Mitsubishi takes exhibitions into the virtual world

Mitsubishi takes exhibitions into the virtual world

The e-F@ctory Alliance trade show is the first full exhibition to be staged using Mitsubishi Electric’s new virtual exhibition venue, and the first virtual show by a global major to deliver a convincing and rewarding visitor experience, achieved using the V-Ex platform.

Designed to deliver an immersive journey for visitors combining access to technology experts via video and a wealth of reference material delivered direct to your PC, iPad or tablet, the entire exhibition venue has been rendered in great detail and heralds a number of industry firsts.

Embracing the ‘new’ is an important part of the experience, but the show’s creators are quick to point out that the Mitsubishi Electric Virtual Exhibition Venue and the e-F@ctory Alliance Exhibition have been created to support ‘live’ events, bridging the gap between real life events that are already popular and well attended.

A spokesperson for V-Ex makes it clear that this is an extension of a live event, not a replacement ‘Mitsubishi holds a live exhibition and technology forum for the e-F@ctory Alliance where all the company’s technology partners have the opportunity to meet face-to-face and present, discuss and examine new technologies and new applications. Like many other live events, this event is very popular.

‘What we set out to do with the virtual show however, was to build on that experience, as technology leaders in factory automation platforms and industrial communication software the client wanted to take what they liked best about an exhibition experience and use technology to see what was possible with the latest rendering and online interactive tools.

‘If we could add the convenience and interactivity of visiting a show at your own leisure from the office, from home or on the move, by making it available 24/7 to anyone on the planet with an internet connection, we felt we could help visitors access information on demand while experiencing some of the pleasure in wandering around and looking at what’s new and having the experts tell you all about it. We feel the e-F@ctory show does just that.‘

‘We have also taken into account the meteoric rise of Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices with high-res screens, powerful graphics capability and interactive touch-screens. The ability for us to produce the exhibition venue in such great clarity and allow visitors to move around it so smoothly has coincided nicely with a step change in the connectivity and quality of computing hardware and mobile communication devices.

There are over thirty exhibition stands in the e-F@ctory Alliance exhibition hall at www.e-factory-alliance.com/exhibition . Just like a traditional trade show there is a mix of shell scheme stands with a limited number of product hotspots, but the opportunity is also there to take space only and create a bespoke exhibition stand.

The e-F@ctory show houses a large themed Mitsubishi Electric exhibition stand designed just for the virtual venue, other members have transported their existing stand designs to the virtual world; one such is fieldbus protocol vendor CLPA.

So what does the future hold? ‘Mitsubishi has the next two exhibitions planned and while the e-factory-alliance show is only open to alliance members to exhibit, other shows such as an energy themed event may be opened-up to any company that would like to exhibit.

The virtual exhibition platform already comes with the tools to allow exhibitors to have an input on the design and build of their own shell scheme stand, it also provides full content management tools and opportunities to promote and optimise the content of the exhibition stands themselves.

Altra launches virtual exhibition

Altra launches virtual exhibition

As the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial clutches, brakes, couplings and geared motor solutions Altra has over 20 brands to manage and coordinate under the Altra Industrial Motion corporate umbrella. This can prove to be a challenge when sales representatives and customers alike need to see an overview of the entire range; with the new virtual exhibition located at www.Altraex.com however, Altra has achieved just that.

Altra has invested in the latest V-Ex virtual exhibition platform to provide a truly immersive and interactive virtual show in order to bring together the majority of the company’s branded products for a global audience.

Combining photorealistic 3D rendering, interactive tools and video with lots of images, descriptions and downloads Altra has created a visually impressive and also easy-to-use intuitive virtual environment where visitors can find, watch and download whatever they want from a product point of view quickly and conveniently.

David Brooksbank, Director of Marketing comments ‘It’s not hard to see the benefits of creating an exhibition environment that is live 24 hours a day, contains all the brands, products and literature we have and combines it in a great visual environment that is easy to navigate and rewarding to use.

‘The only thing preventing us doing this earlier is simply the platform wasn’t readily available and internet connection speeds didn’t allow for a seamless experience. Fortunately for us, both the technology and the software platforms have arrived at once and we have been able to take what we like best about live shows and translate it to the virtual world.

