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UK manufacturers report near-survey record increases in stock holdings 02/01/2019

At 54.2 in December, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a six-month high, up from 53.6 in November.

The average PMI reading during quarter four of 2018 was the weakest since Q3 2016 (the quarter containing the first survey conducted after the EU referendum). The average posting during 2018 (53.9) was also below 2017 (55.9).

The rise in the PMI level during December was mainly driven by stronger inflows of new business and a solid increase in stocks of purchases. Movements in both mainly reflected Brexit preparations by manufacturers and their clients. Output also increased, but at a slower pace than during November.

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Putting energy into data 29/11/2018

Businesses operating across the oil and gas industry are waking up to the potential of big data and the role it can play in improving efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. Charlotte Stonestreet looks at some of the digital success stories as well as developments in conventional technologies

There is no doubt that the oil & gas sector has faced recent challenges, with falling prices and a lack of investment, however over the years the industry has been a major contributor to the Treasury (paying almost £330 billion in production tax since the 1970’s), provided hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs, formed a vibrant supply chain servicing oil and gas activity at home and abroad, and made a key contribution to the UK’s security of energy supply.

In Oil & Gas UK’s  Business Outlook 2018, Chief Executive Deirdre Michie points outfit the sector is adapting to the demanding business environment and, as a result, is now in a more competitive position

“The UK offshore oil & gas industry has improved it’s resilience, been reshaped and we are beginning to see a revival in activity,” says Michie. “There are still challenges, of course, to sustain this improved outlook, even in the short term.

“Drilling in just one area in our supply chain that reminds under intense pressure because of a shortage of global capital, but we are making the best of the opportunities we have. Unit operating costs have been halved and we are in a much more competitive and efficient basin that we have been for years.

“We need to maximise the potential of existing fields, as well as actively explore for new oil and gas because the investment decisions we make today are key to how much we will be producing in the years to come.”

Big data

Like many other sectors, the Oil & Gas industry is waking up to big data and the way in which it can help improve efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. Indeed, a joint study by the UK oil and gas industry’s Technology Leadership Board, the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has found that adopting data analytics and digital technologies for asset maintenance and operations could increase production and lower maintenance costs worth £1.5 billion annually to the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The failure of critical equipment offshore, such as gas compression, oil export, power and water injection systems, resulted in lost production of around 110 million barrels of oil equivalent on the UKCS in 2017.

The study investigated how data from topsides production and operations equipment is currently being used, and can help sustainably improve production efficiency and maintenance planning, reducing operational costs.

More than 60% of the study’s participants reported that adequate data infrastructure is in place, with extensive sensor coverage across offshore assets and ‘good to excellent’ transmission and data storage capabilities.

A small number of North Sea and international operators are already benefitting from data analytics technologies, with case study examples including a 65% reduction in system outages and annual maintenance savings of more than £1 million per year on a single system.

However, the application of data analytics is not widespread and consistent across the industry or individual organisations. There is a lack of awareness as to what digital technology is available and, more importantly, the potential value it can deliver to a business. There is also a perceived high cost of implementing such technologies, and risk aversion to their deployment.

Furthermore, other industries, like power and utilities, and aviation, are more advanced than the oil and gas one, and have been using data analytics to transform the way they manage their assets, demonstrating large efficiency gains.

Adopting data analytics and digital technologies across the basin could deliver a 25% improvement in the reliability of critical equipment and systems and a 15-20% reduction in overall maintenance spend, resulting in an estimated £1.5 billion of value to the UKCS per year.

Recommendations to overcome these barriers, include:

– Assign ownership of these findings to the appropriate industry groups, like the Asset Stewardship Task Force (ASTF) and the Production Efficiency Task Force (PETF), to ensure an industry-wide understanding on how digital technologies can deliver value to UKCS operations;

– Issue the industry with a standard methodology for assessing their data analytics technology maturity and engage the industry leadership on opportunities to close the gaps;

– Through the OGA, engage operators on the deployment of digital technologies at their UKCS assets as part of their Technology Plans.

Advanced analytics

Further afield, BP  has successfully deployed Plant Operations Advisor (POA), a cloud-based advanced analytics solution developed with Baker Hughes, a GE company, across all four of its operated production platforms in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

The move comes after an initial deployment of POA proved the technology could help prevent unplanned downtime at BP’s Atlantis platform in the Gulf. The technology has now been successfully installed and tested at BP’s Thunder Horse, Na Kika and Mad Dog platforms – and it will continue to be deployed to more than 30 of BP’s upstream assets across the globe.

