BoOM from EU Automation

EU Automation has launched the “Book of Obsolescence Management”, or BoOM for short.

EU Automation stocks and sells obsolete, reconditioned and new industrial automation spares. Its own distribution centers and global network of partner warehouses, enable it to offer a unique service within the automation industry, spanning the entire globe. It provides worldwide express delivery on all products meaning it can supply any part, to any destination, at very short notice.

The company is based in the UK, in Stafford, and does appear to have a different approach to any other supplier. With interviews from suppliers like Renishaw, CopaData, Nexus, Megger and Rochester Electronics, the book gives the seven essential steps for companies looking to start or continue their journey on the road to obsolescence management.



		

	

Robotic welders use cables from igus

igus advise that sales of their ‘readycable‘ for use on the welding arms of robotic welders are booming! Such robotic welding systems are now widely used in large scale automated manufacturing facilities, particularly in the automotive industry.  Faced with cost-down pressures from their customers, small metalworking job shops are now starting to consider implementing automation.  When the operating costs of robotic welding are compared to manual welding the results are clearly in favour of the robot.  Additional benefits of automating are increased productivity, more consistent welded joints and improved quality.

Cyber-Weld, a Warwickshire based provider of robotic welding solutions, provides a simple cost analysis to its potential customers.  Using manual welding, the overhead burdened cost is around GBP35k per annum for a single shift, with an average “Arc On” time of 25%.  The average robot “Arc On” time is 75%, three times that of a manual welder, resulting in an additional 200% production capability.  With an entry level robot and operator costs of GBP17.5k, the payback time is less than 12 months.

Potential users do have concerns though.  How easy are they to program?  Where to find trained staff to operate them?  How reliable are the robots?

Choosing the right supplier – as a partner

When choosing a partner, reputation should always be the first consideration.  A reliable partner must provide advice on which robot to select and be able to provide a full turn-key solution with support from the initial inquiry through to the installation.  Prompt delivery, machine commissioning, employee training, trouble shooting, repair and offering regular system overhauls are other key factors.  Look for a company that is a strategic partner for one or more of the leading robot manufacturers.

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Justin Leonard of igus receives the 10,000th order for readycable, from Fraser Reid, MD of Cyber-Weld

Cyber-Weld regularly uses igus as a supplier and partner for cable assemblies on their robotic welding machines for the same reasons and has bought over 100 readycable drive cables.  Cyber-Weld’s latest purchase marked a milestone for igus; being the 10,000th order for the product series.  These highly flexible cables provide power and signals to the robotic head, grippers or other attachments and are usually mounted externally to the robotic arm.  Particularly on a 6-axis robot, this cable is subject to a great deal of rigorous movement, which can lead to premature failure if incorrectly specified.

“We expect the cables to outlive the mission time of the installed robotic system, which is approximately 10 to 15 years,” stated Mike Jones, General Manager, of Cyber-Weld.  “igus is always helpful and is happy to come onsite to look at our requirements, which is a big plus factor for us.  A local supplier with a good reputation, igus also helps us shorten our lead-times.”

Reliable, tested cables

The readycable assembled drive cables series has bending radius from 7.5 x od.  Harnessed cables are tested in igus e-chain cable carriers through many millions of cycles. There is a choice of servo cables, signal cables and feeder cables with a total of seven cable quality levels for the same electrical requirement, offering an affordable and durable solution for all applications.  The readycable assembled drive cables also have a number of certifications and regulatory conformities including UL, CSA, CE Desina.  These extremely reliable cables are designed for high stress applications and are also available with flame and oil resistance.

It is no contradiction to say that good cables cost less.  Fast delivery throughout the world is a significant purchase criterion, and igus can provide that with a presence and stock in more than 40 countries. This saves time, money, part storage capacity and is applicable to 1,040 igus cable types, which can be ordered without any minimum quantity purchases or surcharges.

In the igus test facility in Cologne, numerous parallel tests are conducted under the most severe conditions. Presently more than 2 billion double strokes and 1.4 million electrical tests are carried out per year, with the test results stored in an extensive data-base, providing precise and reliable data about actual service life. The test data for e-chain, cables, and also for ready-assembled systems, are so extensive that igus has secured a functional guarantee for its variety of e-chain systems based on the particular application.

