connected to networks in large and mid size enterprises and this is the most cost-effective way of implementing better methods that provide results quickly than usual. In the domain of industrial automation, the usual targets for imbibing cloud computing are manufacturing executing systems (MES) and production planning systems (PPS). There are no requirements for other discrete servers in an industrial set up where there are only few machines or especially manufacturing processes that can be operated much more efficiently when cloud is incorporated in them.

In the field of industrial automation, the incorporation of cloud services has already begun changing the way things work- for instance the architecture of IT structures are being affected as move from a fixed client server architecture  to a more distributed architecture with local as well as global intelligence is constituted.

This is also impacting machine-to-machine (M2M) communication while using embedded cloud. Data and location of intelligence- these paradigms seem to change for the better, as it looks, with the introduction of cloud.

Now, the usual questions that arise are the benefits. Why would manufacturers want to involve cloud based embedded systems in their assemblies and processes?

It is forecasted by experts that the future of cloud networks and embedded systems will be interlinked in the forthcoming days. There will be a marked rise in efficiency, mobility, business productivity and capability because of cloud computing. Costs will be lower and quality standards will be higher because cloud will enable an entire mechanism to perform along its functionalities rather than just being a “box”. The vital transition is expected to be the jump from the isolated embedded world to the new enterprise with the usage of cloud. This will involve better decision-making and also be cost efficient.

 Cloud computing in MES and PPS is already a hard core application in industrial automation. Every machine parameter needs to be properly considered, analyzed post collection. This will help in taking crucial decisions at the blink of an eye.

 How will the entire development process change with the inclusion of cloud computing?

The entire development process remains unchanged but the actual architecture changes. There are however several important points to remember:

  • Data is not local today, in a strict sense. The quality of this specific data will be having its impact on the entire process.
  • The data must be made available beyond static tag mapping.
  • Data security is crucial to keep process disruption away.
  • There needs to be a scale from discrete services to intelligent systems that will allow for the workload consolidation
  • Industrial automation is critical and hence security is the foremost consideration for the smooth running of this entire process.

So what should developers keep in mind while trying to integrate cloud services?

  • Usage of open communication systems and standards
  • Need to eliminate complex architecture
  • Essential to make sure that architecture provides enough separation to scale into cloud

Industrial Robots

Robots are the trend today and will continue to be so in the future to a very great extent in the automation industry. The ones which are utilized in plants, factories are termed as industrial robots.
An industrial robot is a manipulator which is designed in order to shift materials, parts and tools and even carry out various programmed tasks in the manufacturing as well as production settings.
They’re restructuring the manufacturing industry and very often utilized to execute duties that are dangerous and inappropriate for humans. According to a report released by market research company Forrester, by 2021 robots take up 6% of all jobs in the US including customer service representatives and taxi drivers.

1. Enhancement of Work:
The human being is all-time prone to injuries in the plant but this is not the case with industrial robots.  They’re susceptible to injuries and can perform the same work for long period with augmented quality and output.

Therefore, Industrial robots can be applicable for heavy lifting, monotonous work, working in harmful & contaminated environment and work which requires excessive levels of concentration.

Sometimes, humans have to work in environments which give out immense solvents, noise, heat, dust. These can be very much harmful to the health of the being in a long run. Hence, industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world.

2. Economical:

Industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world because of economic reasons as well. As humans, we tend to charge nominal wages when working on our daily routine. But, then again, when it comes to working dangerous situations, we ask greater and expensive amounts.

But, this is not the same case with industrial robots. All one i.e. manufacturer has to do install robots whenever required in a way that they can operate continuously for 24 hours per day and get the best productivity from them.

Yes, 24 hrs. Making humans work continuously for 24hrs is also not possible in the manufacturing sectors. Because of fatigue and many other reasons, human needs breaks as well.

3. Pliability:
Robots can be more flexible to change and faster as well. The other benefit of using a robot for any kind of application includes the quality of the resultant components has augmented.

Because of the available programmable controls, end-of-arm tooling and machine vision systems, the industrial robots can perform an extensive variety of repeatable tasks without any break and expensive wages.

Some advanced robotics also brings in flexibility and adaptability to unstable customer needs and on rising expectations for developing new products faster.

Hence, industrial robots will forever be the future of the automation world and a knight in shining armor every single time when a human gives up.



Seamless from Basic Panels up to SCADA

WinCC in the TIA Portal is the software for all HMI applica- tions – from simple operation solutions with Basic Panels up to SCADA applications on PC-based multi-user systems.

Project handling

  • Device-independent configuration data can be used on a variety of target systems without the need for conversion.
  • Shared project data such as alarm classes, project texts, etc., are managed centrally in the TIA Portal and can be used across all devices.
  • Depending on the device, a wizard is available in the HMI configuration for quickly and easily creating the basic structure of the visualization.

Screen editor with comprehensive options for efficient and fast screen configuration

  • Generation of interconnected screen objects via Drag & Drop, e.g. tags for the creation of input/output fields with process interfacing
  • Definition of screen templates and functions
  • Layer technology with up to 32 layers

Object-based data management with user-friendly search and edit options

  • Configuration of alarms and logs directly on the HMI tag, no switching between different editors
  • Cross-reference list with direct access to all objects, e.g. for editing or selection

Libraries for predefined/user-defined configuration objects

  • Storage of all configuration objects in the library, e.g. blocks and even entire screens or tags
  • Faceplates can be constructed from simple screen objects on a customer-specific or project-specific basis. Changes to these faceplates can be made centrally (block definition).
  • A large number of scalable and dynamic screen objects are included in the scope of delivery

Test and commissioning support

  • Simulation of HMI projects on engineering PC
  • Jump to error cause based on alarm messages in the compiler

Migration of existing HMI projects

  • Complete data transfer in projects from WinCC flexible

SINAMICS Startdrive

One engineering for drives and controllers

With SINAMICS Startdrive, SINAMICS G120 drives seam- lessly integrate into SIMATIC automation solutions and can easily be parameterized, commissioned, and diag- nosed. This saves time, reduces engineering errors and training effort.

