Choosing a Calibration Provider

In late March, the ISA Oakridge Section in Knoxville, TN hosted a meeting around the topic of metrology and how to choose a Calibration provider.  They invited speaker Mike Duncan to share his expertise on the topic.  We were lucky to get the link to his presentation and wanted to share it with you.


What is the best source for the calibration of my instrument? The manufacturer? A third-party calibration lab? My own internal metrology lab? Does it really matter? You may be shocked to learn the answer and to hear the experiences of a 38-year veteran of the instrument and control engineering business. Learn how to identify the sources for a good calibration, specify adequate calibration requirements and review the calibration certificate to determine if you received what you are expecting.

View this PPT:

About Mike Duncan

Mike Duncan began his career with the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1977 following his graduation from Tennessee Tech University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. In his 11 year career at TVA, Mike served as an instrument and control engineer for Nuclear, Fossil and Hydroelectric generation projects, including instrumentation and control design, procurement, factory testing, commissioning and system maintenance. During his tenure at TVA, Mike served on the IEEE subcommittees responsible for generating standards for qualification of instruments for nuclear power plants. Mike continued his career at Oak Ridge in 1988 as Electrical Engineer for I&C eventually leading his becoming a Metrology Engineer at Y-12 and later the Metrology Manager for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he presently serves.

Mike is an active member of the National Conference of Standards Laboratories, International (NCSLI) where he serves and the Tennessee Section Coordinator and a member of the NCSLI Utilities Committee. Mike also serves on the DOE Metrology Steering Committee.

Visit the Oakridge section website to learn more or view more of their presentations.

Measuring Level Interfaces

Measuring Level Interfaces

This is an excerpt from the March/April 2012 issue of InTech magazine and was written by Gene Henry of Endress+Hauser USA.

In other cases, an emulsion or “rag” layer will exist between the two liquids. Other interface situations include multiple interfaces between more than two products, or the interface between a liquid and a solid. In some cases, it may be necessary to measure the thickness of the upper layer.

No one sensor can solve all level interface measurement problems, but a user can often find more than one technology that can do the job. And, in some cases, two different level sensors can be used—such as an ultrasonic and capacitance transmitter—to measure the overall level and the interface.

Why measure interfaces?

The reason for wanting to find the interface between crude oil and water in a refinery tank is obvious: A refinery does not want any water to enter the distillation process. Once a user knows where the interface is, he or she can separate off the top crude, leaving only the water to be processed separately.

Accuracy is very important here because any oil in the water means product losses, and any water in the oil requires extra processing. This is quite often the case with other products. A process may require separating two different products and not have one product contain remnants of the other. In some applications, the separation may not be quite as obvious, such as methanol in water, diesel and green diesel, black liquor and soap, and so on.

In most cases, the products are separating due to a difference in the specific gravity of the products. Even though this difference is enough to cause the product to separate, it may be too small of a difference on which to base an interface measurement. What variables are required to control the process? Is the overall level value needed as well as the interface? Does the operator need to know the thickness of the upper layer to prevent cross contamination of the separate products?

The best advice is to consult with a local manufacturer’s representative to learn what the best technology is for a particular application. Most process instrumentation vendors have provided sensors for countless level interface applications involving dozens of different liquids, and a representative can tap into this accumulated knowledge. The world’s most advanced instrument will not work if it is installed in the wrong process or just not applied correctly.

Click to read the full article at InTech magazine.

Automation Founders Circle: Klein earns Arnold O. Beckman Award

Automation Founders Circle: Klein earns Arnold O. Beckman Award

This article is an excerpt from the InTech magazine article, “Sonar advances, underwater discoveries earn Klein ISA Beckman Award” by Jim Strothman. To read the full article, see the link at the bottom of this post.
"Martin Klein, 1966"

Martin Klein with the first commercial towed side-scan sonar, Boston Harbor, 1966.

ISA will honor Martin Klein by presenting him with its Arnold O. Beckman Founder Award on 17 October, the opening day of ISA Automation Week.

Given in honor of Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, founder of Beckman Instruments, the award “recognizes a significant technological contribution to the conception and implementation of a new principle of instrument design, development, or application.”

Klein’s citation credits him “for the invention and development of the dual-channel side-scan sonar instrumentation, which opened the world’s oceans for exploration, safe navigation, and underwater recovery.”

“I’m honored and humbled,” said Klein, who left EG&G in 1967 to form his own company, Klein Associates, Inc. He started it in a basement of his rented apartment, and then later moved to a lumberyard he converted in Salem, N.H.—well aware his sonar-manufacturing competitors were giant defense firms with deep pockets, including EG&G and Westinghouse.

“Because of my field, I’m involved in many different worlds. In some, I am well known, in others, not at all. But like Beckman, I’ve always felt of myself as an instrument man,” he said.

“We made a difference in opening up ocean exploration,” Klein humbly said.

Read the full article on InTech‘s website.

Wireless Systems and Gas Turbine Engines

Peter Fuhr, a distinguished scientist with Oak Ridge National Laboratories comments on the ISA Communication Division’s participation in ISA Symposia.  The 57th International Instrumentation Symposia was held in St. Louis, Missouri on 20-24 June 2011 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel.   Dr. Fuhr shares his comments on Wireless Standard 107.4 and technical presentations that covered wireless systems & gas turbine engine measurements and other instrumentation topics.  Peter says, groups from industry, academia and government have come together to discuss these topics and increase their technical knowledge.


To find out more about the instrumentation focused presentations and topics covered at the 57th IIS Symposium, please visit or

Thoughts from the 57th IIS Symposium

ISA Staff talks with Grant Patterson, ISA Test Measurement Division Director regarding his thoughts on the valuable technical content presented at the 57th International Instrumentation Symposium in St. Louis, MO this past June 2011. Listen to Mr. Patterson’s thoughts on the technical content presented by Keynote Speakers and Instrumentation Experts.

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