New sensors helping with our food supply

Industrialisation has left much of the urban environment contaminated with a variety of heavy metals, chemicals and pesticide residue. Now, research by a team from Macquarie University has produced a series of maps that plot the concentrations of metal pollutants across cities like Sydney and Darwin, and towns such as Mount Isa and Port Pirie.

The Director of the Macquarie team is Professor Mark Taylor, an academic and former Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court. Senior researcher, Marek Rouillon, and the rest of the group, investigate environmental pollution and risks to human health from aerosols, dusts, sediments, soil and water. The team works in a range of locations across Australia, including Broken Hill, Mount Isa, Newcastle, Port Pirie, Sydney and Townsville.

Results of the survey indicate the spread of contamination in many ways reflected the growth of major cities, with the highest concentrations in older suburbs. The contaminant of most concern across Sydney backyards is lead. According to Professor Taylor, it would be expected that there would be contamination in a major city. “We live in an industrial environment,” he said, adding that, “We have used lead-based petrol and paint for most of the 20th Century.”

One technique that is key to the work being conducted by the Macquarie team is X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) analysis for measuring levels of contaminant metals. Simple screening for toxic metals is performed by placing an analyser, such as the Delta Premium from Olympus directly onto soil or dust. The analyser provides detection of metals for site characterisation, contamination tracking, remediation, monitoring, and property evaluations.

Andrew Saliba, Regional Sales Specialist with Olympus, said the latest portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysers, such as the Delta Premium, have been developed specifically for complete environmental investigations of metal contaminants in a wide range of industrial and domestic materials. The high-power, high-performance, incredibly rugged Delta allows in-situ analysis in a wide range of harsh environments from remote mining and exploration sites to backyards in major urban centres.

According to Saliba, the traditional use of pXRF has been for alloy identification, grading ore, mineral exploration, metallurgy and mine site remediation. “The technology has been refined and is now often used by environmental consultancies specialising in contaminated land remediation and recycling companies needing to determine what materials are in waste products,” he said.

Macquarie researcher Marek Rouillon has been working to evaluate the reliability and repeatability of XRF analysis on environmental samples. Professor Taylor and Rouillon regularly present their findings at seminars, outlining the spread of heavy metal contamination in suburban gardens in addition to explaining the application and relevance of the pXRF instrument for this project.

Typical 'natural' or 'background' concentrations of lead for the Sydney region are in the range 20 – 30 mg/kg or parts per million (ppm). However, due to the intense use of lead containing products, much of Greater Sydney has been contaminated with the metal. Their results indicate Sydney residences have a mean soil lead concentration of 220 mg/kg, which is approximately 10 times the typical natural background for Sydney's soils and rocks.

In conjunction with the contamination mapping, Macquarie researchers also run the community orientated VegeSafe program. This is the largest study of its kind in the country and has provided information about metal contamination levels to more than 500 households across Sydney, and over 1000 households across Australia.

VegeSafe seeks to inform people about metals and metalloids in their garden soils and provides a free sampling program for domestic and community garden soils. Participants submit soil samples from private or community gardens and receive a formal report and links to information and advice about "what to do next" if the soils contain elevated concentrations of metals and metalloids. “The VegeSafe motto is 'Carry on Gardening'," Professor Taylor said, “because this is exactly what we want people to do knowing that their soils are metal free as is the produce from their gardens.”

According to Rouillon, the simplest mitigation technique for householders would be to cover the contaminated soil with either grass or mulch, to effectively reduce the potential generation of dust if the soil is dry and gets picked up by wind.

In contaminated suburbs where vegetables will be grown, the Macquarie team recommends growing produce in above ground Vegetable plots, using fresh clean topsoil. “Typically, undisturbed soil in urban areas accumulates contaminants over long periods of time and should be avoided when growing home produce” Rouillon stated.

“Our recommendations are determined by different scenarios and contaminant concentrations,” Rouillon said. “VegeSafe provides specific recommendations and advice to a gardener for their particular situation.”


