Process I/O: Great gadgets galore

Senior Tech Editor Rich Merritt takes a look at recent developments in I/O, wiring and terminals and concludes that it looks like we might be emerging from the new product doldrums.

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By Rich Merritt, Senior Technical Editor

FOR THE PAST several years, we have complained loudly about the dearth of real new products. Thanks to the worldwide recession, reduced research and development monies at vendor companies across the board, and falling product sales, what we’ve been seeing in these monthly product roundups have been slightly warmed over versions of last year’s products. Few companies have spent development money on new, truly advanced products.

Instead, many companies just change the color scheme or install a gold-plated screw on last year’s gadget, call it a new product, and send us a press release. In years past, we would ignore such products, because we don’t like to publish products that are more than a year old (yes, we can tell). These product roundups are supposed to be limited to all the new products in a given niche announced in the past year. This lets you see how products have developed and identify any trends.

Alas, for the past couple of years, we’ve had to run the “gold-plated screw” products, just to fill these pages. In some cases, because of the lack of products in a category, we’ve had to (blush) run last year’s products again.

In this month’s roundup on I/O, wiring and terminals, we finally get to see some ingenuity and cleverness at work, as vendors seem to have broken out of their new product doldrums and are starting to generate great gadgets galore. As near as we can tell, what you will see on the following pages and on our web site are all new products, not warmed-over versions.

Wireless, Ethernet and fieldbus products dominate the scene, as vendors have been scrambling to make their products fit into the digital world. Nearly every I/O product in this roundup has either a wireless, Ethernet or fieldbus connection.  A few even have advanced capabilities: one power switching relay controller has a built-in web server, and one DeviceNet device allows remote diagnostics.

Several of the new terminals and connectors work with fieldbus. To make your job a little easier, one company offers a 24-hr delivery service for wiring, cordsets and connectors, while another offers a design-build service for custom enclosures and wiring.


Product Roundup: I/O, Wiring and Terminals

Wireless Profibus DP
The 905U-G-PR provides wireless extension of Profibus DP LANs with secure Firewall isolation and security data encryption. The wireless Profibus extenders are available with both Profibus Master and Slave functionality, connect to a Profibus DP LAN at full bus speed of 12 Mb/sec, and can transmit more than 20 miles line-of-sight, or up to one mile in a congested plant or factory environment. Elpro Technologies; 866/713 4409; www.elprotech.com

Wireless Communications
The WirelessDIN system provides an interference-free link for monitoring and transmission of critical data. Using the license free 902-928 MHz ISM band with spread spectrum frequency hopping technology, the transmitter and receiver units are DIN rail mountable for installation in a control cabinet or can be installed in any of the company’s fiberglass, stainless steel, or cast aluminum enclosures. Adalet; 216/267-6864; www.adaletwireless.com

Wireless Signal Conditioner
Model 3001(ISAC-1) load cell signal conditioner combines the functions of a load cell calibrator, weight indicator, signal conditioner and wireless transceiver. It can be retrofit to any existing scale installation or any other sensors with mV outputs. An embedded program provides the functions of a typical weight indicator, set point driven digital I/O for simple process control, load cell diagnostics, and wireless communication to Bluetooth enabled PDAs and laptop computers. Sensor System Solutions; 949/855-6688; www.corp3s.com

Air/Gas Flowmeter Goes Wireless
A wireless communication option for the ST50 Flowmeter lets field technicians obtain measurements, make setting changes and read trouble-shooting codes from a PDA without ever having to open the instrument. The wireless IR link also eliminates the need for proprietary programmers, which simplifies maintenance and reduces the overall cost of use. It comes with user interface software for downloading into any Palm-OS based PDA. FCI; 800/854-1993; www.fluidcomponents.com

Wireless Ethernet I/O Network
The WLM Wireless Link Module provides wireless connectivity between remote field sites at data rates up to 100 Mbits/sec. The bi-directional, spread spectrum wireless module employs Intelligent Spectrum Frequency Hopping technology and 32-bit CRC error correction for secure communications. Available models support Ethernet or serial communications, and operate at FCC license-free frequency ranges of 902-928MHz or 2.4-2.483GHz. Moore Industries-International; 818/894-7111; www.miinet.com

