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Showing posts from 2013

Converting PROFIBUS to ControlNet with Anybus - a Green Application

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In a call-out to a smelter in South Africa last week, the IDX Product Technical Support Team  assisted in the configuration of an Anybus X gateway. This particular flavour of the vast Anybus range converts PROFIBUS to ControlNet. More specifically, it is a PROFIBUS master and a ControlNet adapter (slave).  In this case, the PROFIBUS slaves were analyzers used to monitor gas emissions into the atmosphere. However, the plant's main control system runs off an Allen Bradley PLC and speaks ControlNet.  The X gateway was configured to read the data from the PROFIBUS analyzers and convert these values to ControlNet. This allows the control system to monitor the plant's emissions demonstrating once again the critical role that the Anybus Product range plays in industry. So what steps were taken to ensure everything was working?  1) The PROFIBUS master side of the gateway is configured using NetTool (this process was explained in one of our earlier blogs  here ) 2) It was ensure

Certified PROFINET Training in South Africa and migrating from PROFIBUS to PROFINET

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Setting Up a PROFINET network The popularity of PROFINET is growing in South Africa and so too is the requirement for training. One interesting topic is the migration from PROFIBUS to PROFINET. It is not realistic to expect a site to one day stop its production (on PROFIBUS), buy new PROFINET equipment and start up production again. The cost of the new equipment is a factor for sure, but the real cost is having a plant standing while an upgrade is happening . This topic is briefly covered in the Certified PROFINET Engineers Course run by the IDX Academy in Johannesburg under the Proxies Section. It is the only Certified PROFINET Course offered in South Africa and Africa as a whole. The course is accredited with ECSA and earns you 3 CPD points for attending.  The Proxies Section of the course shows different ways of interfacing between different network protocols. One of the most common conversions would be converting between PROFIBUS and PROFINET, but it can also be a conver

Serial to Ethernet Converter (RS-232 / RS-485 to LAN)

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What happened to the serial port on my laptop? Indeed it seems that our PCs are upgrading faster than the industrial devices we still use. Being an Industrial IT company, on a daily basis we still have to use HyperTerminal and other serial based software to configure devices and get information out of systems such as belt scales and gateways.   So what if I need to get a device that speaks serial onto an industrial Ethernet based protocol such as PROFINET, MODBUS TCP, EtherCat or Ethernet/IP? Well for that we can use the Anybus Communicator , which we have spoken about before. That is a protocol converter. Incidentally, this device is easily configured using a serial port, but for that I need to have a serial port on my PC. (The new generations of these gateways are moving to USB, but what about all those thousands that are in the field already?) One solution is too buy a USB to Serial Converter, but anyone that has used one of these will most likely agree that they can be qui

PROFIBUS Testers / Troubleshooting Kits

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We at IDX run the only PROFIBUS competence and training centre in Africa, and also develop solutions that get legacy and other non-PROFIBUS systems to talk PROFIBUS. ProfiTrace is our go-to tool before we do any testing. It guarantees that our PROFIBUS network is up and running and if it is not, it helps us to quickly diagnose any errors on the network. This saves us valuable development time because it means that we know that once we’ve tested our PROFIBUS network with ProfiTrace, then we can focus my time on other areas of the system. We do a lot of training and site visits and we have NEVER had to send one of our ProfiCores in for repairs. Despite all the hands that our units go though, the ProfiCores just keep working. This is a true testament to the reliability of the unit and the quality engineering that has gone into building it. The software is easy to use and PROCENTEC keep introducing new features (for free!) which makes it even more user-friendly. The live list and

Remote and Permanent Monitoring of PROFIBUS in Botswana

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IDX has just returned from Botswana having done an installation of three shiny new COMbricks to monitor PROFIBUS network health remotely and permanently. This will be a pilot for the customer and makes it the second installation in Botswana. The major mining companies seem to be catching wind that COMbricks is an essential tool for pre-emptive maintenance of their PROFIBUS networks. So why is COMbricks so important in places like Botswana? Below is a picture a dust storm one of our engineers was caught in while travelling back from the mine. The huge distances one has to travel and the dangers involved to get to these remote locations is a motivation on its own. Skills can be shared across borders, without the costs of travel time and transport. COMbricks can be a real money-saver, but more than that, a real life-saver. www.combricks.co.za

