What was there that was worth seeing, for the average visitor, at MTEC? Our review tries to pull out some different aspects of the old products, and the new products on display this year
MTEC is one of a group of shows, with others co-located in adjacent NEC Halls, including Practical Vacuum and Machine Building: previously organised by Trident Exhibitions, and referred to as the February Exhibitions, they were always scheduled around Valentine’s Day.
The shows are now run by Canon Communications, and obviously they have other plans for Valentine’s day, so they are moving the Exhibitions next year to be in March, 25th-26th to be exact.
Hopefully this will give them time to re-organise the admission booth system, which caused major delays for visitors just trying to collect pre-booked tickets this year, as Eoin O’Riain of Read-out reported: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/rdo/rdo137.html.
* IMC GROUP: HANWELL, LAMERHOLM AND JEKYLL.
The newly formed IMC Group were exhibiting at MTEC with their three main product ranges, Hanwell, Lamerholm and Jekyll.
IMC seems to be concentrated around data logging and alarm systems, via wireless or GSM links, with the Hanwell release being based around an alarm unit that sends text messages out until there is an acknowledgement from someone who will deal with the problem.
Lamerholm initially specialized in damage deterrent labels, with their ShockWatch indicator, to visibly show that the package or shipment has been subjected to excessive G-forces from mishandling.
The logging version of this, ShockLog, produces a record from a datalogger, and now to this they have added the TiltWatch, incorporating a new Tilt and Roll monitoring accelerometer, to record when other events occur during transport.
Capabilities then developed into other alarm systems for transport problems, such as for temperature monitoring in refrigerated containers, to alarm when the temperature rises above a trip point: and there too is an application for the wireless or GSM systems available from the rest of the group.
Historically Hanwell has been involved in Building Management Systems, with humidity and temperature monitoring sensors, and one recent project again used Jekyll wireless technology to transmit signals from several remote buildings across a road to the main control room.
Half the battle of applying modern sensor and wireless technology is having the customer interface where the needs can be identified, and then solved.
Jekyll expertise in datalogging, Automatic Meter Reading systems, remote modems, wireless and GSM technologies is applicable to many areas: Jekyll are seeking new distributors for these products across the world.
* WIRELESS AND USB: JUMO, ESI TECHNOLOGY AND LASCAR.
More wireless temperature transmission was on the Jumo stand, with their Wtrans system, a simple IP67 temperature sensor with a battery and transmitter in the handle, supplied with platinum sensors from 50mm to 1000mm long.
Back in the monitoring centre, one receiver monitor can deal with up to 16 wireless probes, and even provide 4 analogue outputs.
Similarly on the Ellison Sensors (ESI Technology) stand: while Ellison, from Wrexham, are well known for their silicon-on-sapphire pressure sensors, they had their USB connected GS4200-USB pressure transmitter on display, which can be directly logged, recorded, and displayed on a graphical chart, and is offered at around GBP200.
Ellison offer USB sensors for pressure, temperature, load and vibration monitoring.
Lascar Electronics also had low cost USB powered thermocouple and temperature sensors on display this year, with a humidity sensor as well to enable environmental monitoring with email alerts.
DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS: PROFIBUS, ETHERNET AND IO-LINK.
The Profibus stand was manned by Andy Verwer from MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) who run many of the UK based engineer and installer courses on Profibus and Profinet systems.
Apart from the scheduled courses and seminars around the country, the Profibus Competence Centre at MMU can arrange specific customer training courses on site, given a reasonable number of delegates.
The take-up of Profibus in the UK industries is growing, particularly in the water industry, and one of the reasons for this growth can be traced back to the support available from MMU and other similar organisations world-wide.
Newly announced, the International Profibus User Conference will take place near Stratford-on-Avon at the end of June this year.
On the next stand Geoff Hodgkinson was representing his Industrial Ethernet magazine, a technology that is also seeing considerable growth in industry.
Then a new name to me was IO-Link, shown before the main release on the Balluff stand, a simplified digital communications and wiring system mainly aimed at use with multiple proximity switches, which can also be interfaced as a network subsidiary to Profibus or Profinet.
* FLOWMETERS: FLOTECH AND BRONKHORST.
Flotech Solutions, the UK distributor for the newly independent Brooks Instruments, have added some new agency lines to their flow capability, with the Swedish Eletta range of orifice plate based flow indicators, and a Flotech branded range of flap type flow indicators.
Over in the Practical Vacuum section of the event, Bronkhorst were showing their re-released Mass-View bar-graph type indicator, offered as a replacement for glass tube VA flowmeters on gases, but adding an electronic output.
