October 09, 2015

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...To keep the moose-balls from freezing up.

Or the weird world of industrial construction.

 

It can be overwhelming the first time you're asked to quote a product for which you have no idea what its purpose is. The first time someone asked me to quote an immersion heater to keep the mooseballs from freezing up I thought he was having a go at me. In hindsight, it makes sense, the large Flygt float switches bare a certain resemblance to a certain anatomical part of a certain antlered mammal. 

When dealing with industrial customers, mines, smelters, and remote projects the weird can become a daily occurrence. Dealing with the bizarre requests and unique requirements is a challenge that can be incredibly rewarding. The trick is to take it in stride, to treat every problem as a new puzzle to be solved. Every unique challenge is an opportunity for growth and to gain valuable experience which can help someone else. Being the reservoir and conduit for knowledge, using the experiences of dealing with one customer to help another. 

At Tusk Automation, we strive to rise to meet the unique demands of industrial customers. With ten years of experience, we can offer innovate solutions. We offer an ease of doing business because we know that when you need to keep the mooseballs from freezing up you're not just engaged in some interesting weekend recreation.  

October 02, 2015

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Let's network your compressor panel

You will ask “Why add ethernet connectivity to a compressor control panel?”

The long term advantage of using ethernet enabled control panels is the ease of troubleshooting through an easy web portal interface and the ability for smart devices to send alarms via SMS text messaging.

What good is an alarm if no one is around to notice it is going off? SMS messaging allows your panel to call for help.

The way it’s done now:

  1. Fault condition occurs at 10pm on a Friday
  2. Alarm
  3. No one is around to notice alarm
  4. Operator notices alarm 7am Monday morning.
  5. HVAC system has been off for 2 days and pipes are frozen.
  6. Operator troubleshoots or bypasses fault to get system back up.
  7. Calls mechanical contractor to come and fix pipes.

 

The way it could be done:

  1. Fault condition occurs 10pm on a Friday
  2. Alarm sent via SMS to operator
  3. Operator logs into web portal to check smart relay condition
  4. Operator sees HVAC system is offline.
  5. Calls property manager to have someone go and check out the system.
  6. Property manager bypasses fault until monday and pipes don’t freeze.

 

I’ll grant that this is an oversimplification but it demonstrates the flexibility that using ethernet enabled devices can provide to even the simplest of control panels. Many new smart relays include built in web servers giving the option of troubleshooting or modifying a controller remotely. A technologist can change the set point of an hvac system, the on-time of a load sharing parking lot receptacle controller or remotely download a program into a replacement of a damaged smart relay minimizing downtime.

For the a minimal increase in cost  the benefits of having ethernet enabled control devices allow a decrease in long term operating costs, the security of having alarms be actioned upon even when no one is around to see them, and the flexibility to connect the system to theinternet of things.

James Jenkinson

September 12, 2015

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A DC UPS and You.

Adding a DC UPS to a PLC system is a wise investment in redundancy allowing 24vdc control systems to continue to function for hours without power. This becomes doubly important when a PLC with alarms and network connectivity is in use. Having the PLC stay online to allow a technician to connect to the unit remotely to diagnose a power failure or head off a much larger problem before it occurs.

With the range of power supplies and UPS modules available a designer can incorporate redundant power supplies and UPS modules easily into a panel.Redundancy modules can couple and decouple units wired in parallel as required to maintain output voltages. A UPS in parallel can “top-up” a power supply with an under-voltage output averting damage to sensitive electronic equipment.

DC-UPS units take up less space and generate much less heat than an AC UPS making them ideal for control panel environments. Their small form factor and DIN rail mounting allow a UPS to be included along side a power supply in any medium to large control panel.

Modern DC-UPS’s have smart features making them exceedingly reliable:

  • State of Charge (SOC): indicates the remaining back-up time and level of charge on the battery.  This gives you the ability to see the amount of available time left at a quick glance.
  • State of Health (SOH): indicates the remaining service life of the battery module.  The history of the battery module is recorded and then provides an indication of when the battery needs to be replaced, before it becomes a concern.
  • State of Function (SOF): indicates the capacity of the battery module.  The available capacity of the battery is provided, indicating how well the battery is accepting the charge and if the full capacity is still available.


Using 24VDC control is convenient for use with common solenoids, keeping a panel low voltage, and the redundant options available using a DC-UPS. Its an option worth considering in your next control panel design.