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IIoT & Remote Communications

Powering Cloud Connections for Intelligent Devices 

For people who aren't immersed in technology trends, IIoT might be an unfamiliar term. What exactly is IIoT and why is it important? Experts predict that...

IIoT will become a major economic driverIIoT will change the way products are designed, produced and maintainedIIoT will create new services, and change how they are deliveredIIoT will improve operational efficiency and productivity across countless industriesIIoT is already at work, already revealing its future potential

To begin, IoT is the Internet of Things – smart devices with cloud-connected applications that largely benefit people's day-to-day lives. It is the smart phone that allows you to control your home thermostat while you are away.

IIoT is specifically the Industrial Internet of Things. IIoT combines technology, connectivity, automation and collected data from sensor embedded devices to advance science, technology and industry. The benefit is two-fold: data and automation.

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Solar & UPS Power for Remote Valve Actuator Applications

What You Need to Know about Powering These Systems

Valve actuators are a common necessity along vast stretches of pipeline infrastructure. Out in the middle of nowhere, line power can be less than dependable, costly to install on site, or is simply not available. Solar powered systems and line powered UPS systems can provide both the power and reliability to remotely operate a valve when the need arises.

Energy Reserves & Back-Up

In reviewing energy requirements first, a typical remote valve actuator site will have some sort of communication, whether it’s licensed radio, cellular, or satellite. This same site will likely have a small PLC or SCADA system. In the event of a power failure, several days of UPS backup power is desirable ­– enough time to get a person in a truck to the site.

In the case of a solar powered system, five days or more of backup time (autonomy) is required for proper system function during bad weather. Assuming a 40-Watt load for PLC, SCADA and communications, operating at 24 Volts DC, a system requires 200 Amp-hours of battery capacity. This value increases to 313 Amp-hours when the battery is properly de-rated for Depth-of-Discharge and End-of-Life. The energy requirements will vary, but even the smallest systems will likely have 100 Amp-hours of battery capacity.

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Solarcraft Announced as University of Houston Cougar 100 Recipient

Solarcraft_UH_Grads

SUGAR LAND, TX—(November 7, 2014) - Solarcraft was pleased to be recognized as part of the successful alumni business leaders that made the University of Houston Cougar 100 list.

Cougar 100 is a bold new annual tradition that identifies, recognizes and celebrates the world's fastest growing UH Cougar-owned and Cougar-led businesses, as well as, the next generation of Cougar entrepreneurs. Over 4,000 companies worldwide are owned and led by UH alumni, and the Cougar 100 demonstrates to all that they are among the finest commercial and industry leaders in the world. The listing not only celebrates these company's success, but also gives Cougars a point of pride and achievement to share with the entire community.

Solarcraft UH alumni include President Darrell Haun, Marketing Director Allison Haun, Comptroller Patricia Nguyen and R-Jay Ruiz Marketing Designer. For the full list of recipients can be found HERE >>

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Solar Module Tilt Angles

To harvest the greatest energy from the sun, solar panels should face the sun directly with no obstructions that shade the panel. In the northern hemisphere, position the system so the panels face true south; in the southern hemisphere, north. In addition to the compass orientation, or azimuth, maximize the power produced by the panels by optimizing the tilt angle.

Panel tilt angles are determined by the angle at which the sun hits the earth at a specific location. Because the angle of sun changes throughout the day and season of the year, optimizing the angle is complex. One approach is to continually adjust the angle of the panel. This can be done manually two or four times a year,  or by using a solar tracking system.

Stand-alone remote power systems generally do not utilize tracking systems. Since the cost of solar modules has dropped in recent years, is simpler and more cost effective to use a fixed array with a few more modules.

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Artic Blasts? Cold Weather and Remote Solar Power Systems

With cold weather blasting in early this year, images of snowdrifts and downed power lines are in the news. If you are in charge of remote field operations, scenarios like this cause concern about the reliability of your assets, especially when access to the sites is blocked by the storm’s aftermath.

How reliable is solar power in sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice?The answer is that if a system is sized precisely, with the appropriate components, to compensate for cold temperatures, shorter days and periods of little or no sun, it will carry the load all winter without a hitch. That’s good news for difficult to reach locations, because a downed system is expensive and can leave assets cut off from control centers.

