Sensors & Transducers

Time synchronise your key remote sites

November 2019 Sensors & Transducers

Managing processes where root cause identification is rapidly identified can generate substantial savings though improved productivity and implementation of planned preventive maintenance schedules. Knowing what happened first in a chain of events in the plant quickly leads to the appropriate corrective action. Omniflex has spent 50+ years in alarm and event management system design and development, providing 1 millisecond discrimination to trip alarming status enabling the plant to quickly identify root cause. The company’s Time Stamp at Source philosophy immediately differentiates its trip recording by being far more accurate than supervisory system PC or DCS time stamping, which are unable to account for propagation delay of network signal and the I/O scanning ability of the front-end devices. The more I/O the longer it takes. Omniflex adopted a fixed scan cycle (independent of I/O count) and a time stamp at source for every change of state. Having a GPS time synchronised clock source provides unparalleled alarm time accuracy right where it is needed.

Many time synchronising standards have been used over the years, from pulse inputs to IRIGB popular in the electrical field, and more modern plants adopting the Network Time Protocols (NTP) server technology on networks or IEEE1588 Protocols, to bring all time stamping to a single time base. All of these require a significant investment in hardware and software and even dedicated networks to provide plantwide synchronisation.

The issues are affordability in remote or isolated plants and achieving a cost-effective solution to time synchronisation. Sub-stations, pumping stations or remote process plants away from their main plant often need to be reviewed on the same time base as they are interrelated.

The Omniflex TSM enables any isolated programmable equipment to synchronise its real-time clock to satellite time. The sequential events recorder, Maxiflex can thus provide one millisecond discrimination in chains of events at different geographic locations and when this data is overlaid the root cause can quickly be uncovered as the time base is down to one millisecond resolution. Any programmable device (PLC) with a serial port can be configured to get real time from the Omniflex TSM. Features include:

• Independent of plant network propagation delays with direct accurate satellite synchronisation.

• Compact weather proof enclosure, so no antenna required.

• Simple setup plug and play.

• Supports the uses of either an RS-232 or RS-485 interface port.

• Easily used with third-party PLC, DCS or PC based systems.

• Eliminates real-time clock drift errors.

• Operates off 9 to 30 V DC supply.

Benefits are:

• Compatible with third- party devices like PLCs.

• Allows sensible aggregation of time stamped data collected from different sites.

• Compare similar installations by alarm performance.

• Accurate alarm time logging over large geographic areas.

These benefits make it ideally suited for any remote monitoring operation requiring accurate time.

For more information contact Ian Loudon, Omniflex, +27 31 207 7466,,


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