Category Archives: Humidity

Water Activity – A critical measurement for sensitive seeds

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Water activity measurement plays an integral role at the Tree Seed Centre in British Columbia.

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The Tree Seed Working Group has four objectives related to promoting tree seed science and technology through:
• Seed research from bud initiation to seed use
• Identification of seed problems relating to seed improvement and forest management
• Exchange of information on seed related problems
• Consulting on implementation practices

Water activity continues to be an area of interest to the Tree Seed Working Group, especially with their genetic conservation collection.

Rotronic has become the standard for water activity measurement for many seed storage facilities throughout the world. Although water activity is a relatively new technology to the Tree Seed Centre, it already plays an important role. Water activity measurement devices from Rotronic offer quick, non destructive tools for evaluating the free moisture in a sample of seeds. The meter outputs a value between 0 and 1, which is equivalent to equilibrium relative humidity (eRH). Aw or eRH differs from a moisture content test in that it only measures the free water rather than the total water content in a sample of seed. Free water is often far more relevant to germination, spoilage and shelf life of seeds. The amount of free water in a seed will depend on its relative composition of lipids, starches, and proteins. Storing seed in the freezer with a water activity measurement that is either too high or too low will decrease the longevity of the seed. The ideal level ultimately depends on the species; however, most people now accept the concept of a universal value. At the Tree Seed Centre, they keep within a range of 0.35 ± 0.05”.
The role of water activity measurement

Currently, water activity is used primarily for testing seed collected for genetic conservation and research. The seeds are often rare and valuable; thus a non destructive method of assessment is imperative. Collections intended for the seedbank arrive at the Tree Seed Centre grouped by population (noted by location), with each population containing,on average, a sample of 10 parent trees. Populations are stored in the cooler at 2°C to await an initial water activity assessment. If the water activity is too high, the seeds are dried back and retested prior to placement in the freezer at-18 °C to maximise seed longevity.

In the UK we have worked closely with Kew Gardens at the Millennium Seed Bank where a bank of Rotronic devices with direct PC connection are used to screen and test all seeds that are stored in their highly secure underground bunker.

Read the Kew Gardens article titled “A day in the life of a Seed Processing Assistant” here!

Kew
Six Rotronic eRH devices working in tandem with HW4 software at Kew Gardens.

For information on any of our products please contact us on 01293 571000 or email instruments@rotronic.co.uk or visit our website by clicking Here

RMS integration with Met Office DataPoint. An experiment with APIs…

The latest Rotronic Monitoring System software has been designed specifically for the IoT and IIoT world. We have a wide and growing range of sensors, loggers as well as input and output modules but we will never keep up with the unique demands of our customers. That’s where integration is key for any successful continuous monitoring system!

iot

Hardware can already be integrated via analogue input modules such as our 8ADC and digital devices can be integrated via our RMS-Convertor that can be programmed with custom protocols and functions operate with virtually any device.

Want to cut out the waffle… login and see the live data now using the details below:

https://rms.rotronic.com/rms/
Company Name: Rotronic demo-cloud
User: Weather
Password: guest1234

In addition to hardware, software integration is a must, and not easy when we consider RMS is a fully Gamp6 compliant system and therefore security and traceability is key.

Why not access the SQL DB?

All data on RMS is stored within an SQL database which with suitable rights can be queried easily to pull data out. However injecting data whilst possible triggers our system to report data manipulation. Also direct access to the database presents a security risk and uncontrolled changes to the system, and of course its not possible on shared systems.

That is why we also offer a Restful API through which data can be posted only when configured by users with appropriate permissions and each data stream is securely linked to a onetime token, by no means the best security but suitable for many applications (and of course the whole API function can be disabled if preferred). We of course have software wizards at our HQ that can develop professional integration solutions but as a hobbyist I wanted to see what I could achieve.

 

 

Example API Report

So my plan was to use Python and pull data from the Met Office DataPoint service and inject it directly into our RMS server software so it could visualised, reported and analysed accordingly. Just a few simple steps…

  • Step 1 Get the data from Met Office API
  • Step 2 Create API device in RMS and send your data
  • Step 3 Enjoy graphs, reports and custom alarms

Step 1 – Get the data from Met Office API.

The Met Office API is great you simply need to register to get an api key then get your head around the commands. Once you have that you can request the data you need via a simple url and the information is returned in xml or json format.

API Example
Met Office Datapoint API Response in XML

In Python requesting the last 24 hours of hourly data from location 3212 (Keswick) looks something like this…

Import json, requests
url = ‘http://datapoint.metoffice.gov.uk/public/data/val/wxobs/all/json/3212?res=hourly&key=YOURKEY’ #replace with your Met Office API key!
r = requests.get(url)
metoffice_data = json.loads(r.text)

This gives a Python dictionary with all the json data from which we can request specific values easily for example the latest conditions (no doubt there are more elegant solutions but this works for me).