Perfect interaction of PLC and drives

  • Diagnostic information available in PLC without programming
  • Direct connection between application program and drive

Quick familiarization by high degree of usability

  • Full usage of TIA Portal features such as Drag and Drop, libraries and graphical network configuration
  • Workflow-oriented user guidance
  • Set-up wizards and optimized interfaces for experts and beginners

High-efficient engineering by one commissioning tool for drives

  • The modular SINAMICS G120 with a power range up to
    250 kW for a large range of applications
  • The compact drive SINAMICS G120C for standard applications
  • The SINAMICS G120D for conveyor applications
  • SINAMICS G120P, the specialist for pumps, fans, and compressors

Machine Vision for Factory Automation

Many key tasks in the manufacture of products, including inspection, orientation, identification, and assembly, require the use of visual techniques. Human vision and response, however, can be slow and tend to be error-prone either due to boredom or fatigue. Replacing human inspection with machine vision can go far in automating factory operation, but implementers need to carefully match machine vision options with application requirements.

Nothing fabricated beats human vision for versatility, but other human weaknesses limit their productivity in a manufacturing environment. Boredom, distraction, fatigue, and sometimes even malice can degrade human performance in vision-related factory tasks such as inspection. Factory automation utilizing a machine vision system in such tasks, then, can bring many benefits. Machine vision systems can perform repetitive tasks faster and more accurately, with greater consistency over time than humans. They can reduce lab or costs, increase production yields, and eliminate costly errors associated with incomplete or incorrect assembly. They can help automatically identify and correct manufacturing problems on-line by forming part of the factory control network. The net result is greater productivity and improved customer satisfaction through the consistent delivery of quality products.

 Implementing a cost-effective machine vision system, however, is not a casual task. The selection of components and system programming must accurately reflect the application’s requirements. In addition, selection decisions need to consider more than the initial component costs. Factors such as the time required for system development, installation, and integration with the factory system, the operator training (and retraining) costs, project management, maintenance, and software upgrades and modification, all contribute to the total cost of ownership for the system and should be evaluated before investing in a specific system design

Define the Requirements

 One of the first places to begin in selecting a machine vision system for a factory automation task is to closely define the requirements. There are a number of critical questions to ask up front:

What task does the system need to perform?

Different tasks may require different vision attributes. Inspection requires an ability to examine objects in detail and evaluate the image to make pass/fail decisions. Assembly, on the other hand, requires the ability to scan an image to locate reference marks (called fiducially) and then use those marks to determine placement and orientation of parts. A machine vision system designed for the one task may not be well suited to the other.

Building a Machine Vision

 System while the answers to these operational and functional questions depend on the application, all machine vision systems for factory automation share some fundamental attributes and behaviors. Systems all have a need to image or inspect a scene or object, operating on a continuous basis at the fastest practical speed. Systems all operate by using the following steps:

  • Position the object or camera so that the camera can view the object or scene.
  • Capture an image with a camera.
  • Process the image.
  • Take action

Machine Vision for Factory Automation

Fig. A Machine vision inspection system needs a delivery vehicle as well as a means of taking action when parts fail.

A first step in developing an inspection system, then, is to determine how the parts are to be placed in front of the camera for imaging. In this example, the delivery vehicle is a conveyer belt that carries the objects past the vision system at a constant speed. Other possible delivery vehicles include a part feeder, a robotic arm, or humans placing an object in a station for off-line inspections. Choosing a delivery system can often be the hardest part of a factory automation design because delivery choice will place restrictions on the remaining system choices, including camera, lighting, sensors, and response systems.

 With the delivery system chosen, developers can determine the most appropriate method for triggering the vision system to capture the image, and triggering the response system to take action. In the case of a conveyer belt delivery vehicle, an appropriate sensor might be electronic photo-eyes that produce a signal when the object passes between them. With other delivery vehicles, sensors such as proximity switches or programmable logic controllers (PLCs) could serve. Manual triggering by a human operator is also an option.


HMI as the Hub

Not only are HMIs used to display machine and process data, they can also be the data concentrator for all of the plant’s automation systems (figure 1). This is true for PC-based HMIs and for HMIs running on either industry standard or proprietary embedded hardware and software systems.

HMI as the hub

Figure 1. HMIs and networks can provide local and remote connections to a variety of controllers, smart instruments, and other smart devices like motor drives. Data collected using these connections can then be distributed to mobile devices and remote PCs.

In the not too distant past, programmable logic controllers and controllers were connected using discrete I/O, proprietary communication protocols, or maybe even simple ASCII communication. In other cases, a gateway or protocol converter was used. Those days are over for most users, because modern HMIs can act as the hub for tying a variety of controllers and communication protocols together.

HMIs, from lower-cost embedded versions to higher-end PC-based ones, can communicate with many of the leading industrial controllers via dozens or even hundreds of different protocols. With these expanding capabilities, the HMI can connect to most controllers, and Ethernet is becoming the communication standard of choice.

An HMI hub likely uses multiple Ethernet-based protocols simultaneously for communication with several controllers and smart devices. Adding the smarts and programmability of the HMI improves flexibility and functionality, especially when compared to protocol converters or discrete signals.

Particularly with the power of a PC-based HMI, the number of communication ports and configurations that can be deployed is virtually unlimited. New communication paths and networks can be established by just plugging in a new communication card to the PC and activating the appropriate I/O driver in the HMI software.

Distributed Control to Offload PLC

When automation professionals hear the phrase “distributed control system” or its acronym DCS, they usually think about the huge, monolithic and expensive control systems often used in big process plants. Ironically, most distributed control systems in process plants don’t distribute control at all, but instead consolidate it into a few centralized processors.

But, when it comes to machine automation, distributed control means something else entirely. In this case, distributed control means taking a real-time control or data processing task away from the main controller and distributing it to one or more cabinet- or field-mounted controllers. The main reasons for using distributed control are to perform specialized tasks, add redundancy, improve performance and simplify programming.


Figure: Machines such as this metal press often require extensive control of hydraulic motion, a task better performed by a distributed controller than by the main PLC (Source: Delta Computer Systems)

Distributed controllers can be used to perform tasks not easily handled by the main controller, particularly if the main controller is a PLC, as opposed to a more powerful PAC. Safety-rated distributed controllers are perhaps the most widespread use of distributed controllers.

