Showing posts with label Acromag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acromag. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

High Density Signal Conditioners

microblox signal conditioning module
MicroBlox™ signal conditioning modules offer broad
functionality in a very compact package.
Image courtesy Acromag
Signal conditioning is a common function needed for proper operation of data acquisition or process control systems. The general purpose of signal conditioning is to convert an input signal of one type to an output signal of another, completing a usable path of information from signal generating device to signal using device. With many control and data acquisition systems employing numerous input signals from diverse sources and instruments, a control panel benefits from having a consolidated, adaptable means of performing all the required signal conditioning while occupying a minimized footprint in the panel.

The microBlox™ line of signal conditioners, from Acromag, provides a broad range of signal conditioning functionality in a compact and rugged industrial package. The microBlox™ line of signal conditioners provides a wide array of useful features, broad range of I/O signal compatibility, and a very compact high density footprint. The input modules offer screwless mounting in a choice of backplanes accommodating up to 16 channels. Functions included transmitter, alarm, and signal conditioner.

The variety of available models, some with economical precalibrated ranges, is extensive. The module construction, with its overmolded circuitry, provides resistance to dust, moisture, vibration and shock. The most valued capability of microBlox™ input modules is their Bluetooth connectivity. Mobile devices running either the Android or Apple versions of the Agility app can communicate with enabled modules to perform setup and configuration, diagnostic and troubleshooting functions. Input polling and trending is also possible using the app.

More technical data, illustration and description of the microBlox™ signal conditioners is included below. Share your signal conditioning and I/O challenges with a a product specialist. Leverage your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Switching Inductive Loads With Relays and Solid State Devices in Process Control

control panel interior process automation and control panel
Switching devices must be properly protected for longevity
We connect a lot of black boxes together in our control systems, not really knowing what goes on inside. There is a basic understanding of function, but maybe not enough knowledge to thoroughly assess all aspects of integrating a device into a train of control system components. We range from novice to seasoned expert, so Acromag, manufacturer and global supplier of I/O devices for process control, has provided a useful application note regarding the protection of devices employed to switch inductive loads.

The application paper provides a good explanation of what an inductive load is, and how it can impact the performance and longevity of a switching device. The document further explains how to offset the potentially damaging impact of an inductive load on a connected switching device, with specific examples and recommendations on how to put the protective measures in place. It is useful information.

The paper is provided below. Share your I/O and other process measurement and control challenges with application specialists, combining your own process knowledge with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monitoring Generator Sets in Standby Mode Increases Reliability

Remote Monitoring of Electric Generator in Standy Mode
Electrtic generators used as backup power sources play a critical role in maintaining operations at many facilities. They may be automatically test run periodically, but still sit idle for extended times. Continuous remote monitoring of equipment condition can reduce the risk of a failed start.

Acromag, a globally recognized manufacturer of signal conditioning equipment, has authored an application note outlining the extent of remote monitoring that should be employed and how to accomplish it.

The application note is included below. Share your process signal conditioning and transmitting challenges with product specialists, combining your process knowledge with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

High Density Signal Conditioning Modules Offer Bluetooth® Configuration of I/O Ranges and Alarms

Miniature high density signal conditioner module for process control I/O
The microBlox™ signal conditioners for high density I/O configuration
Acromag, a globally recognized manufacturer of signal conditioning modules and related equipment, announced a new product release earlier this month. The microBlox™ line of signal conditioners provides a wide array of useful features, broad range of I/O signal compatibility, and a very compact high density footprint.

Here is an excerpt from the Acromag newsletter from June 6, 2016.

A full line of microBlox™ isolated signal conditioning modules are now available from Acromag. Offering over 175 models, microBlox uB modules can safely interface a wide variety of voltage, current, temperature, frequency, and other field signals with a ±5V or 0-5V DC output to host measurement & control systems. Users can select modules with fixed ranges or wireless configuration via Bluetooth® wireless technology on an Android™ or iOS® mobile device. Acromag’s free AgilityTM app for smartphones and tablets simplifies setting custom I/O ranges and optional alarm functions. The app can also display input signal values and create sharable trend charts. uB modules snap securely into compact backpanels (no screws) in any mix with 4, 8 or 16-channel capacities. With 1500Vac peak (350Vdc continuous) channel-to-channel and field-to-host isolation, the hot-swappable modules are ideal to front-end data acquisition systems or Acromag remote I/O for communication to Ethernet, Modbus, or Profibus networks. High performance is assured with up to 0.05% accuracy and 130dB noise rejection. Prices start at just $90 per module.
 