DeviceNet Slave
DRT2 smart DeviceNet slave monitors I/O status and network communications status, allowing users to remotely monitor and diagnose such common problems as low network voltage, communications errors, and short circuits for connected devices. When combined with the company’s Configuration Software, users gain the ability to connect and monitor the factory floor network over an Ethernet connection without the need of any control programming or interruption. Omron Electronics; 866/88O-MRON; www.omron.com/oei

Relay Output Has Ethernet I/O
ADAM-6066 high-current relay output module for power switching applications has an embedded web server for remote monitoring, supports Modbus/TCP and UDP protocols to meet standard communication requirements, and allows users to configure web pages. The module’s six relay output channels are rated at 5A at 30 VDC, and support both standard switching and pulse-width outputs. Advantech; 877/294-8989; www.eautomationpro.com

Fieldbus Cords and Boxes
FieldConnex cordsets and junction boxes work with Foundation fieldbus or Profibus PA applications. Junction boxes have short-circuit protection, built-in selectable terminators, and durable field-mountable aluminum housings. The junction boxes can be used in all IEC 61158-2- and ISA-S50.02-based fieldbus applications. Cordsets are available with male or female connectors and have pin-outs for either fieldbus. Pepperl+Fuchs; 330/ 486-0002; www.fieldconnex.info

Overnight Wiring
Fast Track industrial wiring solutions program includes 70 different wiring products that can be shipped within 24 hr. Products include distribution boxes, cord sets, receptacles, connectors, splitters and taps in mini, micro (M12) and pico (M8) configurations, and with NEMA and IP ratings. Products suitable for use with DeviceNet, Profibus, Interbus, AS-Interface, Ethernet, Ethernet IP and Profinet are available.
Lumberg; 804/897-9315; www.lumbergusa.com/fast

Drive I/O Fits Fieldbus
The KL2531 and KL2541 stepper motor bus terminals integrate a compact motion control solution for small stepper motors up to 200 W, eliminating the need for remote amplifiers. Both terminals can be used just like standard I/O in all common fieldbuses. Interface programming is no longer required. Beckhoff Automation; 952-890-0000; www.beckhoffautomation.com

Internet I/O
The Internet-ready W2-FBC Function Block controller supports TCP-IP, UDP, and FTP Ethernet, CAN, and RS232. It has three slots to add discrete, process, and/or motion I/O cards. The module is IEC61499-compliant, integrates Sun Microsystems Java 2 Micro Edition, and supports a certified CLDC run-time platform for embedded Java development.  Support modules include W2-FBDK Function Block Development Kit and the W2-DNET-S DeviceNet slave device library. Western Reserve Controls; 330/733-6662; www.wrc.cc

Safety Scanner I/O
The Allen-Bradley DeviceNet Safety scanner and I/O allows users to place safety and standard devices on a single network, simplifying control system design. It allows the system to transfer data between standard and safety automation systems, thus integrating standard PLCs and safety PLCs at the network level. It meets the DeviceNet Safety specification published by ODVA. Rockwell Automation; 800/223.5354, Ext. 1809; www.ra.rockwell.com

SIL 2 Safety System
Matrix SafetyNet SIL 2 safety system is certified to IEC 61508. It achieves its SIL 2 rating without requiring the use of redundant I/O or redundant controllers, but redundant controllers can be added. The system consists of SIL 2 rated safety logic solvers, I/O modules and a safety logic workbench. The safety system shares power supplies, module carriers and field terminals with the company’s Matrix Process Control System. MTL Open System Technologies; 800/835-7075; www.mtlost.com

May the Force Be With You
The RM-2AC Resource Module converts solid state outputs to force-guided relay outputs and serves as a central point for terminating all signals to and from a solid-state safety device. It includes a power supply and pair of safety relays, provides connection points for all safety device functions, and provides the connected safety device with 24 VDC required for operation. The 35mm DIN module requires 6 in. of panel space. Scientific Technologies; 800/479-3658; www.sti.com

