Category Archives: Controllers

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.

Tunnel Lighting Control System

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The need for tunnels is rapidly increasing in major cities around the world. Every day, we might be driving through a tunnel or underpass without actually realizing that we are entering an enclosed area which requires high levels of safety & attention.

One general question from the public is what makes tunnel lights so special? “The lights are only made for lighting up the tunnel, that’s it!”

Well, actually tunnel lights are about more than just lighting up the tunnel. Do you know that tunnel lights are the most critical during day time, when there is the most sunlight? Imagine you are entering a tunnel with no proper lighting control and what you see in front of you is a pitch black hole. This could be very dangerous as you are unable to see if there are any vehicles or objects in front of you.

Apart from that, stage lighting is needed in the tunnel as well. Stage lighting means that the brightness of the lights in the tunnel is being controlled individually or in a group. This process is very important as our human eyes need time to adapt to the change of brightness in the tunnel. Imagine there is no stage lighting and you are entering the tunnel during day time. It is the same effect if you turn on your room lights in a pitch black room conditions. You will be blinded and will not be able to see anything for a few seconds.

How are the lights being controlled? When do the lights know that it is daytime, night time, cloudy, snowy, etc.? The answer is simple – there is a luminance meter outside the tunnel which will measure the luminance and hence determine the condition of the surroundings outside the tunnel. The luminance meter will feedback all the information to a central lighting control unit and it will determine the switching on/off of lights in the tunnel. Conventionally, the lights are being controlled in groups (on/off only) and the brightness of each group of lights is fixed at one level only.

In today’s age of technology, there is a lighting control solution which is able to control the brightness of individual lightings, a “failsafe” mode which engages if there is a breakdown of communications in the tunnel, complete networking, control, monitoring of tunnel lights and many more. Phoenix Contact is able to offer the solutions for BTS (Basic Tunnel System), ATS (Advance Tunnel System) and TCS (Tunnel Control System).

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The Next Gen PLC

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Discover the next generation of PLC TECHNOLOGY

With an imminent changing of generations, one can expect “Generation Y” to outnumber “baby boomers” in the coming years. Where the automation industry is concerned, this means that the Gen Y users who are more familiar with high level languages (e.g C, C++ and C#) will increase gradually while on the other hand, the users of traditional IEC 61131 programming language will decrease in years to come. Therefore a user-selectable environment is needed to cater to the development of both types of users from various generations. With the PLCnext technology, program sequences from different programming languages can now be combined into a few different tasks or one single task. High-level language programs therefore become automatically deterministic like a classical PLC program.

PLCnext Technology forms the basis of the new, open control platform from Phoenix Contact. This solution is future-proof, flexible, and perfectly suited for the requirements of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0, both for existing users who perform IEC 61131 programming and for users using high-level programming languages.  PLCnext technology is the basis of a new, technologically leading generation of Phoenix Contact controls dedicated to the automation business of the future.

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HCS Handheld Housing

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The housing for portable devices

HCS is one of the devices from Phoenix Contact’s housing series. The ergonomic and lightweight design is suited for mobile operations such as real-time measuring of data, inspection and scanning devices.

Membrane keypads and display screens can be easily integrated into the HCS housing for ease of operating. HCS comes in many shapes and sizes, so customers can choose a suitable design, depending on the intended function and PCS sizes.

Technical Information

Temperature range ( C) -20 to +80
Protection degree IP54
Material ABS
Flammability rating UL 94 – V0
HCS Handheld Housing Devices

Straight and graduated designs

Market applications

  • Logistics
  • Distribution
  • Process technology
  • Building automation

Advantages at a glance:

Perfect membrane keypad fit available

Easy integration of displays

Standard variants for different device interfaces

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ReSy 104 : Upgrading Control Systems in Power Industry

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Nowadays, in the age of Smart Grids, power systems are getting more complicated in order monitor and avoid system down time. End users /operators require the ability to control everything from big substations to small hangover substations; even to each MV cabinet or recloser located in remote areas such as at a consumer site or along power lines.
So do you meet these requirement within a  reasonable cost especially in existing substations, MV cabinets where installation space is very limited.

Solution with ReSy 104 + PLC

The ReSy 104 remote control communication library is based on the IEC 60870-5-104 protocol.

The remote control system enables communication between the control center and substation via a standard TCP/IP network. You can also use transmission via DSL, SHDSL, GPRS, EDGE, and 3G.

With PLC for Fieldbuses and Ethernet, Phoenix Contact offers a flexible system structure that covers a wide range of application options in a centralized or distributed format. Thanks to a compact design and numerous supported protocols, Phoenix Contact PLC is ideal for applications where compact size and high-quality is required at a competitive price.

How Phoneix Contact's ReSy 104 RTU works.

Fig 1 : How Phoneix Contact’s 104 RTU works.

