4 Applications that Benefit from LCP DX-Based Liquid Cooling

Guest Contributor, Herb Villa, Rittal

Liquid cooling of IT equipment, now at the row level instead of for an entire white space, is gaining momentum in the distributed data center world, where the demand for efficiency in cooling higher density racks is making IT professionals rethink their reliance on traditional methods. Various liquid cooling technologies – direct-to-chip, immersion, direct expansion and others – are winning favor in the different IT spaces. Why? Because they bring heat removal closer to the equipment, require little if any changes to infrastructure, and are easy to scale as demand grows; when you need to add more racks, additional cooling capacity is achieved with the cooling systems supporting increased IT enclosures.

Liquid cooling is especially advantageous for small and medium-sized businesses that have on-premise servers mounted in one or more enclosures. Many of the IT professionals supporting these organizations are forced to put these in some remote, out-of-the-way space within the building, assuming (wrongly) that as long as the building’s HVAC system has a vent terminating in that room, cooling the equipment won’t be a problem.

But we’ve seen that “comfort cooling,” which is the job of a facility’s HVAC system, isn’t adequate for server rack cooling and the demands of heat-generating IT equipment. Those demands are non-negotiable: precise temperature and humidity control, and proper airflow to get the heat away from the equipment.

Focusing on just a few different market sectors can illustrate the demands of the new IT environment. Hospital & healthcare, schools, factory floor, distribution centers are all examples of the types of organizations and facilities often forced to utilize spaces never intended to support the climate control needs of IT equipment: unused offices, janitors’ closets, corners of basements, etc. And because all rely on data to run their businesses, they’re all at risk of system failure because they aren’t addressing the critical climate needs of their IT investments.

Enclosure Climate Control in Hospitals

Data is critical in ensuring quality patient care and the smooth, efficient performance of even the smallest healthcare facilities. Hospitals, clinics and physician practice groups rely on IT equipment to store and transfer data among departments, achieve operational efficiency and maintain compliance using enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Without proper temperature, humidity and airflow control, the IT equipment that processes and stores necessary data could fail, and the cost of downtime and potential lost data is immeasurable.  There is also extremely limited space to place these systems; after all, the main business of a hospital is patient care, not IT.  Especially today in the midst of a global pandemic, healthcare facilities must maximize space for their patients, not their IT appliances.

Data Center Cooling in Education/School Campuses

What happens when a school’s “comfort cooling” system can’t keep up with all the heat being generated by the server room’s IT equipment (if they are lucky enough to even have such a space)? These systems are intended to keep humans comfortable, not maintain the precision and optimal air flow needed to remove heat generated by the IT equipment. Schools rely on IT equipment to help maintain productivity, organize data, and reduce time and effort of work that would otherwise be manual. Servers and processors enable insights that help administrators allocate the right resources to the right areas at the right time, connect campuses and departments, and speed communication between students, teachers, administrators and parents. And as with the healthcare sector, COVID-19 has placed enormous demands on bandwidth and compute capability as school systems have become virtual classrooms supporting remote learning applications and programs. This means more equipment, more heat, and less available installation space.

Server Rack Cooling in Manufacturing

Manufacturing facilities represent some of the most uncontrolled environments in which to place IT equipment. Wide temperature ranges, dust, debris, moisture and corrosive elements are all enemies of smooth factory floor operations, and because there is often no dedicated IT room (or at least one designed for IT), the risk of equipment degradation and failure is very real. Manufacturing organizations rely heavily on manufacturing execution systems (MES) and ERP systems for visibility into all aspects of the supply chain and production, and for seamless integration between the shop floor and Billing, Sales, Operations, HR and other departments.

Climate Control Units in Distribution

Distribution warehouses are notorious for having subpar climate control: they’re often either too hot or too cold; when air conditioning is running, cold air is “dumped” to the floor and doesn’t mix with warmer air near the ceiling (and the opposite situation when the heat is running); air flow throughout the building is almost impossible to control; and air leaks from the inside to outside and vice versa are common. Imagine, then, the effect of a poorly controlled climate in a small room where heat is being generated.

