Archive for April, 2008

New log printing tech for emergency lighting

emergency lightingSafety in public buildings

Emergency lighting systems are mandatorily installed in all large public building facilities such as airports, hotels, clubs, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, colleges, licensed premises, offices, museums, shops, multi-storey dwellings etc. They are designed to activate automatically in emergency situations (e.g. fires, power cuts, etc.) to provide sufficient light for people to safely evacuate during power supply failures.

Standard logging norms

Each country has different norms for various kinds, types and sizes of public buildings to guarantee minimum safety standards. These usually enjoin continuous monitoring and regular automatic testing of luminaires (exit signs) and battery loads. In compliance with current standards companies are also usually compelled to log and print out test results and alarms with log printers for permanent record keeping.

High price for renewal ..?

Despite the prospective costs involved, companies operating emergency lighting systems in public building facilities are responding to the current changes to electronic systems. Depending on the solution chosen, however, the costs for the adaptation of legacy to USB interfaces may range from total replacement of lighting control systems to merely upgrading existing ones with customized supplementary components. At first glance, the potential costs involved appear overwhelming!

.. not if you do your homework!

The major German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, for example, wanted to raise the log printing standards of its barely 10-year old CEAG emergency lighting systems and for some reason or other could not be helped by its customary supplier and operating company. So it came that Bayer, too, may have been startled at first by the dire prospects of having to entirely replace its functioning unamortized lighting systems under enormous costs. Fortunately, however, Bayer’s operators did their homework! After a short search in the net they alighted upon the amazingly cost-saving ipcas supplementary component solutions

Get more than an upgrade

The ipcas supplementary component solutions are not only the answer to changing interface technology. – For the price of a simple upgrade you additionally gain access to the future technology of online monitoring, printing, testing, data processing, control … and more … via various kinds of networks ….

For additional benefits and information, refer to previous contributions and the specifications under Printing Solutions on the ipcas hardware website.

So there is good news with excellent prospects for all companies and businesses faced with similar requirements to upgrade or even network their log printing for both parallel and serial systems.

ipcas Printer Converter used for ultrasonic welding

ipcas Centronics to USB Printing Converters are currently also being used by companies in modern printing solutions for ultrasonic welding machines.

Manufacturers using ultrasonic welding machines (e.g. for plastic bag sealing in the packaging industries) often take recourse to the continuous systematic logging of MDA (machine data acquisition) data to ascertain optimized threshold values in research and development. Reliable logging is also required to compile machine parameter reports as proof of quality for customers (TQM, claim management).

Centronics to USB Printing Converters

Approx. 20,000 lines on paper (up to 1,000 Din A4 standard pages) often used to be printed to log 8-10 parameters (e.g. temperature, pressure, etc.) for a single procedure. Yet this log data is now recorded electronically and stored on USB Stick and eventually on a PC/sever in the companies just mentioned.

In times of replacing legacy log printers with USB printers and adopting online solutions, companies are finding the ipcas printing solution with the Centronics to USB Printing Converter increasingly attractive for many reasons:

  • Optimized paper consumption (= zero for online version)
  • Greater logging reliability (no data loss)
  • Wide printer selection (long list, few restrictions)
  • No refitting required (ready to run)
  • Easy to configure (ready presetting included on USB Stick)

ipcas Printer Converter

The Centronics to USB Printing Converters also leaves customers with a wide range of options, for example to use a USB printer, network printer, USB Stick, Ethernet (see figure above).

For specifics, go to Centronics to USB Printing Converters webpage.

For machines/devices with serial interfaces, view RS 232 to USB Converters.

Controlling in automated letter mailing systems

Specified application

The other day (refer to "Data Logger …" article) I showed how companies are using the ipcas Data/Event Logger in combination with a light barrier to automatically count paper sheets in printing applications. Yet other companies devised the means of combining the Data/Event Logger with a barcode reader to crosscheck and verify processed addresses with respect to requested mailing lists in automated letter mailing procedures.

Controlling in automated letter mailing systems

Implementation

How is it done? – A customary barcode reader is simply attached to conveyer at the output side of the printing machine or at the end of an automated letter processing procedure. The data logger is then connected to the device and to the industrial network or PC. Using the barcode reader, the data logger identifies and compares the addresses and possibly even the letter contents of the processed letters with the list of requested addresses and the required letter content.

An idea of what the monitoring mask might look like can be gleaned from a Windows.Form application among many possible others (see Application range of included software below).

Thanks to the ipcas Data/Event Logger mailing companies can now always be sure they’ve sent the correct mail to all of their desired addressees.

For further information, please go to ipcas Data/Event Logger specifications.

Printing converters for injection molding machines

Legacy to USB interfaces …

A little more than a decade ago, log printers connnected to injection molding machines for log printing used to have serial or parallel interfaces. Now that retailers are running out of spare parts for serial/parallel log printers due to the decline of serial interfaces, the changeover to USB printers has become a salient issue for investment.

