Sensing advanced technical development

Leaps forward in sensing and measurement will be revealed at this year's MTEC show. Tom Shelley reports

Leaps forward in sensing and measurement will be revealed at this year's MTEC 2004 show. Tom Shelley reports Anyone who needs to know about the latest developments in this exceptionally fast moving field, especially how to do it better and more cheaply than was possible last year, needs to attend the show. Almost all of our industry, all modern motor vehicles and an increasingly wide range of domestic appliances depend on sensors and measurement. As well as all the latest product technologies in one place, informative seminars across both days have been laid on to help engineers keep up to date. In measurement, NPL (The National Physical Laboratory), one of the world's two foremost centres of excellence, will be hosting free seminars and giving practical help and advice to industry on how to get the best out of their measurement equipment. Free seminars are also on offer from AS-i, ODVA and Profibus UK in the Industrial Networks Technology Centre. AS-interface has a Safety at Work technology. In the UK, a 'competence' scheme is being developed to accredit vendors, suppliers and integrators under a 'stamp of approval' so that the ease with which AS-interface networks can be built does not undermine the high integrity system approach required. A new High Feature Safety Monitor will be discussed in the accompanying conference, which AS-interface is also contributing to. Free application forms for entry into the AS-tech mini-conference and exhibition being held shortly after Mtec will be distributed. ODVA, the Open DeviceNet Vendors Association, stand D15, will focus is on implementing a safety network as a coherent extension of an overall networking strategy. The organisation will be discussing how the safety extension, CIP Safety, to the Common Industrial Protocol enables safety control devices and standard control devices to coexist on the same network, without compromising the integrity of the safety control loop. On Wednesday at 11.00 to 12.30 the Profibus Group will present a seminar in the technical sessions covering the latest developments in the technology and including PROFIsafe, PROFIdrive, PROFInet and Profibus PA. This will be supported by a live demonstration of Profibus PA and DP fieldbus networking for factory and process automation on the group's stand D14. On both days, ISA, The Society for Instrumentation, Systems and Automation will be holding workshop seminars on innovation, education and safety. The ISA is one of the most influential bodies in the field of industrial and process plant safety, and is said to have greatly influenced standards now being applied. The England section of ISA will also be represented on stand D45. Alongside Mtec will be seven other events: Machine Building, IPOT and Machine Vision, E.I.D., Practical Vacuum, 3C's and Medical Device Technology Tony Ingham, Marketing Manager of Sensor Technology has gone on record as describing Mtec as a "Fantastic show" and will be using the opening day of the event to launch his company's latest intelligent, configurable torque transducer. Ingham told Eureka that the E400 Torqsense Rotary Torque Sensor is the latest embodiment of a technology for which the magazine was the "Midwife" with its cover story in September 1993. The basis is the use of Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) devices as digital strain gauges. Changes in length change resonant frequency which allow very accurate measurement of drive shaft torque. The SAW devices are excited and read out by radio frequency signals passing between themselves and non contacting antennae. The devices have a high immunity to magnetic fields allowing their use in motors, where conventional analogue technologies are susceptible to electronic interference and so are not suitable. In the latest versions, the electronics are contained within the transducer enclosure so no readout is necessary. The devices can produce a user configurable analogue voltage or digital output. All versions are configurable from a PC. As well as torque, one option will be the additional provision of speed or power output. The history of the transducer is stored within the device. Other features include the ability to apply built-in peak torque sampling, storage and torque averaging to eliminate rapid transient output signals. Mtec show details Sensor Technology