April 2015 issue


  1. Diagnostic Software Supporting Condition-Based Maintenance of Control Valves
  2. Technology for Real-Time Detection of Microbes in Water


1. Software Safety Design to Support Combustion Safety Solutions
Technical innovations in industrial combustion furnaces and the demand for safety have changed the functionality requirements for combustion-related safety instrumentation. In order to address these changes, the functionality of burner controllers has been enhanced and the importance of their software has increased. However, due to the intrinsic differences between software and hardware, the causes of software failure differ from the failure factors for hardware. As a result, conventional techniques have become unable to secure safety. Against this background, we have developed a novel burner controller with a unique architecture that guarantees that the controller is safe to use, in order to comply with combustion safety standards that cover design methods for functional safety.
2. Selecting Appropriate Safety Equipment for Machinery
Recent amendments of laws and regulations relating to occupational safety, as well as the fact that workplace injuries have not declined, have raised safety awareness in users and makers of machinery. Nevertheless, because standards and regulations have become more complicated, and because technological advancements have resulted in a great variety of available safety devices, we seldom see safeguards that are appropriate from the viewpoint of safety and economy, and that are based on correctly understanding the situation by determining what the real dangers and optimal protective measures are. Using actual case examples, we discuss the concepts of "isolate and stop" and "safety confirmation systems," which are foundational for machine safety, and explain how to deploy safety devices that are appropriate for the applications of the machinery.
3. Cybersecurity for Our Industrial Control System, Which is Now a Target for Attack
Cases have been reported in which the Harmonized Automation System-Dependable Open (Harmonas-DEO™), originally developed by Azbil Corporation in 1996 as the first open industrial control system (ICS), has been infected by a computer virus or other malware by means such as a USB flash drive. Moreover, last year a remote access cyberattack through the information network was detected. Serious new threats are therefore now a reality. Azbil, in addition to developing the open ICS, has been taking extensive preventive measures for ICS cybersecurity. In this article we discuss our efforts to develop a highly secure product, efforts that resulted in ISASecure Embedded Device Security Assurance Certification.
4. A Technique for Detecting Malware Activity in Industrial Control Systems
To counter sophisticated cyber-attacks on control systems, it is necessary to give the control system a structure that assumes the intrusion of malware. For cyber security, "noticing" while the control system is operating is the most important point. The "decoy method" is an effective way of enabling the detection of malware activity by the system. Here we report on our newly developed decoy server for control systems.
5. A Technique for Use with Venturi Valve Control of Airflow Volume and Room Pressure That Provides Both Long Equipment Life and Safety at Research Facilities and Hospitals
In addition to our venturi valve for control of airflow volume and room pressure, which provides a safe atmosphere for research facilities and hospitals, a room pressure control model has been developed that provides more accurate pressure control and prevents the diffusion and penetration of contaminated air. The new model employs a room pressure control technique designed to achieve both more precise, stable room pressure control and longer equipment life, two requirements for assuring the safety of facility users. A room pressure monitor developed at the same time displays the room pressure in real time and alerts users if the room pressure is abnormal.
6. A New Type of High-Pressure Gas Regulator with Low Noise and Good Maintainability
Benefitting from the know-how gained by the development, manufacture, and maintenance of the field-tested HRB high-pressure regulator, the newly developed HNV high-pressure gas regulator features a small bore, compact body, low noise, and high maintainability. The HNV has a three-level perforated cage, consisting of one fixed and two movable levels, the latter serving as a depressurizing mechanism to control noise. In addition, the HNV's novel two movable levels provide improved controllability when the degree of opening is small.
7. Technology for Improvement of Humidity Sensor Durability
Because humidity-sensing elements are directly exposed to the atmosphere being measured, in environments where disinfectants or other chemicals are used, such as industrial plants and research facilities, a shift of the measured value away from the actual humidity is inevitable. To make humidity-sensing elements more robust, we have developed novel functions such as: (1) element heating, (2) drift detection, (3) heating interval optimization based on detected error, and (4) failure diagnosis. We also report on our newly developed environmentally resistant humidity sensor, which employs these new functions.
8. Development of a Clamp-on Ultrasonic Flowmeter for Gas
By combining a high-performance damping material and an ultrasonic transducer with an angle of incidence greater than its critical angle, we have developed a clamp-on ultrasonic gas flowmeter capable even of measuring the flow of air at normal atmospheric pressure inside metal pipes. The flowmeter can also be used with gases other than air, and its minimum measurable pressure is lower than that of existing clamp-on gas flowmeters. Based on analysis of the ultrasonic wave transmission mechanism by the transducer with the critical angle exceeded, it is believed that transmission is by evanescent field. A robust and high-precision signal processing method is also described.

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