Showing posts from 2017

Remote Monitoring of HVAC Systems

What are HVAC Systems?
Automated systems that incorporate Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) apparatus to perform heating and/or cooling for residential, commercial or industrial buildings. A fundamental function of the system is to providing fresh outdoor air to decrease and dilute interior airborne contaminants such as odors from occupants, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) emitted from interior furnishings, chemicals used for cleaning, etc. These HVAC systems can be customized in an energy-efficient design to suit your specific needs and provide a consistent and comfortable indoor environment suitable for all.

Fig 1: HVAC Automated Closed Loop System
Remote Monitoring of HVAC Systems
With structures of this nature, remote monitoring is a vital feature that will assist with visualization of measurable primary element variables. By using the Netbiter Remote Monitoring Solution, we were able to achieve remote monitoring on medical laboratory facilities. Since the labs were…

PROFINET Installation Tips & Tricks On Guidelines

PROFINET INSTALLATION TIPS AND TRICKS Are your PROFINET assets installed within specification? How do you ensure high network availability?Profinet is a very widely utilised Industrial Ethernet technology and is respected for its advanced diagnostics, simple commissioning, and robustness within various industrial environments. Within the installation and implementation of a Profinet network, various precautions should be taken, and standards put in place that should be adhered to. Without such adherence to the guidelines, communication issues may arise.

Minimizing Interference and Noise

Cable clearance guidelines
Profinet cables running in close proximity to high voltage machinery and unshielded high voltage cables can cause severe EMC interference and disruption of the networks communications.
Always maintain a minimum 20cm separation distance between Profinet cables and un-shielded supply cables (>400V)Fiber optics should be considered when running though an area with substantial r…

Bridging SQL to Profibus


A client came to us with a situation where he required some data on his SQL database to be sent to his PLC. In his case, he has a couple of sensors inserting data directly to his SQL database and he needed these data to be processed by his Profibus PLC controller so that the correct actions could be taken.
The solution accepted by the client was a SQL to Profibus bridge. IDX offered to provide a custom software that would extract the SQL data in real-time and expose the extracted data as a Modbus TCP slave device. The data could then be converted to a Profibus protocol using a gateway such as the Anybus X-Gateway AB9001, and sent directly to the PLC controller.

We provided the client with a custom software called IDX 8. IDX 8 is a customised software offered by IDX, it contains a suite of different functionalities which includes tag management, remote monitoring, historian, alarms and events, data exchange, etc. The function of interest here is its data exchange compone…

How to Remotely Monitor a Power Meter using a Netbiter EC350

Netbiter makes it simple to view your power meter data from a remote location.
This week I had the task of setting up a power meter and monitoring this device remotely, via a Netbiter EC350. I found it quick and easy to do.

The Netbiter EC350 shown in figure:1, is the hardware component of the Netbiter remote monitoring solution. The gateway(EC350) can connect to a measuring device/field sensor via the following connection methods: Serial RS232 or RS485, Modbus RTU or TCP, or EtherNet/IP.

In my setup I have used RS485, which is what both devices use. Both devices also needed a 24Vdc power supply shown in Figure:2 below.
The Netbiter uses a cloud service called the Argos to store data that may be remotely accessed later on.
The gateway automatically performs data exchange via an Internet enabled Ethernet connection (WAN) or local cellular networks to the Argos cloud service.
In my setup, I have used the Ethernet port to perform data exchange to the Argos cloud.
The method of using a cl…

Basic PID Control Course

IDX will again be hosting Andy Verwer from the UK to present the Three-Term or PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) Basic Course in Johannesburg, South Africa. The training is aimed at technicians, engineers and programmers who are involved in the operation, implementation and tuning of feedback controllers in a wide variety of applications and industries. Many different aspects of feedback control systems are covered so that the training will benefit a wide range of needs. For example, if you need to:
Apply quantitative feedback control to real processes and machinery,Improve the performance or tune controllers in their plant,Implement three-term controllers in their programmable control systems (PLCs and DCS systems),Identify problems and the causes of poor control performance.The training will run over the course of two days and is for those who have little or no previous experience with feedback control. This module takes the trainee up to the stage where they can tune a simple f…

FREE ProfiTrace & COMbricks Training

FREE ProfiTrace & COMbricks Training Once you know the basics of PROFIBUS, come learn how to effectively troubleshoot PROFIBUS networks with ProfiTrace from PROCENTEC. In this course, we also go through the PROCENTEC range of network components to learn how to make your network robust with repeaters, hubs and active terminators. Want to know what’s going on with your network health when you’re not connected with ProfiTrace? We will show you how to permanently monitor your network with COMbricks and show you how to establish a remote connection into COMbricks so that you can monitor your PROFIBUS network from anywhere in the world!
What's covered in the training?  Network components (connectors, hubs, etc)Correct wiring of repeaters and hubsSetup and connection of ProfiTraceConfigure a network using ProfiCaptainCreate common network faultsAnalyse faults using live list and statisticsRecord and analyse PROFIBUS MessagesAnalyse signal waveforms and strengthsGeneration of reportsInst…

Remotely Monitor Tank Levels Part 1/2- Installing Tank Sensor

Utilizing the following components, IDX was quickly able to monitor the irrigation supply tank at our offices in Fourways. 