The igus reputation appreciated by Cyber-Weld comes from this extensive testing and more than 25-years of industry experience in continuous-flex cable.  Further information and the on-line readycable product finder can be found on the igus website, including searches by machine producer and cable type.

[The names readycable and e-chain are trademarks of igus]

Multiple approval barriers to free trade in environmental protection systems

As a product development manager, I used to think that the supply of industrial instrumentation equipment was made particularly difficult by the plethora of International, European, American and specific industry (and country) specifications and requirements. In an age of International co-operation it seemed these approvals were designed to act as protective barriers for home industries. But these seem trivial compared to the problems faced by suppliers to the World shipping industry, in particular in relation to environmental protection.

Readers of this column over the years will have been aware that I reported enthusiastically on the Alfa Laval PureBallast treatment system for purifying ballast water discharges from ships, launched back in 2007, at Greenwich. This enthusiasm was because of both the professionalism of the launch, as well as the laudable product objective and aspiration: it was one of the best such events I had attended, despite atrocious windy weather, freak waves and thunderstorms on the boat cruise taking the Editors down to Greenwich! With slightly bigger waves there might have been no Editors left to report on the event!

BWT – Ballast Water Treatment systems

In the Alfa Laval system, light energy, from a broad spectrum source, acts on a Titanium catalyst in the flow, to produce hydroxyl ions, which oxidise and kill any organic material in the ballast discharge. This was developed in co-operation with Wallenius Water, who had done the shipboard tests on some of their ships over the previous three years. Alfa Laval launched this product in January 2007, to make it available for ship-owners in time to meet the IMO regulations that would require such equipment to be installed on all new build ships after 2009, in participating countries.

Another Scandinavian company, Optimarin from Norway, was at the same time addressing the ballast water treatment market, using Ultra-Violet light from high power UV sources (35kW) to kill any potentially harmful invasive organisms straight away. Optimarin was established in 1994 to develop this system, and supplied the first ever BWT system installed in 2000 on the Princess Cruise Line ‘Regal Princess’.

Extended approval timescales

It is significant that it is now 2016, over 20 years since Optimarin was founded, and at least 12 years after the first Alfa Laval systems were installed for sea trials on Wallenius ships. It is also 7 years after the first of the IMO regulations came into force – these did allow several years grace for older ships still operating from prior to 2009. All this makes for a very long lead time for any new product development to grow and become commercial!

Yet only in December last year did the US Coast Guard finally confirm that it would not type approve BWT systems if they failed to totally kill potentially invasive marine organisms transported in ballast water. This will exclude many ‘conventional’ UV purification systems which use lower power lamps as sources, since these render the organisms “unviable” (ie they are still alive but cannot reproduce). The approval tests carried out by DNV to prove performance to the USCG criteria (applying the CMFDA staining test method) takes up to a year, and Optimarin suggests that the testing – due for completion this year – will cost them around US$3m.

Alfa Laval also expresses confidence that their PureBallast system will meet the current USCG test criteria, and their tests will also be completed this year: at the moment, Alfa Laval points out that although US ballast water regulations took effect in 2012, no systems of any technology have yet been type approved by the USCG.

IMO, the World shipping legislative body

Indeed the IMO regulations themselves are not universally applied as yet: the “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water & Sediments” is legislated to enter into force one year after being ratified by 30 states, representing 35% of the world’s tonnage. At present, March 2016, 46 states have ratified, representing 34.8% of the world’s tonnage – almost at the action stage! So the product is on the point of what should be a worldwide legislated requirement…..one more country to ratify the IMO proposal, with one more tanker, and a year later the market will be confirmed. Its only taken nearly 20 years for these products to become a market requirement!

The USCG requirements will have no effect on shipping using previously approved UV BWT systems in the seas and oceans outside US territorial waters.