“Advanced microcontroller and wireless technologies enable microBlox modules to bring greater flexibility and signal processing capabilities into such a small, economical package.” stated Robert Greenfield, Acromag’s marketing & sales director.
The microBlox module’s small size (1.11" x 1.65" x 0.4") and channel-by-channel scalability is ideal for embedded or portable applications such as test stands, defense systems, and process control applications. Well-suited for use in harsh industrial environments, the over-molded modules resist shock, dirt, and moisture with dependable operation from -40 to 85°C. Hazardous location UL/cUL Class 1 Div 2 and ATEX Zone 2 approvals are also available.
Accessories include a selection of backpanels with slots to insert 4, 8, or 16 modules. Fuse clips hold the modules securely without screws for easy insertion/removal. The backpanels support surface or DIN rail mounting and include CJC for use with temperature input modules. Blue LEDs indicate modules that are ready for Bluetooth wireless technology communication. Connections are provided for a 5V power source or a 10-32Vdc supply when used with the plug-in 5V power module. A DB25 header facilitates a single cable connection to interface all uB I/O signals directly to the host data acquisition system.
 A consolidated catalog describing the new microBlox™  signal conditioners is included below. Share your signal conditioning and I/O challenges with a a product specialist. Combining your process knowledge with their product application expertise will produce the best solutions.




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Selecting Single-ended vs. Differential Voltage Measurement for Process Measurement - Part 2 of 2

programmable logic controller with input and output devices for process control
Selecting the proper signal conditioning equipment
is essential to maintaining process operation
This second part of a two part series of white papers provides discussion of the differences in function of differential and single-ended voltage measurement for industrial process measurement and control. Part One focused primarily on single-ended voltage measurement, how it differs from differential, and in what application context it can be best applied. This white paper, provided below, delves into differential voltage measurement and how it may be advantageous, even necessary, in a range of application scenarios.

The papers are produced by Acromag, Inc., a globally recognized manufacturer of signal conditioning equipment. Information about Acromag's extensive product offering is available from M.S. Jacobs & Associates, as well as technical details and application assistance.



Selecting Single-ended vs. Differential Voltage Measurement for Process Measurement - Part 1 of 2

DIN rail mounted process measurement signal conditioning module
Acromag manufactures an extensive array
of signal conditioning modules
Process control requires process measurement. The industry provides a enormous array of measuring devices for almost every conceivable process parameter. Selecting the right signal conditioner that will convert a current process state into a signal to be transmitted to and utilized by a controller can be challenging. One area of confusion centers around whether to use differential or single-ended voltage measurement.

Acromag, Inc., a globally recognized manufacturer of signal conditioning equipment for industrial process measurement and control, has provided a white paper that helps sort out reasons behind a beneficial selection of single-ended or differential voltage measurement devices. Explanation of how each functions and tips on selection criteria for an application are also provided. The technicality of the language is at a level that is comprehensible to most, but retains that exciting engineering edge for the purists among us. The first part of two (Part Two), provided below, focuses mostly on single-ended measurement. Part two covers differential.

Top flight assistance with your process measurement and control application challenges is available from M.S. Jacobs & Associates.



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Process and Equipment Monitoring Using Telemetry

high voltage transformers in electrical substation
Continuous monitoring of remotely located
equipment yields a wide range of benefits
Industrial operations and processes are populated with unimaginable variations of equipment and applications, each with specific operating sequences intended to produce a specific outcome. By their scale and nature, most have the capacity to substantially impact the success of the organization. As stakeholders in the operation of industrial processes and equipment, we have an interest in monitoring their performance for any number of reasons.