Like manufacturing, warehousing and distribution rely on up-to-date information about inventory, customers (through a CRM tool), fleet management, marketing, shipping and more. When equipment is compromised by temperatures that are too high (and in some cases too cold), all the data that’s used to ensure optimum facility and system performance is at risk for failure.

The best solution for cooling racks for these types of organizations is one that’s similar to a building’s own AC – one that uses direct expansion (DX). Heat removal is achieved with a compressor / condenser refrigeration cycle to reach and maintain a setpoint temperature and humidity level but that is designed to work at the cabinet (sometimes called enclosure) level.

Rittal’s DX-based solution (part of the Liquid Cooling [LCP] family of products) is ideal for businesses, like those above, that have “mission-critical” data needs but less-than-ideal data room options. The close coupled LCP DX 20kW provides a single or multiple IT enclosures with up to 20kW heat removal capacity, available in both closed loop rack and open loop inline options. Some of the benefits of this solution include:

  • A small footprint, making it appropriate for nearly any location within the building
  • Precise temperature and humidity control that responds to varying equipment heat loads
  • Local climate control – airflow is provided to one or more cabinets in a closed system, or cooling to the entire space in an open airflow configuration
  • Simple maintenance – tool-less fan replacement, easy-to-access electrical connections and remote notification of all operational parameters
  • Redundancy – up to 8 units can be interconnected, with coordinated air flow, alarms, and time-of-day operation
  • Reduce the need for a dedicated room to support IT equipment.  With proper planning and physical security, it is possible to place these systems out on the floor or shared space. The costs to build and maintain a dedicated IT room are eliminated

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR 20kW LCP RACK AND INLINE DX

Today, every organization, no matter the size or industry, relies on optimum IT equipment performance in order to meet its ongoing operational demands. If yours is putting rack cooling needs at the mercy of your building’s HVAC system, the risk of system downtime is very real, and the potential cost to operations significant. The best protection against system failure is to utilize IT cabinets with liquid cooling capabilities that offer precise control of temperature, humidity and airflow – all critical factors when it comes to ensuring that your organization’s work is never disrupted.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

IT Equipment Cooling: Why Your HVAC System Is a Poor Climate Control Unit

Guest Contributor: Herb Villa, Rittal

IT Managers working in small and mid-sized businesses often find themselves searching their buildings for unused space to house the company’s IT enclosures. Mail rooms, empty offices, janitors’ closets…all have been repurposed into data closets holding one to a few racks. This approach may be the right choice in terms of square footage needed, but when it comes to proper climate conditions for sensitive IT equipment, it could not be more wrong! At best, these spaces are cooled using only the building’s AC system. At worst? An open window.

A building’s existing air conditioning system (or combined heat and air conditioning system) is designed to create comfortable environments for employees – the reason they’re sometimes referred to as “comfort systems.” When IT racks need to be placed somewhere on site, it’s thought that “any old room” will do because AC ductwork usually terminates in these spaces. But the reality is that even if you were to add ducts to supplement the building’s AC, relying on a system designed for humans is not a good solution for IT equipment.

Server rooms need more targeted cooling to keep the temperature within a specific range and prevent the servers from overheating. According to ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), the appropriate temperature range for server rooms is between 64.4 and 80.6 Fahrenheit. This requires a discrete cooling solution capable of monitoring and managing the temperature of both the equipment and the room. The same cooling system must also be capable of regulating humidity within the precise margins required by sensitive equipment. Finally, building HVAC will not provide sufficient air flow volume for heat removal from installed appliances; the CFM requirements for comfort cooling are significantly lower than airflow required to remove heat from the IT devices.

