Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Calibration Standards

process instrument field calibrator
Field calibration instruments
Image courtesy of Yokogawa
Calibration is an essential part of keeping process measurement instrumentation delivering reliable and actionable information. All instruments utilized in process control are dependent on variables which translate from input to output. Calibration ensures the instrument is properly detecting and processing the input so that the output accurately represents a process condition. Typically, calibration involves the technician simulating an environmental condition and applying it to the measurement instrument. An input with a known quantity is introduced to the instrument, at which point the technician observes how the instrument responds, comparing instrument output to the known input signal.

Even if instruments are designed to withstand harsh physical conditions and last for long periods of time, routine calibration as defined by manufacturer, industry, and operator standards is necessary to periodically validate measurement performance. Information provided by measurement instruments is used for process control and decision making, so a difference between an instrument’s output signal and the actual process condition can impact process output or facility overall performance and safety.

In all cases, the operation of a measurement instrument should be referenced, or traceable, to a universally recognized and verified measurement standard. Maintaining the reference path between a field instrument and a recognized physical standard requires careful attention to detail and uncompromising adherence to procedure.

Instrument ranging is where a certain range of simulated input conditions are applied to an instrument and verifying that the relationship between input and output stays within a specified tolerance across the entire range of input values. Calibration and ranging differ in that calibration focuses more on whether or not the instrument is sensing the input variable accurately, whereas ranging focuses more on the instrument’s input and output. The difference is important to note because re-ranging and re-calibration are distinct procedures.

In order to calibrate an instrument correctly, a reference point is necessary. In some cases, the reference point can be produced by a portable instrument, allowing in-place calibration of a transmitter or sensor. In other cases, precisely manufactured or engineered standards exist that can be used for bench calibration. Documentation of each operation, verifying that proper procedure was followed and calibration values recorded, should be maintained on file for inspection.

As measurement instruments age, they are more susceptible to declination in stability. Any time maintenance is performed, calibration should be a required step since the calibration parameters are sourced from pre-set calibration data which allows for all the instruments in a system to function as a process control unit.

Typical calibration timetables vary depending on specifics related to equipment and use. Generally, calibration is performed at predetermined time intervals, with notable changes in instrument performance also being a reliable indicator for when an instrument may need a tune-up. A typical type of recalibration regarding the use of analog and smart instruments is the zero and span adjustment, where the zero and span values define the instrument’s specific range. Accuracy at specific input value points may also be included, if deemed significant.

The management of calibration and maintenance operations for process measurement instrumentation is a significant factor in facility and process operation. It can be performed with properly trained and equipped in-house personnel, or with the engagement of subcontractors. Calibration operations can be a significant cost center, with benefits accruing from increases in efficiency gained through the use of better calibration instrumentation that reduces task time.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rotary and Linear Damper Drives for Control of Combustion Air and Flue Gas

electro-hydraulic damper drive
Electro-hydraulic damper drive, with self contained
pump, power unit, and positioner
Image courtesy of Rexa
Combustion air and flue gas damper drives fill a critical role in the operation of fuel fired equipment, helping to meet safety, regulatory, and efficiency performance criteria with a predictable degree of reliability. It is essential to deploy the best drive technology for each application to maximize combustion efficiency, minimize emissions and reduce installation costs.

Damper Operator (Drives) Types :

Damper drives can be one of three types: pneumatic, electric, or electro-hydraulic.
  • Pneumatic - These damper operators employ compressed air as the motive force when positioning a connected damper.
  • Electric - These operators rely on electric power to operate a drive mechanism, commonly a motor and gear assembly for damper positioning.
  • Electro-hydraulic - Damper operators of this type combine an electrically operated pump that is precisely controlled. The pump moves a hydraulic fluid through a connected mechanism, such as a dual acting piston, to set the damper position.
A very important part of product selection is determination of the damper torque and sizing requirements. Actuator torque should be selected to provide the maximum torque required to operate the damper as well as to provide headroom to compensate for degradation over the life of the damper. Actuators should be evaluated for damper blade movement in both directions, at the beginning of blade movement, and while stroking through the full cycle of movement.

The Goal for Selecting the Best Drive Technology:

Reduced emissions, lower fuel consumption and improved boiler draft control.

