Getting RFID and FF Power Conditioners

May 31, 2007
Turck had not one, but two, count 'em, two major new product announcements to make yesterday.
The first was about RFID, the second was about Foundation Fieldbus Power Conditioning. But first, Dean McCaskill, who's been president of Turck, Inc. (Turck USA and Turck Mexico, or TUSA) for about a year now, gave the obligatory "who we are" speech. Dean is a manufacturing guy, who detoured through sales, marketing, and Honeywell on his way to Turck. Business, according to De...
Turck had not one, but two, count 'em, two major new product announcements to make yesterday.
The first was about RFID, the second was about Foundation Fieldbus Power Conditioning. But first, Dean McCaskill, who's been president of Turck, Inc. (Turck USA and Turck Mexico, or TUSA) for about a year now, gave the obligatory "who we are" speech. Dean is a manufacturing guy, who detoured through sales, marketing, and Honeywell on his way to Turck. Business, according to Dean, is "up" although the automotive sector is holding them down to single digit growth. Jim Masterson, vice president of process automation products, told me later that the PA group is producing high double digits, which follows in line with the MCAA report by Ed Curry the other day. PA, or process sales, is about 5% of sales in USA, and a little higher in Europe. TUSA represents almost 50% of Turck revenue worldwide. Clearly they have a long way to go. Once McCaskill was done, we trooped upstairs to hear Mark DiSera and Tom Wisniowski talk about RFID. Turck has always been full of smart designers. This suite of products, though, just about creams it. Turck already builds a whole set of analog and digital I/O modules, right? They make 'em for panel mounting, and for exposed mounting with cordsets. They are known for that, as well
as their sensors (prox, level, flow, pressure, temperature). So, since they have a nearly fanatical following who already know how to mount a Turck prox, and how to wire up Turck I/O and interface modules, Turck engineers figured, hey, let's make the reader/writers look like proxes, and the electronics so that they'll plug into our existing hardware. How smart is that? So, if you have Turck I/O existing, and you want to add RFID, all you have to do is to add the RFID slice to the existing module...and if you have RFID existing, and you need to add some analog or digital I/O all you have to do is to add the slice to the existing module. How cool is that! Turck does not want to get rich on selling RFID sensors. They've standardized on an IEC open frequency standard, 13.56 MHz (Phillips iCode i, S1),  and many people make sensors that will work with Turck RFID sensors. Turck has antenna designs that will work up to 500 mm and cable lengths of up to 50 meters, too. The Turck design can take up to 32 total modules in its Field Housing unit. On top of this, the Gateway unit is really a microPLC on the CoDeSys platform, so you don't need to send raw data to the network. You can "report by exception" instead. And where the best competitive system has four channels, Turck has eight. Sometime really soon now, Turck will have their RFID Application Simulator on their website and operational. For all I know, it's there now. They're building a database of RFID chips that they've tested to work with their system, and anybody who wants to can use it for free. And their processing units and the software can handle RFID and barcodes in the same unit. They even showed an OEM process automation application! How cool is THAT? So here's the press release:

TURCK introduces BLident, the world's fi rst modular RFID system with built-in I/O capability. With BLident, users may add additional I/O modules to the RFID system - up to 8 channels of RFID on a single gateway, plus additional discrete or analog I/O comprise a single node on the network. Built on the ISO15693 13.56MHz HF standard for an open system, BLident can be integrated into existing platforms, and supports PROFIBUS ®-DP, DeviceNet â„¢, Modbus-TCP, PROFINET and EtherNet/IP â„¢. Standard non-programmable gateways and CoDeSys programmable gateways are available with either IP 20 or IP 67 protection rating.

BLident data carriers are available in a variety of different shapes with read/write intervals between 5 to 500 mm. The data carriers use state-of-the-art FRAM storage technology for virtually an unlimited number of write operations. TURCK's BLident system is also the fi rst in the industry to introduce high temperature data carriers rated up to 210°C. Available in two space saving form factors, these data carriers require no cool down time for read or write operations. Additionally, TURCK's BLident RFID has the ability to read or write data simultaneously at 0.5 ms per byte, making BLident one of the fastest inductive RFID systems on the market. BLident is even capable of "on the fly" production speeds of 10 ms at distances up to 500 mm.