* PRESSURE: ROXSPUR SENSIT AND VISHAY NOBEL.
The Roxspur Measurement and Control stand featured a Speedway bike ridden by Josh Auty of the Coventry Bees: while he is sponsored by Roxspur and was under 15 Champion in 2004 and 2005, the link to their pressure, flow or temperature measurement and control products seemed a bit tenuous.
Apparently such bikes do not have brakes, they have other methods of control.
Anyway the main display was of the Sensit range of submersible sensors for water level measurement, now available in diameters ranging from 25mm down to 17.5mm.
More pressure measurement sensors were visible on the Vishay stand, starting with strain gauge weighing systems, but also showing special pressure sensors for offshore use in drilling applications.
Another pressure range on show, maybe not yet fully released, were the transmitters for level and pressure from Klay-Instruments BV from Holland.
* GAS MONITORING: EDINBURGH INSTRUMENTS.
It is always nice to think that you have seen a bit of modern technology at an exhibition like MTEC.
Edinburgh Instruments sell infrared gas monitoring systems, in stand-alone boxes, but also as pcboards for use by OEMs who need to monitor gas compositions, for refrigerants, CO2, methane, and several other gases.
These look to be small simple instruments, in a standard enclosure: but when you get to see inside, the real life use of the NDIR laser based measurement becomes obvious.
You can see the sample gas tube, as long as 100mm in some cases, fed from the sample point by a simple suction pump where needed, and the laser transmitter and detector are sitting on opposite ends of the tube.
Optical and spectral measurement is one of the most interesting ways science can be applied to measure practical things, like in this case the concentration of a gas in a sample.
If astronomers can do it for galaxies millions of miles away, by adapting the telescope invented by Galileo, then instrument engineers can do it anywhere they can stick a gas sampling tube! But then this just shows the concept is not new, but maybe the devices required, which have presumably come from modern fibre-optic telephone communications cable systems, are new, and industrial instruments can benefit from the spin-off.
* MOISTURE MEASUREMENT: MICHELL, BROWNELL AND VAISALA.
Michell Instruments showed their S8000 Integrale Cooled Mirror Dewpointmeter product range for the first time at MTEC.
Available in several versions, the instrument offers unmatched accuracy in dew point measurements for both calibration and process critical applications, down to -60C.
Also on show for the first time is the Michell DryCheck dew point instrument.
The DryCheck has been developed by Michell as a response to demands from customers for an accurate, reliable, stable, but economic instrument, with simple sampling system, that can be easily installed for use in a number of dew point measurement applications.
Brownell showed the AGM Container Controls range of products from the USA, including their pressure and vacuum breather valves: AGM also act as a Brownell distributor for the USA.
These breather valves complement the Brownell range of desiccants and humidity protection products.
On the Vaisala stand, the Humicap humidity and temperature transmitter series HMT330 offered several new features, including a data logging option and a USB connection cable for computers.
In addition, the HMT330 has a new display with a white background light for easier reading.
The data logging option is a module that is slotted into the transmitter, with an enhanced memory that can store data for three measured parameters.
* TEMPERATURE AND INFRA-RED: FLIR SYSTEMS, IMPAC INFRARED AND LABFACILITY.
Electrical and mechanical fault detection are the prime applications for the Flir Systems ThermaCAM thermal imaging cameras, and there is a model in the range to suit every job and every budget.
For a limited period only, any order for the ThermaCAM T400, T360 or InfraCAM will be upgraded to a complete operator’s kit, with an extended warranty as well, worth around GBP50.
IMPAC Infrared, now part of the Lumasense group of companies, showed the newly developed Series 50 pyrometers for the first time in the UK.
Based on the well proven IMPAC digital technology these fibre optic pyrometers offer exceptional performance previously only found in high end instruments.
Labfacility, apart from manufacturing temperature sensors and transmitters, is offering to supply components and installation fittings for sensor manufacturers for other sensor manufacturers, after a major investment in the CNC machinery needed to produce such parts as compression glands, pot seals, bayonet caps and adaptors, thermopockets and swaged tips.
In a necessarily quick tour round some of the many stands at MTEC I did not have the chance to attend any of the presentation lectures also organised in the exhibition, like many of the visitors.
Many of these presentations undoubtedly had been well thought out, and I hope their authors are able to present their stories to a more attentive and larger gathering at some future date: maintaining coherence while fighting with the Tannoy system and the passing traffic of Exhibition visitors along the aisles was not an easy task.