IDX HDLC Gateway being tested at BlueScope Steel

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Two years ago we told you about an HDLC gateway we were in the process of developing to address the need to integrate legacy devices, based on the GEM80 StarNet HDLC protocol, into modern automation systems.  After successful commissioning on the AP2 line at Columbus Stainless in South Africa, the opportunity to address a similar requirement at BlueScope Steel - Port Kembla in Wollongong (Australia) resulted in a purchase order to do site tests being raised. IDX HDLC Gateway Last week, the Gateway was successfully installed for extensive testing by the plant as a critical component of a project to upgrade the drives on their Hot Skinpass Mill. The project commissioning is scheduled for December 2013 and is being handled by TMEIC.   IDX HDLC Gateway (bottom) connected to GEM80 PLC and Toshiba PLC via PROFIBUS Slave interface. Some notable product facts include: The Gateway is a rugged, embedded device with no moving mechanical components. Flexible interface optio

PROFIBUS Connectors

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EasyConn PROFIBUS Connectors from Profichip The high-end PROFIBUS Connector EasyConn PB from profichip has various features that speed up installation and troubleshooting: Status LEDS which are visible from both sides, indicate bus and device status Piggy-back connector with 90 degree cable outlet provides easy access to the integrated PU/diagnosis socket so that no additional hub is required. The full metal case ensures high noise immunity.   The switchable termination resistances which are accessable from both sides are activated by the plug with slide switches. In this way, testing of the profibus communication can be executed without removing plugs or cable, the cable ducts are equipped with transparent cover so the correct correlation of the coloured cable cores are visible. What do the Status LEDs mean? PWR (Yellow LED) - Shows the voltage supply of the device. TxD (Green LED) - Shows bus activity (TxD). It sees if communications is active. TERM (Yellow L

Remote Monitoring Solutions for Africa

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On 11 September 2013, IDX attended a “bullring” meeting at the Nigeria Inward Mission Event hosted by the South African Electrotechnical Export Council (SAEEC). The meeting was held at the Johannesburg Country Club. At this meeting, members of SAEEC could host a table demonstrating to the Nigerian Delegates their core offerings – The IDX focus was on Remote Monitoring Solutions for Africa. The delegates included those from presidential roles, ministry and government, and national and federal power agencies – the main focus was on power and energy. In a bullring meeting, the delegates have about 25 minutes at each table before they move on to the next table. In each meeting IDX would engage with the delegate to determine what sort of business they were in and what their various challenges are. Some themes that emerged included: Remote monitoring of generators Remote monitoring and control of agriculture systems Cable theft alerting systems Diesel theft alerting systems Training

PROCESS Expo 2013

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We are excited to announce that IDX will be present at the 2013 Process Expo, held at Nasrec, Johannesburg, 21-23 May. Come visit us at the IDX/Procentec stand O10-O16 (our biggest ever) to see live demonstrations of PROCENTEC PROFIBUS and PROFINET devices such as PROFITrace and COMbricks in action. The IDX Academy will be available to show how our field bus experts can assist you in training, troubleshooting and related services. In addition, we will be hosting the following training sessions, of approximately 1 hour each, on every day of the show covering a variety of field bus communications-related topics : Remote Monitoring and Troubleshooting of PROFIBUS Networks Foundation Fieldbus - Practical implementation insights Integration between PROFIBUS and PROFINET and other field bus networks. Open forum sessions where you are free to ask any field bus and industrial communications related questions If you are interested in one ore more of the above topics, or just plan

OSIsoft PI Datalink and ProcessBook Training

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IDX now offers a 1-day OSISoft training course covering PI Datalink (Excel) and ProcessBook. The course takes delegates through the basics of what the PI system is, an overview of all of the components such as Application Framework (AF), PI archives, interfaces, etc. as well as how data is stored in the system, how to search for tags. Once the delegates are up to speed with the basics, delegates are shown how to use Datalink to build Excel reports and analyze process data. Finally, delegates are shown how to use Processbook, and how to build their own custom displays.The final outcome of the course is to empower users to be able to build and edit PI Processbook displays, as well as to be able to effectively extract process data for analysis in Microsoft Excel.   A delegate learns to build PI Processbook displays

Advanced file content search in Windows 7

If you have ever wanted to search for specific content within your files and not just the name of files, we have created a video to help enable a built in feature that allows Windows to index the content of files, rather than just the file names. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaizbalf8Oo This really helps when you are not sure what the document or file was called, but remember some of the content. Hope this helps you find what you are looking for.