“BP has been one of the pioneers in digital technology in our industry, and co-development of Plant Operations Advisor with BHGE is a key plank of modernizing and transforming our upstream operations,” said Ahmed Hashmi, BP’s global head of upstream technology. “We expect the deployment of this technology not only to deliver improvements in safety, reliability and performance of our assets, but also to help raise the bar for the entire oil and gas industry.”

Built on GE’s Predix platform, POA applies analytics to real-time data from the production system and provides system-level insights to engineers so operational issues on processes and equipment can be addressed before they become significant. POA helps engineers manage the performance of BP’s offshore assets by further ensuring that assets operate within safe operating limits to reduce unplanned downtime.

Now live across the Gulf of Mexico, POA works across more than 1200 mission-critical pieces of equipment, analysing more than 155 million data points per day and delivering insights on performance and maintenance. There are plans to continue augmenting the analytical capabilities in the system as POA is expanded to BP’s upstream assets around the globe.

BP and BHGE announced a partnership in 2016 to develop POA, an industry-wide solution for improved plant reliability. The teams have built a suite of cloud-based Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that have been tailor-fit for BP’s oil and gas operations.

“The partnership between BP and BHGE has resulted in a unique set of capabilities that quickly find valuable insights in streams of operational data,” said Matthias Heilmann, president and CEO of Digital Solutions and chief digital officer for Baker Hughes, a GE company. “Together, we are creating leading-edge technologies to automate processes and increase the safety and reliability of BP’s upstream assets. As we extend the solution globally, this will become the largest upstream Industrial IoT deployment in the world when complete.”

Cybersecurity

With increased digitalisation comes increased need for cybersecurity. According to recent research conducted by Ponemon Institute on the state of cybersecurity in the U.S. oil and gas industry, deployment of cybersecurity measures in the industry isn't keeping pace with the growth of digitalisation in oil and gas operations. Just 35 percent of survey respondents rate their organisation's OT cyber readiness as high. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say their organisation experienced at least one cyber compromise, while 61 percent say their organisation's industrial control systems protection and security is not adequate.

Addressing this, Siemens and leading provider of industrial control system (ICS) cybersecurity solutions, PAS Global, have entered into an agreement to provide fleet-wide, real time monitoring for control systems, providing customers with the deep analytics required to identify and inventory proprietary assets, and the visibility to detect and respond effectively to attacks across the operating environment.

The Siemens-PAS global strategic partnership bridges the visibility gap for distributed, legacy control assets to provide a comprehensive view into fleet security. Focused on gathering detailed configuration data down to the sensor, the Siemens-PAS partnership will enable customers to secure proprietary systems in multi-vendor environments – guarding against cyber attacks as well as unauthorised engineering changes.

Condition monitoring

Operators of oil and gas platforms need to continuously monitor their sites’ ambient condition status through parameters such as gas concentration levels, differential pressures and temperatures. Mobile explosion-proof detectors and transmitters allow such measurements to be made at various different key locations on the platform and then be re-positioned as required. The readings from these instruments are switched and recorded via an explosion-proof central controller. These pre-existing detectors and central controller enclosures will typically already have glanded conduit access points. Because of the stringent requirements of explosion-proof equipment, users need to avoid making any modifications to such certified equipment.

In order to save valuable installation time and to maximise location flexibility of such a mobile detection system onto an oil or gas platform installation, HARTING offers an exposion-proof connection solution with the compact Han Ex 4A cable-to-cable connector system, a product that can be retrofitted without compromising the equipment’s Ex certification compliance. Because all detectors are provided with pre-fitted connector cable ends, they are supplied to site fully pre-tested, which ensures fast pluggable installation.

Automation, security & safety

ABB’s innovative security, monitoring and communications technology has been installed on the 1,850 km Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP). The first phase, ‘Gas to Eskisehir’ officially opened in early summer 2018 ahead of schedule. ABB provided the security, telecommunications, SCADA main control room, containerized equipment rooms and has installed the fiber optic cable along the pipeline to contribute to this achievement.

As part of the project and for the first time in a subsea water crossing, ABB has installed a fiber optic leak detection and subsea pipeline monitoring system detecting events such as anchor drag. Over 4,000km of fiber optic cable has been installed across challenging terrain and during difficult weather conditions. Both control and telecommunication systems data are carried along the fiber optic cable that runs the length of the pipeline. It provides a vast communications infrastructure capable of handling extremely large volumes of data and is the longest system of its kind in the world.

