A new technology exhibited at the Interkama 2008 exhibition streamlines factory and process device digital communications, and solves interoperability shortcomings caused by the absence of a single standard in HART or fieldbus communications.
Endress+Hauser Australia , every alternate year, hosts a group of Australian engineers and partners on a Process Instrumentation Training Tour in Europe, to coincide with the Interkama Trade Fair.
An event for the global automation industry, Interkama showcases individual components, complete automation solutions, engineering and maintenance services. At the 2008 Fair, participating exhibitors from different nations offered an array of products and solutions. Visitor numbers showed an increase of 30 percent over the 2006 event.
The Tour included site visits and technical presentations on level and pressure measurement and a review of all flow measurement technologies. One of the tour highlights was the group visit to the University of Basel’s Nanoscience department.
The ‘interpretative’ DTM software (iDTM) is part of the FDT/DTM software toolset. iDTM allows manufacturers of devices to use the classical HART DD (Device Description), either in the HART or Foundation Fieldbus environments, and to standardise on the FDT/DTM environment. The DDs can be ‘encapsulated’ within the iDTM and can be invoked by the FDT interpreter. The end user requires only one toolset to commission and troubleshoot all devices.
Progress towards one standard has been slow despite industry demand for increased efficiency. The difficulty for users has been the lack of cooperation between the two technologies, DD/EDD and FDT/DTM. Lack of accurate, reliable data prevents instrument problems being diagnosed quickly and dealt with. Output is affected when instruments do not function at an optimum level.
Waiting for repairs means unnecessary plant downtime. Manufacturers carry the cost of these inefficiencies. The need for a ‘common’ troubleshooting tool becomes more and more critical.
The WirelessHART technology promoted at Interkama could have a long-term potential for process plants and tank farms if instrument power and technology standardisation are addressed. Wireless-based instrumentation’s strength is the ability to monitor measurements at remote locations such as level in tanks and silos and pH in faraway dams, and it saves cabling and labour costs.
The main difficulty is the divergent technologies adopted to transmit the signals. With no transmission standard, end-users have to choose between the two, thus compromising device maintenance and productivity.
Globally the need to optimise water use and manage economic and environmental impacts has become a major public and private sector priority. Interkama offered new water analysers, and improved water analysis solutions.
Climate change, population growth, drift to the cities and inefficient harvesting of water drainage contribute to world scarcity. Drinking water can be obtained by desalination and recycling wastewater or sewage. Current methods of water analysis are costly, complex, time-consuming and labour-intensive.
Samples must be mixed with reagents and analysed with light spectrometry to check which unwanted materials they contain. Labour and equipment like pumps and cabinets are needed, while hazardous reagents have a limited shelf-life and must be stored in air-conditioned cubicles.
The need to evolve improved water analysis equipment seen at Interkama poses new challenges for industry as well as opportunities.