Companies can benefit from automation, control and data acquisition systems in many ways including energy savings, liability mitigation and reduced operating costs. Commercial and Industrial businesses have ever increasing needs for automation and data acquisition technologies. REAL Controls uses commercially available hardware and then develops customized software to develop cost effective, easy to use solutions to address each of our clients’ unique requirements. We work in a wide range of industries and with many different automation technologies so we understand what works best for our clients.
Data Acquisitions Systems
A manufacturer of bio-medical products required a quality control testing system for their culture dish environment controller. The testing system needed to conduct twenty-minute tests on as many as four controllers simultaneously. Test result data needed to be recorded, displayed and stored for future use. REAL Controls developed a testing system using National Instruments products. Sixteen channels of data are acquired. Statistics are calculated for maximum, average, minimum and standard deviation for each data set. The testing system also outputs signals to properly sequence the operation of each controller.
Fuel Cell Monitor
Electrical power generation involving Hydrogen fuel cells is increasingly becoming a viable method for producing electrical energy. Our client is one of the leading fuel cell manufacturers in the world. They needed a reliable way to monitor the operation of these fuel cells for maintaining, troubleshooting and performing research on the fuel cells. REAL Controls developed a web based monitoring system to acquire data from various sensors installed on the fuel cell. The software also communicates with the fuel cell using a serial communication link. Each system is connected to the Internet using a common ethernet connection. The data is published to a web page and can be accessed by our client or their customers using a web browser.
Pennsylvania State Universities’ Forest Resources Laboratory, (FRL) evaluates the effects of air pollution on plant life in their greenhouse test facility. REAL Controls, Inc. developed an improved pollution regulation and data monitoring system for the FRL greenhouse. Photosynthetically Active Radiation sensors were added to monitor light levels in each chamber. Sensors were installed to monitor ambient conditions within the greenhouse facility, as well as, outside. Ozone monitoring sensors were added to monitor pollution levels. An improved control system was incorporated to better regulate the amount of pollutants injected into the chambers. A graphical operator interface was developed which is easier to use and has more capabilities than the original system. Experiment setup screens allow researchers to establish operating parameters for the experiments. Data is acquired from the sensors using National Instruments Fieldpoint hardware located within the greenhouse control room. This data is stored into a MS Access database and summary reports are automatically provided to the Penn State researchers.
Large process machines within a manufacturing plant consume substantial amounts of energy while the equipment is being operated. An electrical metering system continuously acquires power data from various metering devices located throughout the facility. The data is stored in a spreadsheet format so it can be analyzed by plant personnel to schedule when each process is operated. Proper scheduling of plant equipment allows plant managers to reduce the electrical demand charges paid to the electrical utility. Over time, the data trend charts provide insight into the health of the equipment. Voltage and current measurements are also recorded and used to alert the plant staff of unusual supply voltage conditions.