Hum = (metoffice_data[‘SiteRep’][‘DV’][‘Location’][‘Period’][1][‘Rep’][-1][‘H’])
Temp = (metoffice_data[‘SiteRep’][‘DV’][‘Location’][‘Period’][1][‘Rep’][-1][‘T’])
Pres = (metoffice_data[‘SiteRep’][‘DV’][‘Location’][‘Period’][1][‘Rep’][-1][‘P’])
DewP = (metoffice_data[‘SiteRep’][‘DV’][‘Location’][‘Period’][1][‘Rep’][-1][‘Dp’])

Next we need to create our API device within RMS so it will accept our data

Step 2 – Create API device in RMS

Adding new API device in RMS is simple process, we create the device and define the Name and Serial number.

At this point RMS awaits an Post command in which the additional details are included. Using the Python code below I am able to create a device with 4 measurement points (measured values); Humidity, Temp; Pressure and Dew Point.

import json, requests

url = ‘http://rms.rotronic.com/rmsService/wService3.DeviceService.svc/UpdateDataJson’
headers = {‘Content-Type’ : ‘Application/json’, ‘Expect’ : ‘100-continue’, ‘Connnection’ : ‘Close’, ‘Host’ : ‘rms.rotronic.com’}

payload = {‘Name’:’API_Test’,’Serial’:’12345′,’Values’:[{‘Index’:’1′,’Typ’:’1′,’Value’:’50’},{‘Index’:’2′,’Typ’:’2′,’Value’:’23’},\
{‘Index’:’3′,’Typ’:’16’,’Value’:’5′},{‘Index’:’4′,’Typ’:’48’,’Value’:’1000′}]}
print (payload)
r = requests.post(url, headers=headers, data =json.dumps (payload))

Finally RMS gives us the device ID and API token which must be included in any future post commands.

Combining Step 1 and Step 2 allows us to simply replace my example values above with the real Met Office API data! Run the script hourly or permanently with an hour delay and we have a simple tool proving live data weather data!

Step 3 – Enjoy graphs, reports and custom alarms

With the data in RMS we can easily graph values and create email, sms or phone alarms. Taking the API further I it is possible download live satellite imagery and dynamically update the layouts in RMS!

Example Report

So it turns-out getting data into RMS via the API is simple with a bit of basic code. Of course Met Office data is just an example in modern industrial applications there is so much unique data from devices or software that might be of use and RMS aims to offer a complete monitoring solution not simply for our products!

Be sure to get in touch if you have any questions on the above or have any monitoring requirements. Use the demo login above or visit out RMS website for more details.

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

 

Ladies Only Exhibition in Perfect Monitored Climate

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The Hohenzollern family came to Brandenburg 600 years ago, in 1415. Twelve prince-electors, seven kings and three emperors made Prussian, German and European history for almost 500 years.

queen

The women have been some what overlooked by historians, by turning the spotlight on them, the foundation for Prussian castles and gardens has paved the way to discovering hitherto unknown aspects of Prussian and European history. The foundation presents 300 exhibits from national and international donors in a an area of 900 Square meters, which include the oldest authentic woman’s dress in Brandenburg (c.1460) and the coronation cloak of Queen Augusta. 

The painting is that of Queen Augusta of Prussia, which is exhibited in a perfectly climatised room

Room Climate in exhibitions 

The climate and lighting are the most influential factors to ensure the preservation of museum exhibits, because they can cause damage by accelerating chemical and biological degradation processes. In recent decades, the exhibition sector has developed a standard for conservation conditions in exhibitions. For those with the most varied works of art, temperatures of 18°c-22°c and relative humidity around 50 %RH with slight variations, and lighting of 50 to 200 Lux, are striven for, depending on the sensitivity of the materials.

Theater “Ladies Only”

The theater in Charlottenburg has no central air conditioning system. The room climate is influenced by a massive building shell, with masonry walls some as thick as 80cm, solid, reinforced concrete ceilings and floors, and composite windows with double glazing. To reduce warming through sunlight, the windows on the south side have been given sunshades for the duration of the exhibition.

Measuring Equipment 

The foundation has until now had no experience with using the building as an exhibition area. For this reason there were very high demands on the quality and availability of the measurement data. The concept for the exhibition combines a large number of works of art made of the most varied and sensitive materials, understanding of measurements is developed over days, months and years.