Schneider Electric gets highest score ever for global sustainability

Food automation company, Schneider Electric has been recognised as one of the 2016 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations, coming 12th overall and 1st in its GICS Industry. It’s the fourth year running the Group ranks among the top 15 corporations in the sustainability index by Corporate Knights, the magazine for clean capitalism, released every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Companies who make the Global 100 ranking are the top overall sustainability performers in their respective industrial sectors, selected from a starting universe of 4,353 listed companies with a market capitalisation greater than $USD2 billion on October 1, 2015. Schneider Electric ranks first its sector and is among the 11 French companies listed. The Global 100 is determined using 12 quantitative sustainability indicators, as the amount of revenue companies generate per unit of energy consumed for example.

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman & CEO, Schneider Electric commented, “With overall score up to 70.5% in 2016 from 68.4% in 2015, we have achieved our best Global 100 score ever, ranking 1st in our sector and demonstrating our commitment to put sustainable development at the heart of our strategy. Even so, we’ve dropped three places in the global ranking, which means that the overall standards have risen. That’s great news for everyone and invitation to increase our efforts.”

Frequency-dependent RFID processor

Balluff presents the BIS V processor which is designed to offer frequency-dependent use for the first time.

The new processor meets the needs of modern production and assembly plants where RFID systems with various read/write distances and resulting frequency ranges are finding increasing use.

Featuring a compact processor unit, which is available for every commonly used bus system in the world, the processor allows up to four read/write heads to be connected. Both HF (13.56 MHz) in accordance with ISO 15693 and ISO 14443 as well as LF (40…455 kHz) read heads can be connected simultaneously from the front via plug-and-play.

The processor also allows UHF antennas to be integrated for the short range band. A single controller type is sufficient for setting up a continuous RFID structure within (from unfinished parts delivery and manufacturing to shipping). This results in savings on hardware and installation. 

An IO-Link master port is also included as standard for connecting IO-Link compatible sensors and actuators, allowing the RFID processors to go beyond the actual identification role and to send signals cost-effectively.

The processor can be used in several typical application areas. For instance, it can be used in identification tasks for material flow control in production systems.

Small electric motors for food makers

Maxon motor has released two new motors to their range.

A new range of DC motors in 50mm diameter with power, length and voltage options. Produced by high quality manufacturer KAG and available on request.

The M50x28/I and M50x65/I. Fit between the existing M48 and M63 range offering more accurate motor size selection for food equipment applications. 

The new 50mm x28 DC motor produces 7 per cent more power compared to the 48mm and equals the power of a 63×40 version. 

The motor DC voltage range spans 5V through to 42V DC and the two motor body lengths are 91 and 126mm. It can be supplied with an optical encoder and gearhead to suit the application requirements. 

The configuration choices include Planetary, Spur and Worm gearhead styles and safety holding brakes. Nominal speeds near 2800rpm and efficiencies of over 80 per cent have been measured. Data sheets and 3D models are available online.

Smart tools for HVAC professionals

Testo’s set of eight Smart Probes is capable of connecting to mobile devices via Bluetooth and is ideal for HVAC specialists of all levels.

Users control these Smart Probes with the Smart Probe App, an easy-to-use mobile interface that accommodates the professionals on the go. HVAC professionals can connect to the set of instruments wirelessly through smartphones or tablets using the Smart Probe App.

The set consists of a hot wire anemometer, vane anemometer, differential pressure meter, high pressure meter, clamp thermometer, thermohygrometer, infrared thermometer and thermometer. 

Using the capabilities of Testo’s new range of Smart Probes and the Smart Probe App, the user can monitor measurements data from up to six of the instruments simultaneously. The App can also visualise measurement value changes as a graph or table. 

Connections with the Smart Probes can be maintained at distances of up to 20 metres and measured value reports such as PDFs or Excel files can be sent via email.

The App includes application-specific features such as menus for pressure-drop testing, which enables professionals to create volume flow measurement parameters at outlet and duct cross-sections.

The Smart Probes come in a secure and convenient compact case. Its durable, flexible shell and the soft foam rubber inlay interior keeps the instruments well protected for HVAC specialists working on-site.

Portable humidity validator

The new HygroCal100 humidity verifier from Michell Instruments provides a practical option for companies that are not able to invest in a full humidity calibration laboratory to verify their humidity probes in-house. The unit is cost-effective and is available either on its own or with a choice of options to meet a variety of needs. 

On its own, the HygroCal100 provides a simple way to validate humidity probes on site. Weighing just 3.2kg and with a battery life of up to 8h it is easily portable. It is capable of validating up to 7 probes of different sizes simultaneously, and has a simple automatic validation program which allows the operator to ‘set and forget’ while the unit is working.

