Enrico Fermi, the Chessel 700, and the End of an Era

On December 2nd, 1942, the Chicago Pile-1, the world’s first nuclear reactor, went critical and Enrico Fermi was christened “the Architect of the Nuclear Age”. Born in 1901 in Rome, Fermi, an innovative physicist, would emigrate to the United States where his legacy would ultimately pave the way for Robert Oppenheimer to remark in 1945, “Now I am become Death. The destroyer of worlds.”

However this brilliant man’s legacy is not bound only to the horror man divined from splitting an atom. Fermi made huge contributions to the use of nuclear power, including the discovery of transuranium elements, particle physics, statistical mechanics, and quantum theory among many others. Part of that legacy is on display today at the Fermi Nuclear Generating Station on the shores of Lake Erie, Michigan, where an analog meter known as the Chessel 700 Series has been employed for over 50 years. While the near meltdown of 1966 was not the direct fault of Chessel metering technology, the question remains: with the inaccuracy, unreliability, and subjectivity of analog meters are they really viable for the 21st century industry?

As one of the few innovative manufacturers still located in the United States, OTEK offers the NTM-4 as a 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacement for the Chessel 700 with Class 1E Safety-Related and Nuclear Qualified, as well as MIL-Spec 461,167-1, 810F, 901C, and IEE-344. The NTM-4 is equipped with a 51 segment automatic and programmable tricolor barograph and four digit LED display, as well as self-diagnostics, isolated serial I/O, 100mW@5VDC, USB or RS485, a configurable bar direction (up, down, center), and our patented input fail alarm. The NTM-4 also carries OTEK’s lifetime warranty, as well as our pledge of complete customization to your intended applications. Remember, we customize our technology to your needs!

Just as Fermi’s legacy was more than Oppenheimer’s ominous words, the analog meter’s legacy will be measured not just in its obsolescence, but in its paving of the way for a new age: the Age of the DPM Revolution. Join in by calling us today at (520) 748-7900!

Are Analog Meters Doomed?

The simplicity of the analog meter, along with its low manufacturing cost, has been offset by its unreliability, inaccuracy, fragility, and subjective interpretation. The developer of its challenger, who has several patents on loop & signal powered technology claims that his latest invention of a “Solid State Analog Meter,” (SSAM, patent pending) would help prevent tragedies like those caused by traditional analog meters. Advances in LED technology, coupled with market challenges like cyber-security protection in the nuclear power industry, helped to motivate the Dr. Fest to not only create a substitute for unreliable analog meters, but to offer a 100% compatible replacement which accepts all standard industry input signals. The SSAM technology accepts all legacy signal inputs, including 4-20& 10-50 mA current loops, ACV, Watts, Hertz and DC Volts, Amps, and Watts. In fact, SSAM can be powered by any the signal that can provide >5 mW of energy to power it, even if no other power or current is available. It can also be externally powered from 3-32Vdc or 90-265 Vac.

To expand the applications of the SSAM, Otek’s Eng. staff has included other patented options which enhance the use of the new technology. These are loop: 1) Hi-Low alarms (Pat. #6, 285,094); 2) Loop Isolator (#7, 477,080); 3) 4-20 mA isolated retransmission (#7, 684, 768); 4) Signal Failure Detection& Alarm (#9, 054, 725); 5) AC Volts, Amps, Watts and Hertz Signal Powered options (#7, 626, 378), as well as isolated USB serial output (patent pending). The SSAM technology is the culmination of his 40 year love affair with the current loop. Dr. Fest created the industry’s first loop powered digital panel meter (DPM) back in 1974 and has been expanding on it ever since.

Why the obsession with replacing the old faithful analog meter, which was invented by Dr. Edward Weston in 1893? Read the inventor’s answer in his own words below.

As much as I admire Sir Weston’s invention of the analog panel meter (APM) and the fact that it has survived for over 120 years in use and popularity, it is important for me to challenge its legacy. So many tragedies have been blamed on the analog meter because of its tendency toward stuck needles, inaccuracies, and erroneous readings by operators. In addition, its inherent inaccuracy has caused many industries like the military and nuclear power to adopt a precautionary ~5-10% safety factor on all readings. Most APMs have an accuracy of only +/- 5% (+/- 2% if you are looking at it straight on from a distance of +/- 10 inches), plus parallax when interpreting the meter. The result is that a typical nuclear electric power plant could lose over $100,000 of saleable power daily because of this safety factor. We can and must do better after over 120 years!