Five Enclosure Climate Control Challenges

Still think your building AC is up to the task? Here are some of the hidden risks you will be vulnerable to:

  • Contaminants. A repurposed space can be exposed to airborne dust, gasses and moisture that seep into the room and compromise the quality of the air and the performance of the equipment; these may not be adequately removed from the room using only the existing AC.
  • Reliability/redundancy. Even a short interruption in power supply to computer equipment can lead to loss of data, and the same is true for interruptions in cooling. Most buildings do not have redundant cooling in place and often an AC system breakdown can last hours – a costly risk for IT equipment.
  • Comfort systems cycle on and off. The temperature in the closet will decrease when the cooling system is on and increase when it is off, resulting in temperature swings throughout the day that can stress the equipment more than a consistent higher temperature.

And the issue isn’t only related to daily temperature swings, but more sustained periods that put the equipment outside the zone. Comfort cooling systems are often programmed for higher temperature setpoints on weeknights and weekends to conserve energy. The average temperature within a server closet will generally increase by the amount the temperature set point is increased.

  • Combined heating and cooling HVAC systems deliver heat in winter. The same ductwork that supplies cool air to the IT closet in warmer months will deliver heated air in colder months. This almost guarantees overheating of the equipment and increases the risk of equipment failure.
  • Inability to scale. Every kilowatt of power used by the IT equipment creates a kilowatt of heat that must be removed. If you were to add an additional rack and more equipment, the existing HVAC system would be even less capable of maintaining the ideal temperature.

The Solution for Your Climate Control Unit Needs

So, what is the best option for supporting mid-size installations and 10-30kW thermal loads in a small space? A liquid cooling solution is one of the most effective options for data closets, IT rooms and other confined spaces that would otherwise rely on a building’s HVAC system. One of the best is Rittal’s LCP DX 20kW – an enclosure cooling solution adaptable to a variety of applications and locations. The LCP DX provides 20kW of cooling capacity and is available in closed loop Rack and open loop Inline options. The closed loop configuration maintains rack temperatures completely independent of room conditions; the open loop option maintains a constant room temperature, cooling the rack equipment as well as other equipment that may be in the room.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR 20kW LCP RACK AND INLINE DX

The LCP DX 20kW is a server rack cooling solution with the features that make it ideal for repurposed spaces – and limited staff:

  • A small footprint
  • Easy to maintain (tool-less fan replacement; easy access electrical connections)
  • Precise climate control (set point temperature is maintained as heat loads vary)
  • Ongoing monitoring (remote notification)
  • Variable capacity (follow heat load variations from 5 to 20kW)

Learn more about your data center cooling options by reading our white paper, “Data Center Cooling: 4 Effective Types of Liquid Cooling.” In it you’ll find valuable information about why liquid cooling is becoming the go-to choice for data centers of all sizes, and 4 of the best options for different scenarios.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Understanding Hygienic Zones

Guest Contributor: Rittal

In any facility that processes food, beverages or pharmaceuticals, cleanliness is the absolute top priority. To avoid product contamination and bacteria growth, these facilities have strict cleaning requirements that include the use of aggressive cleaning agents and high-power spray wash downs. In order to protect the critical components for these processing lines, enclosures, accessories and equipment must be specified properly and meet facility requirements including IP69K,

Because of the variations in processes and practices in each section of these facilities, the cleaning and equipment requirements will vary by each hygienic zone. The infographic below defines the Basic, Medium and High Hygiene zones as well as outlines what specific considerations you should keep in mind for specifying systems and enclosures.

Hygienic Zones

Hygienic Zones Infographic

When specifying equipment for hygienic zones, look specifically for hygienic designs. For more information on selecting control panels and HMIs in these facilities, check out our article in Machine Design Magazine. Additional design guidance for food and beverage facilities can be found by downloading the Food and Beverage Handbook.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Building Blocks of the Smart Factory Now More Economical, Accessible

Guest Contributor: Balluff

A smart factory is one of the essential components in Industry 4.0. Data visibility is a critical component to ultimately achieve real-time production visualization within a smart factory. With the advent of IIoT and big-data technologies, manufacturers are finally gaining the same real-time visibility into their enterprise performance that corporate functions like finance and sales have enjoyed for years.