So what considerations are needed for a robust winter system?Winter Sun Hours

When sizing a solar power system for cold regions, the winter sun hour rating for the location is absolutely critical. Never accept a system that has been sized based on the average annual sun hours because it will eventually fail during the long cold winter. The lower the sun hour rating for the location, the more solar panels and batteries are needed to collect and store energy when sunlight is weak and days are short.

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Why You Should Seek 5S Manufacturers

To Improve Critical Delivery Time --- Its Time to Sharpen the Axe

Manufacturers are scrambling to increase capacity to meet demanding delivery schedules in the highly charged energy market. Increasing capacity and reducing delivery times begins with assessing the facility, available resources and processes, to maximize output and minimize wasted time. That’s where methodologies like Lean Manufacturing can make a difference. Lean Manufacturing is an initiative focused on eliminating waste in manufacturing processes to shortening the time between the customer order and shipment, ensuring your job gets delivered on time. When doing business with any manufacturer, one should always inquire about their techniques for process improvement.

Embarking on Lean Manufacturing Initiative and the 5S Methodology

The road to achieving Lean Manufacturing is long and involves a multitude of process steps. To focus on immediately reducing delivery times, a manufacturer should begin with the Flow segment of the manufacturing process. The first step is to initiate 5S Training, as Solarcraft has, to create and sustain a clean organized workplace. The 5S’s are:

SORT : sort the contents of the workplace and remove all unnecessary itemsSTRAIGHTEN : arrange the necessary items in their place and provide easy access and clear identificationSHINE :  clean everything, keep it clean and use cleaning to inspect the workplace and equipment for defectsSTANDARDIZE : create visual controls and guidelines for keeping the workplace organized, orderly and clean; in other words, maintain the shineSUSTAIN : institute training and discipline to ensure that everyone follows the 5S standards

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Gas Chromatographs

Understanding Basic Field Operation and Their Critical Role in Natural Gas Revenue

Natural gas custody stations are equipped with gas chromatographs, which measure and report the composition of the natural gas at that point in the line. The value of the gas is based on its hydrocarbon composition; thus accurate reporting is critical to the company’s fiscal bottom line. In addition, correct installation and secure operation of the gas chromatograph (GC) is also key to the company revenue stream. Below explains how the gas chromatograph does its job and underscores the importance of the site installation for accurate performance. 

As gas field production has become automated, most gas chromatographs (GC’s) systems operate at remote metering stations. Ideally the system is housed in a protective shelter or enclosure as close to the sample point on the pipeline as is possible. The location should be easily accessible for maintenance technicians, provide for storage of calibration and carrier gas and have reliable power and remote communication connections.

► Gas Chromatograph Purpose & Operation

The purpose of the gas chromatograph (GC) is to measure the concentration of hydrocarbons in the natural gas and send the information to the control center for record keeping, billing and auditing. The GC does this in three distinct steps: take a sample of the flowing gas in the pipeline; separate the sample into its components; measure the concentration of the components as compared to the volume of the sample.

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Solarcraft Announces New Hire Bob Heth As Director of Sales

Bob-Heth

SUGAR LAND, TX—(September 26, 2014) - Solarcraft, Inc., the integrated power solutions company, today announced the new hire of Bob Heth as Director of Sales. In his role at Solarcraft, Heth will bring his global expertise in directing cross-functional sales, business development, operations and finance teams to help improve profitability, increase market share and strategically manage future business needs for Solarcraft’s diverse, highly-competitive and client-centric market industries.

"Bob brings a can-do attitude, international experience and an unique perspective to our business, and we are extremely happy to have him join the team," says President Darrell Haun. "We are capitalizing on Bob’s advanced analytical acumen and processes improvement methodologies to identify areas of strength and weakness, implement changes in sales processes and leverage aggressive growth strategies. Bob will be instrumental in creating and articulating a strategic vision while building, managing, mentoring and influencing our sales teams, ensuring that our company goals are met and our clients are satisfied.”