  • Financial - The investment in plant and equipment is financially significant to a company of any size. An operator benefits from monitoring process inputs and outputs. Scrutinizing the operating status of process equipment and intermediate process conditions provides valuable information that can be used to minimize negative events of many types.
  • Maintenance - Keeping a real time watch over operating characteristics of machinery can present opportunities to head off trouble before it happens. There are many warning signs that can precede equipment failure, and taking prompt remedial action requires issuance of real time warnings.
  • Safety - Industrial operations of all types tend to exhibit levels of hazard to personnel or environment ranging from minor to potentially catastrophic. The rigorous procedures employed to maintain operation within prescribed limits are enabled through the use of information about process conditions.
  • Regulatory - There can be jurisdictional requirements to monitor and report certain process characteristics. An ability to conduct the needed action from afar, without having to station personnel at a remote location, has some real benefit.
This list is not intended to be complete or definitive. There are countless ways that process operators can use real time data to enhance all facets of their operation. A challenge arises when the process or operation extends over a large area, perhaps beyond the boundaries of the primary facility. That's where telemetry serves as the means to deliver needed information to a decision making location.
Modern requirements for "knowing what is happening" increase the need for telemetry in industrial operations. 
Telemetry is getting the information you need from a remote or inaccessible location and delivering it to where it can be used for decision making. 
With the wide array of hardware offered by process measurement and control equipment suppliers, implementing the data collection and transmission has become a fairly straight forward task. Simply put, here is what you need to accomplish.

  • Measure or detect the information needed. You know how to do this. Sensors, counters, or other regularly available process measuring equipment is what is needed here.
  • Convert the measurement into a transmissible form. This will likely be accomplished by the transmission gear. The measurement devices you use should provide an output signal that is compatible with the input requirements of the selected transmission equipment.
  • Transmit the information to the receiving station (the decision making point). The device and equipment manufacturers do most of the hard work of accomplishing this task. Generally, regardless of the transmission method, the extent of the work needed to put transmission into operation involves powering up the equipment and assigning addresses or channels to identify the source of the signal.
  • Receive the signal and convert it to a form readable by the decision making portion of the system. Again, the telemetry equipment manufacturers handle the details in the design of their equipment. Implementation consists of similar steps to those of the transmission equipment.
It is recommended that the transmission method be selected first. It must accommodate any challenges presented by the distance to be covered and any obstacles that may impact the delivery of the signal to its destination. Coordinate the measuring device output signal selection with the transmission device input requirements. The receiving equipment must be capable of producing an output signal that is readable by whatever decision making or recording equipment is used.

Below is a case study illustrating how a user derived a signal from a utility plant to provide data on local power consumption.You will see how they selected and employed equipment to accomplish the four tasks outlined above.

The applications are only limited by your imagination and ingenuity. Instead of wondering about what is happening at remote locations, operators can now easily measure and deliver useful operating information across almost any distance. Share your challenges with process control specialists and develop the solutions you need.



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Innovations In RTD Signal Conditioning - One Manufacturer's Compilation

Industrial process measurement and control RTD signal conditioner
RTD Signal Conditioning Units
Courtesy Acromag
Temperature measurement may be one of the oldest components of process control and laboratory research. The measurement of temperature has progressed through a variety of methodologies, some of which are still in use today. Modern industrial process control relies heavily on the use of RTDs (resistance temperature detector) for their accuracy and stability.

Some of us have used RTDs in our process designs for many years, maybe without recognizing the innovations that have come about in the signal conditioning portion of our installations. One manufacturer of industrial signal conditioning equipment, Acromag, has compiled the ten most significant recent advances in RTD signal conditioning. I have included their white paper below.

Browse the paper, as it is brief and informative. You will likely see a few improvements of which you were unaware. Share your temperature measurement and signal conditioning challenges with an application specialist. Combining your process experience with their product application expertise will produce positive solutions.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ethernet I/O Modules Provide Connectivity Advantages

Industrial Ethernet Input and Output Modules on DIN Rail
Industrial Ethernet I/O Modules
Courtesy Acromag
Industrial process control relies on the accurate and timely delivery of process measurements and data to the point of control and decision making. As technology affords more opportunities to measure and transmit process variables, the demand for incorporating the additional information in the control and decision making process expands. The frequency at which data can flow from a process has also increased dramatically, and there is often significant value derived from rapid sampling. Transmitting the voluminous measurement data to the point of control can be accomplished using three basic methods:

