It is Far from Business As Usual, But We’re Still Open and Upping Our Game!

Everyone will agree that these are dark times and we are a long way from business as usual (in fact, it’s hard to remember what normal actually is). But manufacturers still need to produce food and medicines, utility companies need to supply fresh water and others are trying to keep their business open for as long as possible.

We get that, so as an essential part of that supply chain, LC Automation isn’t relying on business as usual. We are upping our game and making sure that everything is in place to keep our customers working.

Don’t Feel Isolated – We Are Here When You Need Us

Following the latest government guidelines, all non-essential staff are now working from home and those that remain are following strict social distancing measures. But, whether our team are home or office based, you can still get in touch in the usual way. To make it as easy as possible for you, everything stays the same. The same people, on the same phone numbers, with the same e-mail addresses. We are here for you.

Working with Our Suppliers to Keep You Working

We have plenty of stock and our key suppliers are not currently experiencing major supply issues. The spares and products you need to keep production running are still available, and we have a great team who continue to despatch your orders straight away. Delays may occur at some point in the future, but we will keep you updated if and when things change.

Working with You

Our team of Field Sales Engineers continue to provide local support to our customers and are a great point of contact if you have any questions. Although face to face meetings aren’t appropriate, they can still keep in touch by telephone, e-mail and online.

Our Technical Support Engineers can provide all the help and support you need from their homes. To get in touch, just call the usual number; 01254 685900 and choose the Technical Support option.

Of course, our website is available 24/7 if you want to check stock and current prices, place orders, create a quote or track your deliveries. Register today or talk to our Sales Department if you need any help.

Pulling Together

We have put together a vigorous response to dealing with the current situation, but we continue to review and will adapt to whatever challenges come along. I would like to finish by saying how proud I am of the whole LC Automation team who are pulling together to deliver a first-class response in very trying circumstances. It is great to see.

Stay safe and take care of yourself,

LC Automation.

Clever folding with Pilz PSENslock and PNOZmulti 2

Wächter Packautomatik develops and builds customised packaging solutions. One of them is the powerful case erector Tablomat LE, which efficiently produces up to 30 boxes per minute. The electrosensitive safety gate sensor PSENslock and the safe controller PNOZmulti 2 from Pilz have made the operating concept more flexible & fast format changes can easily be implemented. Flexibility & efficiency are indispensable in the packaging industry, particularly in end-of-line processes.

More flexibility for control and operation!

So when developing the case erector Tablomat LE a new, sustainable automation and safety concept was included. The requirement was for diagnostic data from the sensors to be available to the machine controller in real-time so that the plant operator can retain a complete overview of the machine status.

There are four safety gates on the machine and each use the non-contact safety gate system PSENslock. It performs the safe position monitoring and process guarding. The safety controller PNOZmulti 2 monitors the safety gates and the installed E-STOP pushbutton and guarantees the exchange of diagnostic data via fieldbus module with the PLC.

With this efficient solution, fast format changes and fast, simple adaptation of sensor and actuator technology can easily be implemented.

“Together with Pilz we have achieved all the stated objectives on the Tablomat LE: The case erector is impressive with its clear, streamlined wiring and it can be reconfigured for new tasks in the shortest possible time. The plant is enjoying virtually trouble-free operation, the operator has a comprehensive overview of the current machine status at all times”. – Jürgen Schulte, Production Manager at Wächter Packautomatik GmbH & Co. KG

Advantages and Benefits of the solution

  • More efficient diagnostics reduces downtimes: The plant operator has a complete overview of the machine status at any time
  • The needs-based, transparent automation concept increases safety
  • Higher plant availability through more flexibility: Machine can be reconfigured for new tasks in the shortest possible time

For more info about our range of Pilz Machinery Safety Solutions check out our website or call LC Automation on 01254 685900, our experts will be happy to help!

TOSIBOX® Helped Transform Water Distribution System Into 2020’s.

Electro Beyco, the local government-run water distribution system in Costa Rica needed a connectivity solution for real-time data acquisition. Previously, personnel was going to the pressure points distributed around the city to collect the data manually. All this travelling was costing them more than $10K per year.

