Ametek Links Analyzer Hardware to Networks

Oct. 10, 2008

“Remote instrument monitoring offers numerous operational and economical benefits, whether on or offsite,” says Tom Marecic, vice president and general manager of Ametek Process Instruments.  Connecting analyzers to a common network liberates data from individual analyzer “islands” and helps users implement process analyzer technology (PAT) strategies.  Ametek’s new LinkBus Remote Instrument Monitoring System (RIMS) provides users of Ametek analyzers with a standard analyzer/computer/database connection and a variety of service packages that can be used to customize the users’ experience with the analyzers. A single LinkBus RIMS can be used for up to 16 analyzers, including Thermox Series 2000 and IQ analyzers, Western Research 880/Series 4000 photometric analyzers and 5000 Series moisture analyzers. And you can add additional LinkBus RIMS networks.

“More than one LinkBus RIMS may be preferred with each assigned a unique IP address,” Marecic says. “For example, all the important analyzers in one processing unit or operation can be linked to a gateway with a RS485 cable. Each process unit may have multiple analyzers with the resulting 4-20 mA signals routed to the DCS for control.The LinkBus RIMS can be connected to the plant LAN using a standard Ethernet connection and viewed from any PC on the system simply by using the generic web browser.”

The gateway unit is installed and connected by means of a two-conductor twisted pair in a daisy chain. The gateway communicates with each controller-based analyzer via RS485 and each gateway provides a single Web-enabled user interface for up to 16 analyzers.

The LinkBus RIMS platform provides Internet and Ethernet communications capability as well as bi-directional DCS communications using either fieldbus or Modbus protocols. It acts as an HTTP server and supports TCP/IP, FTP and POP3 email. Users also can incorporate either OPC or XML client-server capability. The LinkBus RIMS collects and reports process trends and analyzer response time information in addition to all sensor data and functions. Fault alarms can be issued automatically by email.

Ametek offers use of a secure VPN through an ISP for bidirectional communications to the analyzers from external sites. This system enables access to browse the LinkBus RIMS without compromising the security of the customer’s enterprise network. To verify secure entry and use, the system has already been field tested to operate through a typical corporate firewall. Each remote user is assigned a four-digit password and an electronic key that changes its six-digit number every minute for a very high level of security protection.

LinkBus is offered stand-alone, or with one of three different service packages from Ametek. The first package, onsite monitoring, provides email messages to be sent to the plant analyzer service group to schedule maintenance. The second package improves Ametek service by adding third-party notification to the onsite monitoring package providing notification by email to remote locations, and limited direct analyzer communication access permission on a case-by-case basis from a factory field service engineer. Finally, the third package from Ametek’s service group is a Web-enabled service that grants bi-directional access to the analyzers through the LinkBus RIMS for the analyzer manufacturer or its regional support center, or a third party service facility for an annual fee that is based on the number of analyzers at the end-user’s facility.

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