Process Infrastructure – Ethernet HART Multiplexer

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Process infrastructure is one of the most critical parts of a refinery plant or offshore platform. The topology of modern process infrastructure includes FOUNDATION Fieldbus, Profibus PA, WirelessHart and HART Multiplexer etc.

HART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer) is the most broadly supported protocol in the world for process industry as there are 40 Million HART devices being installed worldwide. But according to records, only 10% of these HART devices are connect to HART compatible control systems. End user should expand the use of HART devices in order to perform specialized operations like:

  • Asset Management
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Data Logging
  • Partial-stroke Testing

Benefits of HART

Problems of Conventional Serial HART Multiplexers:

  • Slow scanning time due to large quantities of I/Os in the network
  • Limitation of RS485’s transmission speed
  • Work based on “Master and Slave” principle

Above are some of the challenges faced when using a conventional RS485 Hart Multiplexer and they will become worse if there are more than 1000 devices. Ethernet Multiplexer can solve this problem as featured below.

Fig 1: Ethernet Hart Multiplexer

Fig 1: Ethernet Hart Multiplexer

Ethernet Multiplexer Features and Benefits:

  • Works with existing standard IP infrastructure
  • Supports higher communication speed up to 1GB/s
  • Easy integration into Ethernet based Host system without additional conversion
  • Provides faster start up and device configuration
  • Flexibility in network design like redundant Ethernet
Fig 2: Hart IP Network Overview

Fig 2: Hart IP Network Overview

If you need any technical advice on your current project, feel free to contact us or drop us a feedback below. I believe we can be your trusted partner to provide suitable solution to fit your application!

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PLC Logic – The Better Smart Relay

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There are numerous smart relays in the market but PLC Logic is perhaps the only one that can have both control and monitoring capabilities while linked to an Apple iPad. This is done by using Bluetooth dongle, which turns the PLC Logic into a modern wireless control system.  The range of Bluetooth devices is 100 meters with unobstructed line of sight and this translates to a lot of cost savings for applications that require control and monitoring remotely without the need to spend money for installation of communication devices and cable installation. The best thing is that the app is free from the Appstore. An additional plus point is that the interface looks really cool and clean, similar to what you can expect from an Apple Interface.

The PLC Logic also has versatile communication options to any higher level control system. It can support protocols such as PROFIBUS RS-232 RS-485 Modbus/TCP DeviceNet™ CANopen® PROFINET EtherNet/IP™ with just a change of gateway. With so many protocol options, there is no need to worry if the PLC Logic can support any higher level controller in the market.

One of the advantages PLC Logic has over the many smart relays in the market is that the relays are pluggable and replaceable. This solves the problem of the need to change the whole smart relay module in the event of a faulty relay. This translates to lower replacement cost. More importantly, downtime is greatly reduced and one just needs to change a relay instead of reprogramming the smart relay if the unfortunate relay gets faulty.

Another game changer in the smart relay market is that the analogue cards, both input and output, can be inserted as part of the main PLC Logic module without the need to attach a separate analogue module. This translates into cost savings as well as space savings. The analogue card supports both mA and V in full ranges. Besides that, there is also an analogue input card that supports PT100 or PT1000 sensor.

Last but not least, the PLC Logic comes with an option of full Push In connection technology. This can be found on the PLC Logic controller itself as well as all the corresponding relays that can be supported. The advantage of Push In is evident in applications that are prone to vibrations – you are well assured that none of the wires from the PLC Logic will be loosened.

Weight Loss

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Recently, the people that I know have been asking what actually happened to me. For some who have known me long enough, my weight previously almost hit the 100kg mark and now I am 79kg. What caused the tremendous loss of weight? Some ask if it is because of stress, if it is because of health issues. Some even ask if it is because I’m having a new girlfriend. Well, the actual answer is simple, I just want to look & feel good.

Slimming down is actually simple. There are actually 2 ways of slimming down, the conventional way and the simple way.

The simple way is what we have heard of in recent years, where you need to purchase certain slimming products and consume it. There are some products which claim that you can slim down without even doing workouts. This method usually will cost you a bomb and the results are sometimes uncertain.

The conventional way is rather what we have heard since the old days. This way is basically to exercise, practice diet control, etc. The conventional way is being known as the “hard way”, but this costs less and will take a lot of hard work.