No visibility into data and trends

With no visibility into the data and trends, asset failure was not predictable, there was no information about critical points with too high or too low pressure, and most importantly the behaviour and trends of water consumption were not taken into analysis. Consumption or increases in leakage in the water network could therefore not be predicted and system efficiencies could not be maximised.

The measurement points had no internet connection and based on geography, there was no possibility for radio communications.

The measurement points had no internet connection and based on geography, there was no possibility for radio communications. The solution needed to be easily installed and they didn’t want to involve complicated or expensive 4G cellphone chips or Telecom APNs. But more important was the security of the network in case of cyber-attacks.

The project comprised 14 sites monitoring pressure, two sites monitoring tank levels, and one point monitoring chlorine. Five users were connecting to the system by workstations and cellphones.

From pen and paper to smart analytics

Technicians no longer need to go out to the field and take measurements on paper – instead they use their time in other tasks, saving around $10K a year. The estimated ROI for commissioning TOSIBOX® is less than a year.

A TOSIBOX® Lock 500 was installed at each site, creating secure infrastructure to enable the local water ecosystem including an AVEVA Intouch Edge SCADA system that enables AVEVA Insight cloud services and artificial intelligence for the analysis of the data.

TOSIBOX® Lock 500 is the next-generation connectivity device that was chosen for its high-temperature enclosure since it is exposed to direct sunlight. The Lock 500 also provided a 4G network connection. For service and maintenance, remote user access is established using TOSIBOX® Key.

TOSIBOX® technology was easy to set up and has worked well. The local distributor, NV Tecnologías is always available and attentive to Electro Beyco’s doubts.

Adopting TOSIBOX® technology has increased the speed of development and implementation time of technicians, because they no longer need extra support from other departments. The information obtained using TOSIBOX® infrastructure has already helped solve problems in two pressure regulating valves, where the average expenses from damage to the water network without one valve are estimated to be around $25K.

Technicians no longer need to go out to the field and take measurements on paper – instead they use their time in other tasks, saving around $10K a year. The estimated ROI for commissioning TOSIBOX® is less than a year.

Benefits

  • Ensuring secure infrastructure for a critical water distribution ecosystem.
  • Real-time data and alarms made available with the 4G network without any failures in communications in the past 10 months.
  • Layer 2 remote user connections to the field equipment for programming/troubleshooting.
  • Remote access has enabled technicians to save their work and travel time.

For further information about Tosibox Remote Access Solutions check out our website or call LC Automation on 01254 685900, our experts will be happy to help!

Leitner-Poma Maintains Over 99% Uptime with TOSIBOX® Connectivity Solution

Ski lift manufacturer Leitner-Poma standardises on TOSIBOX® technology developed by Tosibox Oy to secure global network of transportation systems.

Leitner-Poma has installed more than ten thousand transportation systems in sixty-one countries, and safely transport eight million passengers each hour. Reliable operation of transportation equipment is essential, but as with all machines, issues are expected to arise from time to time. If a lift at a remote location has issues, Tosibox provides secure remote access to diagnose what is wrong.

The Problem

Previously there was no consistent way to get to the machines around the world. Leitner-Poma found that using hand-made, traditional Cisco-based IT-networking was not scalable per their needs or operationally feasible. Remote access became difficult to set up, use and maintain. Moreover, connection reliability was an ongoing challenge. The old system was constantly requiring Leitner-Poma to thinker with it to keep it connected.

”The way we used to do it was just painful. Then we went to Tosibox. You plug in the Key, click, click, and BANG. You are connected,” said AJ Egli, IT Network Admin at Leitner-Poma of America.

Tosibox Starter Pack Offers at LC Automation.

The Solution

Leitner-Poma discovered the patented TOSIBOX® technology that provides a consistent and standardized VPN access anywhere in the world in 5 minutes and without special IT skills. TOSIBOX® solution has been a game changer for Leitner-Poma’s team, making their job easier and less time consuming. By using TOSIBOX®, they have been able to save time and have more time fixing their ski lifts, gondolas, trams, and so on. TOSIBOX® is also used to maintain secure access to Leitner-Poma’s global network of systems.

Leitner-Poma now enjoys more reliable connectivity than before, and there is no longer the concern about whether it will connect or stay connected. The company is standardizing on TOSIBOX® as the connection solution for securing its global network and has been able to maintain over 99% uptime. Instead of spending time on IT, they can now simply fix issues and get the customer’s lift back to making money, which even makes for happier customers.