The ultimate feature-rich smart factory can be defined as a flexible system that self-optimizes its performance over a network and self-adapts to learn and react to new conditions in real-time. This seems like a farfetched goal, but we already have the technology and knowhow from advances developed in different fields of computer science such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. These technologies are already successfully being used in other industries like self-driving cars or cryptocurrencies.

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Fig: Smart factory characteristics (Source: Deloitte University Press)

Until recently, the implementation or even the idea of a smart factory was elusive due to the prohibitive costs of computing and storage. Today, advancements in the fields of machine learning and AI and easy accessibility to cloud solutions for analytics, such as IBM Watson or similar companies, has made getting started in this field relatively easy.

One of the significant contributors in smart factory data visualization has been the growing number of IO-Link sensors in the market. These sensors not only produce the standard sensor data but also provide a wealth of diagnostic data and monitoring while being sold at a similar price point as non-IO-Link sensors. The data produced can be fed into these smart factory systems for condition monitoring and preventive maintenance. As they begin to produce self-monitoring data, they become the lifeblood of the smart factory.

Components

The tools that have been used in the IT industry for decades for visualizing and monitoring server load and performance can be easily integrated into the existing plant floor to get seamless data visibility and dashboards. There are two significant components of this system: Edge gateway and Applications.

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Fig: An IIoT system

Edge Gateway

The edge gateway is the middleware that connects the operation technology and Information technology. It can be a piece of software or hardware and software solutions that act as a universal protocol translator.

As shown in the figure, the edge gateway can be as simple as something that dumps the data in a database or connects to cloud providers for analytics or third-party solutions.

Applications

One of the most popular stacks is Influxdb to store the data, Telegraf as the collector, and Grafana as a frontend dashboard.

These tools are open source and give customers the opportunity to dive into the IIoT and get data visibility without prohibitive costs. These can be easily deployed into a small local PC in the network with minimal investment.

The applications discussed in the post:

Grafana

Telegraf

Influxdb

Node-red Tutorial

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

 

How Cameras Keep Tire Manufacturers From Spinning Their Wheels

 

Guest contributor: John Tackacs, BalluffTires being transported between the curing presses and the staging area before their final inspection often become clustered together. This jam up can cause imperfections to the tires and damage to the conveyors. To alleviate this problem, some tire manufacturers have installed vision systems on their conveyors to provide visual feedback to their production and quality teams, and alert them when the tires start to get too close together.

A vision system can show you alerts back in your HMI by using inputs and outputs built into the camera or use an IO-Link port on the camera to attach a visual display, for example a SmartLight with audible and flashing alerts enabled. Once you see these alerts, the PLC can easily fix the issue from the program or a maintenance worker or engineer can quickly respond to the alert.

Widespread use of smart vision cameras with various pixel options has become a trend in tire manufacturing. In additional to giving an early alert to bunching problems, vision systems can also capture pictures and data to verify that tires were cleared all the way into final inspection. Although tire machine builders are being asked to incorporate vision systems into their machines during the integration process, it is more likely for systems to be added in plants at the application level.

Vision systems can improve production throughput, quality issues and record production data about the process for analytics and analysis down the road. Remember a tire plant usually consists of these processes in their own large section of the plant and involves many machines in each section:

  • Mixing
  • Tire Prep
  • Tire Build
  • Curing
  • Final Inspection

Each one of these process areas in a plant can benefit from the addition of vision systems. Here are a few examples:

  • Mixing areas can use cameras as they mill rubber and detect when rubber sheets are off the rollers and to look for engraved information embedded in the rubber material for logistics and material flow to the proper processes.
  • Tire Prep can use cameras to ensure all the different strand colors of steel cords are embedded or painted on the rubber plies before going to tire build process.
  • Tire Build can use vision to detect the side-wall beads are facing the right direction and reading the embedded position arrows on the beads before tire plies are wrapped around them.
  • Curing area can use vision to monitor tire clusters on conveyors and make sure they are not too close to each other by using the measuring tool in the camera software.
  • Final Inspection can use vision to read barcodes, QR codes, detect colors of embossed or engraved serial numbers, detect different color markings and shape of the markings on the tire.