Heth comes to Solarcraft from MasterWorks International, $20B organization, in which he served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing and was responsible for driving sales and gross profit results to a 5-year high. Prior to MasterWorks, he served as Managing Partner/Senior Sales & Operations for StratACHIEVE, Inc.

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Product Development

When Design, Engineering & Custom Fabrication Capabilities Reach New Heights

Imagine you have developed an idea, sketched it on a napkin, successfully pitched it to your client who requires just such solution, and now you are ready to take your idea to the next step. You need a working prototype and you do not have your own R&D shop. Who do you work with to propel your concept to reality?

YOU NEED EXPERTISE IN MANY AREAS:

Mechanical and electrical engineering designFabrication drawingsCustom metal fabricationElectrical integrationPower integrationHuman interface and ergonomicsSystem testingRevisions and improvements until the final product is reached

Each of the steps outlined above likely signifies a separate entity, requiring you to manage the project step by step. Expediting the project becomes a full time job of coordinating schedules from several service providers. In addition, there are numerous time delays while the project moves back and forth through revisions.

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PWM vs MPPT Solar Charge Controllers

What’s the Difference?

The charge controller is a key component of a solar power system and specifying the best one for the system requires some analysis. Below is a quick overview.

The two types of charge controllers most commonly used in today’s solar power systems are pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracking (MPPT). Both adjust charging rates depending on the battery's charge level to allow charging closer to the battery’s maximum capacity as well as monitor battery temperature to prevent overheating.

► Comparing the Two

If maximizing charging capacity were the only factor considered when specifying a solar controller, everyone would use a MPPT controller. But the two technologies are different, each with it’s own advantages. The decision depends on site conditions, system components, size of array and load, and finally the cost for a particular solar power system.

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Solarcraft, Inc. Expands Services to Include Pneumatic & Hydraulic Control Panel Capabilities

Pneumatic_System

HOUSTON, TX—(May 15, 2014) - Solarcraft, Inc., the critical field automation power solutions company, today announced the expansion of their commercial and industrial electronic control panel capabilities to include pneumatic and hydraulic control panel design, fabrication, controls integration, custom enclosures and Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT). This expansion builds upon Solarcraft’s business model of the one-stop shop for stand-alone integrated power and control systems products and services.

"The Solarcraft brand is known for top-quality, customized power systems and premium turn-key integration under one roof,” says President Darrell Haun. "Therefore expanding to pneumatic/hydraulic control panels is the next logical next step, allowing us to provide the full range of control solutions."

The complete line of services includes schematic drawings, system layout and design; 3-D modeling; mechanical and electrical engineering; custom enclosure concept, design and in-house fabrication; complete tube bending and panel assembly; factory acceptance testing. The benefits of a Solarcraft built system include efficient project management, turnkey sourcing for tube assembly and panel completion, custom enclosure fabrication, qualification of complete system prior to installation, shorter production time, and minimization of errors for a highly reliable end result.

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Solar 101

Assessing the Site's Potential Power

The first factor to consider when designing solar power systems is how much solar power potential does the site have --- how much does the sun shine and for how long?

At Solarcraft we base our calculations on NREL data for Typical Winter Peak Sun Hours. Using this number rather than Average Annual Peak Sun Hourrating ensures that the system delivers reliable continuous power in worst-case conditions, year after year. Other factors that affect the power rating for the site are:

Geographic location relative to the equator (longitude)Seasonal & historical weather patternsTerrain (shaded ravines, mountains, forests)Particulates (sand, pollen, tree sap, ice and snow)Infrastructure (shade from buildings, towers, other solar arrays)Weather

Weather extremes impact the performance of a solar power system. Not only is sunshine affected during these events, adverse weather can damage solar arrays, over-heat or freeze batteries, or even flood systems.

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Let Us Supply Your Key Components and Help Reduce Your Lead Times

The Frustration of Schedule Delays

One of the most frustrating status reports in our production department is “waiting on customer supplied parts”. Vexing to schedulers, expediters and customers alike, it means an almost-completed system is held up because a key component is still on order. The result is that delivery dates are extended, and shipping and installation schedules have to be adjusted. This is not only frustrating; it is expensive to all parties involved.