To complete this task we would be using the Netbiter Remote tank monitoring solution with the following components.
eWON Netbiter - EC Range, Remote Monitoring GSM controllereWON Netbiter - Ultrasonic Tank SensorThe first step was installing the ultrasonic sensor on the storage tank
Step 1 -Measure The Netbiter Ultrasonic Tank Sensor comes with an included metal washer, this acts as a perfect stencil to outline the required holes. The center hole required is 30 mm, however we utilised a 32 mm drill mounted hole cutter. Ensure the sensor is mounted on the top surface of the tank, as horizontal as possible, with a clear view down to the contents of the tank and not a side wall or obstacle.

Step 2 - Drill Using a 32 mm drill mounted hole cutter, this task was made effortless. However it is important to use a file or course sanding paper afterwards to clean off rough edges…

PROFIBUS Multi-colour Connectors

Finally, an out of the box cable solution for the ever evolving PROFIBUS network.

Device connections are sometimes considered among the least of our concerns on a Profibus network, but if poorly executed, they can prove to be the largest of our problems. As we know Profibus networks can get rather big and busy, especially with the use of repeaters and hubs. Segments begin to look similar and when performing an inspection, one soon begins to ask the question, Have I checked this segment/device cable or not?

Procentec have found a way to simplify the complexity of a PROFIBUS network, with the ProfiConnector Multi-coloured Plug. You will now be able to highlight your devices and segments, bringing more definition to your network. The creative colour scheme will allow you to maintain uniformity and neatness, thus assisting with speeding up diagnostics and reducing downtime on troubleshooting. There are four combinations of these highly durable and robust plugs: Cage clamp and screw type, …

MODBUS to PROFIBUS Converter (Serial to PROFIBUS)

Not only is it possible with IDX but simple, quick and cost effective.
Anybus is your ideal solution, dominant when it comes to converting between Fieldbus, Ethernet and serial protocols. Integrate your RS232,422 & 485 equipment to a PROFIBUS/PROFINET control system without any changes to your device. Simply connect, configure and you're done! Simply IDX it! 
Some of the features and benefits you can expect from the Anybus Communicator include: Save time and unnecessary development when integrating your device into PROFIBUS/PROFINET MODBUS RTU configuration wizard Ability to configure ASCII or vendor specific protocols Multi language support Handy save and load function allows for a completed configuration to be utilised on alternate installations Serial line listener and built in checksum calculator for diagnostics and troubleshooting No high level programming skills are needed to set up the Anybus communicator. the Anybus device is configured utilising included user fri…

StarNET HDLC Master Gateway solves legacy migration challenge

In August 2016, IDX successfully completed the commissioning of its latest StarNET HDLC gateway development implementation which saw the addition of StarNET HDLC Master functionality being added to the gateway. The application involved the legacy migration of a GEM 80 PLC controlling three GEM Micro drives operating in a redundant setup for operating the brakes of a mine winder operating on the deepest single drop shaft in the world, near Klerksdorp in South Africa. As only the PLC was being replaced with a modern software-based PLC, a solution to interface with the existing GEM Micro drives was required. Due to the safety critical nature of the system, the solution needed to be reliable and offer quick data turnaround to prevent safe lock-outs of the brake controller, and thus shutting down the winder and of course the shaft.
IDX provided a MODBUS UDP Slave to StarNET HDLC Master interface in the form of an IDX StarNET gateway allowing the new Beckhoff PLC to read and write to the…

eWon Netbiter Argos Exporting and Importing Profiles

Sometimes you've built a great looking dashboard associated with a Modbus device template that you are now ready to role this out to other accounts, only to realise that you have to start the entire configuration from scratch when using another Argos account (well almost, you can probably reuse the device template you created at least). 
This is usually the case for a system integrator that did a proof of concept on their own account, but need to recreate the configuration in their customers' accounts. This obviously is a waste of time and there is a better way to go about it. 
We always suggest to our customers to work using a profile from the beginning (so get the M&A subscription upfront!). We show this in our training too. A profile combines templates, visualization, log and alarm parameters and even the customized dashboard (make sure you use profile dashboards). This profile is easily reused for multiple Netbiter systems in the same account, but it is also possible to …

What you need to know about PROFIBUS Analysers

If you have an existing network, you are responsible for the installation and commissioning of new networks or conduct testing on Profibus systems you most certainly require a high performance bus analyser. 
Although Certified Profibus Training is one of themost fundamentally important steps required, even with this training it is almost impossible to diagnose, commission and analyse Profibus systems blind. Certified Profibus Engineers utilise modern engineering tools like the ProfiTrace Ultra kit to assist them on each project.

What features should I expect from my PROFIBUS analyser?

Based on the ProfiTrace Ultra Pro Kit: Live list overview, showing an overall health of each Profibus nodeMessage recording and reporting functionalityHigh performance bus statistics with a summary viewAdvanced oscilloscope with differential and combined signal viewBar graph showing all driver voltages, including a varying high low viewNetwork topology detection, cable length measurementProfibus master simu…