‘We certainly won’t stop hosting and attending live shows and seminars, but being able to plug the time gap between events and launch new products whenever we want is tremendously useful. We have plans for developing and extending both the scope and functionality of the virtual exhibition, but we are taking it one step at a time and will be listening carefully to visitor feedback as we go forwards.’

Altra is using the V-Ex virtual exhibition platform that provides a fully interactive front end, combining multiplatform web technology with a powerful CMS to allow usability and flexibility both on desktop PCs and mobile devices including Apple and Android OS.

Visit www.Altraex.com to explore the new virtual exhibition from Altra.

Bürkert virtual exhibition stand bridges the gap between live shows

Bürkert virtual exhibition stand bridges the gap between live shows

Bürkert UK has launched an exhibition stand with a difference – visitors don’t need to leave their desk in order to visit it. So no traffic queues to get in, no limit on opening times and no five mile trek from the car park.

Unlike other ‘virtual’ exhibition stands, this one is not designed to replace the traditional exhibition stand, but bridge the gap between events. It is based on a real stand (Bürkert’s recent IWEX stand at the NEC Birmingham), and includes a series of short videos featuring a selection of innovative products from the stand. The aforementioned experts are present 24hrs to personally talk visitors through all the products launched on the stand.

The site was created by leading virtual exhibition platform provider V-Ex. The project manager at V-Ex describes how it was created and what distinctive features it offers to visitors.

“Bürkert approached us with the idea of promoting its products during the months between exhibition dates, exhibitions are still a great way to show your products off to new people, but by their nature they are transitory.

“We needed a method of giving people fast access not just to the products, but crucially to the people behind them.

“Technical products are bought and sold by technically competent people, and so the face-to-face nature of sales is essential in the B2B world.”

V-Ex filmed the stand in HD and developed the site using the structure from the 3D designs for the exhibition stand; blending them with high resolution photo stills from the exhibition stand itself. Much like a lot of modern movie FX composites, it allowed the designers to create a completely photorealistic 3D environment.

The site is very easy to use, it uses the common Flash plug-in for the animation, so the ‘virtual’ exhibition stand can be accessed and viewed from virtually any PC with internet access. Unlike other sites that rely on commercial 3rd party video hosting such as YouTube, our site hosts and supports its own video content so it gives the visitor a clean and clear high-resolution viewing experience.

Helen Christopher, Marketing Manager at Bürkert UK continues, “We believe at Bürkert Fluid Control Systems we provide pioneering products and systems to help customers with their process engineering, but we also believe we are unique in the way we communicate with them too. We see this as adding to the traditional exhibition experience, not replacing it.

“Buying habits are continually changing and one of the problems with conventional exhibitions, apart from allowing yourself the time away from your workplace to visit, is that you don’t always get to talk to the right technical expert on a product as they may be busy or you have limited time at the show. Our solution was to film each of Bürkert’s technical experts explaining the features, benefits and applications for each of the main product ranges displayed on the stand. Visitors to the virtual stand can watch a 3D guided tour of the stand and then click on the areas of interest. Each subject or product range is then described in person by the expert in a short movie.”

Visitors can download a wide range of product literature from the site as well as making direct enquiries for more information. Anyone who registers will also be sent exclusive show promotional goodies, a Bürkert catalogue, and will be able to gain access to the exclusive downloads area. For those who missed Bürkert at any of its live shows, you can now visit anytime, at www.burkertve.co.uk .

Products featured on the site include the company’s new range of Element valves and sensors, designed to give extremely precise performance in clean process environments. The new Ultrasonic Flow Transmitter for low volume, high accuracy measurement, the LiquidFLOW Controller, the mxCONTROL dosing controller, Robolux valves and a process automation overview which discusses the new AirLine range of pneumatic control valve islands. The Airline range allows connection directly to PLCs and other DIN rail mounted I/O from leading automation hardware vendors including, Siemens, Wago and Phoenix Contact. All of which are covered in the movies on the subject.