“Thanks to the accelerating development of technology, human life will change more over the next 30 years than in the previous 300 years. In this era of the Internet of Everything, the ubiquitous technology changes customer expectations – even for the uptime of ski lifts. Our mission is to change the world by simplifying secure digital connections, and the disruptive TOSIBOX® technology offers ways to ease the work of technicians around the world,” says Jarno Limnéll, CEO at Tosibox.

TOSIBOX® Lock and Key create a secure point-to-point connection between the machine and user that allows effortless troubleshooting. Remote access is established simply by plugging in the Key to a computer’s USB port and logging in to the TOSIBOX® Key software to connect. To learn more about the solution, call our remote access experts on 01254 685900, they will be happy to help!

Tosibox Provides Secure Solution For Ski Resort’s Multiple Connectivity Needs.

Sweden is the destination of many popular ski resorts in remote locations. Thanks to its reliability and security, SALTO is the selected access control option for over 3 million doors worldwide. ToP’s is a SALTO partner, who provides the SALTO access control solution for mountain lodges’ doors’ online readers at two customers’ ski resorts in Tänndalen and Funäsdalen

The Challenge

All the resorts’ accommodation bookings are made and transferred using Bookvisit, an online booking and administration system, which is also used to create a physical key card or a key in a mobile app for accommodating guests. To be able to run the system as a key as a service (KaaS) for the ski resorts’ reception, the SALTO BLE readers required connectivity with a SALTO server in Stockholm and the reception. However, building a VPN to connect three sites would be extremely expensive. They needed to be in the same, secure network with same IP range, without exposing the units to the Internet.

ToP’s wanted to find a secure network solution to combine SALTO system with spread out locations transporting data through several different telecom operator networks. However, operators can only provide a solution where their network is, requiring APN and entailing also dark fiber. An alternative to APN wouldn’t be viable.

The Solution

ToP’s was referred to Tosibox by SALTO. ToP’s set up a network to remotely connect access systems by SALTO using the TOSIBOX® solution that was worked out together with the Tosibox technical support team. ToP’s was able to build a local network between the sites and set up a VPN that would be the alternative to APN by operators. This has made them operator independent, superseding the offer of APN and dark fiber by operators. Not using dynamic host configuration protocol makes the solution secure, since only fixed IP is used, and no IP addresses are delivered.

The experts at ToP’s set up TOSIBOX® Lock 200’s in Client Mode, and sent them over to the remote sites, where they were taken out of the box and set up as sketched, instantly working like a charm.

In Client Mode, the Lock does not act as a router/firewall in the network, but as a client. This means the Lock will provide a secure remote access to the network but cannot protect the devices connected to the same LAN, as the default gateway to the Internet is another device on the network.

ToP’s did also connect camera surveillance communication and building management system to the same network with TOSIBOX®. All communication from buildings will then be performed through the secure and reliable TOSIBOX® connectivity solution to the server room in Stockholm.

Audi Plant Acts as Testbed for Cabinet Cooling Systems

Tests at an Audi factory have shown that an alternative form of cabinet wiring can cut internal temperatures, extending the life of critical components inside the cabinets. As Lütze’s cabinets product manager, Michael Bautz, reports, the reduction was greatest at hotspots that are critical for many components.

While the components used in control cabinets are generally becoming smaller, their heat dissipation is increasing and cabinets are getting hotter. More efficient cooling systems obviously help, but the way the cabinets are wired can also have an effect.

One approach to cutting heat levels is to separate the heat-emitting components from the cabling using a wiring frame rather than using conventional mounting plates and trunking. This directs cold air downwards to the rear of the cabinet and then to the front and up again, creating a cool zone to the rear, where most of the cabling is located. A permanent circulation of air is generated between the warmer wiring at the front and the cooler wiring at the back.

A look inside the control cabinet test setup at Audi Hungaria in Györ: with an
AirSTREAM wiring frame (left) and conventional mounting plate (right).
Traditional v’s Alternative Cabinet Cabling Technologies

An Audi engine factory in Hungary was recently used as a testbed to compare the traditional and alternative cabinet cabling technologies. The plant, in Györ, includes automated production lines that press valve seat rings and valve guides into the cylinder heads of V6 Otto engines. The test involved two of the site’s production systems, each using four control cabinets with the same construction.