ABB has also been responsible for installing a single comprehensive integrated security system, which monitors the external and internal CCTV cameras and the perimeter intruder detection system of every site. This pipeline intrusion detection system covers every meter of pipeline. Incorporating over 1,300 cameras and 650 access control points, this is the largest integrated security system that ABB has installed to date. The TANAP Project brings natural gas produced from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz-2 gas field, and other areas of the Caspian Sea, primarily to Turkey, but also on to Europe for the first time. TANAP, along with the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), form the elements of the Southern Gas Corridor. The TANAP pipeline is scheduled to complete June 2019.

Per-Erik Holsten, managing director Oil, Gas & Chemicals ABB said: “TANAP engineers were embedded within our own ABB team, helping to identify key priorities and resolve issues as they arose. This close collaboration between us ensured that the project ran smoothly - in fact ahead of schedule and on budget. With the TANAP pipeline running the entire length of Turkey and across mountainous terrain, this was no small feat. It’s been a truly joint effort to produce first gas."

Energy efficient

WEG has recently announced that, as standard, it is now offering explosion-proof induction motors in the W22Xd series. This includes all motors over the full stated power range, which conform to the IE classification standards, up to and including energy efficiency class IE4. Special applications – including explosion-proof motors – are currently exempt from the motor efficiency regulations and this series, which combines reliable explosion protection with maximum efficiency, is now one of the most energy efficient series available on the market

“Particularly in energy-intensive industries such as chemical, oil/gas or mining, where very large facilities with, in some cases, thousands of motors often operating 24/7, energy efficiency is a decisive factor for reducing operating costs and CO2 emissions”, says Detlef Wortmann, business development manager at WEG.

“Energy costs for electric motors account for 95 to 97 per cent of total life cycle costs, depending on the application. This means that investments in energy-efficient drives usually have a very short return on investment. Thanks to the low operating costs, companies with explosion-proof motors in the W22Xd series can reduce their costs by 20 to 40 per cent compared to conventional approaches.”

To make this energy-saving drive solution available for hazardous areas, WEG utilised the innovative housing design of the W22 standard induction motors.The W22Xd housing design features an advanced cooling system with an aerodynamic concept that both reduces noise levels and significantly improves heat dissipation. The sturdy housing with integrated mounting feet, allows the explosion-proof motors to be deployed in even the most demanding applications and minimises both vibration and noise emissions.

Multi-turn encoder

Sensata Technologies has launched what is reported to be the first explosion proof stackable multi-turn encoder for use in oil and gas applications.

The new encoder, BEI Sensors’model MAAX, is ATEX and IECEx certified to operate in explosive environments and features a Profibus output in a bespoke, stackable package. CANopen and SSI outputs are also available. The MAAX provides up to 16 bits of resolution as well as up to 16 bits of turns by mechanical counting. The product operates directly in Zone 1 environments without the need for an accompanying Intrinsic Safety barrier.

Absolute multi-turn encoders like the MAAX are the ideal position sensing solution for oil and gas applications such as Drawworks, top drives and pipe handling equipment where working conditions are extreme. The stackable and explosion proof design makes for a simple installation wherever encoders are mounted in tandem to provide multiple signals for redundancy or when data sharing is desired. The Profibus interface simplifies system set up as it allows for daisy chaining products together without the need for running a control cable from the panel to each individual component. 

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The Society of Operations Engineers backs Maintec 03/10/2018

The Society of Operations Engineers (SOE), the professional engineering membership organisation, has today announced its support for Maintec, the UK’s only exhibition dedicated to maintenance, plant and asset management which returns to the NEC, Birmingham on the 6–7 November 2018.

The SOE provides education, training, study and research, with the emphasis on promoting best practice and compliance for the advancement of operations engineering. It has direct influence over its three sectors – road transport, plant and engineer surveying – on matters of policy, and supports its 17,000 members with career progression and professional development.

In addition to attending Maintec and welcoming members to their stand, the SOE will provide official CPD approval for the Maintec seminar programme. Delivered under the theme ‘The future of reliability, maintenance and asset management’ this year’s programme will feature over 34 top engineering speakers delivering ten hours of free conference sessions across two theatres.

Daniel Moir, Chief Operating Officer for the SOE says: “Maintec is the ideal platform to showcase what the SOE can offer as a Professional Engineering Institution. The Maintec seminar programme gives show attendees unrivalled industry insight and the means to make valuable strategic decisions. We are proud to approve the CPD programme.”