New Edbro CX14 makes the lightest lighter…

New Edbro CX14 makes the lightest lighter…

Edbro, the world’s leading manufacturer of hydraulic tipping cylinders, used Tip-Ex 2013 as the showcase event to launch the second generation CX14 cylinder to the market. Since its launch at the same event in 2010, the CX14 has been proven to be the lightest of all the 8×4 tipping gears on the market; now its shed a further 28kg without compromising on tipping speed, lift capacity or reliability. The CX14 can now generate £10,000 in extra payload over the life of a vehicle.

Since its launch three years ago, the CX14 has become the tipping hoist of choice for most fleet operators in the UK market when specifying an 8×4 tipping vehicle. This claim is fully endorsed by the sales figures: Tarmac has fitted over 150 units in 18 months, that’s more than the closest competitor unit has sold nationwide in 24 months. Other national fleets to specify CX14 include Aggregate Industries, Cemex and Lafarge, while both Man & Volvo use the tipping hoist as the standard cylinder for their ‘Trucks to go’ programme.

Offering a weight saving of 86kg against the previous industry benchmark, Edbro’s CX15, and a lift capacity of 25 tonnes to the top it’s not hard to understand the reasons behind the cylinder’s popularity. Thanks to the overwhelming success of the model it has been economically viable for Edbro to make further investments in tooling which has facilitated the launch of the lighter 2nd generation CX14.

Peter Smith, Sales and Marketing Director for Edbro, comments: “The weight savings are mainly in the base assembly of the CX14, though further optimisation of kit components such as mounting and brackets has also been a factor in the savings. There are a lot of companies claiming to offer the lightest cylinder for the 8×4 market at the moment. However, the fact is that the complete CX14 now weighs 449kg including oil. There is no cylinder available on the UK market that I’m aware of with a lower weight which offers equal performance figures. Simply put, specifying a CX14 cylinder will allow you to make more money with every tip, without compromise.

Maximised payload isn’t the only advantage of the CX14 model. It offers safety factors in excess of 50% on buckling and has a safe lift capacity of 25 tonnes to the top. The only possible scenario in the UK where a larger cylinder may be required is in a heavy off-road application in which payload and ground conditions are less controlled.

Danny Broomfield, UK Business Development Manager for Edbro, adds: “Some of our competitors offer alternative products which they claim can provide higher load capacities. This can only be achieved by exposing the cylinder to pressures up to and in excess of 220 bar. The CX14 would lift the same with these pressures and more, but there is no real world need for this as it puts extra stress into the components, works everything harder and can lead to early-life failure.

“There is no use specifying a cylinder which will offer extra payload if it fails prematurely and needs to be replaced. The CX14 offers the perfect balance of being the lightest gear on the market whilst working at optimum pressures to lift a full body and payload to the top.

Competitor cylinders, which are exclusively imported from foreign markets apply heavy sub frames to protect the cylinder from twist and flex which isn’t a concern in the UK.The CX14 has been designed and manufactured in the UK specifically for the UK market, so rather than adding weight to protect the cylinder from conditions that won’t be encountered in the UK, Edbro is able make the cylinder lighter and offer a direct increase in payload.

Prior to release the model was subjected to stringent testing, including cycle tests, side load resistance and over pressurisation, and several operators took part in a four year field trial. The tests showed that the cylinder is able to operate reliably within the parameters of the UK market and offer operators real life payload improvements and commensurate commercial benefits.

When specifying a tipping vehicle the last thing that should be compromised on is the very thing which makes it a tipper. Edbro offers industry leading reliability on all of its products and boasts a national service network which is second to none. Its expert sales team are available to speak to you about your needs prior to specification and advise you on how you can maximise your tipping efficiency.

Prize Winning Ale is now Produced by Stroud Brewery in Larger Quantities Thanks to Expert Process Automation from Burkert

Prize Winning Ale is now Produced by Stroud Brewery in Larger Quantities Thanks to Expert Process Automation from Burkert

Moving forwards in a business as traditional as an organic craft brewery takes sympathy, understanding and very flexible process equipment. Fortunately for Gloucester beer drinkers that is exactly what Burkert UK has supplied to Stroud Brewery. In an application that combines traditional processes with the latest automation systems where old techniques meet new controls in the new Stroud Brewery brew house to create prize winning beer.