Yes, the greatest technical and cleanest electrical power of mankind relies on a 19th century metering technology (D’Arsonval movement) perfected in 1893 by Dr. E. Weston! That’s the reason I rose to the occasion when I was challenged by a nuclear plant manager to develop an electronic bar-digital meter identical to our New Technology Meter (NTM) but without a microprocessor.

Why without a microprocessor?

Nuclear power plant I & C (Instrument & Control) rooms have to comply with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) cyber-security regulations (NEI08-09 and many others) if they digitize their I & C. This may cost them millions of dollars and years of implementation. In the meantime, if they keep their +/- 5% analog meters, they have to operate at below optimum in the most extreme case efficiency (+safety margin), losing 8-10% of their optimum electric power output. This translates into a real loss of about $100,000 per day for a typical reactor that produces about $1,000,000/day of electricity!

After being presented with this challenge by my customer, I kept asking myself, “How in the (H) world can I design all the features of the NTM without a microprocessor (digital asset) to avoid cyber security requirements & expenses?” Suddenly I remembered that back in 2004 I had experimented with a hardware-only (no microprocessor) bar graph-digital meter. So I went into a hunting frenzy, looking for my notebook of 2004 and the prototype breadboard of what I code named “3914.” After blowing the dust off the notebook and the meter, I applied 4-20 mA of power and voila! It lit up. However, it wasn’t fully working. Two weeks later I made it work as expected! A multicolor bar-digital meter solely powered by the 4-20 mA (~5-60 mW) current loop without a microprocessor!

Although this would have been enough to satisfy the plant manager’s challenge, it did not meet my own challenge of replacing the 1893 invention by Dr. Edward Weston with a 100% comparable digital! So I gathered all my patents related to loop and signal power (as listed above) and ended up with a new breed of LED electronic meters that will measure, display, control, and transmit AC and/or DC signals without a microprocessor, and all with a +/-0.5% digital accuracy!

The new microprocessor-less & Powerless TM meter series, named SSAM (Solid State Analog Meter) can be used as a basic bar graph (like the analog meter), as a bar-digital (like obsolete digitals), or as a multi-function meter field configurable (no programming) by the user. This multi-functionality reduces inventory cost because if the housing is the same, all you need to do is change the scale plate, pluggable modules and calibration (if required). That’s all!

Custom Display Colors? Because the SSAM has no uP, readout colors are done with high- efficiency, pure white LEDs whose colors can be customized by simply adding colored filters embedded in the scale plate at the user’s facility. After my Power Point presentation and demonstration of the new powerless technology at a nuclear corporate “Lunch & Learn” session, a manager asked me: “~What would you do if you were the I&C manager?”

I responded: Let me ask you: what is the simplest, most reliable & efficient means of transmitting analog signals? The Current Loop someone in the back yelled! Yes! If I had the wire & EMF, I could transmit an analog signal (and a digital over it as well [HART]) to the moon and back! So the first thing I would do is to decide whether to a) replace only the analog meters, or b) to add a DAS (Data Acquisition System), or c) add a state of the art SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System) with Triple Redundant Control TRC (such as our model TRC).

However, both b & c require Cyber-Security compliance. Option a does not have to comply with cyber security requirements, as the new SSAM doesn’t have microcontrollers or serial I/O! For the analog meter replacement only, I would: 1) Change all my signals & wiring to 4-20mA; 2): install the best 4-20mA transmitters, (hopefully our own NTT series), and 3) install the SSAM. With its easy wire-per-wire and panel compatible drop in ability, even existing wiring and panels can be reused with SSAM!

All other sections of the control room could remain the same, except that now your efficiency, daily productivity and profits would increase. A typical reactor produces about $1million daily of electric power, so every 1% increase in productivity is ~$10,000 per day of profit or ~$3.65 million/year!

All of above is explained & analyzed in my upcoming white paper entitled “Nuclear Reactor Efficiency and ROI Assessment.” It is further explained in my response to the Nuclear News June 2017 editorial by INL Engineers titled “Human Factors for Main Control Room Modernization.” In this article, I identify and analyze 6 options for the digitalization of I &C rooms:

1) Do nothing and keep the current analog or digital instruments and lose ~$10K/day, or $3.65 million/year, for every 1% loss in efficiency in a ~$1M/day plant!