Well, personally I choose the conventional way. The reason is very simple – I don’t want to spend much money on losing weight. I would rather spend the money elsewhere.

The first thing you need to do is to control your diet. You need to know what is the recommended daily calorie intake for a man/woman. Then, you need to know the estimated amount of calories of the food you consume. Bear in mind that most food manufacturers do state the calories/100g. If it is not stated or the food you consume is from your local hawker stall, you can actually search online as someone might have done research before. From there, you can do your own calculation on how much you consume every day. This method will usually allow you to just maintain your weight or maybe lose some of it.

Next up is the most important factor in losing weight. We must be clear on how much intake we have and ensure that these calories can be burned. Most of us who are working in the corporate world will have very limited movements daily. Hence, the amount of calories burnt is less than the calories consumed. Exercise is the way to burn calories & fats fast. Apart from burning calories, regular exercise makes you feel more energetic and young. Personally, I do only 2 sessions of exercise per week, 2 hours of basketball & futsal each. During the session, I personally set a target of the amount of calories to be burnt. If this target is not met, I will immediately find an alternative way to burn calories, for example, by jogging.

Finally, I think discipline is what makes it happen. We know that we need to control our diet and exercise but how many of us are able to do it consistently? We must remember we don’t get fat in one day and same goes for losing weight. All of us know what has to be done to lose weight but we are just not disciplined enough to do it consistently.

Teams and Team Dynamics

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Have you ever wondered why do teams exist?

Let us begin with the definition of the word “Team” as a noun.

“A number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest; a number of persons associated in some joint action.” (Dictionary.com)

Teams are present almost everywhere in this world that we are living in. We can see teams being formed in the work place, sports, games, social organizations, government etc.

No team is similar, as every team consists of members with different attributes and personalities. The difference lies in how the members of the team contribute to meet the goals and objectives set, in the most efficient manner. As there is no exact clone to every individual, members of the team have to understand one another’s strengths and weaknesses. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our peers, we will be able to make use of their individual skills strategically to work towards the objective. A good team would consist of members with different skillsets, say for example in a soccer team. If the whole team of 11 players is made up of strikers, no one will be on the field to defend the goal post, and neither there will be anyone to create chances for the strikers. This gives us an understanding on the importance of selecting the right people to join the team before anything else, to ensure that every member has a relevant skill that will help in one way or another in reaching for the team goal. Teams need a healthy mix of individuals to get things done, and know who is best suited for the tasks and how to best accomplish them.

With a group of individuals working towards a goal, is there be a need for someone to guide, nurture, and devise strategies for the members? The answer is a definite yes. This is where the role of a leader comes into place. The basic role of the leader will be to communicate and plan work for the members of the team, even before any actions are taken by the rest of the members. The leader will also have to motivate and guide the members, so that the members are passionate towards the work that they are doing, and also to stay on the correct track towards the team goal. There isn’t a single team without a leader, as there will be no co-ordination nor strategies implemented by the team, which will lead to problems, conflict, inefficiency, and in the worst case, not achieving the team’s target.

As a rule of thumb, a team’s setup is of utmost importance, and every member has to work effectively and dynamically in order to win. At Phoenix Contact, we collectively select the action steps our teams take, to unlock our full potential. Team goals have been identified before any member starts doing the work. Conflicts are avoided by development of plans and constant communication within the teams. Our team dynamics enhance productivity and accomplish goals, where everyone in the team talks and listens. Last but not least, we have reliable team leaders to lead the members and head towards our goals.

Let us all strive to work hard, and play hard, as both an individual and as well as a team. In the case of Phoenix Contact, to win as a team would be to win our customers’ trust.

CBM – Protecting Your Application

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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in manufacturing. The fundamental driving philosophy behind IIoT is to build smart machines. The emphasis is placed on the topic of big data, sensor information and communications.

With data captured across all processes, it has enabled companies to analyse and anticipate on inefficiencies and issues immediately, thus saving time and money.

Typically in a switching system, its core function is to control and switch various kinds of devices and machines.

What’s common to all of them is that the demands placed on the components are very high. When a machine is running 24/7, the chances of the machine breaking down is very likely. Hence, extra attention is needed to ensure availability of the machine operations. In any case of the machines breaking down, the operation must be restarted in the fastest possible time.

Phoenix Contact’s CBM electronic multichannel DC device circuit breakers offer extended protection against over load and short-circuit currents on the connected applications.