Burkert UK’s project team has just completed the installation of a complete flow, temperature and level control system comprising of the sensors, valves and control panel required to manage the new micro brewery installation at Stroud Brewery. The unique installation has been designed around the previously manual brewing process employed by the brewery in order to create its award winning beers, Budding, Tom Long and Stroud Organic Ale.

Stroud Brewery has completed the journey from a manual traditional brewing process to a semi-automated process that actually improves the quality and consistency of the beer. Greg Pilley the brewery founder explains why retaining the original process was so important,

‘At Stroud Brewery, we produce a range of three regular beers: Budding, Tom Long and Stroud Organic Ale. Budding, we named after the inventor of the lawnmower, who lived in this village of Thrupp, and actually produced his lawnmower on this site. Tom Long has several stories, but the one we like the most is that he was a mythical highwayman, based up on Minchinhampton Common, which is literally just up the escarpment here. Stroud Organic Ale – well, it’s what it says on the tin. It’s our draught organic ale, and the only organic draught beer produced in the county.

‘Running the original brew house at full capacity was quite an uncomfortable situation to be in; we were all working flat-out as a team; none of us found it very easy to have holidays without doubling the workload of somebody else. You couldn’t be sick, and we certainly couldn’t afford to have any problems in the brewery, which is quite nerve-wracking.

‘What the new brewery equipment allows us to do is to brew four times as much beer in a single day as we did before, using a basic level of automation that still provides us with hands-on control when we need it. We haven’t gone overboard with it, but what it means is, just by the use of food-grade level-sensors, flow-meters, and an intelligent control panel, we don’t have to stand over the process continuously. And that’s enabled us to grow the capacity of our brewery without compromising on quality.’

Lars Frimert, Area Sales Manager for Burkert explains why Burkert’s product range and expertise are so well suited to automating the brewing process,

‘Burkert has vast experience in controlling processes, whether it’s pharmaceutical, food, or in this case, the brewing industry. We have provided control systems, and components, for big breweries, but also for microbreweries. When Greg from Stroud Brewery came to see us, and explained what his pains and his needs were, we listened hard, and we managed then to translate that to a visual control system that is easy to use and practical for this tough working environment.

‘The system controls eight processes within Stroud Brewery. There are three main ones:

‘The first is the strike temperature control, where we control the temperature from the cold liquor tank and the hot liquor tank going into the copper, where it’s been mixed with the grain into the mash tun. It’s very important that the temperature is correct, and with the help of our temperature probes and our control system, we control the speed of the motors to achieve that precision.

‘The next one is the run-off from the mash tun. This was previously a very labour-intensive process, where you needed to have a look at the vessel continuously. We solved that problem by putting three level-sensors in the vessel. The control system uses the information from those level-sensors, and controls the run-off, so you never run dry or overflow. With that, the head brewer, or the brewers – they can walk away, and leave it on its own, and can do other things during that time.

‘The third key process that we control is the temperature control of the fermentation vessels. They can’t be too high; they can’t be too low. The control system reads from our temperature probes what the temperature is, and adjusts that accordingly; we then either cool it, with the water from the chillers, or we heat it via a heating pad.

‘To help future-proof this system, we put in a remote monitoring system as well, so Greg and his team might not need to be here all the time. Because the process is monitored, if something is going outside the parameters, there could be a SMS message sent to his mobile phone to alert him that he needs, maybe, to log in on a PC somewhere and investigate what’s happening or he can go down to the site, and do whatever he needs to correct that problem. I’m sure we will persuade him to take this option sooner or later.

‘To give you an overview of what Burkert has done here; in essence we have provided the hardware, the software, and the knowledge, to give Greg the flexibility and control to do what he does best: brew a great beer.’

Greg Pilley concludes,

‘We made our first brew in the new brew house on the 4th of July, and once again, as we did in our first brewery, we brewed Budding, our launching beer. We were really delighted that that beer then went on to win its category at the Gloucestershire CAMRA Beer Festival. So we’ve maintained our quality, and the beer is identical to what we brewed before, it’s just that there is more of it, and we can actually enjoy the work here far more, thanks of course to a very understanding process automation supplier.’