2) Go for broke with flat screens & SCADA Triple Redundancy Control and comply with cyber- security regulations at over $200 million and 5-7 years of implementation time. This translates to a loss of >$10K/day or 1% of profits for 5-7 years. Add to this cost the investment price tag of ~$200 million (+ overruns) and you’ll lose over $300 million!

3) Change to flat screens & DAS (for data collection only). You still incur cyber security compliance costs of about $75 million and the loss of 1% per day of income while you wait for the upgrade. The potential loss could be over $150 million in the process.

4) Replace (during outage) obsolete meters with Otek’s NTM series, which are SCADA/DAS/DCS compatible (like option 1) Class1E instead of flat screens. This option means no new wiring (except serial I/O), no power supply and no new building costs. This saves about $75 million but adds cyber security compliance costs (~$20 million?); it eliminates the 5-7 years of loss profits while waiting for a new building. The return on investment (ROI) will take only about 18 months (assuming a 10% increase in efficiency or ~$36.5 million/year!)

5) Implement a DAS (Data Acquisition System [data collection & analysis]) with Otek’s NTM series (or equivalent) during one outage. This is equivalent to option #3, but at its lower cost of about $35 million and with no loss of normal productivity & no new building to build & wait. This ROI is about one (1) year for a typical 5-8 % increase in efficiency including cyber security cost!

6) If you are a non-regulated utility or your reactor has a limited operating life expectancy or is in a very competitive market, just replace your obsolete analog & digitals all at once or as needed with the SSAM series. The total cost would be about 1/3 of replacing the obsolete analog/ digitals, and will pay for itself within the first week (assuming a 1% increase in efficiency)! And the rest is profit for years to come!

Conclusion: After over 40 years of persistency, I feel I have done justice to the long lived analog meter of 1893! Thank you Dr. Edward Weston for an excellent job well done! But all good things must come to an end! I still think that the analog meter is near extinction!

Dr. Otto P. Fest,
resident/Founder of Otek Corporation
520-748- 7900

Bach Simpson 3623 Replacement

For nearly five decades the Bach Simpson 3623 meter has faithfully served Nuclear Power Plant control rooms in their instrumentation needs. As we approach twenty years into the new millenium that faithfullness is nearing collapse. Analog obsolescence cannot be ignored and is not going to simply disappear or disipate if we bury our heads in the proverbial sand. Delay it, ignore it, it makes no difference–the obsolescence issue facing the Nuclear Industry is a natural byproduct of inexorable technilogical advances and the only responsible course of action is to take action. Why not get the jump now and save a little time and money, rather than waiting till your hand is forced?

Jump into the new era of panel meter technology with OTEK’s New Technology Series, featuring the NTM-B. This model is designed to be a 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacement for the Bach Simpson 3623, for Class 1E safety related and nuclear qualified, as well as MIL-SPEC -461, 167-1, 810F, 901C, and IEE-344. The NTM-B also carries a Cyber Security Compliant classification.

Additional features of the NTM-B include and automatic tricolor bargraph with intensity control, an input fail safe alarm run time stamp, self diagnostics, isolated serial I/O with USB or RS485 including ehternet or flash memory for external power options, configurable bar direction pointer, over thirty isolated input signals, and four possible relays. As with all OTEK products, the NTM-B carries our lifetime warranty and is completely customizable to your specific needs.

Get a jump on the analog obsolescence wave and give us a call! (520) 748-7900.

OTEK Offers 100% Form, Fit, and Function for the GE/DB40

While the Nuclear Industry grapples with its looming analog obsolescence crisis, OTEK is stepping up to offer immediate and viable solutions. The DB40 has been an industry fixture for nearly a half century, but as with the rest of its analog brethren, it is facing extinction with the inexorable advancements in technology and changing industry standards. The typical solutions to this problem have been both cost prohibitive and time consuming, particularly when power plants opt for Flat Screen replacement which results in lengthy shutdowns and diminished sight of any R.O.I.

OTEK’s solution is our Plug & Play technology, which offers 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacement for the GE/DB40 for Class 1E Safety Related & Nuclear Qualified as well as Mil-Spec 461, 167-1, 810F, 901C, and IEE-344. With OTEK you don’t have to close your plant for lengthy installations, undergo expensive rewiring in your control room, or retrain your operators. With our New Technology meters all you need to do is simply unplug your analogs and plug in OTEK.