“The Rotronic measuring system was convincing because of its high degree of data  security, but also because of its flexibility, low maintenance costs and simple operation.” Wulf Eckermann – Stiftung Preussische Schlosser, Germany

Rotronic Data Loggers

Suitable for a wide range of humidity and temperature monitoring tasks, Wireless transmission – Possible over distances of up to 100m.

log-hc2-rc_mit_clip_3Saves on wiring costs, and the data can be collected and recorded from inaccessible points quickly and easily. Thanks to the combination of wireless transmission and data logger, the greatest possible reliability against failure is ensured. Devices can be configured and read out via the HW4 software and now our latest web or server enabled RMS software. Application uses include: Meteorology, Food Industry, Building Technology, Museums, Environmental/Laboratory equipment, research an development, Pharmaceutical/chemical/logistics and textile industry.

Wireless data loggers for active monitoring

To monitor the climatic conditions reliably and flexibly, HL-RC-B wireless data loggers are used. The measured values are recorded locally and safe from manipulation in a memory with a capacity of 500,000 values. With no cabling requirement, and without provision of an infrastructure such as a LAN or power outlets, the loggers are mounted unobtrusively on walls and in glass cases, thus impinging only minimally on the exhibition concept.

For details on any of our products please visit our website

What is the latest monitoring system from Rotronic? A practical answer and a technical answer.

The Rotronic Monitoring System (RMS) has now been officially launched globally for 12 months and in use at some key clients for over two years.

RMS is a modern continuous monitoring system that embraces open architecture and interoperability as well as providing a compliant system for validated applications.

But how is this achieved and what exactly is RMS. There are two ways I find myself answering this…

  • The technical answer – for IT project managers, system integrators and cyber security managers.
  • The practical answer – for end users, project managers and smaller organisations.

What is RMS – The Practical Answer…

The practical answer is more visible via our online demonstration (request guest access here) and via the details on our RMS satellite website.

In short RMS provides a modern and complete monitoring system with a detailed web interface. The system provides users with ease of access to data, reliable and manageable alarms and extensive reporting. Importantly RMS can support existing hardware and interact with other software/hardware platforms.

RMS can be provided as a hosted cloud service or using a traditional licence whereby the client installs the system on their servers (local or cloud).

In summary RMS provides amongst other things…

  • Live interactive charts
  • Full reporting and automated/scheduled report generation
  • Complete event logging in line with GxP requirements
  • Full alarming with logic and time schedules
  • Email, phone, sms, relay and custom protocol alarm outputs
  • Auto back fill and retrospective alarms (ideal for transport logging)
  • Interactive layouts
  • Complete user rights management
  • Compliant to GxP designed around ease of validation

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Core RMS hardware includes Ethernet, WiFi, industrial wireless and RS485 devices as well as full support for existing Rotronic devices, 3rd party analogue devices and 3rd party digital devices using any of the above interfaces. The below graphic outlines the wide range of options available.

06 RMS Graphic

Contact us for further information or visit our website

What is RMS – The Technical Answer…

Let’s now go a bit deeper. For many organisations once end-users approve of a system the challenge is getting the system approved and installed in line with wider corporate policies and security. So far we have found that in discussions with IT project managers and cyber security managers, RMS has met their requirements – usually much to the surprise of the end users who perhaps initially expect a protracted battle! Typically for larger more secure organisations software is required to be installed within their network rather than using the Rotronic Cloud service. Below we discuss the main elements of this type of RMS installation.

RMS has two core elements.

1. Webservice; This is software aspect of RMS. The webservice provides the interactive webpage to present data for end users and allow system configuration. The webservice also works in the background to interact with hardware and the database. Typically the webpage will be part of the local intranet with an address like rms.yourorganisation.com, optionally the webpage can also be made accessible from the internet outside your organisation (like our cloud service which is available at http://rms.rotronic.com/rms – request guest access to the demo system here). For the clients (end users) no special software or plugins are required just a standard web-browser.

More technically the RMS webservice is built around ASP.Net framework and runs under Windows IIS (internet information services). The webservice therefore requires a Windows Server (2008, 2012 or 2016). The RMS software can be run on a standard PC with IIS enabled but this is not usually advised except for specific applications.

A note on RMS hardware; All Rotronic hardware initiates communication with the webservice via port 80. For cloud applications this means only port 80 must be opened outbound to allow the devices to initiate outbound communications to the server. All gateways have standard IP configurations (DHCP or fixed).

2. SQL Database; The second part of the RMS is its database. All device, configuration, user and measured data is stored within a standard MS-SQL database. The database is accessed by the webservice to store and read data as required. An existing SQL server can be used if available otherwise SQL-Express is free to install.

More technically the RMS database requires Microsoft-SQL Express or higher, the database can be on the same server as the webservice or a separate machine.

As RMS is built around standard server based systems, there is full support for load balancing and failover, as such should a webserver or sql server fail a redundant/spare can take over. This is standard procedure for larger IT systems.

Some other technical points about RMS.

