Category Archives: Training

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

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.

 

Highlights from the Rotronic ISM 2014

A fantastic view of the Swiss mountains complimented an exciting glimpse of the future at the Rotronic International Sales Meeting 2014 in the Swiss mountain village of Grindelwald.

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The biennial Rotronic ISM brings together distributors and subsidiaries from the global Rotronic network (or family as it feels when we are all together!).

The week long meeting provides an invaluable opportunity to share experiences, projects, new ideas and product updates along with the showing off latest developments and future trends for the company. Aside from the formal workshops, training courses and meetings is the opportunity to informally explore new ventures and insights from around the world – as well as sharing a beer or two of course.

Italy and China!
Italy and China!

The growing range of new product launches from the Swiss HQ, combined with further developments from the UK’s R&D group based around the HygroGen technology highlights that the outlook for the next two years will be very interesting! (check out our new Hygrogen and AwTherm specific satellite sites www.hygrogen.com)

 

The last day of the meeting ensured everyone forgot about instruments for a while as we made our way out into the mountains. Mixed groups were pitched against each other in a fairly weird and wonderful mix of traditional team alpine games including Alphorn blowing and milk chair shuffling (best not to ask)!! Competition was tight but fun had by all.

Alpine games
Alpine games

It was all wrapped up with a fantastic outdoor bbq and the Rotronic awards – the UK team getting an award for the best CO2 product sales performance over the past two years!

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The ISM are important to maintain open communication and share knowledge. Combined with a delicate mix of hard work, fun and fantastic enthusiasm from all the those attending ensures that once again the ISM was a great success!

Team UK
Team UK

Several important announcements were made about new products and future developments including…

  • New ATEX Range (launches very soon!) 
  • Heated HygroMet Probe (now available!)
  • Two new videos coming soon (CO2 measurement and humidity overview)! 

In addition we were given a glimpse of the future… Rotronic UK unveiled the latest HygroGen2 features and the HG2’s bigger brother, the HygroGen2-XL.

New toys!
New toys!

Rotronic AG introduced a new ASIC for the Hygroclip probe range improving reliability and quality without affecting compatibility.

Beyond this there were several very exciting new product ranges on the horizon but these are still under wraps for now… watch this space 🙂

Rotronic International Sales Meeting 2014 Grindelwald Photo Gallery

Great to see everyone at the 2014 ISM in Grindelwald!

New training course dates! – Temperature and Humidity Measurement and Calibration Training.

Following the continued success of our training courses we have several new dates for October this year!

These courses are aimed at providing excellent theoretical and practical knowledge useful both for those new to the field or those looking to expand their knowledge.

Details and booking information can be found via the below links.

7th – 8th October 2014 :: Two Day Temperature Measurement and Calibration

9th October 2014 :: One Day Humidity Measurement and Calibration

Courses will be hosted by our partner Benrhos Limited in Wales and delivered by Dave Ayres (Benrhos) and Jeremy Wingate (Rotronic).

These excellent value courses are open to a maximum of 8 delegates ensuring course content can be targeted specifically to your needs.

Details and booking information can be found via the below links.

7th – 8th October 2014 :: Two Day Temperature Measurement and Calibration

9th October 2014 :: One Day Humidity Measurement and Calibration

Key areas covered include;
  • Knowledge that is not available from other sources.
  • Terminology and units.
  • Fundamentals of each parameter.
  • Best practice measurement.
  • Calibration methodologies.
  • How to interpret results and spot common errors.
  • Measurement uncertainty.
  • How to use uncertainty budgets and benefit from them.
  • Common instrument types and their advantages/disadvantages.

Any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

White Paper – Save time and money with modern monitoring and calibration

The text below is taken from a Rotronic White Paper available here in full.

Companies across many industries needing to perform regular monitoring and calibration have never faced a more challenging environment. Stricter compliance requirements mean companies are under greater pressure to deliver accurate and reliable data, whilst internal budget restrictions demand the most cost effective and efficient solutions.

Can modern measurement &  calibration techniques help your business operations?

It is well known that accurate measurements reduce energy use and improve product consistency. Instrument users, calibration laboratories and manufacturers are constantly looking for smarter ways of operating and are responding with innovations that are transforming the measurement and calibration industry.

New ways of working

Industrial environments are now more automated and interconnected than ever before and companies need to ensure that their infrastructure and processes have the ability to respond and adapt to industry changes. With the introduction of newer, more complex instrumentation, organisations can often be slow to recognise the additional business benefits that can be achieved by replacing a traditional method that (offers a short term result) with a more modern method (that delivers a longer term sustainable solution). Implementing a new approach can also help re-position the calibration process from being viewed simply as a cost to business to one that helps deliver improved process and energy efficiencies with a return on investment.

Industry advancements

Historically, in-situ calibration has been the standard approach; however, advances in technology means that there is now a viable alternative whilst still maintaining the growing demand for on-site services. With the market moving away from analogue to digital signal processing, interchangeable digital sensors are proving to be a more practical solution for both large and small organisations alike. As businesses look for greater automation and productivity, modern interchangeable digital sensors are allowing calibration to be achieved much more quickly without the costly implications of operational downtime and on-site maintenance.