The use of machine vision systems can decrease quality issues by pinpointing errors before they make it through the entire production process without detection.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Mobile Equipment Manufacturers: Is It Time to Make the Switch to Inductive Position Sensors?

Manufacturers of mobile equipment are tasked with the never-ending pursuit of making their machines more productive while adhering to the latest safety regulations, and all at less cost. To help achieve these goals, machines today use electronic control modules to process inputs and provide outputs that ultimately control the machine functions. Yet with all the changes in recent years, one component left over from that earlier era remains in regular use — the mechanical switch.  Switches offered a variety of levers, rollers, and wands for actuation, and many were sealed for an IP67 rating for outdoor use, but they came with an array of problems, including damaged levers, contact corrosion, arcing concerns, dirt or grain dust ingress, and other environmental hazards. Still, overall they were an acceptable and inexpensive way to receive position feedback for on/off functions.

Today, mechanical switches can still be found on machines used for boom presence, turret location, and other discrete functions. But are they the right product for today’s machines?

The original design parameters may have required the switch to drive the load directly, and therefore a rating of 10A@240V might be a good design choice for the relay/diode logic circuits of the past. But a newly designed machine may be switching mere milliamps through the switch into the control module. Does the legacy switch have the proper contact plating material for the load today? Switches use rare metals such as rhodium, palladium, platinum, gold, and silver in attempts to keep the contact resistance low and to protect those contacts from corrosion. Consequently, as China pursues Nonroad Stage IV standards, these metals, some also used in catalytic converters, have sharply increased in price, leading to substantial cost increases to switch manufacturers and ultimately switch users.

A better approach to position feedback for today’s mobile machines is the inductive position sensor. Inductive sensors offer a sealed, non-contact alternative to mechanical switches. Sensing ferrous and non-ferrous metals without physical contact, they eliminate many of the field problems of the past, and non-metallic substances such as water, dirt, and grain dust, do not affect the operation. These qualities make the sensor very suitable for the harsh conditions found in agricultural and construction environments.

Inductive proximity sensors come in a variety of form factors:

Threaded cylindrical – With zinc-plated brass or stainless-steel housings, the threaded barrel styles are popular for their ease of mounting and gap adjustment.  

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Low profile rectangular – These “flatpack” style sensors are great under seats for operator presence.

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Block designs – The compact, cubed package is ideal for larger sensing ranges.

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Large cylindrical – These large “pancake” style sensors are great for detecting suspension movements and other applications requiring extreme ranges.

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Inductive position sensors are more than just a discrete product used for detecting linkage, operator presence, or turret stops; They can also perform the duties of a speed sensor by counting teeth (or holes) to determine the RPM of a rotating shaft. Other models offer analog outputs to provide a continuous feedback signal based on the linear location of a metal linkage or lever. Safety rated outputs, high temperatures, and hazardous area options are some of the many product variants available with this electromagnetic technology.
So, perhaps it’s time to review that legacy switch and consider an inductive sensor?
To learn how an inductive position sensor performs its magic, please take a look at an earlier blog:

Basic Operating Principle of an Inductive Proximity Sensor

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Adding a higher level of visibility to older automation machines

It’s never too late to add more visibility to an automation machine.

In the past, when it came to IO-Link opportunities, if the PLC on the machine was a SLC 500, a PLC-5, or worse yet, a controller older than I, there wasn’t much to talk about. In most of these cases, the PLC could not handle another network communication card, or the PLC memory was maxed, or it used a older network like DeviceNet, Profibus or ASi that was maxed. Or it was just so worn out that it was already being held together with hope and prayer. But, today we can utilize IIoT and Industry 4.0 concepts to add more visibility to older machines.

IIOT and Industry 4.0 have created a volume of products that can be utilized locally at a machine, rather than the typical image of Big Data. There are three main features we can utilize to add a level of visibility: Devices to generate data, low cost controllers to collect and analyze the data, and visualization of the data.