Thanks to the integrated nominal current wizard, setting the right nominal current for your loads is hassle-free!

The selected settings are locked electronically to prevent any risk of unintentional adjustment.

The integrated early preventative warning system ensures fewer failures.

In the event that 80% of the set nominal current of a channel is reached, a warning is indicated via the associated on board LED. Furthermore, the separate signal output can be used for remote signalling.

Thanks to the active current limitation, the upstream power supply can be used optimally. This enables the use of smaller switched-mode power supply units and prevents undesirable voltage dips.

So what are you waiting for?

Ensure that your operations are running continuously and without fault.

Sleep with ease tonight, every night.

Switch to our CBM Electronic Device Circuit Breaker!

Miniature Connectors

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Small yet high-powered connectors

Application specific and miniaturized connectors have come on rapidly. Fueling this rapid change is a combination of advances in technology. The control cabinets are getting smaller. This in turn reduces the available space for the devices and their boards. In addition, the functional density of devices is steadily increasing. Thus, PCB connectors must also be based on the new size specifications.

What we can offer

Phoenix Contact has launched two new 2.54 mm printed circuit board connectors: the FMC 0.5 and DFMC 0.5 connectors. It is designed to meet the miniature & quick connection requirement, boasting a compact plastic housing and push-in spring connection. The direct connection is possible for solid and flexible conductors with or without wire end ferrules. The wiring can be easily released without the aid of a screwdriver and the connectors can hold conductors with cross sections from 0.14 to 0.5 mm².

Figure 1. Low height profile – the FMC 0.5 connector family offers a push-in spring connection with spring opener.

This connector makes it ideal for designers who face the challenge of keeping up with the trend towards miniaturization.

The FMC 0.5 connector is a single-row connector with a height of only 5.4 mm whereas the DFMC 0.5 connector is a double-row connector with a low height of only 10.5 mm. Plugs in the same grid with push-in spring connection and spring openers that were previously available on the market were twice as high. Both connectors follow the trend of miniaturization – and the associated trend towards a high contact density in a small space.

It is designed for automated soldering processes (SMD and THR soldering processes). The two product families’ pin headers are made of LCP (liquid crystal polymer) plastic to withstand the high temperatures in the convection oven.

The applications for the two new connectors are extremely versatile. Possible target groups include measurement and control technology, automation technology and energy technology. Conceivable applications include controllers and inverters. The focus of the application areas is on industrial applications where signals are transmitted to the PCB.

Conclusion – the answer to new market requirements

The new FMC 0.5 and DFMC 0.5 plug connectors and the associated pin headers from Phoenix Contact meet the market requirements in the field of printed circuit board connection technology. Device manufacturers now get powerful connectors that require little space on the circuit board and in the device. For the end customer, the connectors also provide a quick, easy and convenient connection option. Processing in highly automated SMD processes is not a problem, and a gold-plated contact system provides additional security for the transmission of signals in industrial environments.

If you would like a sample board, or would like to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me via the form below!

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HEAVYCON Modular for IIOT

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IIOT

More often than not, when people talk about Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) or Industry 4.0, they neglect the ‘links’ between the sensors and components.

Yes, I’m talking about the connectors (the ones that connects sensors and components, what else?).

A huge part of IIOT includes data collection and analysis.

This means that a lot of sensors and cables will be used to detect, capture and transmit data. It can be really time consuming and a chore to wire these amount of cables directly into the panel on-site during installation and maintenance.

If you’re reading this, consider yourself lucky.

I’m going to show you how Phoenix Contact’s Heavycon can make connection easy, fast and smart. (Don’t be fooled by its name. It’s not heavy in weight rather, it’s heavy duty – able to withstand demanding environments).

So what’s a Heavycon?

HEAVYCON

HEAVYCON

Phoenix Contact’s Heavycon is a plug-and-play solution.

It allows the cables to be pre-wired into the connector within the panel and in the field. This makes on-site installation and maintenance fuss-free and efficient.

Simply plug and play! It eliminates the tedious process of direct wiring on-site.

It also removes the need to open up the panel during installation and maintenance which in turn reduces the risk of people meddling with the crucial components within the panel.

Pictured: Definitely not HEAVYCON. Because we don’t want people messing around with what’s already a mess.

Termination of wire is also made easy with Push-in Connection Technology. No special tool is required. Simply insert the wire with ferule into the designated slot. To remove, push the orange button and pull the cable out.

