Showing posts from July, 2010

Wireless Integration Ensures Wastewater Plant Reaches Its Upgrade Goals

Upgrading the control system for a municipal wastewater system was going to be costly and time consuming until facilities engineers reviewed available wireless technologies. The Persigo Waste Water Treatment Plant serves the City of Grand Junction, Colo., and the surrounding communities. The facility, which cost about $28 million, was put into service on Jan. 16, 1984.

After two decades of operation, the existing control infrastructure was in need of replacement and upgrade. Although, it originally had been designed to use the most reliable communications signaling technology available at the time, buried multi-conductor copper cables, age and constant use had heavily degraded the performance. As a result, maintaining the system became expensive.

Ed Tankersley, Lead Plant Mechanic, summed up the situation at the time: “Our wires underground were failing; therefore we were trying to get our plant-wide SCADA system running so everything in the plant would come back via wire…

Solar Panel Assembly Made Easy

Precision manufacturing is key to producing weather-resistant solar panels. Integrated motion and control systems from Siemens provide the needed accuracy and performance.

A market growing at 45 percent per year looks like a good bet to get into. According to Mike Taylor, director of research and education, Solar Electric Power Association, the solar photovoltaic for electric generation market has been on that slope for the past three years. No wonder automation companies are developing solutions for the solar panel market.

Taylor says that Europe has been the photovoltaic leader, but that the U.S. market is rapidly developing. Putting to rest the myth that solar implementations require never-ending sun, the current market leader is Germany—not exactly a sunny country. Spain follows, with the United States third in market size.
“In the United States, we just broke the 300 megawatt (MW) barrier in photovoltaic electric generation in 2008. By comparison, in 2007 the total w…

LOGO! AM2 RTD Module Simplifies Setup

The latest LOGO! AM2 RTD module makes it simpler for users to add a range of sensors. The new module provides improvements that include support of PT100 and PT1000 sensors while also letting users mix either PT100 temperature sensors or PT1000 Flue gas temperature sensors.
The LOGO! AM2 RTD is fully compatible with the existing products (LOGO! 24, LOGO24o and AM2 PT100) and will replace the predecessor products. The line simplifies setup: when new sensor types are connected, the modules provide automatic identification of the connected sensor when the expansion module starts up.

LOGO! modular is available in various versions for a variety of supply voltages (12 V DC, 24 V DC, 24 V AC, 115/230 V DC, 115/230 V AC), offering distinctive features such as R: Relay output and C: Clock/time switch. Some LOGO! Versions include operator keypad and display panel in one unit, streamlining system design. Up to 36 different functions can be connected at the click of a button or by m…

Reliable Protection of 24 VDC Load Circuits

When overloads and short circuits occur, there’s always a tradeoff between the power supply shutting down the entire 24 VDC supply and keeping load circuits that aren’t impacted by the failure continuing to run. The new SITOP PSE200U electronic diagnostic module from Siemens Industry Automation Division constantly monitors up to four 24 VDC load circuits for overloads and short circuits.

“Today’s switched-mode power supplies provide advanced functionality, by protecting 24 VDC loads against any kinds of overload. Unfortunately, it responds by shutting down the power supply to all load circuits even before a fuse or circuit breaker can trip on the circuit that is actually being overloaded. The result: Power is shut down to all 24 VDC load circuits, even those that aren’t affected,” says Kai Bronzel, product marketing manger, Siemens Industry. “The SITOP PSE200U electronic diagnostic module intelligently shuts down the current to the affected load circuit, without impactin…

Virginia Tech Students Build Full-Sized Autonomous Robot with Help from NI Products

Engineering students at Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanics Laboratory (RoMeLa) recently unveiled the first complete, untethered, autonomous walking humanoid robot built in the United States. The students used NI LabVIEW and NI Single-Board RIO to create the robot.

The Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Artificial Intelligence, better known as CHARLI, was conceived by RoMeLa associate professor and director, Dr. Dennis Hong. The robot was built with only $20,000 in funds and donated equipment from NI and Maxon Precision Motors.
CHARLI’s structure is anatomically based, deploying a system of pulleys, strings, carbon fiber rods and actuators, instead of using traditional rotating joints. Standing at five feet tall, the robot can climb stairs and tread uneven ground, which is more than most robots can handle.
There are two CHARLIs – CHARLI L, as in lightweight, and CHARLI H, as in heavyweight. CHARLI H is still being developed with the hopes that it will one day be …

Robotizing, Unified Control and Clouds Ahead for Robots

Image via Wikipedia Industrial robots and growth seem made for each other. 

But the growth will be narrowly focused, predicts Erik Nieves. “Robotizing” what’s already automated is one way, says the technology director for supplier Motoman Robotics (, Waukegan, Ill., a division of Yaskawa America Inc. While that provides flexibility, “effectively, you’re just making an improvement, though probably not in reliability. You’re leveraging the flexibility that robotics affords,” he observes. Whatever changes, though, robotizing of already automated functions “is not going to be the ‘sea change’ in our industry.”

Another trend he sees, unified control, could be part of such change. In this control infrastructure, especially in emerging markets that haven’t existed long enough to assume separate controls is correct, “you make a decision about who’s responsible for everything,” Nieves explains. “Can I program not just the robot with the robot controller but all the …

Factory Applications: Turn Up the Wi-Fi

Image via Wikipedia Wireless Fidelity, or Wi-Fi, technology is proliferating in the factory, but it’s not the best answer for everything. Will Wi-Fi take over the industrial world? How about wireless Ethernet? The second question is easy to answer: there is no wireless Ethernet. Ethernet, IEEE 802.3, runs on wires. Yes, you will see the term. The current generations of Wi-Fi, or Wireless Fidelity—IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11-2007 (which rolls up -a, -b and -g with the lesser-known -h, -i, and -j)—define wireless local area networks (LANs) that have become so inextricably linked with Ethernet that many call Wi-Fi, “wireless Ethernet.”

Wi-Fi is taking over a range of factory applications. Part of the reason might be called peer pressure: outside of industrial settings, there is a huge installed base of IEEE 802.11 LANs—based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standard—at work literally everywhere. A second driver is the direct link to Eth…