Flow / HMI / Wireless

Innovations Continue to Flow from ABB Measurement Labs

Autonomous Sensors and Laser Level Scanners Are Among the New Technologies on Tap

By Walt Boyes

ABB A&PW 2012

While ABB's Measurement Products business is built on more than 120 years of experience and great brands like Taylor, Fischer & Porter, Hartmann+Braun and K-Tek, the company has not rested on its laurels. Rather, it continues to invest heavily in new instrumentation technologies.

"On average, our current measurement line-up consists of products introduced within the past five years," said Greg Livelli, head of ABB's flow instrumentation group, as he reviewed the company's recent and soon-to-be-introduced measurement innovations at ABB Automation & Power World 2012 this week in Houston.

For the past several years, the company has focused on making its instruments easier to use, unifying its many disparate human-machine interfaces (HMIs) into a common platform. "Our HMI operates with the ease and simplicity of a cell phone," Livelli explained. "The top works for two-wire field instruments share common components, assembly and supply, as do the top works for four-wire instruments," Livelli said. "One of the coolest things I've heard from a customer was, 'I no longer need a manual to program your devices.'"

New to the measurement line-up in 2012 is a laser scanner level monitor that builds a three-dimensional picture of the interior of a bin and computes level and volume from the topographic scan. There's also a new magnetostrictive level transmitter with improved electronics, HART, WirelessHART and Foundation Fieldbus connectivity and hazardous-area, through-the-glass operation. "This is a very cool thing," Livelli said. "You can operate the transmitter through the glass so you don't have to get a hot-work permit to program the transmitter. And you can use it with most gloves too."

ABB is rolling out WirelessHART capabilities for its pressure and temperature transmitters, as well as WirelessHART adapters for transmitters already installed. Some, like a wireless temperature sensor that harvests energy based on thermal gradients introduced in 2011, will operate fully autonomously.

Also in 2012, ABB's analyzer portfolio will be bolstered, Livelli said, with the introduction of ACF-NG analyzers for hot or wet gas analysis solutions. Built on the successful ACF-NT line, the NG analyzers offer lower cost of ownership, new solutions for new markets and extended measurement ranges. In addition, ABB is introducing new tunable diode laser (TDL) in situ analyzers for continuous gas analysis. Oxygen and ammonia analyzers will be available by the end of 2012, Livelli said, and extractive analyzers with specific sample pretreatment applications will follow. On the wet chemistry side, Livelli noted, the Navigator product line will be getting a new Navigator 500, with hydrazine, sodium and dissolved oxygen capabilities aimed at the power market.

New to the flow measurement offering is the CoriolisMaster bent tube mass flowmeter in line sizes from 15-mm to 150-mm (.5-in. to 6-in.). "Our Coriolis meters now are available for both liquid and gas, have the common ABB user interface, have HART and Foundation Fieldbus connectivity, with Profibus to come, and have the same hazardous-area, through-the-glass operation as our other flow products do. And because our customers have asked us to, we've introduced a complete line of differential pressure flow devices—pitot, wedge and integral orifice devices that are already assembled, leak-tested and calibrated, ready to install," Livelli continued.

Also set to debut in 2012 is a thermal mass flowmeter based on new ceramic sensor technology, the StackMaster gas flow measurement system for emissions monitoring and the LiveStressometer 8.1 for rolling mill applications.

"Further into the future, we're working on an advanced portfolio of autonomous devices in flow, temperature, level and analysis," said Livelli. "These products will be powered by advanced new energy techniques, including energy harvesting from temperature, solar power and vibration, and will communicate via WirelessHART. In fact, the first of these, the wireless temperature transmitter using a thermal gradient of 30 °C for power has already been introduced."

"Over the course of the next year or two," Livelli said, "we will be completing the rollout of our new measurement product transmitter lines. There will be four electronics platforms for all of our products: two-wire, four-wire, field transmitter and advanced transmitter versions. The two-wire, four-wire and field transmitter product lines are released, with the advanced electronics platform following on soon. We expect to see it by the end of 2013."

"The advanced electronics platform will feature a gesture-driven HMI and feature-rich electronics," Livelli said. "Our electronics platforms will be intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces in wall-, rack- or panel-mounted configurations, and in hazardous area formats."

"In the future," Livelli promised remote wireless access to field devices with handhelds like smartphones and tablets. "We will be able to give you service information directly in the field on these devices," he said.

"And that's what over 100 years of measurement product experience can bring you."