Instead of upgrading the main controller to a very expensive safety-rated PLC to handle hundreds of standard and a few safety I/O points, it’s often much more cost-effective to simply add a safety-rated controller to handle the safety I/O. The distributed safety-rated controller can be a simple smart relay if there are just a few points of safety I/O or a small safety-rated PLC to handle more I/O. In either case, savings can be significant as compared to using a safety-rated main controller with its hundreds of I/O points.

Another specialized task often handled by distributed controllers is motion control. Although many PLCs can in theory be programmed to control motion, it’s often more cost-effective to use one or more motion controllers to perform this custom control activity, instead of trying to make the main controller do something a bit outside its main realm of capability.

One of the benefits of using a distributed controller in place of a standard I/O device is that the distributed controller can back up the main controller if it goes down, and take over and safely shut down the process. Another benefit is offloading the main controller from tasks that can consume a significant amount of processing power. And, because control is local, it can often be much faster than with simple remote I/O, which must communicate back and forth with the main controller.

Distributed controllers can be used to enable localized, flexible distributed machine control in applications such as conveying and other material handling systems. Other possible control applications are those in which things have to happen in a certain order such as those utilizing RFID, grippers, die protection, recipes, motor speed, counting, light curtains and other components and functions.

From Process Requirements to Code

Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, announced Prometheus, a configuration tool for defining, programming and documenting all components in an industrial control system, from the Manufacturing Execution System to I/O.

Prometheus introduces an open programming environment that automates complex configuration tasks and enables the configuration of control components, regardless of type or brand.  By removing the burden of updating multiple applications, Prometheus drives greater agility across automation control systems, ensuring plants run the most efficient and up-to-date processes. Prometheus can configure each of these components, beyond the capabilities of existing controllers and SCADA / HMI software – regardless of type or brand, as another industry first.

Code development independent of the target platform, optional functionality and intelligent plug and socket connections deliver agile templates, ensuring the maximum reuse of code. Integrated version management means standards can evolve as requirements change.  A multi user framework provides all engineering disciplines with visibility into the project, ensuring early identification of issues and timely decision-making. Workflows are flexible because each control asset is built as a modular component; work can start at the top with the process definition or at the bottom with the I/O.

Prometheus highlights the incomplete work.  For the operations team, Prometheus delivers total transparency with an online view of executing logic, and total control with simulation to override faults to keep the process running. And with real time process monitoring during change deployment, it is now possible to implement process improvement, and safely deploy to the controller, without disruption. Platform independent and agile code libraries, with intelligent plug and socket assembly, ensure projects are delivered, enabling systems integrators to get on with the job of delivering value to their customers. Reduced dependence on code authors improves resource mobility and customer response. With vendor neutrality, OEMs have access to a broader customer base and embedded control. Prometheus code can even be compiled to GCC for execution on Linux, OS9, OSX or Windows.

Process Requirements

Safety PLC’s

      With a growing focus on safety and an increasing number of safety products installed on machinery to protect personnel, end users are finding a greater number of safety relays in their control panels. There is a great desire to reduce panel space and wiring, improve communications and increase the automation of all control systems — including safety. This has piqued the interest in safety programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) in safety-related systems.

     Safety PLC’s provide all of the same functionality of traditional safety relays, but offer space savings and improved communications, while also providing the safety levels needed for the protection of personnel. Used primarily in large systems, safety PLC’s can provide a greater concentration of safety I/O in a smaller footprint than safety relays, saving control panel space and related interwiring. All of the functionality of safety relays, from emergency stops to light curtains to zero speed control, are provided in safety-certified function blocks.

      A variety of communications options are available with safety PLC’s. Some communicate safety-related information via the backplane of the PLC rack and through the cables connecting the various PLC racks, but external communications are typically not safety rated. Others provide safety communications only between the safety PLC processor and remote I/O via a certified safety communications network, and external communications are also non-safety rated. The latter systems can either be used for safety only, non-safety only, or a combination of safety and non-safety-rated communications simultaneously. This allows the user to choose between using one network for both safety and standard control system communications, or separate networks for safety and control running independently from each other – in short, whichever method is the best fit for their application. All safety PLC’s have communications networks available that are not rated for safety but are used for non-safety-rated communications such as diagnostics, allowing them to communicate to other standard PLC’s in the system. This flexibility is important, as many times a user will want to upgrade their safety systems but not disturb the existing control system which is running well. The control system may or may not communicate seamlessly with the safety communications of the safety PLC chosen for the upgrade. They may want to choose a safety PLC that can run an independent safety network amongst all of the safety components and then communicate the data and diagnostics separately to the system to keep the two systems separate. All of these networks can allow improved communications between the safety and control systems, as well as to other supervisory controls. Improved communications along with advanced diagnostics make these safety PLC systems easier to troubleshoot and monitor.


The safety PLC’s software provides users opportunities as well. Some safety PLC’s utilize the same software to program the standard control system as well as the safety-related portions of the control system. Users can appreciate the convenience of being able to program all of the control with the same programming language and software, as there is no new software for technicians to master. The same programming also allows the embedding of safety-related functionality into the rest of the automation and control system. The user does, however, need to make sure the hardware is “non-interfering” and does not have any negative impact on the safety-related components and instructions.

Some safety PLC’s have programming software that operates separately from the rest of the standard control system, and for many users and OEMs, this is the preferred method for the safety system. They want to minimize interactivity between the safety system and the rest of the control system, and also want to make sure that if someone gains access to the standard control system and is able to make changes to it, they will be unable to make any changes to the safety system. Once they have designed the safety system, they feel there should not be any changes made to it, and a separate software system with a different software package helps ensure this.

In short, safety PLC’s can provide many benefits for OEMs and end users, not the least of which is a cost-effective solution to meet application needs. The best rule of thumb for OEMs and end users who have questions about the features and benefits of safety PLC’s is a trusted supplier with experience in integrating them into control systems, which can provide counsel about the most appropriate use in a given application.

Centralized versus Decentralized drive-based


Unlike controller-based drives that cannot operate without controller direction, a drive-based scheme provides intelligence within the drive itself. Both centralized and decentralized drives with built-in intelligence can run independently with internal controls or via digital controls or other inputs.