The Causes

Extended manufacturer’s lead times. Sourcing problems. Overseas shipping delays. Unresponsive suppliers. Some of the most hard-to-get components are also the heart of the systems:

RTU and PLC’s (including Emerson ControlWave, Fisher Roc, Thermo Fisher, ABB Total Flow, SCADA Pack, and Eagle)PLC power and I.O. cards (including ControlWave, Fisher Roc)Door Displays and Interface KeypadsDC to AC InvertersSolar ControllersRadios (Including AirLink, Freewave, MDS)Enclosure Climate Control Units (Including Iceqube and Noren)Ethernet SwitchesRoutersGas ChromatographsPressure and Temperature Transmitters

The Solarcraft Work Around:  At Solarcraft we routinely specify, procure and/or inventory these items to complete system integration orders. We work hard to develop and maintain an advantageous relationship with multiple part suppliers. As a result we can often procure components in less time and at lower prices than companies that purchase them sporadically. We maintain a stock of common parts that have historically long lead times such as I.O. cards and RTU’s.

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Gas Detection Saves Lives: Make Reliable Solar Power Part of the Solution

Modern gas detection systems ensure a safe environment for workers and equipment — they provide timely alerts giving crews the critical minutes they need to complete a safe shutdown and evacuation of the site, as well as, signal control centers of the emergency.

And with the increasing number of oil and gas production rigs in close proximity to population centers means that gas monitoring is more critical than ever to minimizing risk of harm to nearby landowners, neighborhoods and municipalities. 

Where Do Standard Gas Detection Systems Fall Short?


Many gas detection systems are designed with rechargeable or replaceable batteries. These batteries need maintenance at regular intervals according to manufacturers specifications. Therein lies one problem — maintaining batteries for critical devices requires manpower, time, logistics and oversight.

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Solarcraft Announces New Hire Scott Mayo as Head of Engineering

Scott-Mayo

HOUSTON, TX–(February 17, 2014) - Solarcraft, Inc. is pleased to announce new hire Scott Mayo as Engineering Manager. Highly skilled in systems integration, Mayo brings over 30 years of industrial experience in designing, developing and implementing industrial controls. He will be responsible for leading a team of engineering professionals to supply complete integrated solutions, including AC/DC motor control systems, pumping systems, valve controls, SCADA, remote terminal units, PLC programming, remote communications, as well as, growing the capabilities of Solarcraft's current products. His goal is to create a complete one-stop shop for all systems engineering, sales and service needs.

About Solarcraft, Inc.

Located in Houston, Texas, Solarcraft, Inc. is the leader in reliable, customized site power solutions for critical field locations across all markets. Solarcraft's products include UPS backup power systems, remote solar power systems, specialty power systems, enclosures, buildings, shelters and components. Solarcraft offers it's clients design, engineering, fabrication, assemble and testing of system onsite at their state-of-the-art fabrication and electronics panel shop, ensuring all aspects of production meet the highest quality standards in the industry. 

For more information, contact:Allison Haun(281) 340-1224ahaun@solarcraft.net12300 Dairy Ashford RoadSugar Land TX 77478 | USA

Powering Wireless Technology and Tank Gauging

Minimizing risks to workers and damage to the environment while controlling costs is top of mind across all industries, and the petrochemical industry is no exception. Safety is a way of life; but protecting workers from the inherent dangers within storage tank farms extends beyond training and procedures to better technology.

Technologies such as wireless tank gauging, controls and communications networks within storage tank facilities have improved safety by bringing real-time information to control rooms even when the tanks are located far from the main facility. Moreover, wireless gauging means workers need not risk exposure to hazardous substances while performing manual gauging.

Easy to Deploy

Solarcraft offers a portable reinforced concrete base with forklift slots for easy transport. The base takes the place of a concrete pad or in-ground support footings. No digging is required at the site, bypassing the survey and permitting process. A pole mounted or pedestal mounted enclosure and solar array is securely bolted to the concrete base to anchor the enclosure and array.

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Innovative Solutions for Remote Control Valve Systems

Breaking Down Barriers: Overcoming Power and Distance Limitations

Remote control valves and actuators virtually connect remote assets to the control room located miles or even hundreds of miles away. Operators are able to respond to emergency events in a fraction of the time it would take to get a technician out to the site, and do it remotely reducing risk to personnel, and minimizing environmental impact.