Data Generating Devices

In today’s world, we have many devices that can generate data outside of direct communication to the PLC.  For example, in an Ethernet/IP environment, we can put intelligent devices directly on the EtherNet/IP network, or we can add devices indirectly by using technologies like IO-Link, which can be more cost effective and provide the same level of data. These devices can add monitoring of temperature, flow, pressure, and positioning data that can reduce downtime and scrap. With these devices connected to an Ethernet-based protocol, data can be extracted from them without the old PLC’s involvement.  Utilizing JSON, OPC UA, MQTT, UDP and TCP/IP, the data can be made available to a secondary controller.

Linux-Based Controllers

An inexpensive Raspberry Pi could be used as the secondary controller, but Linux-based open controllers with industrial specifications for temperature, vibration, etc. are available on the market. These lower cost controllers can then be utilized to collect and analyze the data on the Ethernet protocol. With a Linux based “sandbox” system, many programming software packages could be loaded, i.e. Node-Red, Codesys, Python, etc., to create the needed logic.

Visualization of Data

Now that the data is being produced, collected and analyzed, the next step is to view the information to add the extra layer of visibility to the process of an older machine. Some of the programming software that can be loaded into the Linux-based systems, which have a form a visualization, like a dashboard (Node-Red) or an HMI feel (Codesys). This can be displayed on a low-cost monitor on the floor near the machine.

By utilizing the products used in the “big” concepts of IIOT and Industry 4.0, you can add a layer of diagnostic visualization to older machines, that allows for easier maintenance, reduced scrap, and predictive maintenance.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

The Factory of the Future, Today: How IoT-Enabled Climate Control Makes Plants Smarter

Automation is a target that many in the industrial sector are chasing. However, converting existing facilities into smart facilities can be a costly and time-consuming undertaking.

For a company to implement smart manufacturing, its machinery and equipment must be able to communicate with each other and across a network. Many in the industry are beginning to invest in steps toward automation through integrating sensors into their equipment and investing in IoT-ready machines and devices, even if they aren’t ready to put them online yet.

In order to fully integrate with IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) and the factory of the future, climate control units must also be brought online for remote monitoring and integration into IoT systems. For this, cooling units must either be replaced or retrofitted.

New Solution for IoT Connected Cooling: Retrofit

For many plant managers, the push towards automation means investing significant amounts of money in new connected devices. However, another option exists for enclosure cooling systems: Retrofit.

The practice of retrofitting your existing cooling systems for IoT connectivity wasn’t previously an option but using newly available adapters certain existing units can be connected. These adapters connect cooling via common plant protocols such as TCP/IP, OPC UA, Modbus an

Taking a retrofit approach allows all of your systems to “talk” to each other so you can ensure they are performing properly. Real-time monitoring of equipment enables alerts to be sent out, allowing you to get systems back online as quickly as possible to minimize costly downtime for your plant. Tracking data from cooling systems allows plant managers to confirm when equipment is running correctly, determine the hours in use and establish regular maintenance and inspections to keep cooling units running at optimal performance. When your climate products are running correctly, the rest of your sensitive equipment and controls can keep your plant smart.

When to Replace Rather than Retrofit

Retrofitting is the most cost-effective way to bring your climate control solutions online with your smart plant’s systems. However, retrofitting may not always be the best option depending on your current equipment. When should you replace cooling units rather than retrofit them?

  • If your equipment is too old. Assess the age of your equipment, if it is more than five to seven years old, consider upgrading to newer, more efficient and IoT-enabled equipment.
  • If your utility provider is offering incentives for installing more efficient equipment. Upgrade incentives vary based on timing and location, so if you’re considering an upgrade, check with your utility providers to see if there is a current or upcoming rebate program.
  • Was your equipment wasn’t specified appropriately in the first place? One of the most common mistakes when specifying climate control units is installing undersized units. If your current units aren’t performing as they should, consider upgrading.
  • If you’ve upgraded your drives and devices inside the enclosure but not your cooling unit. As drives and PLCs get smaller and smaller, plants will sometimes upgrade the contents of the enclosure, but overlook the climate control unit. If you can replace two drives with four or five, they may be more efficient than the older ones and less energy-loss, but the aggregate heat generated may have increased, meaning your climate solution may not be able to keep up.
  • If your equipment has failed. Obviously, if your unit has failed, it should be replaced rather than retrofitted.