A centralized drive-based scheme would be a likely choice for synchronous applications, such as winding, camming, positioning/indexing, and electronic gearing. Drives with enhanced built-in intelligence are capable of making complex calculations and logic-based decisions, as well as communicating from drive-to-drive to perform synchronous functions. In these cases, the physical proximity of the motors to the main control cabinet offers an advantage because all the controls and power distribution are in one central location and can be easily monitored and maintained.

Drive-based control is often preferable to operate larger machinery requiring higher horsepower, such as printing and other converting applications requiring multiple steps. Electronic gearing must occur between printing units, so it is critical that the drives are able to communicate to run at the correct speeds relative to each other.

Synchronous device-based control is a common choice for processing continuous materials, such as paper, film, foil, or textiles. There still may be a PLC communicating basic start-stop and speed control. Intelligence in a drive-based system can even migrate between the drive and a PLC. However, it takes drives with built-in intelligence providing logic and the drive-to-drive communications to run synchronously. In electronic gearing, a master drive conveys its position to all other drives, which follow the master drive’s position.

Camming is an application requiring precise coordination between axes. For a device to cut accurately, the surface material and cutting device must be traveling at exactly the same speed when they contact. Otherwise, some materials will crinkle or tear. Achieving precise coordination between a rotary cutting rod knife and material, for example, both rotating at variable speeds, can be tricky. For example, when the circumference of the knife roll is larger than the cut length, the cutter would generally need to speed up while rotating around and slow down in the cutting zone to match the speed of material while making the cut. The logic and coordination must be constantly occurring between drives in the drive-based or controller-based architecture.

In some cases, machine size may necessitate use of decentralized drive-based control. Long motor cables from a central control cabinet can be eliminated by bringing power to the decentralized drives in a daisy chain, drive-to-drive fashion or by feeding power from a source other than a central control cabinet. Decentralized drive-based inverters can allow for motor-proximity installation. Decentralized inverters can enable even large and complex machines to be more clearly structured, which can be particularly beneficial in applications in the automotive, intralogistics, and other industries.

Advances in Wireless Remote Monitoring

The use of industrial wireless sensor networks has been growing rapidly in the process industries during the past decade. During this time, many stories have been told of successful implementations in process, reliability, and energy industries as well as in health, safety, security, and environmental monitoring applications. Many users across these industries have found that wireless monitoring technologies provide new ways to improve the performance and reliability of their operations.

Measure things that couldn’t be measured before

The cost of wireless sensing networks is significantly less than wired infrastructure due to reduced cost of wiring, cable trays, input/output (I/O) equipment, and associated design, installation, and maintenance labor. This reduced cost makes it possible to implement new applications that previously weren’t financially justified. Wireless level, temperature, and pressure measurements can be installed to monitor the materials improving the capability of operations.

Wireless sensing technologies make it possible to measure processes that could not be measured before. New sensors, combined with analytics software are being applied to applications, such as process emissions, steam trap health, relief valve status, and equipment corrosion monitoring. Previously, these applications required manual inspection using handheld equipment or other manual techniques. With manual inspection, identifying the source of process gases that are being sent to a flare can be very difficult. Now, wireless acoustic monitoring allows companies to identify the source and quantity of material being sent to flares.


Wireless HART networks can enable access to smart field device diagnostics that are stranded by legacy systems. Most legacy control systems don’t have I/O hardware that is capable of HART digital communications with smart field devices. Rich diagnostics and sensor data is trapped in these smart devices with no way for monitoring systems to connect to them. Previously, end users have dealt with this by wiring multiplexers, but this approach is complex and costly to implement. Instead, Wireless HART networks enable access to diagnostic information through the use of wireless transmitters installed on smart devices For example, control valve diagnostic information can be accessed remotely by technicians for online diagnostics and troubleshooting.

Integrate data across information silos

Wireless data shouldn’t stand by itself. Integrating wired and wireless data into analytics and visualization applications increases users’ ability to do more with the data. Wireless data can be integrated into control systems, data historians, and software applications where data from other sources also are available. Before adding wireless measurements, engineers should take inventory of sensor data that is already installed and add new points to complement existing measurements.

When the data is integrated, flexible analytics and visualization platforms enable experts to derive insights and actionable information. Subject matter experts have a more holistic view of data and can make recommendations based on their education and experience. Purpose-built software tools can be used to apply physics principles or empirical models to deepen the level of analysis.

For example, software with first-principle thermodynamic models can be integrated with a data historian to detect equipment performance degradation as an early indication of mechanical problems. An existing heat exchanger might have flow and process temperature measurements that are used by for temperature control, but would require additional temperature and pressure sensors to be installed for performance monitoring. Existing measurements can be combined with new wireless measurements, where mechanical gauges are replaced with wireless transmitters. By expanding the data set to include all of the available measurements, the thermodynamic models can be used by experts to more accurately detect problems and proactively recommend actions to be taken.

Reduce security risks

Stand-alone wireless networks that are used for only measurements, such as acoustics, vibration, and temperature, must be secured for availability, integrity, and confidentiality. However, if these monitoring networks connect to critical control equipment, such as control valves, gas analyzers, or flow meters, the security needs will be much higher. Even in this case, security technologies, such as data diodes can be used to ensure separation of the monitoring network from external threats.

Untethering data

In this time of digital transformation, the companies that use technology in new ways are the ones that gain a competitive advantage. Merely adding measurement points through wireless monitoring won’t reset users’ expectations to achieve new business goals. When users begin strategically using wireless technology to complement their wired infrastructure to address previously unsolvable issues, they can start to advance the performance and reliability of their entire operation.

Wireless Digital Switches and Sensors

Wireless technology has been broadly acknowledged and grasped in the industrial group. New and advancing standards, accessibility of an extensive variety of gadgets, and the demonstrated performance of an expansive installed base each one serve as affirmation to their adequacy.

While there is an extensive choice of gadgets for monitoring, transmitting, receiving and processing consistently variable parameters, (such as flow, temperature, pressure et al), there has been minimal accessible in the method for wireless devices for generating and receiving simple “on-off” signals for machine start/stop control, presence/position sensing, counting, alarm signaling, process control, and other desired digital inputs.

This is currently changing with the improvement and presentation of various powerful, reliable digital contact and non-contact switches, sensors and related accessories.