Ways to achieve this goal may include drive operating features:
  • High speed continuous modulation 
  • Quick response to plant demand 
  • Reliability in high temperature environments 
  • Precise damper positioning, with no drift once positioned 
  • Simple commissioning and diagnostics 
  • Low operating cost
  • Minimal maintenance burden 
Information on one possible solution is provided below. For more information, share your project requirements and challenges with application specialists, combining your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Product Update: SMARTDAC+ GX/GP Series Recorders & GM Series Data Acquisition System Release 4

data acquisition instruments and equipment
SMARTDAC line of data acquisition instruments
Yokogawa Electric Corporation announced it's Release 4 of the SMARTDAC+® GX series panel-mount type paperless recorder, GP series portable paperless recorder, and GM series data acquisition system.

With this latest release, new modules are provided to expand the range of applications possible with SMARTDAC+ systems and improve user convenience. New functions include sampling intervals as short as 1 millisecond and the control and monitoring of up to 20 loops.


Recorders and data acquisition systems (data loggers) are used on production lines and at product development facilities in a variety of industries to acquire, display, and record data on temperature, voltage, current, flow rate, pressure, and other variables. Yokogawa offers a wide range of such products, and is one of the world’s top manufacturers of recorders. Since releasing the SMARTDAC+ data acquisition and control system in 2012, Yokogawa has continued to strengthen it by coming out with a variety of recorders and data acquisition devices that meet market needs and comply with industry-specific requirements and standards.

With this release, Yokogawa provides new modules with strengthened functions that meet customer needs for the acquisition and analysis of detailed data from evaluation tests. These modules decrease the cost of introducing a control application by eliminating the need for the purchase of additional equipment.


The functional enhancements available with Release 4 are as follows:

High-speed analog input module for high-speed sampling.

To improve the safety of electric devices such as the rechargeable batteries used in everything from automobiles to mobile devices, evaluation tests must be conducted to acquire and analyze detailed performance data. For this purpose, sampling at intervals as short as 1 millisecond is desirable. However, this normally requires an expensive, high-performance measuring instrument. When the new high-speed analog input module, a SMARTDAC+ system can sample data at intervals as brief as 1 millisecond, which is 1/100th that of any preceding Yokogawa product. This is suitable for such high performance applications such as measurement of the transient current in rechargeable batteries to vibration in power plant turbines. A dual interval function has also been added that enables the SMARTDAC+ to efficiently and simultaneously collect data on slowly changing signals (e.g., temperature) and quickly changing signals (e.g., pressure and vibration).

PID control module for control function

In applications that need both control and recording, such as controlling the temperature of an industrial furnace or the dosage process at a water treatment plant, there is a need for systems that do not require engineering and can be quickly and easily commissioned. In a typical control and monitoring application, a separate recorder and controller is required to control temperature, flow rate and pressure. At the same time, a data acquisition station must communicate with the controller to ensure data is being capture and recorded. It is time consuming and oftentimes confusing, to ensure the controller and the data acquisition station is communicating seamlessly. By combining continuous recording function of the SMARTDAC+ and PID control module into a single platform, customers can now seamlessly control and record critical process data in one system. The SMARTDAC+ can control, monitor and record up to 20 loops. Each PID control module comes with 2 analog inputs, 2 analog outputs, 8 digital inputs and 8 digital outputs.

Four-wire RTD/resistance module for precise temperature measurement

While three-wire RTDs are widely used in many fields such as research institutes to manufacturing, some applications require higher level of precision and accuracy that is only possible with 4-wire RTDs. A 4-wire RTD is the sensor of choice for laboratory applications where accuracy, precision, and repeatability are extremely important. To satisfy this need, Yokogawa has released a 4-wire RTD/resistance module for the SMARTDAC+.

Target Markets

GX series: Production of iron and steel, petrochemicals, chemicals, pulp and paper, foods, pharmaceuticals, and electrical equipment/electronics; water supply and wastewater treatment facilities.

GP series: Development of home appliances, automobiles, semiconductors, and energy-related technologies; universities; research institutes.

GM series: Both of the above target markets.

For more information on the SMARTDAC+ GX/GP Series Recorders & GM Series Data Acquisition System contact Classic Controls at (863) 644-3642 or by visiting http://www.classiccontrols.com.