The Rittal Solution for Retrofit

Rittal recently launched an adapter for its Blue e cooling units that, when installed, ensures the units can link up to smart condition monitoring and IoT systems. The adapter can be used to set up condition monitoring for up to ten cooling units in a master/slave arrangement. It is compatible with all wall- and roof-mounted NEMA 12, 3R/4, and 4X rated Blue e units that employ the Comfort Controller. Combining the IoT Interface with the IoT Adapter, Blue e cooling units may be integrated into higher-level systems. The whole system can be configured and commissioned via the web server– quickly, conveniently and without the need for any programming.

Learn more about the adapter for retrofitting your climate solutions for IoT, check out the brochure. To read more on IoT and climate control, visit IoT-enabled Climate Control is Changing the Game.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

The Smartphone of Automation

Let’s be honest: Over many years, automation has for the most part ignored the developments in the consumer area – and thereby missed countless opportunities for user-friendly approaches. With ctrlX AUTOMATION we have asked ourselves the provocative question: What would automation look like if it were reinvented by Google, Apple or another digital company? We did not have to search long for an answer: It would follow the example of a smartphone, with the highest level of functional integration possible and a flexible app technology thanks to which users can easily individualize their devices. With ctrlX AUTOMATION, we have gotten very close to this idea. At the heart of this solution is the new generation of control systems, ctrlX CORE.

YOUR OWN SOFTWARE TRANSFERRED TO INDUSTRY CONTROL SYSTEM

The new generation of control systems decouples the hardware from the software. This fundamental difference to other control systems creates numerous advantages. Rexroth makes it much easier for all users to update the control system or to transfer the programmed contents to another control.

Standard control systems from large manufacturers are proprietary. This often prevents small manufacturers from implementing their expert knowledge for special applications. Developing their own electronics is usually not an option for them, so they often use an IPC-system in addition to the actual control system. Problems associated with this, such as the integration effort for continuous high-speed data communication or the uncertain long-term availability of PC-based technology, must be accepted.

Now, these machine manufacturers can directly transfer their specialist knowledge to ctrlX CORE as their dedicated industry control system, thereby securing the long-term availability of their solutions. ctrlX CORE combines an open architecture with industrial-grade capabilities and a serviceability of at least 25 years. Developers also face significantly reduced engineering efforts: In addition to their own functions, they have the option of simply installing additional apps from Rexroth instead of programming them themselves, such as data gateways for MES and IT connections, VPN client, firewall or OPC UA. End-to-end data communication is automatically supplied by ctrlX CORE.

ONE COMPACT CONTROL SYSTEM FOR ALL PLATFORMS

The decoupling of hardware and software comes with further consequences. ctrlX CORE puts an end to the separation of the individual automation architectures. The control system is integrated in the drive and requires no additional space, resulting in particularly compact automation solutions with no performance limitations. As an embedded control system, the ctrlX CORE can simply be extended with I/O and performance modules such as 5G or additional storage. As a plug-in card for the IPC, ctrlX CORE combines a real-time capable control solution and edge computing in one platform.

In a compact space, the ARM architecture’s processor holds enough reserve capacity for all potential applications, optimally distributed to the four cores of the 64-bit multicore CPU. With 1 GB of RAM, ctrlX CORE offers enough room for individual functions. The 4 GB of permanent memory and the additional external microSD card offer enough storage space for future application extensions, thus reducing the variance of the hardware customers and user need. The high-performance 1 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces are optimized for the fast communication of large quantities of data in highly connected systems, equipping users perfectly for the factory of the future.

Thanks to the modern and open software architecture, operators can make use of their own software and apps. This is because the container technology of Linux, the world’s most stable and secure real-time operating system, for the first time in automation opens up all possibilities of integrating functions with separate apps. The ctrlX Data Layer, which can be described as the central nervous system, grants central authorized access to all real time and non-real time data from the installed apps, enabling eight million potential accesses per second. ctrlX Data Layer does not need to be configured, as the apps automatically recognize the hardware and can use the data available in the system.