By combining ReSy 60870-5-104 + PLC Phoenix contact can offer possible applications for

  • IEC 60870-5-104 enables data transmission via a standard network, which can communicate with multiple devices and services simultaneously.
  • Full function PLC with able to communicate with field device via numerous built in protocol such as Modbus , Profibus, Profinet, etc…
  • High standard of security and encryption for reliable data transmission with the FL MGUARD series of security devices from Phoenix Contact
  • Smooth communication between devices from various manufacturers. The supplied interoperability list states which functions are supported.
  • The remote control station can be connected redundantly to two or more higher-level control systems or remote control heads via the ReSy+ library
  • Acquisition of basic data types, such as messages, commands, plus counter values with and without time stamp.
  • Event-oriented communication ensures the active transmission of current events.
  • Historical data backup ensures that data is logged with a time stamp.
ReSy Solution

Fig 2 : Possible solution with ReSy 104 + PLC

To find out more about our ReSy 104 solutions, just leave us your contact and we will get in touch with you shortly.

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Data Exchange Between Enterprise and Automation Control Level

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Phoenix Contact's ILC for easy data exchangeAt present, control applications focus not only on reliability but also flexibility. Following current automation trends in automation 4.0, many vendors will need to improve market share in this market segment.

Interface data between third-party functions might be considered to develop parallel to improve the product quality. For controller device, we can classify its interface levels into field level and enterprises level.

Usually, there are no issues when various controller vendors need to transfer data between one to another at the field control level.  This is because there are many common protocols like MODBUS, PROFIBUS and etc to exchange data easily between third-parties. However, it is a different story when there is a need to exchange some data at a higher level like in an enterprise system.

A couple of constrains when designing interface system is the data exchange rate and also the time lag which occurs. In order to maintain a high quality data exchange rate, it is often deemed necessary to utilize high-end hardware and software, resulting in a very expensive solution.

Easiest Controller for Data Exchange between Enterprise and Automation Control Level

Phoenix Contact’s controllers, right up from our basic series, have a library which is able to connect directly to a RDBMS database by providing query string patterns like common SQL script. In comparison, other controllers require additional equipment or other APIs to collect data from controller first before sending it to the target database.

Easily enable data transfer from the sensor directly to a DB with Phoenix Contact’s Controllers.

 

Reference product

 

System overview

System overview

For more information on Phoenix Contact’s Controllers, send me a message and I will get  in touch with you soon.

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IIOT Connectivity Made Easy – PICs

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As industries advance towards future technology, businesses have to constantly keep themselves up to date. Failure to comply may result in two major repercussions:

  1. Slow adopters will see themselves lagging behind competitors
  2. Late adopters may see a rise in the prices to install these new technologies

IIOT, or the Industrial Internet of Things, is not a new term. Regrettably, many companies are still not developing sound approaches to adopt them.

Take for example refineries. Traditional data analytics such as spreadsheets are still being used to analyze processes and trends; using historic data to make operational decisions.

Interior of process plant

Refineries store millions of databases and at times it becomes challenging for engineers to extract information from a cesspool of data. To make matters worse, varying branches of the organization may utilize foreign systems which proved difficult when systems needs integration.
As a result, refineries are considered to be data rich but in hindsight, information poor.

I’ve got 99 problems

In a traditional data-analytic methodology, it is acceptable for engineers to find themselves stranded with missing data. The solution? Most rely on “Experience” or so-called intuition to solve their engineering woes and make “informed” decisions. Guilty as it might seem, ask any engineer who have worked in refineries and they might just confess to using this ‘archaic’ technique.

Refineries of the future (or refineries who will sustain in the future) will need to change a different tack towards how they organize their data. Engineers can employ advance data analytics to analyze and make comparisons to several vital parameters (such as temperature, pressure reading and flow data) that makes use of varying systems that have diverse data formats, all in real time.

Smart factory

Advance data analytics can run audits and identify data correlation among the different results and in any case if a deviation in the results of the data were to emerge, engineers will be notified immediately, in real time.

For example, it is common for an instrument’s pressure reading to fluctuate. Instrument’s pressure reading could also irregularly plunge due to ordinary situations such as a spike in production. However, leakages along the pipeline could also cause pressure readings to drop.
With advance data analytics, engineers are able to determine if such major shifts are justified.

Easier Said than Done?

Adopting new technology always come with anxieties. It is always easier said than done. Although the idea of running advanced data analytics may seem ideal, it is not without its challenges.

In order for all the varying hardware to get connected, it has to comply with a single universal format that allows data to be unified. This might be expensive if you need to hook up current legacy hardware to new technologies that may not have the compatible specifications to begin with.

IIOT Connectivity Made Easy

IIOT structure

Now, who says out with the old and in with the new? With Phoenix Contact’s revolutionary IIOT Connectivity (PICs) Box, we can assist clients by saving the hassle to consolidate hardware from different manufacturers and get them connected to new technology, within seconds. Our PICs combines new technology such as Controllers and Sensors and affix them with your legacy equipment so that data could be read by our software, how you want it, the way you want it.

Who says connecting to IIOT needs to be expensive and complicated?
With our PICs box, you’ll convert your backward refineries into Smart Refineries of tomorrow. Don’t believe us? Request a free trial of our PICs box and experience IIOT connectivity made easy for you today!