Accessible and developing control parts include:

  • Mechanical limit switches
  • Contact-type presence sensing switches
  • Non-contact magnetic sensors
  • Non-contact inductive sensors
  • Photo-optical sensors
  • Pull-wire switches
  • Push button switches
  • Momentary and maintained selector switches
  • Key-operated switches
  • Foot switches


Lower installation costs– here the elimination of materials (cable, connectors, conduit, cable tray, junction boxes, strain reliefs, et al) and their associated installation labor can result in significant savings.

Reduced maintenance costs – the elimination of cabling also reduces the potential for cable damage and related repair or maintenance costs.

Increased system uptime – as maintenance requirements are reduced, system uptime and productivity can be increased.


  • Valve position monitoring
  • Remote crane control
  • Assembly station inventory management systems
  • Fire vent position monitoring
  • Tank level monitoring
  • Hatch and access port monitoring
  • Hopper flap/diverter monitoring
  • Safety shower/eyewash station alarm monitoring
  • Automatic door control


  • Automation and Robotics :

The usage of automatic equipments in the manufacturing as well as other procedures has been available for decades, ever since the 1950s for the automotive production. Eventually, the technological advancements have allowed increasingly stylish automation with the machines, which can’t do same things repeatedly in the intelligent ways, which has given birth to the perception of robots.

Robotic Automation has seen extremely strong growth in the last decade with manufacturing and industrial sphere. In the year of 2013, as many as 179,000 industrial robots were installed, with a 12% increase against the last year and almost double the numbers of the decade earlier. This strong growth in the robotic automation is expected to be continued in the upcoming years because of improved economic viability and several helpful thematic drivers.

  • Advantages of Industrial Automation in Robotics:

Industrial Automation and Robotics offers complete robotic and automation solutions to a broad range of companies worldwide. With broad experience of this industry, the companies illustrate some advantages of taking on industrial robots for the businesses of all sizes.

Technological advancements have made considerable progress to make production as well as distribution straightforward and well organized. No matter if you are operating a smaller company or bigger business; many solutions of robotic components are available to perform different functions.

Industrial robots may help in:

  • Cost Reduction
  • Quality Improvement
  • Production Increase
  • Improve safety in the workplace

Two important advantages of the industrial robots are their potential to expand and flexibility. Whereas absolute automation solutions might not be suitable for the smaller businesses, the components can be included when required and expanded and customized according to business requirements.


Pneumatics in Everyday Life

Pneumatics is a branch of mechanics that deals with the mechanical properties of gases. It works with the study of pressurized gas that produces mechanical motion, and the application of such gases to produce motion. Systems based on pneumatics are found in factories that deal with compressed air and inert gases. Energy produced by pneumatic systems can be more flexible, less costly, more reliable and less dangerous than some actuators and electric motors.

Though most of us do not realize it, we are surrounded by systems based on pneumatics. Below are some examples.

  • Air brakes on buses and trucks are formally known as compressed air brake systems. These systems use a type of friction brake in which compressed air presses on a piston, and then applies the pressure to the brake pad that stops the vehicle.
  • Exercise machines can be built on pneumatic systems. A pneumatic cylinder creates resistance that can be adjusted with air pressure.
  • Compressed-air engines, also called pneumatic motors, do mechanical work by expanding compressed air. Usually the compressed air is converted to mechanical action by rotary or linear motion.
  • Pressure regulators are valves designed to automatically stop the flow of a liquid or gas when it reaches a certain pressure.
  • Pipe organs produce sound by pushing pressurized air through pipes that are chosen by pressing keys on a keyboard.
  • Cable-jetting is a technique used to put cables into ducts. Compressed air is inserted and flows through the duct and along the cable.
  • Pneumatic mail systems deliver letters through pressurized air tubes. This was invented by a Scottish engineer in the 1800s.
  • Gas compressors are devices that increase the pressure of a gas by reducing its volume.
  • A pneumatic bladder is an inflatable bag technology that can be used to seal drains and ducts to contain chemical gases or spills, to stabilize cargo within a container, or to float an artificial coral reef. They can be used in medical research, and have other applications as well.
  • Pneumatic cylinders use the power of compressed gas to produce a force.
  • A vacuum pump removes gas molecules from a sealed container, leaving behind a partial vacuum. This concept was invented in 1650.
  • Pneumatic air guns use pre-compressed air as an energy source to put a projectile in motion.
  • Barostat systems maintain constant pressure in a closed chamber. They can be used for medical purposes.
  • Gas-operated reloading provides energy to run firearms.
  • Pneumatic tires are created with compressed air to inflate and form the body of a tire on a bike, car, or other vehicle.
  • A handheld jackhammer is a tool that combines a hammer and a chisel, and is usually powered by compressed air.
  • Doors of BRT Buses are operated on pneumatics

As you can see, you will likely encounter some type of pneumatic system on a regular basis in the course of your everyday life.


When to use multi-function safety relays

In applications where single-function relays aren’t capable enough and a safety-rated PLC is overkill, multi-function safety relays can be the best technology choice. Tables provide examples.

Many machines and robots require safety circuits to stop all or part of an operation in the event of an emergency event. Safety circuits are also used to keep all or part of a machine or robot from running while there is human activity in close proximity, for either normal operations or maintenance.

These safety circuits are typically configured using safety relays, or a safety-rated programmable logic controller (PLC) or other safety-rated controller. But in many cases, multi-function safety relays are a better option. A multi-function safety relay is a configurable device with multiple inputs and outputs. It’s more powerful than a single-function safety relay, and less complex and expensive than a safety-rated PLC.

One or more multi-function safety relays can often be used to replace many basic single-function safety relays, simplifying installations and saving money. In other cases, multi-function safety relays can be used instead of a safety-rated PLC, resulting in substantial savings while streamlining implementation and maintenance.


Relays limit options

Machine and robot builder original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and end users with similar applications often have to monitor and control many input and output (I/O) points that include a relatively small number of I/O points performing safety-related functions.

