Author Archives: Gary Lim

Gary Lim

About Gary Lim

Gary takes care of the Industrial Electronics business for Phoenix Contact (SEA).

The “Gasket” Nightmare

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I was a project engineer working for a Building Automation Solutions company about twenty years ago. It was my first experience working with electrical and control junction boxes which housed all the required controllers, terminal blocks, networking devices, circuit breakers, power supplies etc.

Back then, it was very laborious and time-consuming to install the equipment inside the junction boxes as all the internal and field wiring were needed as well in order to complete the working installation. This was then followed by the need to request for the end user to witness and approve the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), Site Acceptance Test, and Testing & Commissioning etc. before we could wrap up the project and finally invoice the client accordingly.

My “nightmare” happened two months into a completed project when several previously-installed outdoor “Weather Proof” IP 66 junction boxes were found with rainwater seeping into the panel that destroyed the electrical/electronic components.

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the rubber gasket which was supposed to keep the water and dust out of the junction boxes was made of inferior material. The problem was compounded after constant exposure to adverse weather elements in those two months after installation works were completed.

On hindsight, the failure of the gasket had resulted in the need to replace all the damaged components as well as the need to re-install the junction box and re-arrange all the required testing.

As a result of this incident, the end user lost confidence with the rest of the working Junction Boxes and we needed to replace all the installed outdoor “Weather Proof” IP 66 junction boxes so as to regain the customer’s faith in our products.

Thus, when Phoenix Contact first launched the new innovation of Clipsafe Ex Junction Boxes, the very first thing I examined was the gasket. I am relieved to learn that the gasket is of superior quality and has been put through rigorous testing and certification regimes. Thus, I am convinced and assured that similar incidents like my previous encounter will not repeat itself. I will be proud when I promote these Junction Boxes that will address my customers’ needs.

Want to find out more? Feel free to contact us at marketing@phoenixcontact.com.sg!

Planning for Lightning and Surge Protection?

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Choosing the right Lightning and Surge Protection is a lifelong investment, just like purchasing a good comprehensive life insurance policy. Without proper planning and consideration, your business, your home maybe inadequately protected and most importantly your people/investments will be at risk.

In this article we shall dive in on the risk assessment, lightning and surge protection zoning and protective devices type.

A point to note: As you may know, Surge Arresters are vital when you are planning for a lightning and surge protection system. For information on when Lightning and Surge Protection is necessary, visit our previous article here.

Three points to consider when planning for Lightning and Surge Protection: 

  1. Risk analysis with accordance with IEC 62305

The answer to the common question: “Do I need to install lightning and surge protection devices?” boils down to the result of a careful and systematic risk assessment, which is carried out after inspection of the physical structure and electrical installation.

It would start with addressing the risk of various sources of damages (e.g. a direct lightning strike in the building, transient overvoltages that are coupled into the electrical installation caused by atmospheric influences) which come into focus, as do the types of damage resulting from these incidents:

  • Impact on health or loss of life
  • Loss of technical services for the public
  • Loss of irreplaceable objects of cultural significance
  • Financial losses

The financial benefits are determined as follows:

  • How does the total annual cost for a lightning protection system compare to the costs of potential damage without a protection system?
  • The cost evaluation is based on the expenditures for the planning, assembly, and maintenance of the lightning protection system.

If the risk assessment determines that lightning and surge protection is required, then the type and scope of the specific measures for protection to be considered will include:

  • External lightning and surge protection
  • Internal lightning and surge protection
  • Grounding and equipotential bonding
  • Coordinated Lightning and Surge Protection Devices system
  1. Characterizing the lightning protection zones (LPZ)

In order to ensure the total protection of a physical structure from the effects of lightning strikes and surge voltages, various protective measures or equipment that are tailored to one another are required.

The installation locations of surge protective devices within a physical structure are determined using the lightning protection zone from part 4 of lightning protection standard IEC 62305.

It divides a physical structure into lightning protection zones (LPZ), and does so from outside to inside with decreasing lightning protection levels. In external zones only resistant equipment can be used. However, in internal zones, sensitive equipment can also be used. The individual zones are characterized and named as follows:

  • LPZ 0A: Unprotected zone outside of a building where direct lightning strikes are possible. The direct coupling of lightning currents in cables and the undamped magnetic field of the lightning strike can lead to danger and damage.
  • LPZ 0B: Zone outside the building that is protected from direct lightning strikes, for example, by an air terminal. The undamped magnetic field of the lightning strike and induced surge currents can cause hazards and damage.
  • LPZ 1: Zone inside the building where high energy surge voltages or surge currents and strong electromagnetic fields are still to be expected.
  • LPZ 2: Zone inside a building where surge voltages or surge currents and electromagnetic fields that have already been significantly weakened are to be expected.
  • LPZ 3: Zone inside the building where surge voltages or surge currents are expected to be only extremely low or entirely absent and electromagnetic fields are expected to be only very weak or non-existent.