For the DB40 we offer equivalent replacements with our NTM-M, NTM-N, and NTM-3 respectively. All three models feature our patented automatic signal fail detect alarm and serial transmission with run time stamp and unit ID. Additionally the technology that powers these models is customizable to your needs, as with all our products here at OTEK. And of course, each comes with our guaranteed lifetime warranty.

So if you want to be proactive in fighting the obsolescence challenge and do so without wasting money or efficiency, please give us a call today at 520-748-7900!

OTEK Offers New Technology in Yokogawa’s Absence

OTEK is proud to be on the forefront of the 21st century panel meter revolution and is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to benefit our customers in the industry. To that end we offer, from our New Technology Series, the model NTM-9 as a 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacement for Yokogawa 180/GE180 for Class1E Safety Related & Nuclear Qualified and MIL Standards 461, 167-1, 810, 901, and IE EE344. The NTM-9 is also Cyber Security Compliant!
The NTM-9 also features an Automatic Tricolor Bar with Intensity Control, self diagnostics with an automatic input signal fail alarm, isolated serial I/O, USB or RS485, an eight character address, four relays, and over thirty isolated input signals among its many other components. Of course, as with all of our wonderful models, the NTM-9 is fully customizable and carries a lifetime warranty.
Ready to make the switch from analog to digital? Give us a call today (520) 748-7900 and let us help you help yourself!

Happy Holidays from OTEK!

Tis the Season Here at OTEK!
Even though it’s 70 degrees, sunny, and we’re often reclining in bathing suits by pools mid-December, there’s no doubt the holiday spirit is alive and well in the OTEK headquarters.

Why just look at our christmas tree right here–that’s the same tree we’ve been using since Dr. Fest founded the company in 1974. As you can see she still stands tall, proud, green, carries a beautiful display made of all our little intricate ornaments, stars, decorations you name it–that’s 44 years of consistency. Just like our products.

Happy Holidays from OTEK!
Submitted by salesadmin on Thu, 12/06/2018 – 15:32
Tis the Season Here at OTEK!
Even though it’s 70 degrees, sunny, and we’re often reclining in bathing suits by pools mid-December, there’s no doubt the holiday spirit is alive and well in the OTEK headquarters.

Why just look at our christmas tree right here–that’s the same tree we’ve been using since Dr. Fest founded the company in 1974. As you can see she still stands tall, proud, green, carries a beautiful display made of all our little intricate ornaments, stars, decorations you name it–that’s 44 years of consistency. Just like our products.

The phone and maps behind are just reminders that we’re still working….

So from all of us to all of yours have a very merry holiday season! Even if you won’t be joining us by the pool…

Dr. Fest Returns to Orlando for the Power Gen Conference

Dr. Fest will be traveling back to Orlando this coming Monday, December 3rd through the 6th, to attend the 2018 International Power Gen Conference.

Industry leaders and those interested in the future of industry as a whole will be in attendance to discuss the direction of our energy future, with a heavy interest to be expected on wind and solar developments. With the fragile and uncertain direction of the industry as a whole, Power Gen will be a crucial testing ground for new ideas and communication; which is why Dr. Fest sincerely looks forward to the opportunity to posit a few possible solutions to our growing obsolescene problem.

One of those solutions he’ll be offering from Booth #4178 will be a full live demo of OTEK’s latest development in our award-winning New Technology Series, the Solid State Analog Meter or SSAM. The SSAM offers 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacement for your antiquated analog meters, meaning you don’t have to make ANY changes to your current wiring or mounting–just pull out your old meter, plug in OTEK’s SSAM and you’re good to go! The SSAM also sets itself apart from any other digital meter on the market in that it is 100% Cyber Security Exempt. This is achieved by removing all Critical Digital Assets such as microprocessors and replacing them with CMOS Logic, then combining that with our patented technology to produce a meter that is impossible to hack and potentially saves you money and time in NEI 08-09 compliance!

With the fate of the industry up for debate and Dr. Fest offering new solutions such as the SSAM, you won’t want to miss out on the happenings at POWER GEN 2018. However if you do happen to miss it, stay tuned to our blog at www.otekcorp.com for the information Dr. Fest will be bringing back with him from Florida!