Fuel-Cell Race Car Relies on Bürkert Valve Technology

Fuel-Cell Race Car Relies on Bürkert Valve Technology

An astounding 134 teams from universities in 34 countries competed against each other in racing cars they had designed and constructed themselves at the famous Silverstone circuit in this year’s Formula Student Competition. One of the most innovative cars at the starting line was the Forze V from the Delft University of Technology, the lurid coloured racer was green in more ways than one, as it was the only vehicle in the race to be powered by a fuel cell. The hydrogen / electric motive power was made possible by dedicated technology from fluid control specialist Bürkert.

With a weight of only 280 kg, a length of 3m, 18 kW of power (fuel cell only) or temporarily up to 60 kW (including regenerative braking power) and a speed of about 120 km/h – at first glance the performance data of the Forze V seems modest in comparison with conventionally fuelled race cars, however, this first impression is deceptive, as confirmed by the reaction of Ross Brawn, team leader of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team.

Ross Brawn, impressed by the engineering of the Dutch students, called the Forze V “an outstanding example of genuine innovation”. As so often in racing, the reason for this enthusiasm is under the bonnet: As opposed to the overwhelming majority of the race cars at the starting line in Silverstone, this one was powered, not by a combustion engine, but by an electric motor. Different again from all other electric vehicles in the race, it was powered by a fuel cell rather than a battery. By finishing in the midfield in Silverstone, the Forze Hydrogen Racing Team proved that it is possible to keep pace in motor sports by using hydrogen instead of petrol in the tank, and with zero emissions.

Lighter, stronger and faster.

The rules of the Formula Student stipulate that the teams must design and build a race car in one year, with which they then compete against each other in different events and races. The students are also responsible for the financing of the project, with the aid of industrial sponsors.

The team had already competed in 2011 with the Forze IV, the precursor of the current race car of the Delft University team. “We achieved good ratings in the design competition, but were unable to take part in the actual race due to technical problems,” Jan Jaap Treurniet, team manager of the Forze Hydrogen Racing Team recalls. That has changed with the Forze V in 2012. The new race car needed to be more powerful, faster, lighter and above all, more reliable than its predecessor. Since standard solenoid control valves and controllers from Bürkert were already in use on the car, the decision to contact the fluid technology specialist for fuel cell specific components and technology was a logical next step.

Racing fever in Ingelfingen

Johann Gunnesch is a motor sports enthusiast and an engineer at the Systemhaus of Bürkert Fluid Control Systems in Ingelfingen. He develops customised, highly specific system solutions for a wide range of applications requested by Bürkert customers throughout the world. When his Dutch sales colleague John van Loon approached him on behalf of the Forze Hydrogen Racing Team, he was quick to offer his assistance. After the Bürkert executive management agreed to provide the students with products and know-how from the Systemhaus, it was not long before racing fever broke out in Ingelfingen.

After a preliminary meeting at Bürkert, the task was soon clear: The student team presented its flow plan for the fuel cell and explained the basic technical requirements. The goal was to find a solution for the hydrogen supply, which had to be as compact and lightweight as possible while making use of standard components from the Bürkert product portfolio. In the Bürkert Systemhaus Gunnesch and his team developed a proposal for an integrated solution. A compact aluminium block, which saved considerably on material, provided room for a safety valve, a solenoid control valve for controlling the hydrogen pressure, a mass flow meter, an overflow valve, as well as temperature and pressure sensors.

Johann Gunnesch explains the function of the low pressure block: “Coming from the tank, the hydrogen first passes a shut-off valve. An integrated excess pressure safety valve has to release the hydrogen in the event of a malfunction. A Type 2833 solenoid control valve meters the hydrogen for the fuel cell by controlling the pressure in the fuel cell. A Type 8711 flow meter measures the supplied quantity of hydrogen and sends this data to the vehicle’s electronic control system. The pressure and temperature are likewise monitored constantly by sensors that send their readings to the controller to enable the fuel cell to operate under optimal conditions at all times. Furthermore, there is a Type 6011 overflow valve, which can evacuate the entire system in case of emergency.”

After the design phase for the Forze V was completed, the block was adapted to the race car’s systems. There were also special requirements such as a mirror-inverted design or the 90° shift of a fitting. Finally, the low pressure block and a second, identical replacement block were manufactured in Ingelfingen and delivered to Delft. Shortly after came positive feedback: All systems go!

