Invensys extends research and development contract with Oxford's University Technology Centre

Sensor Review

ISSN: 0260-2288

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




(2004), "Invensys extends research and development contract with Oxford's University Technology Centre", Sensor Review, Vol. 24 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Invensys extends research and development contract with Oxford's University Technology Centre

Invensys extends research and development contract with Oxford's University Technology Centre

Five year, £3.5 million contract builds on successful applications of digital control and validating sensor technology to market needs

Keywords: Sensors, Process control, University of Oxford

Invensys and Oxford University have announced a 5-year, £3.5 million extension to Invensys' funding of the University Technology Centre (UTC) for Advanced Instrumentation, in the University's Department of Engineering Science. The extension will enable the University to broaden and expand the highly successful collaboration, under which the University delivers research and development services to meet the business needs of Invensys manufacturing customer base.

“We are delighted to be broadening our long- standing partnership with Oxford University. The Oxford UTC has an important role in our developing integrated Invensys technology strategy and roadmap,” said Dr Phil Whalen, Chief Technology Officer of Invensys. “The relationship keeps us ahead of the pack in applying the latest industrial automation technologies to real world customer problems.”

Members of the UTC staff, work closely with Invensys marketing and development to augment the creation of new offerings across a range of flow control and measurement applications. Major accomplishments from the collaboration include the following.

Self-validating sensors. The Invensys/Oxford UTC collaboration developed the concept of the self-validating (SEVA)e sensor, which performs online assessment of the sensor's performance and describes the resulting measurement quality in standardised metrics, including online uncertainty. This enables more efficient utilisation and management of assets, under abnormal process conditions and can significantly reduce costly unplanned shutdowns.

Accurate flow measurement. The SEVA work contributed, in part, to the development of the award winning Invensys' CFT-50 Digital Coriolis Mass Flow Meter from Foxboro. Later, when Invensys customer research revealed a pressing need for a meter that would provide accurate flow measurement in the presence of entrained air, Oxford UTC developed a digital control solution, which Invensys has since built, manufactured and is marketing successfully.

Better measurement of data quality. The SEVA concept has also contributed to the adoption of a UK Standard (BSI-7986: 2001 – Specification for data quality metrics for industrial measurement and control systems). Discussions of the standard at an international level are currently underway.

Improved condition monitoring for railway points machines. In partnership with Westinghouse Signals Australia of Invensys Rail Systems, the UTC has developed research phase prototypes of a condition monitoring system for railway points machines. Web-based prototypes are already installed in three rail sites in Australia, which have been monitored and maintained from Oxford.

Under the extended funding arrangement, work will continue in these areas, and be expanded to include several other significant research and development projects currently under discussion. Principal among these is the system level utilisation of SEVA technology.

“We are looking forward to expanding our research programme to tackle a wider range of industrial needs,” stated Professor Clarke, Director of the Oxford UTC. “Increasingly we are doing this in partnership with other research groups in Oxford or elsewhere with complementary skills. For example, we currently have joint research projects with Brunel, Cranfield and Texas A&M Universities, and our long-running partnership with the Computing Laboratory on hardware compilation has been pivotal for both our research and technology transfer.”

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