Jos Diamond, event manager, Maintec commented: “We are delighted to partner with the Society of Operations Engineers. They bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the show floor and we highly value their input into our professional conference programme.”

“We have worked hard at providing a seminar programme that will give attendees access to high-level technical content and expertise. To have an organisation as established and respected at the SOE providing their official approval, will give visitors confidence in the quality of the sessions they can see at this year’s show.”

Free visitor registration is now available via www.maintec.co.uk.

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Compressed air or blowers - what's best in the long run? 25/09/2018

The use of air flows to dry, cool or clean product lines is a common application in many industries. Sometimes blower systems are used to get air moving with the desired force and volume. However, there is an alternative and that is using the factory’s compressed air line.

In fact, 70% of all compressed air used is for blow off, or cooling applications.  Sometimes using compressed air for continual operation is avoided because it’s too expensive. It is true that blowers can in many circumstances have a lower energy cost than compressed air systems but its also true that the apparent economies of blowers can be a false in many situations. This article explores when and why it might be worth using a compressed air system over a traditional blower system. 

RECAP

It’s worth looking at the compressed air enhancement products available and how they work. Most will deploy the Coanda effect to greatly enhance the force of the air being used.  Compressed air is made to flow through a shaped nozzle and the topology of the nozzle will draw in the surrounding air.  What this means is that the overall air set in motion is many times greater than the volume of compressed air consumed, resulting in the compressed air usage  being much more efficient.  

Various types of compressed air enhancement nozzles are available with the most common being the air knife.  This delivers a consistent flow of air along its length making it perfect for use on conveyor systems.  Other nozzles designed to give more focused high impact air flows for air blow-off applications (air edger’s) or low impact gentle air flows for drying (air amplifiers) also are commonly available.  The operating principles of all are similar.

DIRTY - WET ENVIRONMENTS

The alternative to compressed air systems is to use a blower which will be powered by an electric motor that needs to operate continuously in the factory environment.  

If the factory is clean and dry, then this is generally not a problem.  If, however, the operating conditions are dirty, wet or humid then operating electrical equipment becomes more problematic so thought needs to be given to protecting the equipment from environmentally caused faults. 

Compressed air systems have the advantage of being very simple.  The air compressor that supplies them can be situated in another less environmentally hostile part of the factory, so all that is present in the difficult operating conditions is the air enhancement nozzle and the air line.  There is no motor to go wrong, no filters to become clogged, no additional heat source to worry about.  At the point of operation it is an incredibly simple system which significantly reduces maintenance and risk of failure.

HUMID ENVIRONMENTS - COMPRESSED AIR IS DRY

Blowers simply move the ambient air around them.  Compressed air systems introduce air that has been through a compressor and, also probably, a filter.  As such the air used is drier and cleaner than the ambient air in many factories.  If the system is being used for drying or cooling this can be a big advantage.  In hot and humid environments a blower system will be moving hot and moist air over the target which is not ideal.  Compressed air systems will introduce cool and dry air into the mix thus improving cooling and/or water carrying capacity.

SPACE

Compressed air systems will take up far less space than blower systems.  The compressor that supplies the system will generally already be in place and serving many other functions within the factory.  Typically, this will be in another part of the factory where it can be conveniently positioned.  All that needs to be installed at the target site is the air nozzle/air knife and the supply line.  Blowers, on the other hand, will need to be installed near to the target, i.e. near the production line and this may be problematic where space is limited.

NON - CONTINUOUS APPLICATIONS

One big advantage of compressed air systems is that they can be cycled on and off very rapidly and compressed air is always present in the line, waiting to be released.  

This means when controlled with a suitable fast acting valve, the air force can be almost instantaneously turned on and off.  Blowers, on the other hand, will have a much longer response time. Where conveyors are being used on drying, cooling or air blow-off applications, the target object many be intermittent.  However, on conveyor lines with gaps between the products that need drying the response time when using blowers is too long to turn off the drying system between targets.  With some compressed air systems if linked to suitable sensors, the air will only be used when needed, i.e. when the target is passing through, which can save considerable energy.

NOISE LEVELS

In most cases air knife and air nozzle compressed air systems will operate with lower noise levels than comparable blower systems.  For every kg of force produced the compressed air-based system will produce fewer decibels.  This is particularly true when modern quiet running air knife or nozzle systems are used.  If operators are working near to the air system, noise levels can then be of critical importance. 