Slim and trim.

After having found an extremely compact and lightweight solution for the hydrogen supply, the Delft Racing Team became increasingly dissatisfied with the existing solution for the air supply. Although it functioned perfectly, the size and weight made it unsuitable for racing. The situation was addressed during a visit by Bürkert employees to the Delft University of Technology. “At first we had to pass,” Johann Gunnesch relates. “Our standard components for measuring the flow of gases are just as big and heavy as the components they were using.” But then – through a combination of racing fever and experimental spirit – the Bürkert team, after having found a solution for the hydrogen supply, joined forces with the students to tackle the air supply problem.

“Standard components were out of the question from the start,” Gunnesch emphasises. “What we needed was an ultra light, one-of-a-kind component.” This was based on a Bürkert flow meter for gases, which was reduced to the bare bones, and advanced sensor technology that is not yet available on standard products. The result was an ultra-compact solution for measuring the air flow in a compact design weighing several kilograms less than a solution using standard components. The Aerospace and Engineering Department at Delft tested the air flow meter and confirmed the excellent precision of the solution. Once it became clear that this solution was not only extremely lightweight but also functionally outstanding, the enthusiasm spread among everyone involved.

With the exception of the stack, the humidifier, the recirculation pump and the compressor, the rest of the fuel cell technology on the Forze V comes from Bürkert. “Thanks to the Bürkert solutions we were able to double the performance of the fuel cell in the Forze V in comparison with the Forze IV. At the same time, the weight of the vehicle was reduced by about 10% from 312 kg to 280 kg,” Forze team leader Jan Jaap Treurniet explains. “In motor sports, where fractions of seconds make a difference, that is a gigantic step forward.” And that is also exactly what Ross Brawn recognised when he visited the team during the Silverstone event. In an interview about the race, the Mercedes team leader called the Formula Student the most innovative racing class besides Formula 1. There are so many regulations for all the other classes that there is hardly room for genuine innovations.

The Forze V passed its baptism of fire in the Formula Student and cut a good figure in the race. “The Delft team race car shows what highly motivated students can achieve in the space of only one year,” praises Johann Gunnesch from the Bürkert Systemhaus. The race car – “green” in more than one sense – sprints from 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds and can run at full speed for about an hour on 600 grams of liquid hydrogen: in this case, 28 litres at 350 bar. The only “emissions” left behind in the environment are about five litres of water. “Working on this project was great fun for all of us. The students’ enthusiasm for their racing car was contagious. We are happy that we – as an innovative company – were able to contribute to the progress of a future technology such as the fuel cell drive system.”

DMA Europa visits Gordon Murray Design

DMA Europa visits Gordon Murray Design

The T.25 concept car from McLaren F1 designer, Gordon Murray, has enjoyed a lot of publicity as it demonstrates the new iStream manufacturing philosophy that the company claims will revolutionise the method by which cars are manufactured. DMA Europa was granted access to the facility in order to interview Engineering Director, Frank Coppuck, about the role that client company, the Klarius Group, played in the supply of key suspension components.

DMA was quick to see the PR potential of associating British car parts manufacturer, Klarius Group, with the latest offering from one of Britain’s most celebrated automotive engineers. The Klarius Group had recently bought the struggling Quinton Hazell brand and brought it back to life through the expert use of lean manufacturing. It was this lean manufacturing process of OE quality parts that made QH products the perfect partner for Gordon Murray Design, which needed specialised components on a short run.

In an exciting visit to the Gordon Murray Design facility, the DMA team was granted access to film and photograph the prototype T.25 car while interviewing Frank Coppuck about the role that the QH components played in the development and eventual fruition of Gordon Murray’s latest vision. The result was a technical release that was sent to a number of targeted magazines, supported by striking images of the car and a filmed interview with Frank.

Tiffany Hutt, Head of Communications for Gordon Murray Design, comments: “Having received clear communications of intent from DMA we had no problems organising a visit and ensuring that all relevant equipment was available for filming. The visit ran extremely smoothly with clear instructions to guide Frank through the interview and an obvious knowledge and genuine interest in what we are trying to achieve here. We are extremely happy with the results that DMA produced and had no issues when it came to signing material off for release.”