USB Digital I/O
The NI USB-6501 includes 24 digital I/O lines and a 32-bit counter, meets USB 2.0 device specs, and is priced at $95. Each digital I/O signal is protected against overvoltage, undervoltage and overcurrent conditions. It ships with NI-DAQmx Base driver software, a multiplatform, open-source driver for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux that includes a subset of the NI-DAQmx programming interface.
National Instruments; 800/258-7022; www.ni.com

PCI Digital I/O Board
The FPDP digital I/O Board for the PCI Bus provides 200 Mbytes per second of digital I/O, a data forking mode, dual FPDP interfaces, and a universal 64-bit PCI interface. It can capture one or two FPDP input streams and 32 bits/4 bytes of parallel data at up to 50 MHz via standard FPDP protocol. The board operates in Windows NT/2000/XP and Linux environments, and is priced at $4,980.
Conduant; 303/485-2721, x116; www.conduant.com

Junction Boxes
The 757 Series IP 67/68 rated sensor/actuator junction boxes are available in 4, 6, or 8 ports per box with either 4 or 5 poles per port. The master cable can be configured via an M23 connector or pre-installed. The M23 connector version allows the master cable to be connected/disconnected and offers an IP rating of 67; the pre-cabled version offers an IP rating of 68. WAGO; 800/346-7245; www.wago.us.

I/O Module
The ST-MIX12884 SixTRAK Combination I/O Module has 12 discrete inputs, 8 discrete outputs, 8 analog inputs, and 4 analog outputs. Up to 20 modules can be connected to the high-speed I/O bus of the company’s controllers, RTUs, and I/O gateways. The module is vibration and surge resistant, operates in temperatures ranging from -40 to +70°C, and is rated for CE, UL, CSA, and hazardous locations Class 1, Division 2 (Zone 2). Sixnet; 518/877-5173; www.sixnetio.com

Analog Signal Conditioners
SensorLex signal conditioners include the 8B40/41 analog voltage input module and the 8B39 current output module.  In both, clamp circuits on the I/O and power terminals protect against harmful transients, have a high level of immunity to environmental noise, and are suitable for installation in Class I, Division 2 hazardous locations. They withstand temperatures of -40 to +85C and relative humidity range of zero to 95% noncondensing, and meet the requirements of EN61000-6-4 and -6-2. Dataforth;  800/444-7644; www.dataforth.com

RFID Alternative
Visidot automatic identification and data capture system reads assets labeled with standard 2D Data Matrix barcodes or with Visidot colorcodes. As assets pass in front, the reader captures hundreds of labels simultaneously and transmits the information to an image processing system, which decodes the data. Images can be stored in a separate Image Bank. A Site Management System controls the entire process. ImageID; 781/793-9380; www.visidot.com

Analog Input Module Takes All
The PACSystems RX3i Universal Analog module provides eight channels of 24 bit analog inputs, including 30 types of thermocouples, RTDs, resistance, current and voltage inputs. Channels can be individually configured using the company’s Proficy Machine Edition software. Six filter frequencies are individually selectable by channel. It has  autocalibration, on-board error-checking, open-circuit detection, and short-circuit detection. GE Fanuc Automation; 717/285-4400; www.ge.com
 
Design-Build Service
Design-Build-Deliver Services and Solutions provide detailed engineering support for applications, expert design and engineering services, installation of I/O products, pre-assembled module design and production, industrial and ATEX certified custom enclosures, and custom marking for DIN rails, cable and conductors. The service works with the company’s products and third-party products. Weidmuller; 804/794-2877; www.weidmuller.com.mx

IEC Terminal Blocks
Models CBD, HMM and NCS high density IEC terminal blocks are available with screw clamp, spring clamp, and insulation displacement wire terminations, respectively. CBD accepts a wire range of 28 AWG to 4/0 cables. HMM  will accept 2, 3, or 4 wire conductors in a single terminal block. NCS does not require a special tool for wire termination, and can handle a wire range of 20 AWG to 16 AWG,
Automation Systems Interconnect; 877/650-5160; www.asi-ez.com

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