Category Archives: Sensors

Water Activity – A critical measurement for sensitive seeds

casestudy

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

 

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

Measuring in clean rooms – Hands on with the Rotronic CRP5

For many years Rotronic products have been widely used in the monitoring and control of clean rooms, however more often than not our products are found out of sight quietly performing their measurement tasks away from areas with strict requirements for cleanliness demanded by modern clean rooms.

In the past few months Rotronic have launched two new clean room panels that are as the name suggests designed specifically for use within clean room environments.

Our flagship product in the field is the CRP5 which we will take a look at first.

crp-5_pfad
CRP5 – Clean room From Rotronic

The CRP5 is a comprehensive clean room panel designed specifically for the requirements of modern clean rooms. Once installed the unit provides virtually no areas for dust to collect and the industrial glass front is extremely resistant to chemicals. With a fully configurable colour screen it is a stylish looking device!

CRP1a
Unpacking the CRP5, the glass front, colour display and stainless steel fittings make the CRP5 elegant, easy to clean and functional

Internally the CRP5 delivers some serious capability, providing potentially a solution for all your clean room measurement and monitoring requirements. Including;

  • Differential Pressure via internal diaphragm sensor (measurement via rear ports and front ports for flexible instalation and calibration).
  • Interchangeable humidity and temperature sensor.
  • Two fully configurable analogue inputs (for particle counters, lux meters etc)
  • Two configurable switch inputs (for pressure or door switches etc)
  • 6 configurable relays (for alarm triggers)
  • Digital connectivity via RS485 and Ethernet (Modbus or direct connection to Rotronic HW4 software)

A unique feature of the CRP5 is the optional flush mount humidity probe. The probe is locked into place through the use of magnets and can easily be removed for cleaning or calibration. An optional rear mount connection is available for Rotronic HC2 humidity and temperature probes should you wish to monitor ducts or spaces remote to the CRP5 itself.

CRP2
The unique removable Humidity and Temperature probe for ease of cleaning and calibration

The configurable colour display shows alarm conditions which can be acknowledged via the front panel. Alarms can be used to trigger relays associated with audible and larger visitual alarms. Interaction with the CRP5 is via four optical buttons –  their use is completely unaffected if operators are wearing protective gloves or not (unlike capacitive interfaces).

CRP3
Optical buttons can be used easily even when wearing gloves!

As an FDA and Gamp5 compliant device the CRP5 is a safe choice for regulated industries. The instrument can be used with 3rd party systems via its analogue outputs or industry standard Modbus TCP / RTU communication. Alternatively the CRP5 can be connected to the Rotronic HW4 software package to provide a one stop solution for monitoring, control and alarming. Pharmaceutical validation services as well as ISO 17025 (UKAS) calibrations are available from Rotronic if required.

To get some more detailed information about our clean room solutions give us a call or visit our website… Rotronic Website and CRP5 Datasheet

Next time we will look at the Rotronic CRP1 a dedicated temperature and humidity clean room panel for  applications with slightly simpler requirements but still demanding a clean installation  and high accuracy measurements!

crp1_side
The CRP1 – Humidity and Temperature measurements in clean rooms.

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

Rotronic training course schedule 2016

We are pleased to announce our latest training course schedule for 2016. Courses include in partnership with Dave Ayres from Benrhos Ltd our practical 3 day temperature, humidity and dew point calibration and measurement uncertainty courses. In addition, for those seeking greater depth we are running dedicated courses on measurement uncertainty and ISO 17025 run by Lawrie Cronin and Dave Ayres

Temperature Humidity and Dew Point – Measurement, Calibration and Uncertainty

8th – 10th March :: 12th – 14th July :: 15th – 17th November
– Three day course at Rotronic UK offices and UKAS laboratory
– Practical applied knowledge and best practice
– Max 8 attendees to ensuring tailored content

Measurement Uncertainty for Laboratories and Plant

6th – 7th September
– Two day course at Rotronic UK offices
– Detailed knowledge for laboratory owners or process managers

Setting up and working with ISO17025

8th September
– One day course at Rotronic UK offices
– Ideal for ISO17025 lab managers or those looking to apply

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality

Some of the key factors for improving energy efficiency in relation to indoor applications are the control of Relative Humidity (RH) and temperature. The question is, how to control RH to acceptable levels in an energy efficient manner. Energy efficient humidity control has a very strong bearing on thermal comfort, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and eventually on the health and performance of occupants in air-conditioned buildings.

slider-pane1-new

Passivhaus buildings are built to a voluntary standard to improve energy efficiency and reduce ecological footprint.

IAQ control seeks to reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and other air impurities such as microbial contaminants. As such it is important to control relative humidity which can be a key factor leading to mould growth and the presence of bacteria and viruses, dust mites and other such organisms.