While the HygroCal100 comes with its own internal reference, it can also be integrated with any hygrometer with an analogue output to act as an external reference. This gives users the flexibility to incorporate their traceable reference units in their validation routines. 

The unit is also available as part of a package to enable users to start making traceable calibration checks immediately. 

One option supplies both the HygroCal100 with an Optidew Vision chilled mirror hygrometer, which provides a fundamental reference. The kit includes port adaptors to fit both the dew point and temperature sensors into the chamber.

Colloidal suspension tester for food labs

Anton Paar has launched the SurPASS 3 that determines the zeta potential at the surface of a macroscopic solid in contact with an aqueous solution. 

The instrument design does not contain any moving parts, unnecessary tubing or cables, which may be subject to measuring artifacts. SurPASS 3 keeps the promise of a real plug-and-measure instrument: simply plug in the measuring cell and hit the START button.

The enhanced SurPASS 3 principle gives access to zeta potential data in less than three minutes. The high time resolution for data acquisition and the extremely sensitive measurement of streaming potential improve the reliability and reproducibility of zeta potential even in the range below 3mV.

The operating software of SurPASS 3 offers the selection of single zeta potential data, the analysis of the surface isoelectric point, or a full pH scan. 

Independent of sample geometry, size and origin, SurPASS 3 determines reliable and reproducible zeta potential values. The measuring cell in use is automatically detected by the SurPASS 3 software.

Together with the enhanced measuring principle of SurPASS 3, the software facilitates the fastest route to the zeta potential of macroscopic solids.

New refrigeration technology for enahnced food safety

When it comes to maintain the highest levels of food safety, consistent and reliable refrigeration is a big part of the equation. 

At its 2015 Technical Roadshow, global refrigeration innovators Bitzer presented a new combination cooling system that caused quite a stir. Hailed as revolutionary and hungrily accepted by the industry, Bitzer’s new combination of the Evolution air-cooled condensing unit, plus PS Series evaporator with EVD-ice electronic valve driver boasts a three-months return on investment. 

Available fitted to the Buffalo Trident PS Series evaporator, the recently launched EVD-ice is the evolution of Carel’s electronic valve driver specifically designed to operate under extreme conditions, such as within the evaporator in a cold room. The EVD-ice can be easily connected to a supervisory system for external monitoring of operating conditions.

With the addition of Carel’s Ultracella technology, the user doesn’t even need to be in the cold room – messages, alarms and status display are all accessible from outside the room. 

Plus, the Ultracap module is an additional option for users needing an IP65 rated solution, with over-molding completely sealing the device. 

The short pull-down times and system performance result in improved food quality and in turn further cost and efficiency savings for food manufacturers. 

Enhanced level measurement technology from Emerson

Further addressing the tough challenges of accurately measuring level and volume of bulk solids and powders in large vessels, bins and silos, Emerson Process Management has enhanced its range of level measurement devices. 

A number of new functions and certifications will help to minimize maintenance, enable easy integration and expand the range of suitable applications.

“Uneven surfaces, irregular build-up and harsh, dusty and potentially explosive environments make measuring the level of solids in large vessels problematic, impacting inventory control decisions,” said Asael Sharabi, technical director at Emerson Process Management. 

“Emerson’s enhanced Rosemount instrumentation meets these challenges to provide users with greater control of inventories and entire manufacturing processes, with significant financial benefits,” said Sharabi.

The Rosemount 5708 Series 3D Solids Scanner, which uses acoustic measurement and 3D mapping technology to provide highly accurate continuous level and volume measurement, is now suitable for a broader range of applications. 

The device is now ATEX/IECEx certified for installation in areas with potentially explosive atmospheres, often found in solids measurement applications. A new mounting adaptor also allows the device to be installed within electrostatic precipitator (ESP) hoppers. 

By using its 3D visualiSation capability to map out the surface of the fly ash that builds up in the hopper, operators can optimiSe the process, reducing cost, risk and wear and tear on the hopper.

To overcome the difficulty of installation and integration, Emerson has introduced full SCADA integration support for the solids scanner. Users can now seamlessly integrate 3D visualiSation of the surface level into Emerson’s Ovation or DeltaV distributed control systems, delivered directly to control room operators.