  • Point to point wiring from each measurement device to the control point.
  • Wireless linkup from measurement location to controller.
  • Wired network connection between measurement and control devices.
Each of these connection topologies has particular attributes which may better suit a particular application.  For a wired network scheme, Acromag has designed a line of I/O modules that make installation and configuration a smooth operation. Helpful features include:
  • Power wiring options that allow back connected bus power or top mounted screw terminals. You can even provide primary and backup power sources to the two connections.
  • Front facing screw terminals for connections make status checking of inputs a simple operation with your digital volt meter.
  • Modules are rail mounted and can be placed immediately adjacent to one another for high density installation.
  • Modules have a built in webpage for display of operational information. Configuration is accomplished using a front mounted USB port.
  • Operable in temperatures -40 to +70 deg. Celsius.
  • Two Ethernet ports on each unit allow modules to be daisy chained, reducing or negating need for local hubs.
  • Acromag's Priority Channel Technology assures that data update frequencies are maintained, regardless of other network traffic.
The short video below provides additional detail on the useful features of the Acromag line of industrial Ethernet I/O modules. Watch the video. Share your process measurement and control connectivity challenges with a sales engineer specializing in industrial Ethernet I/O. Combine your process knowledge with the state of the art product knowledge of a product specialist for the best solutions.



Monday, November 23, 2015

Industrial I/O Applications Compilation Provides Answers

Process Measurement and Control Input and Output Devices
Process Measurement and Control I/O Devices
Courtesy Acromag
Process measurement always presents two basic challenges, derive a measured value of the process condition, then transmit or deliver that value to a recording or decision making device. Your knowledge and ingenuity applied to the design and implementation of these measurement and transmission functions are the key to how effectively your control system will function. Acromag, a world class manufacturer of signal conditioning equipment and industrial I/O devices, has produced a compilation of applications that illustrate some creative and best practices for establishing effective connections between control and measurement devices. The applications are drawn from defense, power generation, and manufacturing, but the knowledge shared can be broadly applied to many industries.

Look through the applications and you will find something of value. You can always contact a product and application specialist to discuss your process measurement and control challenges and requirements. Combining their product application expertise with your process knowledge will generate the best solutions.



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Are You Well Grounded on Grounding? - Part 3

Drawing symbols for Electrical Ground
Electrical Drawing Symbols for Ground
Welcome to the third and final part of this series on electrical grounding for equipment and instruments. Part One and Part Two can be found as previous posts to this blog, and I hope you read them too. Those initial parts provided practical knowledge about equipment grounding and personnel protection in a format understandable to anyone. Those of us more deeply involved with electrical matters likely know someone that could benefit from these articles and I urge you to share.

The white paper that I have included below was produced by the folks at Acromag, a world class manufacturer of signal conditioners and other industrial I/O devices. They have done a fantastic job of presenting technical subject matter in a compact and very understandable form. The subjects covered in the series include:
  • Ground as protection
  • How a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) works
  • Ground as a voltage stabilizer and transient limiter
  • Tips on improving safety and signal integrity
  • The importance of circuit grounding
  • Description of the US AC power system and its use of earth ground
This third installment includes a section entitled "Some Basic Ground Rules For Wired Equipment" which lists out an array of useful tips for connecting wired signals to devices, and more.

Product specialists are always on hand to discuss and solve your process measurement and control issues. Combine the process knowledge of the on site stakeholder with the product and application expertise of the professional sales engineer to produce the best outcomes.



Are You Well Grounded on Grounding? - Part 2

Electrical drawing symbols for ground
Drawing Symbols for Ground
Electricity, like many beneficial trappings of modern society, is both beneficial and dangerous. Protecting users of equipment and appliances from the potentially harmful impact of electric shock is a socially accepted mandate that has been codified everywhere in the developed world.

Acromag, a manufacturer of input and output devices for industrial control systems, has produced a three part series of white papers that provide readable, non-technical descriptions of various aspects of electrical grounding and its relationship to safety and operational integrity. The subjects covered in the three part series include:

  • Ground as protection
  • How a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) works
  • Ground as a voltage stabilizer and transient limiter
  • Tips on improving safety and signal integrity
  • The importance of circuit grounding
  • Description of the US AC power system and its use of earth ground
You can find the initial installment on our previous blog post, and the third installment follows this blog post. All three parts are recommended reading for anyone, but stakeholders in process measurement and control will benefit from refreshing and enhancing their understanding of this important subject. It is a quick read and presents technical subject matter in a way that can be comprehended by anyone.