Buildings rely on a properly designed ventilation system to provide an adequate supply of cleaner air from outdoors or filtered and recirculated air

TrueDry_DR120_HR

Buildings may rely on dehumidifiers like the one above to reduce RH levels to a comfortable range

Air-conditioning systems typically employ a high level of air recirculation to save energy during cooling and dehumidification. Typically recirculation rates are around 80-90%, but can sometimes be even higher. The challenge is not so much in dehumidification, but in doing so without having to overcool. As such, ventilation is integrated for general comfort and economical saving.

Rooms are often designed with specific conditions in mind including temperature, humidity, brightness, noise, and air flow. Careful engineering and implementation of building automation and control is the only way to ensure energy efficiency and building operation conditions are met during occupancy, at the lowest possible costs.

IAQ Facts:

Energy Efficiency (EE) refers to either the reduction of energy inputs for a given service or the enhancement of a service for a given amount of energy inputs.

Relative humidity is highly temperature dependent, so if the temperature is stable, it is much easier to achieve a stable RH.

Air in our atmosphere is a mixture of gases with very large distances between molecules. Therefore, air can accommodate a large quantity of water vapor. The warmer the air, the more water vapor can be accommodated.

Why the need to measure, temperature and relative humidity?

Precise temperature control of air which is supplied to a room results in maximum comfort for the occupants. The temperature should be held constantly at a particular set point to achieve this comfort.

Readings from temperature transmitters installed in the air supply duct are compared to readings inside a particular room. It is easiest to achieve a constant room temperature if there is little difference between the two values. Air temperature control in supply ducts can be employed in rooms in which the air handling unit is used mainly for the renewal of air.

hf3_2_o_display_1

Rotronic manufactures temperature and humidity transmitters such as the one above which are suitable for use in spaces where appearance is a factor.

It is with good RH control that we can process the air for air conditioned rooms independent of the state of outside air and the processes taking place in the room. This way the RH remains constant or within the preset limits and thus energy consumption for humidification and dehumidification is minimized.

Air conditioning is supposed to maintain room temperature and RH as precisely as possible through the use of systems which monitor and control temperature and humidity in the room (or in the air supply ducts to the room). Systems must be dynamic to manage the changing room air quality depending on the occupants and usage.

With precise measurement and control of temperature and humidity, energy consumption for humidification & dehumidification as well as heating and cooling can be reduced leading to energy efficient building operation with lower energy costs and healthier occupants.

Phil Robinson
Rotronic UK

Pharmacy Business Case – MEDICINES NEED WATCHING – CLOSELY!

Business Case BannerColleagues from our Swiss based HQ just outside Zurich have shared with us a great example of an increasingly important application based around the monitoring of medicines in typical high street pharmacies. Pharmacies may look like they simply store medicines on normal shelves but most drugs require strictly controlled and monitored conditions to ensure they reach us in perfect condition! Read on to discover more…

Medicines are sensitive products. Moisture or excessively high or low storage temperatures, can impair their quality. Incorrectly stored medicines lose their efficacy, leading to significant health risks. Correct storage is therefore vital, offering as it does the guarantee that medicines remain safe and efficacious and retain their high quality right up to their expiry date.

Meeting GDP/GMP requirements in pharmacies

The storage of medicines is legally regulated by GDP (Good Distribution Practice) Standard 9.2 and is inspected by the responsible authorities on site.

Insulins and other liquid antibiotics for instance must be stored in medicine refrigerators at a temperature between 2 °C and 8 °C. A temperature range of 15 °C to 25 °C applies to the vast majority of other medicines.It is compulsory to document the storage conditions of all medicines.

To help fulfil the legal requirements, Rotronic has launched the new HL-1D data logger – a convenient, precise, reliable logger that is virtually tailor-made for a medicinal environment.

Rosengarten Rotpunkt pharmacy

The HL-1D data logger has undergone exhaustive testing
under real-life conditions in the Rotpunkt Rosengarten
pharmacy. With its simple handling and remarkable price-performance ratio, the logger offers great potential for any pharmacy.

The Rosengarten Rotpunkt pharmacy is deeply rooted in the community of Bassersdorf, Switzerland and has been at its present location since 1985.

In 2011, Mr. Ivan Mihajlovic took over the directorship and today runs the pharmacy with a total of 10 employees.

Mr Ivan Mihajlovic
Mr Ivan Mihajlovic

“The quick evaluation of the data and the understandable visualization of the measurement values in a PDF report meet all QMS requirements and document the data long-term.”

HL-1D ideal for Pharmacies

Complete measurement chain

Rotronic offers complete solutions for the entire measurement chain. Even if you are already using other data loggers successfully, we have a range of innovative calibration solutions.

HL-1D for pharmacy

If you require more information or wish to discuss any monitoring, control or calibration applications you may have please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dr. Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK