Equipment Roundup

Chinese court fines France’s Schneider Electric $45m

A Chinese court has ordered France’s Schneider Electric to pay a Chinese company Rmb335m ($45m) in damages for infringing its patent, the largest amount ever awarded in an intellectual property case in the country.

Intellectual property violations are one of the main sources of friction between China and the rest of the world, and in the vast majority of cases involving foreign players, the Chinese company is the defendant.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Wenzhou city, eastern Zhejiang province, also told Schneider to stop making five types of miniature circuit-breakers, which it ruled were based on patents held by low-voltage equipment maker Chint Group of Wenzhou.

“This is the biggest amount by far granted in an intellectual property case in China,” said Larry Sussman, partner at O’Melveny & Myers lawyers in Beijing. “It’s a startling development and could mean we are embarking on a new path in China.”

Schneider said yesterday it was “disappointed” by the verdict but intends to appeal and is challenging Chint’s patents in a separate case. The company “strongly contests the validity of Chint’s utility model” and “will continue working closely with the related Chinese judicial authorities to clarify the dispute”.

It asserts it has used the technology in the circuit-breakers since the early 1990s, before Chint’s patent applications in 1999.

Despite the record size of the damages a Chint spokesman said yesterday the ruling was “very normal in the process of the law” and showed the company was justified in protecting its intellectual property rights.

The damages were based on Schneider’s profits from sales of the products from August 2004 to July 2006.

Winder transformers power new Paris-London train link

Electrical engineering specialist Winder Electrical of Leeds, UK, is celebrating supplying the power transformers for the new London-Paris high-speed train link.

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The culmination of a three-year, $2.5m contract with Birse Process Engineering has seen the transformer specialist design, build and install 55 distribution and isolation transformers as an integral part of the system. In the new link, Eurostar trains now leave or arrive in London’s St Pancras station rather than Waterloo and they complete the journey in only about two hours.

Winder Electrical says its achievement marks the pinnacle of a à‚£5bn ($10.2 bn) project that has in turn yielded one of the highest profile successes for the company in its 100-year history.

General Manager Paul Matthews was delighted with the new record journey, as he explains: “All too often in our industry we provide the unglamorous, behind-the-scenes elements of a project that nobody sees.”

“Here, however, we can point directly to a topical and interesting story and explain how our bespoke, UK-manufactured transformers have helped this amazing record to happen.”

“The whole team worked tirelessly alongside Birse to deliver this project, and we hope it is the first of many such contracts.”

“Plus, with an order book approaching à‚£8m and our purpose built new premises scheduled to be occupied in early 2008, we are now aiming for a few records ourselves!”

Andritz electromechanics for hydro plants in British Columbia

Peter Kiewit Sons of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, has awarded VA TECH HYDRO Canada Incorporated, a member of the Andritz VA TECH HYDRO Group, a C$50m ($50.1m) order for the supply of electromechanical equipment for six hydropower stations in the Harrison Lake region of British Columbia.

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The development project, with a total installed capacity of about 150 MW, consists of six run-of-river power stations which will supply energy to BC Hydro under two power supply agreements. These deals encompass the Kwalsa Group with its Fire Creek, Douglas Creek, Tipella Creek and Stokke Creek power plants, and the Upper Stave Group with its Lamont Creek and Stave River plants.

Andritz VA TECH HYDRO will supply the Kwalsa Group eight identical six-jet Pelton turbines with a maximum unit output of 13 MW, including inlet valves, generators and digital speed governors. Under the Upper Stave Group contract, the Lamont Creek will be equipped with two vertical five-jet Pelton units of 15 MW each, and the Stave River with three large horizontal Francis turbine units of 12 MW each and one small horizontal Francis unit of 5 MW. Each unit will come with inlet valve, generator and digital speed governor.

The award of this contract and the fast pace of development of hydropower in the province of British Columbia has prompted Andritz VA TECH HYDRO to open a new branch office in the Greater Vancouver region in late 2007 to enhance the sales and project management activities in that region.