… for modern log printing applications …

The ARBURG "Allrounder" (injection molding machine) is a typical example how the ipcas

RS232 to USB Printing Converter

is being applied to link up machines with old interfaces to operate with modern printing technology using the customary USB printers for log printing. The control unit of the "Allrounder" is simply connected with a serial (RS232) cable to the serial port of the RS232 to USB printer converter.

RS232 to USB Printing Converter

… easy to start

Due to the implementation of software specially designed for the ARBURG "Allrounder", the printer converter does not have to be configured. The RS232 to USB Printer Converter is immediately ready to run when connected. Besides, the converter can be used both for old and new control units.

For more specifics, view RS232 to USB Printer Converter webpage.

For machines with parallel interfaces, view Centronics to USB Converter webpage.

Also view coverage in LinuxDevices.com.

Data Logger used as network paper counter

Scope and aims of ipcas industrial solutions

The example to follow serves to show that there is simply no end to the list of potential applications of ipcas industrial solutions. And there are no limits to applying ones ingenuity to discover new applications or invent additional combinations of ipcas products with other devices to induce network ability and raise industrial processes control to a higher level. In a nutshell, all this adds up to a major trend in industrial processes development towards …

… greater control of industrial processes through online computing …

… and ipcas industrial solutions are geared to play a pivotal role in
promoting this trend.

This contribution is the first in a series to highlight the great opportunities involved in implementing ipcas industrial solutions products in special applications, possibly in combination with other appliances, to advance the above aim.

Interesting new application

Data Logger - Digital I/O

These considerations have been prompted by a sharp increase in sales of the ipcas Data/Event Logger with Digital I/O. Apparently printing companies are reaching out to upgrade their machine equipment, and the respective machine suppliers want to enhance their products with added functionality. Asking for the background story I heard through the grapevine that some companies devised the means of combining the ipcas data logger with a light barrier device to computer-count paper sheets in printing applications.

Implementation

How is it done? – A customary light barrier device is simply attached to the paper conveyer on the output side. The data logger is then connected to the device and to the industrial network or PC. The data logger converts analog light signals into digital data for further computer processing. An idea of what the monitoring mask might look like can be gleaned from a Windows.Form application among many possible others (see Application range of included software).

Digital I/O with asergate

Benefits

Online/network paper sheet counters are obviously used to improve material
planning and logistics of a company. This added functionality

  • optimizes material utilization in general
  • supports company conservation plans to identify sources of paper waste and reduce rejects (saves material costs)
  • helps companies to plan material supplies and processes correctly to prevent machine idling and time waste (increases productivity)
  • serves to streamline production lines by enabling continuous monitoring
  • can be used to identify, alert, warn against, and thus to prevent malfunctions, bottelenecks, etc. or at least to remedy in time to avoid further damage or waste
  • supports environmental protection aims by promoting waste prevention
  • raises TQM standards (increased reliability, productivity, environmental protection)

Of course, these benefits can be fully utilized in combination with the corresponding ipcas material planning software FAMOUS.

Application potential

What has been said for the printing industries can be applied to all kinds of mass production wherever high piece numbers are involved. With other kinds of sensor devices the ipcas Data/Event logger also can be used to log other important PDA (production data acquisition) parameters such as temperature, humidity, pressure, tension, etc. Besides, with new combinations perhaps using other ipcas products, this applicability can be extended to MDA (machine data acquisition) or even to the purpose of correlating process data with machine data (e.g. for testing new products in research and development) … and more …

Used as an event logger it can also be widely applied on site, for example, for TDC (time data capture) in connection with turnpikes, turnstiles, etc. or CAQ (computer-aided quality) applications.

In the entries to come I would like to give you a better idea of the scope of applications and potential functionality of the data logger as well as other ipcas products partly used in combination with specific third-party appliances.

For further information, please go to ipcas Data/Event Logger specifications.

Devices networked in no time!

Some time ago (Refer to "Get your PLC’s …) I introduced our Serial-Ethernet Converter as the device to link up your old machines, devices and interfaces to an Ethernet or other network (including the Internet!) for all kinds of control or data acquisition applications.

For all those of you who might have some qualms about the connectivity, installation, or configuration and the time, costs, or expertise that might be involved to do the job, I’ve got good news for you!

Immediately installed – Serial-Ethernet Converters

Are Serial-Ethernet Converters difficult to install? Not in the least! Since most devices are already equipped with RS232 interfaces, Serial-Ethernet Converters offer cost-effective and quick solutions for linking up even older machines and systems with modern networks and computer systems. Ready to run. No complicated or time-consuming driver installations required.

Here’s an example how to network your equipment:

Use a Serial – Ethernet Converter to Connect a Simatic S7 PLC to the Ethernet!

Easy to configure – Serial-Ethernet Converters

But now let us get down to the important details! Here is an example how to install and configure a PLC (e.g. Simatic S7-200, test motor) with a network terminal by interconnecting a Serial-Ethernet Converter (e.g. ipEther232).

This is how easy networking can be – judge for yourself!
View the instruction path: Serial-Ethernet Converter networks a Simatic S7 (PLC)