Product and application specialists are always eager to hear about your application issues and questions. Never hesitate to contact them. Your process knowledge, combined with the product and application familiarity of a professional sales engineer, will generate good outcomes.



Are You Well Grounded on Grounding? - Part 1

Ground Symbols
Some Drawing Symbols Used For Ground
Grounding of electrical equipment and electronic instrumentation is an aspect of project design and implementation that sometimes gets taken for granted. To say that proper electrical grounding is important is an understatement because, without it, certain safety aspects that we rely upon will simply not work. Additionally, and often more confounding, is the intermittent, unexpected, or bizarre behavior of electronic measurement and control devices when proper electrical grounding is not established.

I came across a series of white papers written by some knowledgeable people at Acromag, a manufacturer of industrial input and output devices (industrial I/O). The comprehensive three part series covers best practices involved in the grounding of electrical equipment and electronic instrumentation, in language understandable to a reader of any technical level. The subject matter includes:

  • Ground as protection
  • How a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) works
  • Ground as a voltage stabilizer and transient limiter
  • Tips on improving safety and signal integrity
  • The importance of circuit grounding
  • Description of the US AC power system and its use of earth ground

In my reading of the white papers, I gathered a few things I did not know, refreshed a few I had forgotten, and reinforced my understanding of the topic. There is something in the documents for everyone, and a small investment in time will yield some benefit. All stakeholders in industrial process measurement and control, from the factory floor to the executive office, should have the basic understanding contained in these papers.

Part One of the three part series is below. Part Two and Part Three will be published simultaneously in posts following this one. You can get any level of application assistance you need from the sales engineers that specialize in industrial process equipment, measurement, and controls. Their product knowledge and technical resources, combined with your process mastery, will yield the best solution to any issue.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Big Signal Loop? Consider Using a Splitter.

Acromag Industrial Signal Isolated Transmitter
Industrial Signal Transmitters
Courtesy Acromag
Industrial process measurement and control requires the transmission of signals from point to point with no significant distortion. Even with the growing prevalence of wireless signal transmission, over-wire transmission of signals is still a primary means of connecting one device to another.
In the cabled process measurement and control world, the 4 to 20 milliampere signal is generally considered the standard for transmitting analog control and measurement signals over any distance.
There is an immense array of instrumentation and controllers available for use with 4-20 ma signals, so expertise in routing and delivering those signals should be part of your process M&C skill set.

Like just about everything else, routing 4-20 ma signals presents its own set of challenges that require some thought and planning to overcome. Electrical interference is always a concern and must be prevented from impacting the operation of measurement and control devices. Additionally, there must be sufficient power in the signal loop to accommodate the resistance load of connected devices. There are other considerations, but I'm going to focus on these two.

One scenario that can present significant issues is multiple devices requiring connection to the same signal, but with great distance between them. A simple solution can be implemented using an isolated signal splitter.

Features of these units making them an attractive, single box, solution:


  • One 4-20 ma input channel for the measuring or controlling device.
  • The input signal is retransmitted as identical isolated 4-20 ma signals
  • Galvanic isolation from input to output
  • Isolation between channels for safety and increased noise immunity. Fault in one output channel does not impact the operation of the other channels.
  • Reliable operation in industrial environments, with protection from RFI, EMI, ESD, and surges.
  • Low radiated emissions in accordance with CE requirements. 
  • DIN-rail mounting of the unit
  • Plug-in terminal blocks
If you have a very long signal loop, connecting multiple devices, consider breaking the devices into two groups that may allow for a substantially shorter cable length for each group. Connect each group to one of the isolated outputs of the splitter, giving each group of instruments the identical signal without the risks or impractically of an excessively long cable run.

There are other devices available that may combine special characteristics that solve your signal transmission challenges. Contact a product specialist and discuss your existing or anticipated project requirements. I continually urge engineers to take their process expertise, combine it with the extensive product knowledge of a professional sales engineer, and produce the best possible outcome.