Online Blident configurator software accompanies the system and enables applications to be simulated online before specifying hardware for purchase. This allows issues, such as the distance between the data carriers and the read/write heads and the maximum speed of the tags past the heads, to be clarifi ed without any complex calculations or hardware.

Then we sat down to a discussion of the new Foundation Fieldbus product.

With Turck's new slogan, "Asset Management Enabled" in the background, we were treated to another engineering tour-de-force (I know, I should probably write that in German) with the new Diagnostic Power Conditioner for Foundation Fieldbus H1 segments. Turck staffers proudly noted that the heart of this system, the DPC-49-HSEFD/24VDC is the very first registered Foundation Fieldbus HSE Device.
The system provides conditioned power to as many FF H1 segments as you have, while at the same time providing highly detailed diagnostic information on the segments to the Asset Management system via FDT-DTM or DD. Webserver diagnostics is in the final beta test stage. You get:
  • H1-segment, system and HSW diagnostics
  • measurement of electrical values
  • Measurement of communication values
  • Live List Address, Jitter and signal level PER DEVICE
  • diagnostic trending (excel compatible)
  • communications statistics
  • online/offline parameterization of pre- and main alarms (also excel compatible)
Fundamentally, you have here the compleat tool for commissioning and maintaining FF H1 segments. There are, they noted, several competitors (for the record, P+F, MTL, Moore-Hawke and Phoenix Contact among them) who make power conditioning systems of one sort or other for FF devices. But, the Turck folk say, this system is the most complete available. Cost is about $1200 per segment. And here's the DPC press release:
TURCK introduces a revolutionary new Diagnostic Power Conditioner system (DPC) for FOUNDATION fieldbus. The power conditioning system features an integrated diagnostics module that provides the enduser with vital statistics that ease the task of diagnosing any problems associated with the FOUNDATION fieldbus physical layer. The information provided by the DPC system assists in the commissioning and maintenance of a FOUNDATION fieldbus system.

The DPC continuously monitors FOUNDATION fieldbus physical layer components to detect anomalies and long term subtle changes that can occur as the system changes that otherwise might not be evident. The system provides complex fieldbus diagnostic data via a diagnostics bus that is separate from the FOUNDATION fieldbus H1 segment. Physical layer values and parameters are independently displayed via a DTM (device type manager) that can be integrated in any FDT (field device tool) application, or accessed via a FOUNDATION fieldbus device descriptor.A DPC system can supply up to 16 segments, each with a maximum of 800mA of output current and 30 VDC output voltage, maximizing the availability to individual segments. The DPC also features complete galvanic isolation between the diagnostics bus, H1 segment output and bulk power. This allows a clean signal without feedback from the F

OUNDATION fieldbus device to the higher level asset management system. The system can be easily connected via standard Ethernet components, allowing an existing Ethernet structure to be used for segment diagnostics resulting in the length of the system and number of the HSE field devices to be virtually unlimited.

The system is easy to install, configure and implement. The diagnostic capabilities are invaluable for commissioning, monitoring, predictive maintenance and troubleshooting FOUNDATION fieldbus systems. This can be done remotely without affecting the H1 segment.

After that, we went over to the manufacturing plant, for a tour. Now, I got bitten by the manufacturing virus many years ago, and anybody who wants me to have lots of fun on a press tour can just take me to a factory floor and let me go. This one was extremely interesting, because when I was Director of Sales and Marketing for Seametrics in the 1990s, we built our own Hall Effect and Giant Magnetostrictive Effect sensors for our flowmeter pickups. Essentially, our factory built prox sensors. So it was extremely enlightening and fascinating for me to see that after being out of that business for nearly a decade now, the amount of hand work necessary to make a prox sensor hasn't declined a single bit. I was quite surprised. I figured there'd be huge strides in automation of the process by now, especially by somebody as large as Turck. But no, I understood every step of the process, because I had been through it.

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