Why calibrate? – The only way to confirm performance
In unsettled economic times it can be tempting to simply extend the intervals between calibration cycles or to forgo calibration altogether. However, neglecting system maintenance and calibration will result in reduced performance and a loss of measurement confidence, ultimately leading to a failure to meet compliance standards. Measurement drift over time negatively impacts on processes and quality. Regular, accredited calibration demonstrates compliance, but equally importantly, sends a message to customers that quality is taken seriously and that they can be confident in both the process and the final product.
What is your route to traceability
What is your route to traceability

Traditional In-Situ Sensor Calibration

Until recently most humidity calibrations were performed on-site in-situ. Larger organisations with multiple instruments generally found it more convenient to have their own in-house calibration instruments with dedicated technicians working on-site. Smaller organisations unwilling or unable to invest in on-site calibration equipment had the option to engage the services of a commercial calibration provider.

In most cases, trained instrument technicians are required for in-situ calibration work; the equipment is brought to the probes and generally only one probe can be calibrated at a time. One of the main disadvantages of this process is the impact that it has on production downtime, as typically a salt or chamber based calibration can take more than three hours. Moreover, as the processes or control systems are interrupted during calibration, the actual conditions can be unknown.

Modern Ex-Situ Sensor Calibration

Companies keen to avoid the impacts of in-situ calibration and/or operational downtime caused by the replacement of failed hard wired instruments are opting instead for the flexibility and convenience of interchangeable sensors and modern portable calibration generators. Instead of bringing in equipment to calibrate in-situ, the technician brings pre-calibrated probes directly from the laboratory (on-site or external). Using interchangeable digital sensors, the pre-calibrated probes can be exchanged with the in-situ probes in seconds (known as hot swaps), saving time and avoiding operational disruption. If a wider system loop calibration is required, digital simulators are applied and provide any fixed values exactly and instantly. The old probes are then taken back to a calibration laboratory and calibrated accordingly. This adds the benefit that an external accredited laboratory can be used without issue.

Improved accuracy and traceability?

By ensuring that all calibrations are performed within dedicated laboratories as opposed to ad-hoc locations, better procedures and instrumentation can be utilised. In addition, time pressures are usually reduced as processes and monitoring systems are unaffected during calibration. As such calibrations are typically performed to a higher standard leading to lower associated measurement uncertainty (every calibration will have an uncertainty associated with it – whether it is defined or not). Overall in most circumstances these methods deliver greater reliability, improved traceability and importantly, reduces on-site workload and limits operational downtime.


CASE STUDY – Meeting the demands at the National Physical Laboratory, London.

National Physical Laboratory
National Physical Laboratory, London

When the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London needed to replace their entire building management system (BMS), they turned to Rotronic Instruments (UK) for an integrated solution to the sensors and calibration. The NPL was looking for both a complete range of temperature and humidity sensors and instrumentation, and the fulfilment of the calibration and commissioning needs of these instruments. Working closely with the project stakeholders, the Rotronic Instruments (UK) team developed a tailored solution, matching the instruments and service to the project requirements.

The decision by the NPL to replace the BMS was brought about by the need for tighter control, greater reliability and easier calibration. One of the key elements in achieving these objectives was the use of interchangeable probes. This immediately limited time-consuming and disruptive on-site sensor calibration to a minimum. Every probe’s digital output was calibrated in Rotronic Instruments’ (UK) UKAS accredited laboratory, and each transmitter’s analogue output was calibrated using a simulated digital input. To resolve any measurement errors in-situ between the calibrated sensors and uncalibrated BMS, each installed high accuracy instrument was loop calibrated and adjusted. Typical installations errors corrected for to date on the brand new BMS are ±0.5 %rh and ±0.25°C; a significant result for labs requiring tolerances of better than 1 %rh and 0.1°C.

Whilst the use of high performance instruments was essential, not every sensor location or application could justify this approach. However, mindful of the NPL’s long term objectives, even the lowest specification thermistor products were customised to provide long-term performance and low drift. Additionally, a robust commissioning procedure and training for key personnel was developed to enable ongoing commitment to delivering quality measurements. Finally, it was effective communication and regular on-site interaction with all the stakeholders that helped deliver a successful outcome to this substantial project.


Summary

All companies that need to perform regular monitoring and instrument calibration should be constantly reviewing their processes and questioning whether their operations and procedures are delivering the maximum return for their business. As increased regulatory compliance and demands for improved energy efficiencies continue to grow, traditional processes may no longer offer the optimum solution. An organisational mindset change may be needed to move calibration from being seen as a fixed cost to a process that can help deliver business objectives through ongoing cost and energy efficiencies.

With the advent of calibration methods that can significantly reduce in-situ disruption, downtime is minimised, labour costs are reduced and productivity improved. Using interchangeable digital systems increases the accuracy and traceability of calibrations, resulting in higher quality product.

Choosing the right calibration methodology may require new thinking and a different approach, but those companies that get it right will end up with a modern, flexible system that both achieves compliance and delivers long term cost and energy efficiencies to their business.

For more information on the NPL case study or how your business can develop innovative and efficient monitoring solutions please contact us.