Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Alliance Technical Sales Adds Industrial Process Heating

industrial heaters heat trace cable sheet blanket silicone rubber
Array of industrial heating products
Courtesy Briskheat
Alliance Technical Sales recently reached a new representation agreement with BriskHeat Corporation. The industrial heating products and systems manufactured by BriskHeat expand and complement the Alliance product and capabilities offering.

BriskHeat manufactures a broad line of heaters, insulators, and controls for almost every industrial application.
  • Cloth Heating Jackets and Insulators
  • Heating Tapes
  • Heating Cable
  • Laboratory Heaters and Equipment
  • Etched Foil Heaters
  • Silicone Rubber Heaters
  • Drum Heaters
  • Tote Tank / IBC Heaters
  • Gas Cylinder Warmers
  • Enclosure Heaters
  • Hopper Heating Systems
  • Personal Comfort Heating Solutions
  • Hazardous-Area Heaters
  • Plastic Bending Heaters
  • Resistance Wire
  • Temperature Controllers
  • Temperature Controllers for Outdoor Use
  • Insulators
  • Heaters and Controls with Canadian Approvals
  • Composite Curing Solutions
Share your industrial and process heating requirements with the product specialists at Alliance Technical Sales. Combining your process expertise with their product knowledge will produce effective solutions.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Software For Bioreactors and Batch Processing Pulls Everything Together in One Place

pharmaceutical batch operation with operator
Bioreactors and other batch operations can require the integration and coordinated operation of multiple control loops, data collection and processing, and the equipment and instruments sourced from differing manufacturers. Operations such as these can benefit greatly from productivity improvement afforded by expert level software that automates and coordinates the tasks involved in batch processing.

ILS Automation, a leader and specialist in software and hardware targeted at the automation of batch processing, provides their Batch Expert+ software which allows operators to maximize productivity throughout the entire process. The company takes an open non-proprietary approach to providing solutions for complex batch processing. In the company's own words (from the ILS website) Batch Expert+ software offers:
  • Adaptable: Customers can customize a system to meet their needs both now and in the future. Software features are often added to meet the ever-changing needs of process development or the introduction and integration of new measurement technology. 
  • IoT Approach: We apply the notion of the Internet of Things (IoT) to laboratory automation. Our controllers integrate smart control elements and instruments in smart ways. Often this implies a digital interface to read and write actual numbers instead of an analog 4-20 mA approximation. Richer and more accurate/precise data is presented for data analysis and automation. Be it gas flow controllers (Alicat and Brooks), digital probes (Mettler ISM, Hamilton Visiferm), scales (Mettler, Sartorius, OHAUS, etc.), cell density (Hamilton Incyte, ABER, Fogale), the IoT approach provides smarter solutions.
  • Open: ILS first-and-foremost provides solutions — not just a piece of equipment that is unpacked from a box. To achieve this goal, we don’t hide behind proprietary equipment or software that is rigid and would conform to our thoughts of what our customers need. Our platforms grow and scale to adapt to customer needs through an open software and hardware system based on industrial grade, off-the-shelf components.
  • Remote Support: ILS often supports our customers through a remote VPN connection (LogMeIn, Citrix Receiver, etc.). Our customers claim that we have an obsession with bioreactor control and performance tuning. Combining our AFC controller with our BE+ platform, the slightest DO oscillation or anomaly spurs our interest. Through this interaction and customer feedback, we continually learn and improve our products and solutions. Also, we are often not on-site when questions and issues arise just before a 5:00 pm Friday inoculation, so any automation to help the end users is greatly appreciated.
There is more to learn about Batch Expert+ and how it can be incorporated into your own operations. Share your processing challenges with a product specialist, combining your process knowledge with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New Sensor For Measuring Total Chlorine

total chlorine sensor
Zirkon® DIS Total - Total chlorine process sensor

Courtesy Kuntze Instrument
The measurement of chlorine is a mainstay of many disinfection and drinking water treatment processes. Higher levels of accuracy in measurement of chlorine increase the surety of the disinfection process while limiting use of disinfection chemical products to only what is necessary.