Contact inserts with push-in connection

Contact inserts with push-in connection

Heavycon also comes in modular form!

Heavycon Modular allows you to connect signal, data and power in one single connector.

Push-in connection technology is available in module form too. We also have a wide range of network modules such as RJ45, D-sub, Gigabit Ethernet Cat 6 connectors and even fibre optics and power module up to 200A.

Modular contact inserts

Modular contact inserts

The unique snap-in frame makes inserting and removing of modules a piece of cake. This provides the flexibility of changing the configuration effortlessly according to your set up.

Push-in modular contact insert

Push-in modular contact insert

Need more flexibility? Heavycon EVO enables you to change the direction of cable entry on-site depending on your desired arrangement.

HEAVYCON EVO

HEAVYCON EVO

Furthermore, Heavycon is resistant against dirt, water, vibrations and high mechanical strain and has protection up to IP69K.

Thus, it is able to withstand harsh conditions and is suitable for outdoor applications.

HEAVYCON getting sprayed by pressure jets

Looks worse than any rain I’ve ever seen

If you want to see how we torture the Heavycon, you can watch the video below:

With that said, it’s about time to start adopting smart connectivity as we hop onto the IIOT bandwagon.

More videos about the Heavycon:

Register your interest below and request for a product sample today!

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An Answer to your Pain Point

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I believe everyone agrees with the statement: ‘There is no need to push your products to your customer. Solve their pain point’. This sentence resonates even more with me, as I was once a user of heavy duty connectors. I used this product so often that I have developed a love hate relationship with it. I LOVE it because of the convenience that this product has to offer, in terms of consolidating all wires from and into a panel. With this product, all the cables will be very organized, enough to make a person with OCD smile simply by looking at it. As for why I HATE it, it is the pain point that I am about to share.

The Art of Wiring

Before going into that list of HATEs, it is certainly useful to get the generic terms right. Otherwise everyone will start calling them their brand name, much like how I used to call them back then.

Housings and Base (with cable gland)

Housings and Base (with cable gland)

Contact Inserts

Contact Inserts

Pins/Sockets

Pins/Sockets

The NUMBER 1 in my list is definitely none other than the tedious procedure required to re-do the wrongly inserted pins/sockets. First of all, the incorrect pins/sockets have to be ejected out. This is when the ejector comes in handy, if and only if it is inside your toolbox. For my case, it was usually not inside my toolbox and I had to go through all sorts of hassle to get the pins/sockets out.

Push-in Connection Inserts

Push-in Connection Inserts

If you are a huge fan of Phoenix Contact, PUSH-IN technology is probably the most familiar term to you. YES, we incorporated that technology into our inserts and that made life easier for people like me. The only thing you need to eject out that pin/socket is just a screw-driver, or perhaps a pen.

So assume there is no wrong-doing in the wiring and everything goes smoothly until the day the panel is delivered to the end user’s place. During installation, you find that the space allocated for your panel is so limited. Worse, the space is not sufficient for the heavy duty connector because of the top cable entry direction. Squeezing it into the panel will result in over bending of the cable. This brings us to the number 2 in my list of HATEs.

Inter-changeable cable entry outlet

Inter-changeable cable entry outlet

With Phoenix Contact EVO series housing, this is no longer a problem anymore. All you have to do is just twist that cable entry outlet gland and face it to the lateral direction or vice versa according to your space constraints. It provides flexibility, allowing the user to interchange the cable entry between top entry and side entry without having to remove the entire cable from the housing.

The one last thing in my list is the lack of flexibility of the contact inserts. Imagine you have different types and sizes of cables and wires that you want to consolidate into/out of a panel. In addition to that, it is just a few of every type and size of cable that you do not require the whole 16 poles or 24 poles heavy duty connector. I experienced that before in one of my projects whereby the panel requires 5 units of 1.5mm2 cable, 3 units of huge power cables, 3-4 units of Ethernet cables and finally, a few pneumatics hoses. Due to such a “high mix low volume” scenario, I was left with no choice but to make several cut-outs on the panel in order to accommodate all these cables and hoses into the panel.

This is what team-work looks like

This is no longer a hassle if different types and sizes of cable can be accommodated into one single heavy duty connector, and this is the fundamental concept that brought us to the birth of modular contact inserts. With these revolutionary contact inserts, users can now choose different contact insert modules and assemble it into a frame to make it into a contact insert. As for the housing and base, you can choose to use the standard housing or the EVO series because they are both compatible.