The cabinets are 2000mm high and 600mm deep. Three cabinets in each system were 1200mm wide, while the fourth was 600mm. For the test, one of the four cabinets in each system was monitored. The first cabinet was equipped with a conventional mounting plate and was cooled using an air-conditioning system with a 1.5kW heat loss. In the second cabinet, the mounted components were separated from the wiring using a wiring frame – Lütze’s AirStream system.

The AirStream cabinets don’t use trunking that might impair airflows and were cooled using 1.45kW heat exchangers. The relative power losses of the two cooling systems was a minor factor because the cold air came from the roof. Instead, the study focused on verifying the effect of guided air inside the control cabinet.

In the alternative system, the air circulates freely, unlike in cabinets with conventional mounting plates. Measurements were carried out over two days and taken for six hours at a time with ten sensors recording ambient and internal temperatures. The power consumption of the two systems was not examined because it was assumed that the clocking was identical.

Measuring Temperatures at Critical Points

Temperatures were measured at critical points in the cabinets – e.g. components with high heat losses. After the air-conditioning system was started in the cabinet using the mounting plate (about 40 minutes after the production start-up), the temperatures fluctuated between 29°C and 43°C. The temperature measured between a contactor and the trunking was 38.5°C – 42.5°C, indicating an air blockage, while the temperature between a Siemens Simatic ET200S I/O system and a cable duct was 36.5°C – 38.5°C. At the air intake of the air-conditioning system, the temperature was 33.5°C.

The trunking hotspot remained just within the tolerances because the system is designed for an external temperature of 38°C and a maximum internal temperature of 42°C. In the cabinet with the new wiring frame, temperatures were measured after the heat exchanger had started to operate (a maximum of 37 minutes after the production start-up). The temperatures fluctuated between 30°C and 34°C. The temperature between a contactor and the ET200S in this cabinet was measured as 31°C – 33.5°C, while between the ET200S and the terminals it was 32°C – 33.5°C. At the air intake of the heat exchanger, the temperature was 29.5°C.

If the temperature of the air at the outlet of the heat exchanger was identical to the temperature of the air-conditioner, the curves would rise linearly. Despite this, the air is not layered as happens when a mounting plate is used. Hotspots in the new wiring frame system were barely detectable. When the cabinet incorporating the wiring frame was tested, the ambient temperature was 23.9°C – some 1.9°C higher than when the cabinet with the mounting plate was tested. If the external temperature had been the same, the cabinet with the wiring frame would have been 1.9K cooler and the curves would have been even lower.

The Conclusion

The tests demonstrated that using a wiring frame can achieve noticeable cooling and a consistent climate inside control cabinets, protecting installed components from the heat & increasing their life expectancy. Further improvements could be achieved by routing cool air to minimise hotspots around components with particularly high heat losses. Further analysis using Lütze’s online AirTemp application also reveals that air-conditioning wouldn’t be needed using the wiring frame. Assuming an ambient temperature of 25°C and that 70% of the components would be operating at the same time, fan-based cooling would be sufficient.

Looking for More Information? LC Automation Can Help With That…

For more information download the Lutze AirStream Wiring System Catalogue or Lutze Airstream Compact – For Compact Control Panels.

Lutze also have an excellent white-paper which looks at the background information and theories you need to consider when thinking about the temperatures in your control panels. You can download Thermodynamic Considerations for Control Panels here.

If you have a specific question or would like to discuss cooling in your control panels, please call LC Automation on 01254 685900. Our Technical Support Engineers will be able to help you select the best solution for your application.

A Safe Take-Off – Rittal Blue e+ chillers used in aircraft manufacturing

Aircraft manufacturing. Before a brand-new A320 can be put to work ferrying holiday­makers to sunnier climes, the aircraft has to pass some serious testing at Airbus. However, it isn’t just the aircraft that needs overheating protection to make sure it runs like a dream – the testing hardware needs proper protection, too. Airbus uses Blue e+ cooling units from Rittal to keep its testing facilities in top condition.