Individual ship approvals, Insurers, and Ex regulations

The problems for the suppliers are not yet finished: for shipboard use the equipment also requires certification by a whole further range of classification organisations, like DNV GL, Lloyd’s, Bureau Veritas, MLIT Japan, and American Bureau of Shipping. Some tanker operators also require hazardous area approvals, i.e. to Zone 1 ATEX standards in Europe: Optimarin have supplied 10 such systems for the Turkish tanker fleet of Atlantis Tankers, which are designed for the transport of IMO II classified chemical cargoes.

Suppliers and users

Optimarin publish their existing major customers as comprising Saga Shipholding, MOL, Grieg Shipping Group, Gulf Offshore, Farstad Shipping, NYK, Nor Line and Evergreen Marine Corp. Since that initial installation in 2000, Optimarin have sold over 350 units, with 270 already installed. Optimarin in March announced a fleet agreement with UK shipowner and management company Carisbrook, which has the potential to cover retrofits across their entire fleet of 46 bulk and multi-purpose vessels.

Alfa Laval do not publish a customer list nor figures for the total number of their systems installed, but a PR from September 2015 discussed an Asian based shipping line placing an order for 33 systems. Another user has been quoted as MSC Containers.

Ballast water treatment retrofit work has been a major activity for Goltens Green Technologies (www.Goltens.com), a marine engineering contractor, who have already installed over 100 systems, from a current order book of 163. They supply systems from many manufacturers, listed as Optimarin, Bio-UV, Headway, Severn Trent DeNora, Alfa Laval, Auramarine, NK, Hyde Marine and Wärtsilä. Like Alfa Laval, Goltens are also involved in the supply and installation of other shipborne equipment required by and subject to environmental legislation, like SOx and NOx effluent control.

Whilst the retrofit market is important, the new build market is more significant, and obviously supplier attention is concentrated on the shipbuilders of South Korea.

© Nick Denbow, Processingtalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

Krohne liquid level switch for extreme conditions!

Normally electronically-based process sensors have problems when dealing with extremes of hot or cold temperatures, and can suffer if subjected to high pressures. So the Krohne Optiswitch 5300C is maybe the exception that proves the rule, with a temperature capability from -196°C to +450°C, and able to withstand pressures from zero up to 160 barg (this is -321°F to +842°F, and 0-2320psig). Despite the name, the Optiswitch is a vibrating fork liquid level switch, available with wetted parts in Inconel Alloy 718, with parts in 316L or Hastelloy C-22.

Krohne switch

Optiswitch (pictured sideways for convenience)

This new Optiswitch is designed and fully approved for extreme process conditions, for Overfill protection duties and high/low level alarm, and should find application in the chemical and oil & gas industries, marine tankers and steam boilers. It is available with a variable insertion length, up to 3m long (for vertical mounting from the top of a tank or vessel), and can be used in SIL2 applications, or can be built into a SIL3 redundant architecture set-up. It is a new and significant addition to the Krohne Optiswitch range, which includes models suitable for both liquid and solids/powder applications.

Interestingly the output options available include a DPDT relay, PNP/NPN transistor outputs, or a switched 8/16mA current indication. The latter output was introduced on the Mobrey ultrasonic level switches back in the 1980s, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but was never really taken up.

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

Pipe bending machine for 10″ pipes!

Unison of Scarborough in the UK has installed and commissioned the world’s largest and most powerful all-electric pipe bending machine, at the Norwegian offshore and maritime services company, Westcon Yard AS. Capable of generating a colossal 660,000 Nm of continuous, servo-controlled torque, the custom-designed machine will be used for precision bending of thick-walled carbon steel pipes up to 10 inches (273 mm) in diameter.

This is the second all-electric pipe bender that Unison has supplied to Westcon’s pipe production facilities in Ølensvåg, Norway. The first, a 90 mm single-stack model from Unison’s Breeze range, was installed at the beginning of 2015 and enabled the company to bring fabrication of all pipe sizes up to 60.3 mm in diameter in-house. It has also helped Westcon to simplify and accelerate its production process dramatically, by allowing parts to be fabricated from single-piece piping stock, instead of from multiple cut-to-length straight sections and pre-formed bend parts bought-in from external suppliers.

Westcon has similarly high expectations for its new 10-inch machine. The company now intends producing virtually all the pipe sizes that it needs for its outfitting, service and repair operations entirely in-house, without having to use pre-fabricated bend sections.