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IIOT systems


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Shunt Reactor Controller

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Shunt reactor controller

Shunt reactor

What is a shunt reactor controller? I recall having the same question running through my head when a customer told us about what he was trying to do. Well, before knowing what a shunt reactor controller does, let us look at what exactly is a shunt reactor?

Some of you might wonder “Why does it look like a transformer?”. Yes, you are right, to a certain extent, because a shunt reactor does have similarities with a transformer in terms of its construction. However, they are both very different in terms of their functionality.

While a transformer is used to efficiently transfer power from one voltage system to another to cater for the application required, a shunt reactor absorbs reactive power generated from the source i.e. motors, generators etc.

Active and Reactive Power

What is reactive power and why do we bother to absorb? That might be the next question to ask. Before going into that, we need to understand that in an AC circuit, there are both active power (or real power) as well as reactive power, in which the active power is used to power up a system. To understand this from another perspective, think of it as a pint of beer where the beer is your active power and the reactive power is the foam.

The Beer Analogy of Active and Reactive Power

Reactive Power Analogy with Beer

Image from Electronics Tutorials (http://www.electronics-tutorials.ws)

Let’s put water piping system as an analogy to electric circuit, and voltage is the ‘water pressure’. A certain level of water pressure is required in order for the water to travel across the piping system to the designated location to perform certain task, such as flushing your toilet bowl. Similarly, voltage plays the same role in an electric circuit to ensure that active power can be supplied to run any equipment or device. In this case, reactive power is the key element to maintain the voltage level in a circuitry.

The Water Analogy of Electricity

Water Analagy of Electricity

Image by: Paul Evans (http://theengineeringmindset.com)

Hence, instead of using the word ‘absorbing reactive power’, shunt reactor is rather used to stabilize or compensate the level of reactive power in an electric system.

From Component to Solution

Rewinding back a little on how this shunt reactor controller came about. It started with a normal enquiry sent in, asking for a voltage transducer. We followed up with a visit to the customer to understand further.

He showed us the solution that he was going to implement for his end user who runs a palm oil refinery. This was an existing solution in another plant where it was used to control the output of power that being transferred back to the grid from the bio-gas generation using the effluent of palm oil.

  • During the day, when most of the equipment in the plant is running, the whole electric system is highly loaded and more reactive power is consumed. Thus the causing the voltage to drop.
  • However, whenever there is less equipment running, less reactive power is consumed and hence the voltage increase.
  • This is the time when a shunt reactor has to be switched on to compensate the reactive power in order to maintain the voltage level at a particular rating.
  • Each shunt reactor has a fixed rating. Hence, putting several shunt reactors together and adding controls to it can achieve different reactive power compensation at one time, depending on the system load.
  • This whole solution is the basic working concept behind a variable shunt reactor, however cost is always a concern when it comes to such solution.

His idea was to duplicate the same solution in his project. Looking at the pictures he showed us, we believed that it was possible to be implemented with the range of products that Phoenix Contact has to offer. Hence we came up with the solution concept diagram with a brief program flow.

Customized solution from Phoenix Contact

We finally secured the project after a few rounds of discussion and modification to suit best to his application. The list of products that are put into this solution includes:

  1. ILC 171 controller – The processing unit to control the shunt reactor via relay and contactor.
  2. MCR voltage transducer – The main component to take in voltage from the system and convert it to readable value for the controller.
  3. UNO power supply – Main power source to the controller and other peripherals.
  4. TP 3150 Touch Panel – Serve as a HMI for the user to control the shunt reactor controller and display of current value of the system.
Shunt reactor operation concept

Basic operation concept of shunt reactor controller

Shunt reactor display panel

Shunt reactor controller

Shunt reactor

From a simple transducer enquiry to a shunt reactor controller project, we believe that with the available resources and wide range of product that we have, Phoenix Contact is able to customize the solution that is fit for your application.

Want to know more about how we can help in your next solution to your customer?

Feel free to drop us a feedback below or send us an enquiry. Who knows your simple component enquiry for your project could be our next solution to you!

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Photovoltaic Monitoring System With Visualisation – A Project with ITE College East

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Photovoltaic (PV) Monitoring System With Visualisation

The Photovoltaic (PV) monitoring system was designed to monitor the performance of the PV panels’ output versus the temperature on the PV panel. There were two different types of PV panels used for monitoring, namely the mono-crystalline and amorphous silicone (Thin Film). The data that was collected were the DC output and the temperature on the PV panels.

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Compact and fanless quad-core box PC

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The new Basicline 2000 box PCs from Phoenix Contact is for harsh industrial environments. It offers powerful 3rd generation quad-core processors (Bay Trail) in fanless housing.

The devices can perform simple control and communication tasks and collect data in the areas of machine building and systems manufacturing, building automation, traffic technology, and energy data transmission. The box PCs are also designed for maintenance-free, continuous 24-hour operation, even where there are high temperature, vibration, shock, and EMC requirements. Continue reading