The two Airbus workers sit on stools in the cockpit of the Airbus A320, as the pilot seats have yet to be installed. Through the cockpit windows they see not clouds, but 4 monitors displaying the “ground test instructions” they need to work through.

However, the first tests start much earlier. As soon as the fuselage sections of a new aircraft have been assembled, the cables are laid there – and tested. All along the various assembly stations, all newly installed components and systems are immediately tested to ensure they are fully functional. Depending on the configuration of the aircraft in question, the full set of tests for an A320 can take around 400 hours to complete. The majority of these are carried out in Jacobs’ department. Fuelling, taxiing, take-off and landing together with various flight manoeuvres are all simulated on the final assembly line. “Our engineers could fly the aircraft, even though they’re not pilots,” the Head of Ground Testing points out. All functions that are essential to flight safety on the Airbus must be 100 per cent reliable. Only when an A320 has passed all these tests with flying colours can it be sent for delivery and take off from the runway at the Airbus plant in Finkenwerder on its maiden flight.

Simulating Operation

The tasks carried out on the final assembly line include the complete fit-out of the cabin. “Once again, we check everything – from the headphone sockets and in-flight entertainment screens on each individual passenger seat right through to the coffee machine in the galley,” says Jacobs. Testing all the onboard functions requires high-performance hardware that is connected up to the sensors and actuators of the aircraft and used to run complex simulation programs. A total of three computers are needed for the simulations. Each computer is equipped with additional hardware that links up to the components in the aircraft. Lengths of cable as thick as a human arm reach from enclosures containing the simulation computers to the insides of the aircraft. This makes it possible to simulate parameters such as engine speed and the signals from the speed measurement devices. The computers also capture output signals, primarily voltages and volume resistance.

Left: An ice-cold marathon – Cooling units in the Blue e+ range run continuously and stop hardware from overheating. Right: Digital view – No stunning aerial vista for the engineers: Monitors are mounted in front of the cockpit to display the ground test instructions.

Airbus developed the simulation computers, which are installed in a Rittal enclosure on the test bench, in-house. The hardware generates a lot of heat when in use and therefore needs to be cooled – the voltage transformers in particular, which are needed for the connection to the components in the aircraft, can get very hot. “In the past, before we started using active cooling systems for the computers, they often crashed during the summer,” Jacobs recalls. Given how tightly and carefully coordinated the production schedule is at Airbus, that simply could not continue. The enclosures were fitted out with active climate control systems in 2006 to avoid precisely such downtime. Today, there are 28 of these test stations in the Airbus plant, all similarly configured. What’s more, all are fitted with Blue e+ cooling units from Rittal to protect the sensitive hardware from overheating. The reliability of the Blue e+ units is particularly important to Airbus. “If the cooling systems for the simulation computers were to fail, we wouldn’t be able to conduct our tests,” Jacobs points out. The test bench is in use at least five days a week in double-shift operation. “We switch on the cooling units in the morning and they run with absolute reliability,” he says. The cooling systems at the test benches are monitored and, should a unit still somehow fail, a warning light comes on to alert staff.

Guaranteed Energy Efficiency

The idea to upgrade to the energy-efficient Blue e+ cooling units came about while working on energy management for the ISO-14001 certification. Rittal Support gave Airbus crucial assistance during this process, as Jacobs explains: “Thanks to the energy efficiency calculator, we were able to work out in advance how much energy we would save by upgrading to the new cooling technology.”

Well-timed maintenance is crucial to ensuring the cooling units run reliably and efficiently. The main causes of failures are critical component statuses and external influencing factors. Networking the units with the IoT interface ensures the condition of all cooling units is reported to overarching systems. Maintenance teams can then promptly plan the necessary measures and carry out the work at the most appropriate time. These benefits can be taken to the next level in the future by linking up to Rittal’s Smart Service Portal. The networking between the devices and continuous status monitoring ensure critical operating statuses can be identified early on.

The senior managers at Airbus were also impressed by how user-friendly the cooling units are. All parameters can be adjusted easily, using the two buttons on the control panel, and the display depicts status and error messages in clear language. “The quality is right and the customer service we get from Rittal is excellent,” Jacobs concludes. Based on this positive experience, the test benches at the Airbus sites in the USA and China, which are configured in exactly the same way, are also being retrofitted with the new Blue e+ cooling units.