INITIAL COST 

The capex of a compressed air system is minimal when compared to a blower.  Whilst the energy cost of a blower system may well be lower (i.e. the cost of powering them is lower than the cost per m3of compressed air consumed) the setup costs are a much higher.  In a typical situation the compressor will already be present and working so the costs involved are simply the cost of the air knife / air nozzles, the pipework and mounting fixtures.

CONCLUSIONS 

The general acceptance in industry is that blower systems will be less expensive and more energy efficient than compressed air systems.  On the face of it this is true - £ for £ of air force used, blowers will always win this efficiency battle.  However, this may obscure the true costs associated with blowers.  When one factors in increased maintenance, risk of down time, space, noise levels, set-up costs and the enforced continual use of blowers (i.e. not easy to cycle off when not needed), in many cases the compressed air system will have the financial edge in the long run.

www.airnozzle.co.uk 

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In the zone 01/10/2018

Hazardous area classification is used to identify places where, because of the potential for an explosive atmosphere, special precautions over sources of ignition are needed to prevent fires and explosions. Charlotte Stonestreet takes a look at some of the latest equipment designed for hazardous area use

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), defines a hazardous area as “any place in which an explosive atmosphere may occur in quantities such as to require special precautions to protect the safety of workers”. As Paul Mannion, project engineer at engineering solutions provider Boulting explains, it is vital that precautions are taken when constructing, installing and using apparatus in areas that have been defined as hazardous.

In the UK, the regulation BS EN 60079 part 10-1 and part 10-2 are used to determine the area classification, a method of analysing the environment where explosive gas and or dust atmospheres may occur.

The DSEAR scope is extended with BS EN 60079 part 14 detailing the design, selection and erection of electrical installations within a hazardous area and BS EN ISO 80079-36 to incorporate non-electrical sources of ignition and mobile equipment that could also pose an ignition risk.

Hazardous areas are classified under six zones. Three zones associated with gas are classified under Zone 0 and are areas where an explosive gas atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods of time. Zone 1 is an area where an explosive gas atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation, while Zone 2 covers areas where an explosive gas atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation and if it occurs, will only exist for a short time. The other three zones are associated with dusts, which are either flying and explosive, conductive or non-conductive.

It’s worth noting that 80 per cent of dusts are combustible, asserts Mannion. The associated three zones are Zone 20, an area where ignitable concentrations of combustible dust or ignitable fibers/flyings are present continuously or for long periods of time under normal operating conditions; Zone 21 an area where ignitable concentrations of combustible dust or ignitable fibers/flyings are likely to exist under normal operating conditions and; Zone 22, an area where ignitable concentrations of combustible dust or ignitable fibers/flyings are not likely to exist under normal operating conditions.

Any facility that processes, uses or manufacturee materials that may give rise to a flammable atmosphere, such as gas, mist, liquid and small fibres (dusts), may have a potentially explosive atmosphere and therefore fall into one of these six zones. Industries that may have an explosive atmosphere include food manufacturing, power generation, water treatment, oil and gas, chemical manufacturing and pharmaceutical.

While areas classified as Zone 0 or Zone 20 continuously face the potential for the creation of an explosive gas or dust atmosphere, work still needs to be conducted in these areas. To continue this work safely, the equipment used needs to be weighted so that there is no chance of creating explosions. Equipment should be designed in such a way that it is stringently safe and includes current limiting devices to stop sparks. The equipment that will be used should be chosen and tested as early in the design process as possible.

Before equipment can be used in any hazardous area, it must undergo a programme of rigorous checks and testing

Before equipment can be used in any hazardous area, it must undergo a programme of rigorous checks and testing by a registered ATEX test house. ATEX is the name given to two European directives that aid in controlling explosive atmospheres. The first, Directive 99/92/EC (ATEX 137) assess the minimum requirements for improving health and safety protection for workers in potentially explosive environments. Directive 94/9/EC (ATEX 95) looks at the laws concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive environments.

When constructing a new facility or working in an existing environment, it is important that the installation of new components is done using the most efficient techniques to reduce the risk of incidents. Modularisation is a technique often used by Boulting. This method sees equipment or parts of a facility built offsite and installed at a later date, taking the risk out of working on a hazardous site. In addition to constructing in a safer environment, modular builds reduce site disturbance, minimise waste, are more cost effective and allow for far greater design flexibility. Construction of the overall build can also take place much quicker as modular builds occur simultaneously to the main build.  