For remote solids applications or where there is no existing cable infrastructure, wireless can be the key for a successful project. Both the solids scanner and the Rosemount 5402 Non-contacting Radar, which provides bulk solids level measurement for applications with smaller sized vessels, can now be connected to a WirelessHART network using a Smart Wireless THUM Adapter. This enables easy integration to the automation architecture, reducing installation cost and time.

New functions help to further reduce if not eliminate device maintenance requirements. The new air purging connection for the Rosemount 5402 prevents clogging of the antenna in applications with very dusty environments. The already present self-cleaning function on the Rosemount 5708 can now be complemented with a new PTFE coated antenna which helps extend maintenance intervals even further, especially where extremely sticky materials are present.

Thermogravimetric Analyser

Product Name: TGA 8000

Product Manufacturer: PerkinElmer

Launch date: 2015

Ingredients: Thermogravimetric Analyser

Brand Website:

Describe the product: Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) is a technique which measures the change in mass of a sample as it is heated, cooled or held at a constant temperature in a controlled atmosphere. TGA can be used for determining decomposition and thermal stability, identifying and quantifying components, measuring and identifying moisture/solvent evolution, and evaluating and modeling reaction kinetics. 

The TGA 8000 analyser is controlled by PerkinElmer’s proprietary Pyris software platform, which provides intuitive, user-friendly options for high-sensitivity analysis of thermal data. This instrument also can be easily hyphenated and coupled with FT-IR, MS and GC/MS systems to enable a better understanding of evolved gases. It also features local instrument control and run status monitoring via iPhone or iPad devices so that users can remotely obtain information on analyses as they progress.

The TGA 8000 analyzer can be used for a wide range of applications such as identifying harmful chemicals in soil and identifying and quantitating components in polymers. Other examples of applications include determining leachables that may contaminate a product’s packaging, identifying phthalates in PVC samples, and confirming if products have the exact materials that are promised to consumers.

New ControlLogix Controller enables faster performance

Rockwell Automation has expanded its Allen-Bradley ControlLogix family of controllers to enable faster system performance and support the growing use of smart devices in manufacturing and industrial operations. 

The new ControlLogix 5580 controller provides up to 45 per cent more application capacity and includes an embedded 1-gigabyte Ethernet port to support high-performance communications, I/O and applications with up to 256 axes of motion.

In addition, the product selection process is easier with the ControlLogix 5580 controller because users can now select the appropriate model using the total number of Ethernet nodes required. A single ControlLogix 5580 controller can support up to 300 Ethernet nodes.

The controller also supports enhanced security as part of a defense-in-depth approach to help protect facilities, assets and intellectual property. The controller incorporates advanced security technologies and software features, such as digitally signed and encrypted firmware, change detection and audit logging.

As with other Logix controllers, engineers can use the Rockwell Software Studio 5000 design software to configure the ControlLogix 5580 controller and develop all elements of their control system. Data can be defined once, and then easily accessed and re-used across the entire Studio 5000 environment to speed system development and commissioning.

New sensors for roller conveyor systems

The new Wenglor reflex sensors with background suppression for roller conveyor systems are high performance sensors that are quick and easy to mount. 

The new reflex sensors can be used to control and detect objects on roller conveyor systems. They are suitable for warehouse and logistics centres and can reliably detect small packages with widths as small as 150mm, with conveyor widths of up to 900mm. Dark objects can also be reliably detected due to the precision of background suppression.

The sensors offer a fast-clip mounting system that reduces installation and maintenance time and cost by up to 60 per cent compared to conventional screw type mounting systems. With just a single click to mount, they offer a secure, stable mounting system with a long service life.

The quick wiring feature allows the wiring effort to be reduced by 90 per cent, with the M12 plug turning just 180° to securely connect to the sensor. The cables are also compatible with all standard cables.

Switching distances can be detected and adjusted extremely quick and easily due to the new 270° scaled potentiometer, even when the sensor is not operating.

Thanks to the eco mode, the current consumption is reduced by 75 per cent for the solenoid valve and even more in the switched state, to less than 16mA. It can be used in temperatures from -40°C to 60°C.