Early Returns from the ANS Winter Conference

Early Returns from the ANS Winter Conference
Submitted by salesadmin on Thu, 11/15/2018 – 14:01
Nuclear Industry on Life Support……How Can OTEK Help?
Dr. Fest has returned from the sun and sand of Orlando, Florida where he received dour news from industry leaders around the world. The Nuclear Industry, it seems, can no longer bury its head in the proverbial sand. A cloud encroaching from the not too distant horizon with promises of expensive and time-consuming storms had everyone in central Florida’s ears ringing with alarm. The writing appears to indeed be on the wall–the Nuclear Industry is facing an obsolescence crisis short on options and even shorter on time.

With 80% of power plants worldwide 30 years and older, AND using mostly analog meter technology from the 1st half of the 20th century, the clock is ticking on obsolescence. Couple this with governmental oversight in the form of crippling NEI 08-09 regulations, and you have a maelstrom of inefficiency, expenditure, and evasive R.O.I. The solutions? Well they are not without their own problems. You can replace your old analog meters with modernized digital instruments such as SCADA/DCS or Flat Screen technology, but then you’re looking at not only an investment upwards of $100 million and 5 plus years, but also potentially $20 million in Cyber Security Compliance! Does investing nearly $150 million (calculated loss of income from 3-5 year upgrade shutdown included) in a 30-40 year old power plant seem wise? Then, of course, there is always the option of placing your head back in the sand until the tide of decommission rolls in….

As he emphatically demonstrated in Orlando, Dr. Fest and his small company from the desert have a better solution that just might keep that cloud at bay a little longer. Dr. Fest unveiled OTEK’s brand new Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) which replaces analog meters 100% Form, Fit, and Function, AND is completely Cyber Security Exempt! What? How can an instrument endowed with OTEK’s patented New Technology avoid Cyber Security regulations? Dr. Fest’s answer was to take the award-wining technology of his NTM series and, using CMOS logic, insert it into a completely hardware-driven instrument void of any critical digital assets. Without these CDA’s such as microprocessors, there is nothing in the SSAM which could be hacked or compromised by an outside source, thus bypassing the Cyber Security problem and subsequent regulatory expenses!

During his time in Orlando Dr. Fest was able to raise many eyebrows with the efficiency and practicality of the SSAM. For companies uninterested in the high cost of Cyber Security compliance, the SSAM offers a way to avoid losing millions while at the same time gaining an advantage in the latest digital meter technology. Dr. Fest returned home to his small company with hope for the industry as that long black obsolescent cloud draws near. Remember, it was David who defeated Goliath!

For more information on the SSAM or any of OTEK’s other products please visit www.otekcorp.com or call (520) 748-7900.

Dr. Fest heads to the ANS Winter Conference 2018

Is Cyber Security Your Problem?
Is Meter Obsolescence?
If so, please join OTEK’s President and CEO Dr. Otto P. Fest at this year’s American Nuclear Society Winter Conference in Orlando, Florida, November 11th-14th.

Live from booth no. 300, Dr. Fest will be showcasing how OTEK’s award winning technology can help solve the Cyber Security challenges facing the industry today; challenges that have a direct impact on two of our most valuable commoditites: our Time and our Money. According to a Duke University/CFO Magazine Outlook Survey, in 2017 businesses around the world faced the largest onslaught of cyber attacks since the beginning of the current digital age–an onslaught that resulted in 80% of business being successfully hacked in the U.S alone! With the indusrty adopting new security standards to meet these rising threats, the cost of doing business has elevated expenses and confounded our already precious time.

How can OTEK help? Dr. Fest will be glad to tell all you about how our New Technology Series can help you save money and reduce maintenance time with products such as our NTM line, which melds 21st century innovation with Cyber Security Compliant technology, or our brand new SSAM that eliminates the need for Cyber Security protection all together by operating without any programmable digital components. Dr. Fest will also be more than happy to explain how our New Technology products offer 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacements for your old analog meters falling away into obsolescence.

If you can’t come see us this November, Dr. Fest and OTEK will be back in Orlando again December 3rd-6th for the PowerGen conference, and again in February, the 9th-14th for the ANS-NPIC Show.

Of course, OTEK and all of our products can always be found at otekcorp.com.