  • Supports LDAP (so you can use windows login and password)
  • No personal data stored outside SQL database (hardware only stores unique serial code, date, time and measured values – as such no private data passes between hardware and software).
  • Webpage data is binary coded and authentication uses AES128 encryption.
  • Key exchange uses diffie-hellman key alogrithm.
  • 3rd party data / device support is possible via RESTful API or direct interaction with SQL database.

An overview of the RMS communication can be seen here.

08 RMS Communication

For many projects clearly we go much deeper but hopefully this provides an overview. Our experience to date has shown that RMS is closely inline with what our clients expect in terms of operations and security. Further developments are always underway, lead by our customers and their requirements.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss a project or gather further information.

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

12 Slides explaining Water Activity; what it is and how to use it!

Water activity is a useful parameter for many industries. Measuring water activity takes only a few minutes so can provide results quickly, ideal for critical control points.

However water activity is a qualitative measure therefore interpreting results can be complex. The following slides provide an overview to water activity and how to utilise Aw measurements.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our webpage to download our latest AW White Paper!

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

 

 

Five Applications where Water Activity is critical and why!

Not clear on what water activity is? Check out our other posts on water activity here!

Water activity affects a wide range of products from pharmaceuticals to foods, here we take a brief look at five typical applications where water activity measurements are used.

Remember water activity affects biological, chemical and physical properties of products.

Application 1 – Food

Water activity is critical in food production, reducing water activity reduces the available moisture for spoilage organisms to utilise as such low Aw can limit or prevent growth and spoilage.

Aw is often used to screen raw ingredients or end products to confirm that they are within tolerance. Aw measurements only take a few minutes and can therefore provide immediate feedback. This can save time, money and prevent health risks or product spoilage.

Aw can be used as an excellent indicator of shelf life. Once a production process has been fine tuned to deliver products with suitable shelf-life, online aw measurements can confirm production consistency.

Classic methods to control Aw in food are listed below.Slide14

Application 2 – Paper

Water activity or %equilibrium relative humidity in paper may not be your first thought, but the impact of poor or changing ERH in paper can be very costly. Changes in ERH can cause paper to curl or lead to increased static both of which can cause paper jams. For an industrial printing company this can lead to costly downtime. ERH also affects the binding of inks, drying times and ultimately spoilage by moulds and fungi.Slide15

 

Application 3 – Pharmaceutical Products

Drug production and storage is one of the most highly regulated manufacturing sectors. All stages of drug production, storage and delivery rely on critical control of many factors including water activity. Most drugs must be stored in stable conditions hence the advanced moisture impermeable packaging used. Aw readings as well as humidity monitoring and control are utilised to ensure free water is maintained within tolerance.

Slide16

 

Application 4 – Seed preservation and storage

Seeds present an interesting challenge, if Aw is too low the seeds quickly become non viable, where as too high and they may germinate or suffer spoilage through mould or fungal growth. One of the most critical seed preservation projects is the Millennium Seed Bank project. More details about how Rotronic AW meters were used is avaialble on the Kew Gardens websiteSlide17

 

Application 5 – Soaps and powders

Finally we come to good old washing powder, even with powders and liquids now packed into clever tablets and pods Aw remains critical. The materials must be stored in a way that ensures safe delivery to the customer but can be released once in contact with water in your washing machine. The science of behind the latest washing powders and liquids relies heavily on the measurement and conrtol of water activity and %ERH!Slide18

 

Hopefully this brief in site into how water activity affects so many day to day products has been useful. For more information visit our website or contact us to discuss!

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

Durable, Adaptable, Accurate

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Campbell Scientific (CSC) are an ISO 9001 certified company who are a leading manufacturer in a variety of applications related to weather, water, energy, gas flux and turbulence, infrastructure, and soil. Campbell Scientific, are committed to satisfying the instrumentation needs of their customers, and are internationally recognised in the measurement and control industry for producing accurate and dependable instruments

csc2

HC2A-S3

 

CSC systems are acclaimed for their dependability, which they demonstrate even in the most extreme weather climates. Their attributes include wide operating ranges, low energy usage, many communications options, and the flexibility to support a wide variety of measurement  and control applications. Applications include, agriculture, air quality, fire warning, water quality, weather and climate recording, structural monitoring, Geo-technical monitoring and mining.

Rotronic and CSC have been business partners for many years, CSC uses the standard Rotronic meteo probe in many applications. Recently CSC installed the probe in a network of Road Weather Information Systems  in Kelowna, British Columbia. CSC selected the probe because of its reliability, ease of use and accuracy. The HC2A-S3 is also highly regarded for its ability to function in extreme temperatures, this makes it good for the  Canadian climate, and a perfect complement to Campbell Scientific systems.

csc2
” We value the Rotronic HC2A-S3 probe for its ability to function at extreme temperatures.” Mike Ryder Campbell Scientific, Canada

For more information on the latest HC2A-S click here ,or for any of our products please visit the Rotronic website.