The most common safety circuit for simple machines and up to three safety inputs (such as an emergency stop [E-stop] and two gate switches) is a basic single-function safety relay that has redundant contacts and is self-monitoring. As a machine or robot’s safety system requires more safety inputs, an option is to keep adding basic single-function safety relays, or to possibly go to a much more expensive safety-rated PLC. Adding basic single-function safety relays to monitor and control the safety I/O often results in overly complex installations involving a relatively large number of relays. If zone control is desired, which requires certain parts of the machine or robot to continue operation for particular types of events, then the number of required safety relays can rapidly multiply, and complexity can grow exponentially.

PLC’s can present problems

For zone control and other complex safety circuits, another solution is to use a safety-rated PLC to control and monitor just the safety I/O, or even all of the I/O, but this can add expensive and unnecessary complexity.

Adding a separate safety-rated PLC in addition to the main controller requires the OEM to purchase, program, and maintain a second programmable system in addition to the main controller. This safety-rated PLC will need its own programming software, with consequent renewal fees. The learning curve for a safety-rated PLC can be steep, and costs are relatively high.


When it comes to servicing & maintaining a production system, speed is of primary importance. For this reason, an American manufacturer of equipment for concrete pipe production wanted to add remote maintenance capability to three systems at one of its customer. But in order to be able to monitor the local data stream all the way down to PLC level, a major communications obstacle needed to be removed. Fortunately technologies-Hilscher has a solution that was ready out of the box.

HawkeyePedershaab is world leader in the market of machines for the production of concrete pipes. The company is headquartered in St. Mediapolis, lowa. It was founded in1919 as a production facility for concrete pipes & has developed since into a globally active provider of complete production systems. Presently, there are thousands of production companies in more than 100 countries relying on systems origination from lowa.


“All three systems run with Siemens S7 PLCs & offer practically fully automated operation. Manual intervention is limited to minor aspects, such as changing recipes and updation software”, Hawkeyepedershaab automation engineer Bob Fehr describes the system.

For process automation of its systems, HawkeyePedershaab has. Opted  for the Siemens process control system SIMATIC S7. The communications infrastructure at field level is based upon PROFIBUS DP and the PROFlsafe protocol.


But HawkeyePedershaab wanted to go even one vital step further: “We wanted to take care of errors in the safety networks and be able to configure the system directly from our headquarters in Med, lowa,” Fehr describes the situation. But he also mentions the problem he was confronted with: “The IM151 7F modules do not feature any Ethernet terminals.”

The solution is called netLINK (model NL50-MPI) & was provided by HawkeyePedershaab technology partner Hilscher. The Germany based company is specialized in communications solutions for factory and process automation and operates its own subsidiary in the India.

NetLINK is an intelligent gateway in the form factory of a data bus plug, which can be plugged directly into the S7 PLC. It is based upon the versatile netX chip from Hilscher & is able to read practically any industrial communications protocol and translate it into any other protocol. Power supply is accomplished either directly care of it. In addition, routine management function such as software update or troubleshooting can be accomplished over any distance.


The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) identifies five standard programming languages as the most common for both process and discrete programmable controllers: Ladder Diagram (LD), Function Block Diagram (FBD),

Sequential Function Chart (SFC), Instruction List (IL), and Structured Text (ST)

With the different programming languages available, it’s important to consider a few factors before deciding which to use for your application:

  • Ease of maintenance by the final user: SFC
  • Universal language acceptance: LD
  • Acceptance in Europe: IL or ST
  • PLC speed of execution: IL or ST
  • Applications mainly using digital I/O and basic processing: LD or FBD
  • Ease of changing code: LD
  • Ease of use by newer engineers: ST
  • Ease of implementing complex mathematical operations: ST
  • Applications with repeating processes or processes requiring interlocks and concurrent operations: SFC

Advantages of Using Instruction List (IL):

  • This language consists of many lines of code, with each line representing exactly one operation. Thus, it is very step-by-step in layout and format, which makes the entry of a series of simple mathematical functions easy.
  • In addition, if the programmer uses only the IEC-defined instructions, a program written in this language can be moved easily between hardware platforms.
  • Instruction List language is a low-level language and as such, will execute much faster in the PLC than a graphical language, like Ladder.
  • This language is also much more compact and will consume less space in PLC memory.
  • The simple one line text entry method supported by this language also allows for very fast program entry.

 Advantages of Using STL:

  • STL is a lot more efficient than ladder logic when you need math instructions or other non-Boolean instructions.
  • You can save 50% of memory (and processing time) when you use STL.
  • STL is more efficient due to the fact that STL is the closest language to the machine code, thus less overhead.
  • STL is of course the more difficult language to troubleshoot, but the benefits are fairly clear. STL takes full advantage of how the S7 PLC actually operates for example being able to directly access Address Registers and Accumulators.
  • Some tasks that would take dozens of rungs of ladder can be done in a few lines of nice compact code that is much easier to read and understand.
  • Performing more complex operations like loops and jumps and indirect addressing becomes easier in STL.


Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is creating various new technologies. As a result, automation industry is too fortunate to have a huge range of technologies for problems solving, improving operations and increasing the productivity. The IIoT is the connection of uniquely identifiable electronic devices using Internet, including Internet Protocol (IP), Web services, and cloud computing.


The impact of IIoT technology on the automation industry is the use of tablet computers, smart phones, virtualized systems, and cloud storage of historian data.

A good example of a commercial IoT application is the “fitbit” which includes processing, sensors, display, and wireless communications supported by a cloud application. This is essentially a wireless SCADA system. It provides a glimpse into future industrial automation possibilities with end devices such as sensors, actuators, motors, and valves having embedded processing and communications.

The industrial automation industry has always used commercial technologies such as PLCs replacing relays, commercial PCs replacing custom build CRT consoles, Windows operating system replacing proprietary OS, digital control replacing pneumatic/analog electronic, Ethernet replacing proprietary communications, and 802.15.4 wireless sensors.

The conclusion is the application of new technology over the years has reduced the total cost of automation system ownership while increasing the value delivered.


When hearing the terms like industrial internet of things or industry 4.0, the most common technologies stuck to mind are like advanced Ethernet networks, data and cloud computing etc. but the technology like hydraulics never comes to our mind.