While ATEX testing is vital to identify and resolve potential risks at the start of a project, it is important that inspections continue to take place on a regular basis throughout the equipment’s lifespan. With the development of new software these inspections have started to incorporate risk based elements which are identified by HSE. This method of inspection looks at the type of protection used, the installation factors i.e. vibration, corrosive, outdoors etc in addition to common manufacturer/model failures

Engineers should factor in the production of a schedule for periodic inspections at the design stage. Boulting provides clients with a digital cloud based system where they can upload inspection schedules and what exactly needs to be checked.

Solendoid valves

Designing process control systems that meet DSEAR, ATEX and other similar standards requires considerable levels of expertise and competence to deliver a suitably compliant process that meets the demands of the application. When it comes to creating a new, fully certified installation, Paul Hobden, Bürkert UK ATEX solenoid valve champion stresses that it is important to select partners that understand process control design with the ability to deliver bespoke solutions using the latest technology that is certified to the standards in force locally.

This allows design features such as vibration-proof, bolted coil systems, and increased leak-tightness to be included in a potential system. Just because the application requires a component that is certified for operation in potentially explosive atmospheres, it shouldn't mean that the choice of control valves is reduced.
As part of its development of ATEX and IEC-Ex certified versions of its components and systems, Bürkert has established a centre of competence in Menden, Germany.

Bürkert not only designs a comprehensive range of solenoid valves to cover both standard and specialist applications, it also manufactures every component which includes the machining of the valve body, the injection moulding of the coil body and the manufacture of the coil itself.

The testing of individual components and complete valves is a continuous process

The testing of individual components and complete valves is a continuous process, partly to ensure continued compliance with a wide range of certifications, but also to ensure that the high-quality standards are being maintained. In this way, the customer can be sure of reliable operation, especially in tough operating conditions.
In situations where an existing component will not satisfy the demands of an application, it is possible to work with development engineers to create a bespoke solution that can also be tested and certified in-house. Having this facility within the company also reduces lead times and helps to deliver projects on time.

Efficient connections for the Ex zone

Operators of oil and gas platforms need to continuously monitor their sites’ ambient condition status through parameters such as gas concentration levels, differential pressures and temperatures. Mobile explosion-proof detectors and transmitters allow such measurements to be made at various different key locations on the platform and then be re-positioned as required. The readings from these instruments are switched and recorded via an explosion-proof central controller. These pre-existing detectors and central controller enclosures will typically already have glanded conduit access points. Because of the stringent requirements of explosion-proof equipment, users need to avoid making any modifications to such certified equipment.

pre-existing detectors and central controller enclosures will typically already have glanded conduit access points

In order to save valuable installation time and to maximise location flexibility of such a mobile detection system onto an oil or gas platform installation, Harting offers an explosion-proof connection solution with Harting's compact Han Ex 4A cable-to-cable connector system, a product that can be retrofitted without compromising the equipment’s Ex certification compliance. Because all detectors are provided with pre-fitted connector cable ends, they are supplied to site fully pre-tested, which ensures fast pluggable installation.

Hazardous location-ready microstepping drive

Applied Motion Products (AMP) has released a variant of its STAC6 series microstepping drive for high performance motion control that has international certification for hazardous area use. Available with full support from Mclennan, the drive is aimed at machine automation applications in oil & gas, mining, printing and other industries where ATEX, IEC-Ex or UL certification is required. The drive, designated STAC6-Q-H, specifically covers ATEX and IEC-Ex certification for Class I, Zone 2 locations and UL certification for Class 1, Div 2, Group C & D locations. These hazardous areas are characterised such that flammable gases, vapours or liquids are not likely to occur in normal operation but, if they do occur, will only persist for a short period of time.

The panel mounted STAC6-Q-H includes an integrated intelligent drive with RS-232 and RS-485 communication and offers motion control configuration options that include step and direction, analogue voltage, PC or PLC host control, as well as standalone multitasking programmable control. With its direct-on-line AC power and programmable output current, from 0.5 to 6.0 A/phase, the drive will suit medium-to-large sized hazardous area compatible stepper motors producing a high holding torque and a wide speed range (contact Mclennan for suitable ATEX and UL approved motors).

Stackable multi-turn encoder

Sensata Technologies has launched what is reported to be the first explosion proof stackable multi-turn encoder for use in oil and gas applications.

