Process analyzers avoid meeting standards

Senior Technical Editor Rich Merritt's Product Roundup of process analyzer systems and components finds that most manufacturers are avoiding NeSSI and PAT standards like the plague.

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 By Rich Merritt, Senior Technical Editor

The newest standards in the process analyzer world are NeSSI and PAT. The NeSSI Initiative/ANSI/ISA76-99.02 (2002) standard defines modular sampling systems that make it extremely easy to set up the manifolds, valves, tubing, piping and sample conditioning systems needed to bring process samples to analyzers. It also defines a 1.5 x 3 x 3-in. format for plugging analyzers onto a NeSSI board.

The Process Analytical Technology (PAT) Initiative recommends procedures for improving manufacturing of food and drugs through measurements of materials and processes. It uses NeSSI and ISA-76 to help define procedures that will simplify measurements and reduce the costs of analyzers and components.

Except for one single product in the roundup that follows, manufacturers seem to be avoiding these standards and recommendations like the plague. NeSSI components cost a bit more than standard sampling systems, so we suspect manufacturers are trying to avoid increasing prices in these difficult economic times. Instead of developing products that might not sell because of price, they spend what little R&D monies available on enhancements, ports, software and interfaces.

Robert Sherman, industry specialist at CIRCOR Instrumentation Technologies said that such instrumentation is on the way. “Analysis elements currently commercially available on the NeSSI format are limited to ppm oxygen and ppm moisture,” he said. “As soon as volume increases, one of the NIR or Raman probe manufacturers will machine a probe in this format. Complete spectrophotometers and gas chromatographs currently are under active development.”

Even if they are ignoring the standard, the enhancements to standard analyzers are downright impressive. Analyzers are getting easier to configure and connect to control systems, they operate much closer to real-time than ever before, and they are getting more rugged so you can install them closer to the process. 

Standard features often include Windows-based HMI, configuration and data analysis software, color displays, touch screens, built-in data loggers, and standard interfaces such as wireless, 4-20 mA, USB, and infrared to PDAs and Pocket PCs. Nary an IEEE-488 interface–the old instrumentation standard--can be found these days in new analyzers.

For the present time, process analyzers appear to be immune to the “China Syndrome” that afflicts so many other control devices: i.e., companies in the Far East copying designs, and then making and selling products at extremely low prices. Process analyzers are bit too complex to be stolen … er, emulated in such a manner, so North American, Japanese and European vendors continue to dominate the market.

The analyzers we list in the round-up that follows have so many new features and functions, you may want to go to ControlGlobal.com to view all the product information we have on several of them. Curious? Go to ControlGlobal.com and look for the round-up section under “Site Highlights.”
 


PRODUCT ROUNDUP:
Process Analyzers and Components

Moisture Analyzer Monitors Itself
The rack-mounted Model 3050-RM Moisture Analyzer has an internal moisture generator allows users to confirm analyzer performance on schedule or on demand. The on-line verification system verifies the zero point of the sensor’s calibration by comparing sensor and system operation to a conditioned sample gas that contains a known amount of moisture. The analyzer is suitable for applications that require continuous measurement of ppmv moisture in gases and vapor. Ametek Process Instruments; 800/222-6789; www.ametkpi.com

 

Wireless pH Transmitter
The OM-CP-RFPH101A measures pH and temperature, transmits readings back to a host computer via wireless, and logs readings in its memory. A slide switch allows the transmitter to be turned on or off without affecting operation of the device. Windows software makes a PC into a real-time strip chart recorder, prints data in graphical or tabular format, and exports data to a text or Microsoft Excel file. Price: $449. Omega Engineering; 203/359-1660; www.omega.com

Dual Analyzer Monitors and Controls
The UDA2182 Universal Dual Analyzer monitors and controls pH, ORP, conductivity/resistivity, concentration or dissolved oxygen. It has a graphic backlit LCD display providing continuous readout of process variables, alarm and diagnostic status, infrared communications for configuration via a Pocket PC, laptop or desktop computer using Process Instrument Explorer software. The analyzer has dual 4-20 mA current outputs and dual relay outputs for control. Honeywell; 215/641-3798; www.acs.honeywell.com

Humidity Transmitter Warms to the Task
The HMT330 Humicap Series includes six models covering humidity measurements from 0–100 %RH, temperature ranges between -70 and +180 °C, and pressure ranges between 0 and 100 bar, depending on the model. In very humid or chemically harsh conditions, a warmed probe and chemical purge help maintain measurement reliability. Outputs include a numerical and graphical display with multilingual user interface, three analog outputs, serial interfaces and alarm relays. Vaisala; 781/933-4500 X1063; www.vaisala.com

Gas Chromatograph Plays a New Standard

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