Lightning protection zone concept with coordinated SPDs at the respective zone transition points

  1. Lightning and Surge Protection Device types

The lightning protection zone concept provides coordinated surge protective devices for all cables that cross between zones. Their power values are based on the protection class to be achieved. As such, different SPDs are required based on the zone transition points.

 

The requirements for the individual SPD types are defined in the standard IEC 61643- 11 [6] for surge protective devices used in low-voltage systems. A multi-level protection concept is derived from this:

Risk assessment, in general, is a complicated and demanding process. An advisable starting point is to list out the areas that are most at risk and filter to the ones that are not.

Once you’ve listed out the potential risk areas, you can then consider the types of SPD best suited to the kind of application/equipment you’re protecting.

Food for Thought: Lightning strikes 90% of the earth. Some parts are highly prone to lightning strikes while some aren’t.

Since Southeast Asia sits comfortably near the equator, the hot and humid weather makes conditions favourable for the development of lightning producing thunderstorms. Thus, it is important to make sure you are well-protected.

Lightning strike densities across the world

Lightning strike densities across the world

Other tips for Risk Assessment

Be sure to refer to risk assessment standards IEC 62305-2. Some countries make it compulsory to use the standard when considering surge protection for large scale or highly sensitive buildings such as industrial facilities, hospitals, and data centres.

More information on Phoenix Contact’s Lightning and Surge Protection Devices can be found here.

 

References

  1. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-1 – Lightning protection – Part 1: General principles. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
  2. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-2 – Lightning protection – Part 2: Risk management. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
  3. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-3 – Lightning protection – Part 3: Physical damage to structures and life hazard. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
  4. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-4 – Lightning protection – Part 4: Protection against lightning. Electrical and electronic systems within structures. s.l.: VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
  5. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61643-11 – Surge protective devices connected to low-voltage power systems – Requirements and test methods. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2011.
  6. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131102-lightning-deaths-developing-countries-storms/

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!

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Signal Conditioning – Why we need to isolate, convert, filter and amplify control signal

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When dealing with Measurement and Control signals, Signal Conditioners are crucial for the healthy operation of the whole system. Let’s find out why:

  1. Electrical Isolation – The most important task of a signal conditioner is the electrical isolation of signals. A reliable Signal Conditioner offers consistent isolation of input, output, and supply. As such, ground current loops can be prevented in the event of potential differences, which would otherwise lead to a distortion of the measured process values.

    MINI Analog Pro isolating signals

    MINI Analog Pro Isolating Signals

  1. Convert – An advantage of signal conversion is the conversion of sensor signals into a signal that can be read by the controller, such as PT100 in 4…20 mA. In addition, failure-prone signals such as 0 – 10 V, for example, can be converted into non-prone current signals.

    MINI Analog Pro converting signals

    MINI Analog Pro converting signals

  1. Amplify – Signals always need to be amplified in the event that cables are long or if high loads are to be driven. It is here where the signal conditioners must provide a high output power at a low input power.

    MINI Analog Pro amplifying signals

    MINI Analog Pro amplifying signals

  2. Filter – In industrial environments, interference often occurs as a result of high-frequency signals. The input filters of the signal conditioners therefore reliably filter out such interference signals.

Getting cold feet? No fear, Phoenix Contact has the all in 1 solution to save the day. To find out more, click here:

Fast, Safe and Error-free System Cabling for Control Systems

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How do we connect the Controller to the various Digital or Analogue signals? Answers: Either with cables or with a wireless transmission medium.

In a control plant, we can easily have a few hundreds to tens of thousands of cables for control signals depending on the size of the plant.

Bad planning / discipline of the cabling routing could look something just like a plate of messy ‘fried noodles’.

Fried Noodles

Fried Noodles

Same, same but different.

A proper planned cable routing would look nicely as follow:

Cable Routing

Cable Routing

But still, a considerable amount of effort is required during installation, maintenance and fault finding – should something go wrong with the application eg. Fault tracing, wrong labeling, wrong termination…

Realizing the connection between field level and control level by means of system cables from Phoenix Contact would mean fast, safe and error-free system cabling for your control systems and no more messy ‘fried noodles’ to manage:

Phoenix Contact System Cabling

Phoenix Contact’s System Cabling Solutions

Forget the messy cables, for there is Phoenix Contact’s System Cabling Solutions.

 

A Reliable, Intelligent and Powerful “Heart” – Quint 4 Power Supply Unit

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William_HarveyA reliable, intelligent and powerful “heart”

In the course of my work, I deal with Power Supply which is the heart of the whole electrical operation. While not all operations are the same, they cannot function without electricity, which is what makes  Power Supply units indispensable.