The new encoder, BEI Sensors’ model MAAX, is ATEX and IECEx certified to operate in explosive environments and features a Profibus output in a bespoke, stackable package.  CANopen and SSI outputs are also available. The MAAX provides up to 16 bits of resolution as well as up to 16 bits of turns by mechanical counting. The product operates directly in Zone 1 environments without the need for an accompanying Intrinsic Safety barrier.

The stackable and explosion proof design makes for a simple installation wherever encoders are mounted in tandem to provide multiple signals for redundancy or when data sharing is desired. The Profibus interface simplifies system set up as it allows for daisy chaining products together without the need for running a control cable from the panel to each individual component. 

All exposed parts are either stainless steel or hard anodized to resist corrosion.  This rugged encoder is shock and vibration resistant and can operate in field temperatures from -30°C to +65°C.  Fitted with a unique 20 mm diameter integrated coupling, the MAAX housing can be rigidly mounted, reducing stress to the encoder’s bearings and providing a secure attachment for the hazardous area conduit fittings.  A through hollow shaft design with up to a 30mm flexible shaft bore is also available to fit a wide range of installation requirements.

Worker protection

For those staff faced with the challenge of working within hazardous environments, technology can play a key role monitoring and improving safety. As Glyn Jones, Group CEO, Trolex points out improvements in wireless tech and connectivity mean it is now easier for operations managers to track the locations, movement and environment of workers in real-time. These real-time insights allow operations managers to be far more proactive in managing the working environment, using data collected from connected devices and equipment to ensure operatives are both safe and working in an efficient environment at all times.

technology can play a key role monitoring and improving safety

Dust monitor units located in tunnels and mine shafts that track dust within the environment, for example, can be directly linked into the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to provide real time monitoring information, enabling operations managers to automatically manage air conditioning and dust suppression to optimise the environment.
 
By monitoring worker activity and location alongside environment condition monitoring, integration with the communications systems means workers can be warned if they are working in an area that is becoming unsafe. This can range from complete evacuation to a request to put on a mask in an area where masks are not always required or by employees who are not always required to wear masks as part of their day to day activity.

Tablet for hazardous areas

Part of Pepperl+Fuchs brand ecom ́s wirelessly interlinked, explosion-proof Mobile Worker Ecosystem that includes smartphones, tablets, peripherals as well as software applications, the Tab-Ex 02 industrial tablet is reported to combines top performance with innovative applications such as augmented reality. It is suited to IoT-capable applications and simplifies data exchange with SCADA / DCS systems, enterprise resource planning systems (SAP, IBM Maximo), project management systems and computer-aided system planning. As a compact lightweight tablet, the Tab-Ex 02 is aimed at a wide range of tasks such as inventory, material tracking, maintenance, and supply chain or asset management.

Based on the latest Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2, the Tab-Ex 02 uses the high-performance Android 7.1 Nougat operating system and features a powerful Octa Core processor with 1.6 GHz and 3 Gigabyte RAM.

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SMC marks return to PPMA show with largest stand 19/09/2018

After a gap of three years, SMC – the global market leader in pneumatics and experts in automation – will return to the PPMA show.

Reflecting SMC’s relevance as a supplier of choice to so many of the sectors represented at the event, the company will exhibit on the largest customised stand in the show. 

Bob Hitner, Marketing Manager for SMC UK, said the event would let customers see many of the company’s newest solutions for the first time.  “It’ll be three years since SMC last exhibited at the PPMA Show, so because we launch so many new products every year, this will be an excellent opportunity for automation users to see a lot of those solutions up close for the first time.”

Included in the solutions on display will be the company’s unique wireless valve manifold, their latest multi axis controller and some of their latest electric drives which can be ordered and delivered within days.

For more information checkout:  www.smcpneumatics.co.uk or call 01908 563888

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SICK heaps up the 'marginal gains' at PPMA 2018 19/09/2018

Visitors to the SICK UK stand at PPMA (A26) will learn how technology developments in smart sensors and machinery safety systems can release latent productivity benefits that help engineers to aggregate ‘marginal gains’ and achieve significant yields in efficiency, throughput and reduced waste.

SICK will be showcasing its 2D and 3D vision sensors, as well as its comprehensive range of Auto-Identification solutions for coding and labelling to demonstrate how high-performance detection, quality inspection and traceability are meeting the challenges of increasingly flexible and digitally-connected production environments.