For the field communication of ctrlX CORE, we rely on the EtherCAT ecosystem as a standard. This opens up the entire range of EtherCAT peripheral devices to designers, who can simply integrate them into their own control architecture. It also reduces the effort for writing interfaces and allows for the combination of components best suited for the application in question. In addition, the control system supports further customary real-time Ethernet protocols as well as more than 30 IT and IoT standards and protocols.

UP TO 50 PERCENT LESS ENGINEERING EFFORT

The engineering apps reduce engineering efforts by up to 50 percent. The control system supplies a web server for simple browser-based engineering. With ctrlX WORKS, the user programs every single function in the PLC app (according to IEC 61131), G-Code, C/C++, Python, Blockly or other languages at the click of a mouse. The digital nameplates of the connected devices are recognized automatically and integrated in ctrlX WORKS. The integrated web server simplifies the visualization on browser-based end devices such as web-panels or consumer tablets and supports wireless diagnostic solutions with smart devices via WiFi and Bluetooth. In addition, the control system includes a simulation environment in which functions can be tested virtually and then applied to the control system.

COMPACT, OPEN, POWERFUL

ctrlX CORE decouples the hardware from the software and offers users the most modern software architecture in the world of automation. This openness gives machine manufacturers and end users an unprecedented level of freedom by allowing them to implement their own expertise into an industry-grade control system and to transfer pre-written functions as apps. What’s more, Bosch Rexroth consequently mirrors the user-friendliness of consumer electronics, making automation as easy as handling a smart phone – even without Google or Apple.

5 HYDRAULICS MYTHS

Guest Contributor: Dr. Steffen Haack, Bosch Rexroth

br_hydrolicmyths_hero_dec19.jpgNo drive technology is more efficient, compact and robust than hydraulics when dealing with forces in excess of 600 kN. So why is it that the importance of hydraulics is often overlooked in the training and development of our young engineers?

In the modern manufacturing setting, movement is everything along with the resulting data. Little thought is given to hydraulic technology, that is until drive physics comes into play. This is when hydraulic technology comes into its own in managing large forces and delivering robust performance.

Here’s a connected hydraulics ‘Myth Buster’ that demonstrates how the latest smart hydraulics are more versatile and cost-effective than you ever imagined.

THE MYTH: Installation is complex

BUSTED: Designers are no longer required to develop an in-depth knowledge of fluid mechanics and technology and increasingly look for plug & produce modules. These ready-to-install modules simply need an electrical current and a connection to the control communication.

THE MYTH: Commissioning takes time

BUSTED: Our smart, connected hydraulics are now commissioned with the same engineering tools as electric drives and control systems. Functions previously carried out hydromechanically are handled by the latest drive software. There are even software assistants available to guide technicians through the commissioning process and suggest suitable parameters.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics waste energy

BUSTED: There’s a preconception that hydraulics are more energy-intensive than other technologies, but things have changed dramatically. Variable-speed pump drives generate the flow in line with demand and reduce speeds accordingly under partial load conditions. Compared to constantly driven pumps, they reduce power consumption by up to 80 percent – a level consistent with that of electric drives of the same size.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics aren’t IoT ready

BUSTED: Smart hydraulics are a well-established part of IoT in production. Analog valves can be made digitally visible cost-effectively thanks to IO-Link and exchange data available through the control system. Smart valves, with their own control electronics and state of the art field bus connection, are as convenient to use as electric drives.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics are high maintenance

BUSTED: Hydraulics offer a distinct advantage when monitoring operating states and deducing possible wear and expected life cycle. With a few pieces of sensor data, such as pressure differential, oil temperature, optically measured contamination or pressure increase over time, software can assess the health of the system.

This myth busting technology is included in our latest generation of hydraulic power units, allowing young designers and businesses to benefit from all the advantages of our modern, connected innovations.

 

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.