Quint 4The new Phoenix Contact’s Quint 4th Generation Power Supplies feature an integrated NFC interface for parameterization via mobile devices or PCs. This allows the commissioning engineer to closely match signaling thresholds and characteristic curves to the plant’s requirements. More than 40 parameters can be configured on an individual basis. Once the power supply has been parameterized, it is a simple task to transfer the settings to other devices via the app or other software, which will save effort and time for the user. Moreover, the front-panel buttons for adjusting the output voltage, as well as all other configured parameters, can be protected with a password to prevent unauthorized access and tampering.

Quint_LED

The power supply offers preventive function monitoring to allow the plant operator to run remote diagnostics on the unit to optimize plant availability. The power supply permanently monitors the output voltage and current. Critical situations are visualized using front-panel LEDs, floating relay contacts, and active signal outputs; the monitoring data is signaled to the control system before a fault actually occurs.

When the power supply unit is supplying more than the specified rated current, it is operating in boost mode. The power supply and the connected loads continue to operate normally, and the output voltage remains at 24 V DC. Preventive signaling allows early detection before a fault like this actually occurs. For instance, once a motor with a mechanical problem has been identified, it can be repaired before other loads are subjected to voltage dips.

Such preventive capabilities of our power supply units work just like how we manage our heart health to ensure we can function smoothly in our everyday operations. It is thus pivotal to ensure that we have a reliable and intelligent “heart” in the form of our trusted power supply units for our businesses.

Quint 4 -cabinet

Robust I/O system classified for shipbuilding

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Thanks to low noise emission in compliance with EMC Class B and its mechanical robustness, the Axioline F I/O system from Phoenix Contact fulfils the stringent requirements for automation in shipbuilding. As a result, the I/O system has now obtained the approval of all major maritime safety testing associations, including, in particular, the attainment of the BSH certificate and passing the compass test. This certificate allows an I/O station to be installed only a few centimeters away from sensitive standard solenoid compass units.

4754

The new XC variants of the I/O system also offer an extended operating temperature range from -40 to +70 °C as well as varnished PCBs. They are therefore ideally suited for use in harsh engine room environments.

Ethernet media converters for basic requirements

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The new class 1000 Ethernet media converters from Phoenix Contact are designed for industrial applications with basic requirements. They offer a simple and cost-effective entry into optical transmission technology.

4755

Data transmission via fiber optics optimizes Ethernet applications in terms of performance and transmission reliability. In addition to a higher range, the benefits of electrical isolation are also reaped. The compact units in robust metal housings bridge distances of up to 9.6 kilometers. Multi-mode glass-fibers are used, optionally with SC duplex or B-FOC (ST) plugs.

Start-up is simplified by auto negotiation and auto crossing. In addition, data rates of 10 and 100 Mbps can be firmly set. Besides numerous diagnostics LEDs, the media converters are equipped with LFP function (Link Fault Pass-through). This ensures permanent and continuous monitoring of the connection. In the event of a connection loss, redundancy mechanisms can take over operation immediately.

Multi-point multiplexer for process use

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Phoenix Contact offers a solution combining the new RS-485 bus coupler with Radioline I/O wireless modules to provide customers with a multiplexer system specifically for process use.

4748

As in the Radioline wireless system, thumbwheels on the front provide a fast and simple way to address the head modules and easily perform I/O mapping of the expansion modules. This allows users to distribute I/O signals in an RS-485 bus system without any programming or software configuration.

In addition to operation by means of a two-wire RS-485 bus line with up to 99 stations, the new RS-485 stations can also expand the Radioline wireless system, so that I/O mapping can be extended to cover all media. Alternatively, the stations can also be operated in stand-alone mode on a Modbus/RTU master, thus allowing for direct connection to a controller.

For robust use in continuous industrial operation, the I/O expansion modules from the Radioline product family feature electrical channel-to-channel isolation and a wide operating range from –40 to +70 °C. The system also offers an extensive package of approvals including ATEX, IECEx, and UL certifications.

Coupling relays for safety-related activation

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In recent years, safety-related activation has become increasingly important in the field of process technology.

As a result, with PSR-PC50, Phoenix Contact offers a coupling relay that has been specially developed for this area and that can be used according to SIL 3.

4737

The coupling relay was specially designed for failsafe controllers in the field of process technology. As such, all requirements for use in applications up to SIL 3 are fulfilled, according to IEC 61508. Internally, the device has six contacts that are switched in parallel as well as in series. In this way, the safety required is taken into account, as well as the necessary availability.

Continuous diagnosis poses a challenge for planners and planning engineers. Generally speaking, the controller diagnosis ends at the coupling module used. Often this is not sufficient for many users. To this end, the line/load monitoring function of the PSR-PC50 relay enables seamless diagnostics from the controller to the actuator. Open circuits as well as short circuits in the on-load voltage supply and diagnostic supply voltage are monitored. If an error occurs during normal operation, in all established safety systems it can be reported via the existing control line back to the corresponding digital output. In this way, the need for additional installation time and other digital inputs required for actuator readback is eliminated.