Where are Remote Control Valves Needed?PipelinesRefineriesTank farmsPetrochemical facilitiesOil & gas production well sitesWhat are the Barriers that Limit Installation of Remote Control Valves?

With such positive benefits for safety and operations, why aren’t all valves controlled remotely? In most cases, the problem is the expense and logistics associated with bringing reliable utility power and communications to the asset.

Distance to remote assets requiring extensive trenchingEnvironmental surveys and permit requirementsLand access and rights-of-ways permissionsHazards of construction near pipelines and other infrastructuresConstruction delaysWhat are the Alternatives? 

New failsafe valve actuationand modulated flow valve power and control applications use modern DC or AC powered valve actuators. These systems can also include local controls forfailsafe valve actuation.

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Site Access / Intrusion Monitoring

Keeping Your Site in Your Sights – Always

The phenomenal development of domestic oil and gas fields has attracted some not-so-welcome players. Modern oilfield thieves operate in remote locations stealing valuable assets. Or, theft can take place in plain sight disguised as normal operations as vehicles enter and leave the site. Oilfield theft is underreported but is estimated to cost the industry hundreds of millions each year, and it is on the rise. The targets range from oil and gas itself, expensive high-tech equipment, communication equipment, heavy machinery, valves, pipe, tools, batteries, solar panels, vehicles and laptops.

Minimize Your Risk Through Planning and Deterrence

Be sure to develop a site security plan that includes reliable remote systems that restrict access, visually monitor vehicles and personnel at access points and collect and report data. An Internet-based system provides a secure connection to authorized personnel in real time, in your vehicle, from a central field office, or headquarters located hundreds of miles away.

Install integrated power and control systems like these built by Solarcraft:

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HAZLOC - Don’t Risk Catastrophe with Non-Certified Systems

When your project requires a Class I Division 2 certified (CID2) system, it does not simply call for a system built with CID2 certified components; a CID2 certified system is greater than the sum of its parts. To explain, a CID2 system meets standards established by the National Electric Code (NEC) for safety and is certified to meet those standards by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory Company like Intertek or UL.

Two Levels of Certification

A NRTL evaluates an Integrator’s system design on a component level and complete system level. If components already carry a CID2 approval, they can quickly be evaluated for safety in the system’s application and added to the Integrator’s master list of components. While the individual system components under normal operating conditions are not expected to arc, spark or produce excessive heat, the NRTL has to be certain that the interaction between components will not create a problem. The complete system design is evaluated for safety and compliance within standards, some of which are listed below:

Schematic designWiring methodsOperating temperaturesLighting fixturesConnectorsConduitsEnclosuresWhy Purchase from an Experienced CID2 Integrator like Solarcraft?

With so much to think about, consider using an integrator that is familiar with the process of certifying CID2 systems. Integrators that are authorized and experienced have a great deal to offer.

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Solarcraft, Inc. Launches Silverline™, a New Economy Enclosure and Power System Line

HOUSTON, TX—(December 16, 2013) - Solarcraft, Inc., the critical field automation power solutions company, today announced the launch of their economy line of standard enclosures and power systems called Silverline™, providing a sensible choice for simple power applications.

Silverline™ is a straightforward, single compartment line of standard electronics enclosures designed for batteries, electronic devices, UPS backup and direct solar power configurations. These standard enclosures are ideally suited for applications where a low-cost, no-frills solution is required to meet the budget. Devices such as radios, modems, PLC’s, relays, and detectors – to name a few – can be securely housed and safely powered at outdoor installations. Silverline™ standardized enclosures and power solutions are affordably priced and provide a level of quality and protection for continuous operation.

“Our clients have asked and we have responded,” says Sales & Marketing Director, Ralph Parrott. “Our brand is known for top-quality customized power systems but sometime our clients don’t necessarily need a full-out customized solution. They have a variety of projects, some for which a standard short-term solution is all that is required. Therefore, we decided to give them the best of both worlds by providing an economical option backed by a level of quality they have come to expect with Solarcraft.”

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