Hygienic inline measurement and online processing for food makers

The LiquiSonic inline analyzer by SensoTech measures precisely and directly in pipes or vessels the concentration of ingredients in beverages and liquid food. 

The measurement data are transferred online to PCs or process control systems. Measuring the concentration of original gravity (Plato) or alcohol, the analyzer is used in breweries. In the production of mixed and soft drinks or fruit juices, the LiquiSonic sensors determine the Brix content. Moreover, the sensors measure the dry matter content in the production of whey drinks or other liquid dairy products (LDPs).

Monitoring the product quality continuously and in real time, avoids failed batches. Furthermore, the inline concentration measurement enables a resource-efficient process control to save energy and raw materials.

The LiquiSonic technology is based on sonic velocity measurement providing high precision, stable and every second updated concentration values. Compared to other inline measurement techniques sonic velocity meters are extremely robust, maintenance-free and can be integrated without bypass in the process. 

The LiquiSonic sensors are installed directly in main lines of any size, or in vessels. The sensor design meets the high-hygienic requirements of the food industry and some sensor types are 3-A certified.

The LiquiSonic controller displays the measurement values and stores the data. The trend view allows the tracking of the process. If the measurement value exceed or fall below thresholds, a signal will be sent immediately. 

For process automation, the measurement data can be transmitted via 4-20 mA signal, fieldbus (Profibus DP, Modbus), Ethernet or digital outputs.

Sydney Fish Market launches free seafood quality app

Sydney Fish Market has launched the Australian Seafood Quality Index app, which provides seafood buyers and restaurateurs with a useful guide to seafood shelf-life at their fingertips.

The new app has been developed to help assess seafood from catch to consumer. Users complete a checklist on several attributes of the whole fish, including appearance, odour and texture. The scores for each category are combined to generate a Quality Index score, which provides an indication of the remaining shelf life for the product.

Setting a benchmark for quality control, the Quality Index assists in the management of seafood products for the food service and retail industry. It is applicable from point of harvest; through transport; auction; distribution and sale.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, says: “This app was designed to incorporate established industry practices and present them in a user friendly, modernised way. It incorporates best practice seafood shelf life assessment and record keeping in one simple place.”

Special features include the ability to archive files for further assessment, upload images directly to a Dropbox account and the capability to customise settings to meet individual operational requirements.

Jointly developed by Sydney Fish Market and The University of Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the free app was funded by the Australian Seafood Co-operative Research Centre and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. 

It is available for download on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, via the iTunes and Android stores by searching ‘seafood quality index’.

Versatile HMI for food manufacturers

Rockwell Automation has released its new Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus 7 Performance graphic terminal to simplify and streamline visualisation in large, complex applications including food manufacturing. 

The PanelView Plus 7 Performance terminal expands on the recently released PanelView Plus 7 Standard model with a larger screen option, more processing power, expanded connectivity and greater software support.

The Performance model has six screen-size options, including a new 19-inch option – the largest to date from Rockwell Automation. The 19-inch screen offers machine builders and end users more display area on which they can design, control and monitor large applications. The Performance model also includes new keypad options to complement the terminal’s standard touch screen.

A more powerful CPU supports larger displays and larger applications. While the Standard model supports applications with up to 25 screens and 200 alarms, the Performance model supports applications much larger in size and complexity.
With the addition of an embedded Ethernet switch and two Ethernet ports, the PanelView Plus 7 Performance terminal can support a device level ring (DLR) topology for single-fault resiliency. 

The terminal also has expanded mobile connectivity. Remote desktop services enable a plant manager, maintenance technician or support provider to securely access the HMI from a remote location to troubleshoot a problem, walk through setup procedures, review alarming and more. In addition, plant operators can monitor HMI data within the plant using a tablet, smartphone or other mobile device.

With video playback support, machine builders and end users can now incorporate helpful videos into the terminal to support operator training and troubleshooting. Microsoft Office viewers and Internet Explorer support give operators instantaneous access to network-based Office files and HTML pages, such as standard operating procedures, directly from the terminal.

The PanelView Plus 7 Performance terminal also retains the benefits introduced with the PanelView Plus 7 Standard terminal. This includes the ability to save projects and critical machine information on an SD card. For example, machine builders can save a single machine’s configuration on an SD card and re-use it for multiple similar machines, while operators can archive machine data for faster terminal replacements and easier troubleshooting.