This application of all-electric bending technology to pipes up to 10 inches in diameter is without precedent. Although Unison’s bending machines are used by a number of the world’s leading ship and submarine builders to produce large pipe and tube assemblies, this is by far the most powerful that the company has ever designed and built. It highlights the inherent scalability of Unison’s machine architecture and underlying motion control technology – the company’s range of all-electric bending machines now extends all the way from 16 mm (5/8 inch) to 273 mm (10 inches).

ABB launches IE4 high efficiency motor package

According to IHS Research, the new IE4 motors have rapidly carved out a space in the high efficiency motor market. While the majority of the world continues to transition to higher efficiency IE2, IE3 and NEMA Premium low-voltage (LV) motors, IE4 motors marketed to the industrial machinery market as “Super Premium Efficiency” motors have rapidly been accepted where the highest efficiency is important.

IHS consider that since 2009, this market has posted consecutive, double-digit growth rates and almost quadrupled in value in 2013 to reach $114.7 million with nearly 259,000 units shipped. Although a relatively small market compared to the entire global integral horsepower industrial LV motor market, this niche market for high efficiency motors is predicted to grow robustly to $297.3 million by 2018. IHS believes that growth in this LV motor market segment has been ignited by regional legislation for stand-alone LV motors, soon-to-be implemented systems efficiency legislation governing the efficiency of the motor driven system, and the general, increased focus in industrial segments on achieving the highest possible efficiencies.

ABB SynRM+drives

ABB has launched a Synchronous Reluctance Motor (SynRM) and VSD package, which offers IE4 energy efficiency with accurate process control.

Synchronous reluctance motors combine the energy saving benefits of permanent magnet technology with the service-friendliness of an induction motor. The SynRM has no rotor windings, so there are virtually no power losses and the rotor temperature remains low, giving losses typically 40% below an induction motor. Lower temperatures also mean longer bearing life and longer re-greasing intervals, extending the maintenance interval.

SynRM is lighter, less expensive and easier to repair than a permanent magnet motor – yet gives the same performance levels. The motor is available in two packages: (1) a motor which is the same physical size as a standard IE3 induction motor but operates at the higher IE4 efficiency levels; or (2) the “High Output” model, which is two frame sizes smaller for the same power and IE3 energy efficiency.

The VSDs used to control the ABB SynRM motors deliver direct torque control, for highly accurate motor torque and speed; safe torque-off, giving reliable isolation for maintenance; and advanced programming tools – for fine-tuning to meet specific process requirements.

 

GE helps Queensland Curtis LNG to first gas

GE Oil & Gas has played a pivotal role in the global liquefied natural gas industry (LNG) with its systems used in the first ever large-scale production of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Coal Seam Gas (CSG) at the BG Group’s Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) plant, on Curtis Island, off Queensland in Australia

GE technology of gas turbines, centrifugal compressors and generators are integral parts of the QCLNG facility that has now begun producing LNG for its first export shipment. “This is a historic milestone, not only for GE and our customer, BG Group, but for the oil and gas industry globally,” said Mary Hackett, GE Oil & Gas Regional Director for Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.  “This conversion of CSG to LNG on a large-scale truly unlocks this resource and GE has been working closely with our customer to deliver solutions across the entire hydrocarbon delivery chain to achieve this.”

The first LNG milestone is part of GE’s long-term commitment to the QCLNG project, having signed a 22-year Contractual Service Agreement with QGC, BG Group’s Australian subsidiary and the operator of QCLNG, early in 2013 – which provides for a broad range of advanced technology services.  Featuring reliability guarantees on the equipment, the GE scope of work includes planned and unplanned maintenance of the installed GE equipment, including 15 aeroderivative gas turbines, 28 centrifugal compressors, gearboxes, generators and all auxiliaries. The agreement also includes monitoring and diagnostic services.

As one of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects, QCLNG is part of the growing Australian LNG industry. Australia is expected to surpass Qatar as the biggest exporter of gas by 2020.  The QCLNG plant is the first of three LNG projects to be constructed on Curtis Island, all of which will utilise GE technology. The resulting LNG will be primarily targeted for export markets including China, Japan and Singapore.