Infrared flammable and CO2 gas sensor proves success

The Xgard IR from Crowcon is a new, low-cost infrared (IR) flammable gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor designed for use in fixed-point detection systems where conventional detectors can prove unreliable or suffer from interference and damage.

Conventional flammable gas detectors based on catalytic pellistors are susceptible to poisoning in some industrial atmospheres. This can make their readings unreliable and even destroy the sensor altogether.

The new Xgard IR is totally immune to poisoning and will reliably warn of gas hazards in environments that are unsuitable for other types of sensor.

Infrared sensing has other benefits too. Unlike catalytic pellistors, IR sensors will fail to safety, detect flammable gas in inert backgrounds and are not damaged by high gas concentrations.

Typical environments requiring flammable gas monitoring include power generation, petrochemical processing and water and sewage treatment. Continuous CO2 monitoring is common in food production processes, laboratories and brewing.

This new IR sensor can be specified with two types of enclosure: polyester-coated aluminium or 316 stainless steel for maximum corrosion resistance in extreme environments.

The sensor, which has a life expectancy of over five years, is a simple plug-in module that makes replacement quick and easy. ATEX (an EU Directive covering equipment for use in potentially explosive environments) and IEXEx approved for use in hazardous areas, the Xgard IR is Exd flameproof rated.

The standard junction box is designed for both wall and ceiling mounting, and four cable gland options ensure compatibility on any site. The detector takes a range of accessories for harsh or wet conditions and for remote sampling.

Servomex analyzers get MCERTS approval for N2O measurements

Gas analyser maker Servomex has gained MCERTS approval for products for di-nitrogen oxide (N2O) measurement that makes both eligible for use in continuous emissions monitoring at incinerators and large coal fired plants.

The independent third-party certification for the 4900 CEMS analyzer and 2510 infra-red gas analyzer makes the units more attractive to companies that aim to reduce N2O emissions and claim valuable credits under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation projects.

To claim credits, a company must prove the reductions achieved, so it must first set a benchmark by operating the plant for a full campaign, typically three or six months, with an analyzer in place but no abatement system.

After the abatement system has been commissioned, the emissions must be monitored again. The authorities then take the best ‘before’ and worst ‘after’ data (i.e. the lowest emissions prior to abatement and the highest emissions after abatement) and award credits accordingly, also taking into account any sources of uncertainty in the readings.

Due to the high value of the credits, N2O analyzers must be highly accurate. The dual-range 2510 uses gas filter correlation (GFC) technology and can measure the ‘before’ and ‘after’ N2O emissions. This eliminates a potential source of error that would arise if two separate instruments were required.

The GFC technology also ensures that the measurements are virtually immune to cross-interference and they are accurate even for low concentrations of the target gas.

The analyzer itself is able to accept the gas sample ‘as is’, with no need for sample conditioning – which can be another potential source of error.

Machine-controller evaluation kits available on one-month loan

Schneider Electric has announced a novel offer for engineers who aim to evaluate new machine controllers but are reluctant to risk the time and cost involved in doing so.

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The company has developed evaluation kits for its Twido machine controllers from Telemecanique, a brand of Schneider Electric. Engineers can borrow a kit – including everything needed – for up to a month to try it out in any number of applications.

For demanding applications where a human-machine interface is required, a separate loan kit can also be supplied.

The Twido programmable controller provides a flexible automation solution for the control of simple machines and building automation systems. Designed to be user friendly and flexible, Twido still delivers very powerful control functions and a small footprint for when panel space is at a premium. Advanced functions, such as analogue inputs and outputs, fast counting, multiple communication ports, provide smart options.

Twido comes with a choice of integrated display, expansion modules, controllers, memory cartridge, real-time clock and communication options such as Ethernet. It is suitable for applications of 10 to 100 I/O points.

Flexible cabling choices, such as removable screw terminal blocks allow quick, easy wiring with increased reliability. At the same time, easy to use Windows based programming software further reduces installation time.

Schneider Electric includes a programming cable free of charge on receipt of first order.

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