The above are just my pain points about this product based on my experience and Phoenix Contact Heavycon offers the right solution to every hassle that I have with heavy duty connectors. I believe you too have other problem with your current heavy duty connector, so do drop us your feedback or queries below and we will solve that pain point of yours. Cheers!

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Choosing the Right Signal Conditioner

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Basic 4-20mA current loopSensors and other devices with 4-20mA current loop output are very popular in industrial fields. We can find them from Process Control to data logging systems. A basic current loop has parts as stated below:

  • Sensor: a device which draws current from its power source in direct proportion to the value it measures (level, pressure, etc.).
  • Power source: supplies DC power to sensors or any device in the loop.
  • Reading devices: a PLC, a controller or data logger which reads the current value provided from the sensor and uses it for the next step of controlling or data logging.

In order to isolate, convert, filter and amplify or duplicate control signals we use signal conditioners. Signal conditioner makes a simple 4-20mA current loop into a field loop and control loop like below:

The devices in both the field loop and the control loop need to be powered. They can be powered by a DC Auxiliary power supply or by another active device in the loop. That being said, we have many types of Signal Conditioners (According to how it is powered or can it supply power for other device) that can be used in this scenario.

Types of sensors

The most common 4-20mA sensors in industrial fields are 4-wires sensors and 2-wire sensors. The difference lies in how they powered.

A 4-wire sensor is an active device which has a separate power supply for itself (from DC or AC power supply).

4-wire sensor

4-wire sensor

On the other hand, a 2-wire sensor is a passive device which draws power from a DC auxiliary power supply in the loop or from other active devices in the loop (like a repeater power supply signal conditioner)

2-wire sensor

2-wire sensor

Types of 4-20mA Signal Conditioners:

  • Passive Signal Conditioner: A passive signal conditioner doesn’t need a separate power supply for itself. It draws power from the field loop or control loop. This means there are 2 types: one powered by a field loop and one powered by a control loop. As passive signal conditioners can cause a drop in voltage in the loop, if there are too many passive devices in loop it could lead to inaccuracies in the measured values. In the picture below is a field loop powered signal conditioner with 2-wire sensor, where the devices in the field loop are powered by an auxiliary power supply.

 

  • Active Signal Conditioner: This type of signal conditioner is powered by a separate power supply so it doesn’t cause voltage drops in the loop. It can also provide power for the control loop. For example, an active mini MCR Pro signal conditioner can drive up to a 600 Ohm load in a control loop. The field loop still needs an auxiliary power supply when using a 2-wire sensor. Pictured below is an active signal conditioner and 4-wire sensor. In the control loop is a passive analog input controller.

  • Repeater Power Supply Isolator: This type of signal conditioner is powered by a separate power supply and it can supply power for the sensor’s loop and also for the control loop (with a maximum load of 600 Ohms). It can be used for 2, 3 or 4-wire sensor without the need of a power supply for the field loop.

So depending on the type of application, we can choose the right 4-20mA signal conditioner. Based on information about the type of sensor, whether the field loop has an auxiliary power supply as well as if the control loop has a passive or active controller, we can choose the suitable 4-20mA signal conditioner.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via the form below!

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Radioline Signal Strength

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FAQ About Radioline

Question: Which wireless technology is used in the Radioline devices?

Answer: A proprietary wireless protocol is used in the Radioline wireless system. The wireless technology is called Trusted Wireless and is specifically designed for the reliable transmission of data and signals over long distances. The new Version 2.0 offers adjustable data rates, encryption, extended diagnostics, and parallel operation of multiple networks.

 

Question: Is Trusted Wireless really suitable for industrial use?

Answer: The frequency hopping spread spectrum enables reliable data transmission even in industrial environments and in the event of interference.

 

Question: What range can be achieved with the Radioline wireless system?

Answer: Depending on the set data rate and the antenna used, the following ranges can be achieved with a line of sight:

  • 4 GHz: up to 5 km
  • 868 MHz: up to 20 km
  • 900 MHz: up to 32 km

The above specifications is according to the product design, but sharing with you the test made in point to point configuration, having trees and structure as obstructions between two points.

At no line of sight, Radioline still transmits and receives analog and digital signals. Thus, Radioline works!