Solutions on display include the SICK LabelChecker, an ‘off-the-shelf’ label inspection solution, and the SICK Inline Code Matcher ‘right product, right packaging’ quality control system. Visitors can also learn how SICK’s diverse range of registration sensors yield efficiency advantages through reliable detection and control of packaging processes.  From contrast to colour and luminescence, no substrate however shiny, matt, dark or uneven is a challenge too far for SICK.

If you need machinery safety that protects employees whilst enabling them to work faster with less downtime and in more effective collaboration with the machines they are operating, see SICK’s safety laser scanners, safety light curtains and Flexi-Soft safety control systems.

SICK will also be demonstrating how its level, pressure, flow and temperature sensors realise optimised processes though accurate measurement and control.

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Pilz to present Safe and Smart Automation Solutions at PPMA 2018 19/09/2018

Packaging-related processes require a high level of automation and flexibility to be efficient and profitable.

Packaging-related processes require a high level of automation and flexibility to be efficient and profitable.

Intelligent and Flexible Production

With this in mind we’ll be exhibiting our Pilz Smart Factory at the 2018 PPMA Show, which demonstrates how our products can help you achieve intelligent networking and flexible production in your plant, whilst making sure you always have safety at the forefront.

Safety for Industry 4.0

Furthermore, we will be showing our new Industry 4.0-compatible modular safety gate system - which allows users to create their own individual safety gate solutions - and our new PITestop active E-Stop button that indicates by illumination whether or not it is active.

Test your Cobot Applications with Pilz

Finally, we will be showing our ‘PROBms’ model that measures limit values for force or pressure of a robot movement as one of the measures to achieve a safe collaborative robot application.

We’re on stand F60 at the PPMA Show, come by for a visit and find out how we can create a tailor-made safer and smarter automation-based solution for your plant.

For further information please visit www.pilz.co.uk, email sales@pilz.co.uk or phone us on 01536 460766.

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Lenze will showcase its automation platform for the processing and packaging industry at the PPMA Show 19/09/2018

Lenze is serving up a whole host of activity at the PPMA Show this September. Visitors to the stand will get a chance to network and interact with Lenze’s automation platform, where they can see for themselves what advanced automation can do for their business from geared motor to the cloud.

With a barista and coffee shop style seating area on the stand, Lenze will provide opportunities for machine manufacturers to network and consult with experts in machine automation solutions.

"We want to give our customers the chance to strengthen their relationship and knowledge of Lenze as an automation solutions provider, our networking area will enable visitors to talk about both challenges and opportunities," explains Neil Beaumont, Marketing Communications Manager at Lenze.  

Lenze is actively involved with PPMA BEST (Business Education, Skills and Training), during the show and on Thursday 27th September, 60 students will attend the Young Peoples' skills seminar and workshop.  As well as a visit to the Lenze stand and other key exhibitors, New Business Automation Manager, Michael Sachpekidis, will present and discuss the latest automation technology innovations within the industry.

Michael says: “We’ve been working closely with schools and technical colleges providing both hardware and software products, including advanced motion control and automation systems and technologies. It’s vital we support and encourage our future engineers and we are excited about what they will learn from the show this September."

Chat to experienced engineers over a coffee and see the latest machine automation solutions. The PPMA Show takes place 25-27 September. Visitors will find Lenze in Hall 5, Stand J70.

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Efficient material handling is key. 19/09/2018

The material handling and packaging industries depend upon the quick and efficient transportation of materials. Come and see KUKA and SCM Handling at the PPMA, 25th-27th September 2018, NEC Birmingham

Automated robotic handling systems, incorporating roller conveyors, are providing efficient and scalable solutions as businesses embrace process optimisation as a means to better manage distribution challenges and consumer demand and are being widely deployed within manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and distribution hubs.

Pallet conveyor systems carry goods throughout the warehouse & supply chain phase whilst industrial robots manage tasks such as picking, packing, palletising and stacking, further enhancing operational capabilities.

The logistics and supply chain is a fast moving market and efficient material handling is integral to operational success. But some of the tasks applicable to the processes involved are non-ergonomic and can present a risk factor. Consider complicated actions or procedures that might prove difficult for humans.

KUKA strategic system partner and materials handling market leader SCM Handling Ltd. can provide your business with a competitive edge, through bespoke material handling solutions designed and engineered for maximum return.

As an integrator specialist, SCM’s expertise lies in understanding your material handling requirements.

Come and see KUKA and SCM Handling at the PPMA, 25th-27th September 2018, NEC Birmingham

E: sales@kuka-robotics.co.uk

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