Kuntze Instruments has developed and recently released a total chlorine sensor for use in disinfection processing and drinking water production. The Zirkon® DIS Total measures the level of chlorine compounds. Its open and potentiostatic design offers four primary operator benefits.

  • Immunity to air bubbles
  • Absence of delicate plastic membranes
  • No exchange of electrolyte
  • No membrane exchange
A data sheet is included below that provides more technical data for the  Zirkon® DIS Total sensor. The sensor is designed and configured in a manner that allows its usage with the full range of applicable instrumentation from the company. 

Share you process analytical and measurement challenges with experts in the application of instrumentation to process measurement. The combination of your process knowledge and their instrument application expertise will produce an effective solution.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Create a Customized On/Off Process Control Unit

In control theory, an on/off controller is a feedback controller that switches abruptly between two states. It is often used as a control method for a process which can tolerate ongoing change in the process value within a band, referred to as the hysteresis. A common example of an on/off temperature control operation is a residential thermostat. They control the temperature of your home, turning off the heating or cooling system at your comfort setting, waiting for some significant change to occur, then turning on again to eliminate that difference. The process cycles continually. Many process operations can utilize simple on/off control action to maintain suitable conditions.

sanitary temperature transmitter RTD
Temperature Transmitter
Courtesy Smart Sensors
A PLC (programmable logic controller) can be a good candidate for creating your own on/off temperature controller with specialized additional functionality that suits your process. Implementing the temperature control operation is not difficult, and the use of a PLC allows the designer to integrate other useful functions into a single piece of hardware, functions that might not be available in a commercially available process controller.

The primary input device will be a transmitter with analog output compatible with the analog input on the PLC. For this discussion, let's assume this is a temperature control application that requires heating of the process. So, a temperature transmitter will be our primary input device. The primary output device will be a heater contactor or other power control device, the input of which must be compatible with the output of the PLC. Any other switches, pilot lights, alarms, or other devices will need to also be associated with a compatible PLC I/O point. 

The logic portion of the temperature control activity is not complex. The input signal from the temperature transmitter is converted to a working value. Depending upon the numeric muscle of your PLC, this value may be a floating point number, but integer values work suitably. Here are the logic steps needed.

  • Read temperature input value
  • Is temperature greater than or equal to the setpoint? If yes, turn off output for heater and proceed to the next step. If no, go to next step.
  • Is temperature less than or equal to the value of setpoint minus a deadband value (more on deadband below)? If yes, turn on output for heater. If no, continue to other commands that provide your additional desired functions.
Here are some points to consider.
  • Use a greater than or equal to, or less than or equal to comparison to assure that all possible numeric scenarios for process temperature are handled.
  • Deadband is a value that you employ to keep your control output from chattering rapidly between the on and off state when the process value is very close to the setpoint. It can also be used, in this case, to slow down the on/off switching of the heater and reduce wear on a mechanical contactor. Keep in mind that a 16 or 32 bit number, which is what the PLC will use for internal processing of your temperature reading, may actually pass across the setpoint value rapidly, even though a digital display of temperature will appear to be relatively stable. The constantly changing values would cause rapid changes in the output if the comparison logic did not include a deadband value. The use of a deadband creates a range of process temperature where no change in the output occurs. 
  • For this particular application, with its heating action, a separate limit control is advised. The device should derive its input signal from a source other than that of the PLC and the output of the limit control should provide a positive means of de-energizing the heater.
  • Other functions easily programmed into the PLC include alarms, pilot lights to reflect heating activity, an on/off switch for the process, and other items limited only by your ingenuity.
Not every process needs PID control. This illustration focused on temperature, but the principles are the same for almost any process. A modestly powerful PLC can provide the processing power, and input devices for temperature, humidity, moisture, pH, liquid level, flow, pressure, and more are available. Share your challenges with a process measurement specialist and develop an effective customized solution for control of your process.