The very first point about applicability of hydraulics in the internet of things is its capability for micrometer precision. Electro-hydraulic axis controllers close the control loop decentrally, like electrical servo drives, and harmonize the target or actual position in real time within milliseconds. Operating decentrally suggests that the decentralized intelligence in the electronic control device adjusts the rotational speed of the pump drive on demand. In comparison to common constant drives, this reduces the energy consumption of hydraulic power units by up to 80 percent. Servo-hydraulic axes have an integrated fluid loop and are driven by the same servo drives as the electromechanical versions. Since the axes are encapsulated systems, engineers must only connect power and communication cables for assembly and start-up. Everything else is already stored in the drive software. Modern motion controls for hydraulic drives support all common protocols, such as Sercos, EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, Profinet RT, Powerlink and Varan.

With these capabilities hydraulic drives are an ideal match for the increasingly integrated and technology-overlapping infrastructure of modern production environments —all the way up to Industry 4.0.



SCADA: Journey of Process Control Centralization from Field to Control Room

Industrial automation is a critical part of industrial enterprises today. Everyday many industries are moving towards centralized plant process monitoring and control through Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition i.e. SCADA Systems. Understanding of process information flow through an automation system monitored and controlled by SCADA is a key skill for every instrumentation and control specialist, no matter whether he is responsible for the design, integration, installation or maintaining such systems.

1. Information Flow:

Figure below shows information flow within SCADA Systems:

information flow

The Transducer, sensor or the sensing element, is a basic device that converts physical quantities into an electronically measurable quantity. The Transmitter is an electronic device that converts the transducer output into a “standard electrical signal” measured in Volts or mA, and is capable of transmitting that signal for a relatively long distance. The marshalling provides an easy way to connect, identify and segregate the incoming cables to the control panel, and while the marshalling function has nothing to do with the value of the incoming signal, it provides several benefits such as:

  • Protection for the PLC I/O modules, using fused terminal blocks.
  • Disconnecting individual signals, by means of knife-disconnect terminal blocks.
  • Isolation, by means of interface relays, signal isolators and barriers.

PLCs are handling digital information in bits, bytes (8-bits), words (16-bits) or double words (32-bits). AI module uses 4 words for the four channels (AI0 to AI3), and from each word it uses only 12-bits and the remaining 4-bits are not used.

Scaling is the mathematical operation of converting the RAW analog binary value in an AI register to its corresponding meaningful engineering value, and placing this value in a known memory location “register” in the PLC memory, for further use or manipulation.

2. Network Communication:

For any two devices to exchange data together, four elements must exist:

  • Common Communication Interface
  • Common Language
  • Known Network Addresses
  • Memory Addresses

network communication

The OPC server is a software program that converts the hardware communication protocol used by a PLC into the OPC protocol. The OPC client software is any program that needs to connect to the hardware, such as SCADA. The OPC client uses the OPC server to get data from or send commands to the hardware. Before OPC technology, to connect 3 different SCADA packages to 3 different PLC modules SCADA vendors need to develop 9 different communication drivers. Whereas an OPC vendor need to develop only 3 drivers for 3 PLCs. All SCADA packages will use standard OPC client interface with OPC server.


SCADA, it’s where the operator gets to see his process from a top view, give commands, monitor and respond to alarms, generate reports and much more.

SCADA server is software responsible for core SCADA functions, such as data communication with the control hardware (either directly or via OPC server), graphics creation, alarm generation, security, data storage, reports generation … etc.

SCADA client is software responsible for displaying the information gathered (and generated) by the SCADA server, on the graphics screens created also by the SCADA server, relaying operator commands to the SCADA server, trends & reports display … etc


Steps for creating a SCADA program:

  1. Define connections
  2. Define data source
  3. Define tags
  4. Create Graphic displays

 4.Future of SCADA:

From the viewpoint of SCADA frameworks, there are two noteworthy super patterns that will characterize the SCADA arrangement without bounds. They are industrial cyber security and the enterprise ecosystem

Industrial Cyber Security– So as to viably relieve digital assaults, end-clients need to receive a far reaching security system that incorporates basic changes in strategy detailing, foundation of a mechanical digital workforce, multi-level system assurance and expert dynamic risk appraisal.

Enterprise Ecosystem- The calls for top of the line correspondence abilities worked inside the SCADA design, empowering more noteworthy combination with the higher layers of big business programming. This would basically involve a future SCADA framework that crosses the limit of traditional item definition and change into an answer suite that can overcome any issues between the plant floor and business process application. End-clients will discover gigantic advantages in top of the line SCADA frameworks that can incorporate plant floor with big business programming like ERP (undertaking asset arranging), and outline arrangements like PLM (item lifecycle administration). Be that as it may, this outline interest should be a long haul methodology that returns in stages and help computerization sellers manage their administration in an exceedingly aggressive business sector space, in the end.

 Simulation and Modeling Solutions Hugely Benefit Process Industries

Process industries such as power plants, integrated steel plants and refineries are asset and capital intensive. While, it takes typically around 3-4 years to engineer, erect, and commission a process plant involving significant amount of design and engineering efforts, the working life of a well-engineered and operated plant may extend up to30-40 years or even longer

Excellent execution during all the stages required to ensure safe, Profitable, and efficient operation of the plants. Simulation and modelling solutions play performance-Enhancing roles during the entire lifestyle of a process plants.

Simulation involves the generation of artificial history of the systems and observation of the artificial history to draw interference concerning the operational characteristics of the real Systems that is represented.

Simulation is used to describe and analyze the behaviour of systems, ask what-if questions about the real systems, and old in design of real systems. Both existing and conceptual systems can be modelled with simulation.

`Dynamic Simulators are not only useful tools to analyze and troubleshoot abnormal plant behaviours, but also to test new operational and/or control strategies. SCADA systems are also most wildly used Simulation tool used in Industries for operation.

Industrial Automation: Past, Present and Future

industrial automation


When Manufacturing AUTOMATION was launched in 1986, a quarter century ago, industrial automation was in its heyday. Business was booming and the annual ISA show was a worldwide attraction for the instrumentation, controls and automation industry – with attendance in the tens of thousands. Today, by contrast, industrial automation is relatively stagnant. The annual ISA show has shrunk to a fraction of its former size; this year, it is just a technical conference. After a couple of years of recession, the automation majors have returned to profitability with some growth, but they remain cautious in an uncertain financial environment. Where will the industry be tomorrow? Let’s review and prognosticate.


Today, industrial automation has two large segments – distributed control systems (DCS) and programmable logic controllers (PLC). The rest of the industry is a scattered array of miscellaneous products and systems, sensors and actuators, all selling to the many different types of industries and applications termed “industrial.”

  • DCS.Honeywell introduced the original DCS – the TDC 2000 – in 1975. This was considered the fastest growing segment of the automation business – reportedly achieving $100 million in revenues within the first year. Other process controls leaders, like Foxboro, Taylor, Bailey and Yokogawa, quickly followed to make this a sizeable market segment.

The term “distributed” is something of a misnomer, because the system was really large clumps of mini-computers replacing large mainframes in giant central control rooms. Today, DCS has morphed into a variety of different shapes, sizes and form-factors, and this market segment has expanded to several billions of dollars worldwide.

  • PLC.The PLC was invented in 1968 by Dick Morley and others working for a consulting company called Bedford Associates, primarily associated with a relatively small Boston-based company called Modicon. From 1977 to the mid-1980s, Gould owned Modicon, and after some shuffling between German AEG and Schneider of France, the company is now owned by Schneider Electric.

The development of the PLC was in response to the needs of U.S. automotive manufacturers. The process for updating production facilities for the yearly model changeover was very time consuming and expensive, because electricians needed to individually rewire the hard-wired backplane. The PLC provided “soft” relay-ladder logic programming, easily understood and accomplished by the average electrician.

Odo Struggler was associated with Dick Morley in the development of the PLC, and Allen-Bradey, the company he was with, quickly rose to prominence through the growth of PLCs in the automobile business. Allen-Bradley, still a privately held company, was sold in 1985 for an estimated $1 billion US in cash to Rockwell International, an aerospace conglomerate. In 2001, Rockwell Automation was formed from the automation segments, and this company is still the market-share leader in North America.

Over the past three decades, the PLC has spread throughout the automation industry, and has almost become a commodity. The PLC market segment has grown to several billions of dollars worldwide, and the automotive industry is still one of the largest users.

  • Sensors and actuators.The other identifiable segment of industrial automation is sensors and actuators. There are many companies in the segment, each serving specialized niches and a broad array of diversified markets.

Perhaps the largest of the sensor companies is Rosemount, founded in 1956 with a focus on temperature sensors for the aerospace industry. In 1966, the com pany diversified its customer base by targeting the process industries with unique differential pressure flow sensors.

Rosemount’s success captured the attention of the conglomerates and, in August 1976, Emerson Electric acquired the company. Emerson also acquired Fisher Controls to become a process automation industry leader with products and services in all major categories.

  • Software.With the growth of PC-based systems to replace mini-computers, starting in the late 1970s and through the ’80s and ’90s, several innovative startups developed HMI software for PLCs and industrial I/O.


Today, automation growth is occurring primarily in international markets where new factories and plants are being built. In a tough, global environment, organic growth will not come easily, and the current crop of Top-10 automation majors will shrink by acquisitions and mergers. As China and India advance, expect one or both countries to make major automation acquisitions to enter the U.S. and European markets.

Today’s factories and process plants are still a mess of conventional wiring, and it’s an easy extrapolation to forecast the continued growth of industrial wireless. The inflection point will arrive when one of the automation majors recognizes that the high gross margins of conventional product pricing are producing only incremental revenues and profit growth. The companies that can yield low-cost industrial wireless will be rewarded with significant growth surges.

Today’s new products and services produce relatively small productivity gains by comparison and, therefore, produce only incremental growth. Substantial productivity increase with resultant revenue growth is overdue in the automation arena – look for it to break through in the next decade and quarter century.

Who knows – the new growth may come from completely new directions, such as complex-adaptive-systems, bio-chemical electronics or tiny nanotechnology sensors.

Happily, there are startups and visionaries who recognize the possibilities – and they will become the new leaders of tomorrow.

Why Automation?

In today’s fast-paced and technologically advanced world, it is of the utmost importance to achieve ever-increasing levels of plant efficiency and productivity while maintaining or increasing profits and quality. Industrial automation is directly linked to these goals, as the coordination and monitoring of your production are key components to achieving your targets.
Automation plays an increasingly important role in the global economy and in daily experience. Engineers strive to combine automated devices with mathematical and organizational tools to create complex systems for a rapidly expanding range of applications and human activities.
Automation is encompassing every walk in our life, as we know Automation Solutions are required from Agriculture to Space Technologies. Automation is high growth Sector globally hence it is essential to have practical knowledge of hardware and software used in industrial automation by all Professional and Engineering students
Industrial Automation Systems Includes Various Technologies such as numerical control, programmable logic control (PLC), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), HMI Hydraulics & Pneumatics systems and other industrial control systems
Industrial Automation Systems are necessary for every industry to sustain in today’s globally competitive automated world. Industrial automation is aim at making manufacturing as smooth as possible, safe, quick and flawless operations with quality and accuracy. Automated systems, unlike human labour, promise relentless consistency at lower production costs.


Initiative Spurs both economic development and the automation & technology enhancement

According to the reference note document issues by Lok Sabha secretariat, smart cities are those which have smart (intelligent) physical, Social, institutional and economic infrastructure.

Smart cities effectively leverage especially the information, communication and automation technologies to achieve transparent governance, minimize energy consumption, &improve sustainability, quality of life, and efficient use of resources.

Role of information, communication and Automation Technologies Meeting effectively & efficiently and in environmentally sustainable manner sanitation, water, health services, transportation, communication, waste management’s and similar other needs are the minimal needs of cities in future . The integrated information, communication, and automation technologies (ICAT) are the way for making city smarter with the ability to network various entities. The various networked entities includes Sensor Transmitters, Programmable automation Controllers (PLC’s, PID’s etc.), Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA), HMI, Electro-Hydraulic, Electro-Pneumatic, AC-DC Drive and similar other technologies.

Job creation & Industrial growth Building of smart cities can immensely benefit the country economically. It will result in creating robust demand for steel, cement, hi-tech devices, and automation systems such as PLC, PAC & SCADA and various others, providing impetus for the growth of not only manufacturing, infrastructure and consulting industries but also for service industries and plethora of activities including consulting, Engineering and transportation thus provide many opportunities to individuals.