Saturday, May 4, 2013

Distributors jump into a lake!

FTIR manufacturer Gasmet recently invited its distributors from around the world to attend a training event at a country house hotel outside of Helsinki (FI). During the event, awards were given to the best performing companies and all delegates were treated to a wealth of traditional Finnish hospitality which included a jump into a frozen lake. (!)
Group photo: Not sure whether this was take before or after the plunge into an icy lake!
FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra-Red) technology has become extremely popular for a wide variety of gas monitoring applications including stack monitoring, industrial process monitoring, chemical spill response, engine emissions, research and occupational safety applications such as port container monitoring and anaesthetic gas detection. As a result of the diversity of applications and the flexibility of FTIR to measure almost any gas, the FTIR business has been very strong and

Mikko Ahro, CEO of Gasmet Technologies, said “The meeting provided us with an opportunity to thank our distributors and subsidiaries for the major contribution that they have made to the company’s success.”

The Distributor of the Year award was presented to Sistec from France, with second prize going to Reaktie B.V. from the Netherlands, and third prize to MBE AG from Switzerland.

Board changes announced at CSIA #PAuto

Piercarlo (PC) Romano was selected for a two-year term as chairman of the board of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) at the association’s annual executive conference. Jeff Miller was appointed treasurer by the board.

Piercarlo Romano
New directors elected during the association’s annual executive conference are:
Michael Miller, president, ESCO Automation, Marion, Iowa, U.S.
Don Ulrich, president, Stone Technologies Inc., Chesterfield, Mo., U.S.

The new directors join the following directors, whose terms continue:
Eduardo Acosta, chief executive officer, Omnicon S.A., Cali, Colombia;
Richard Brueggman, president and chief executive officer, Data Science Automation, Pittsburgh, Penn., U.S.; and
Sam Hoff, president, Patti Engineering, Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich., U.S.

Lynda J. Patterson, FASAE, CAE, continues as president. Robert Lowe is the association’s executive director.

Romano is president of Avid Solutions Inc., a CSIA Certified control system integrator based in Winston-Salem, N.C., U.S. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of CSIA. We’re focusing our resources on creating maximum value for our members and their clients, plus we’re rolling out innovative new benefits,” says Romano. “With our continued growth, we can expect CSIA’s influence to expand and elevate the industry and everyone associated with it.”

Romano succeeds Stephen Goldberg, director of information technology at Matrix Technologies, a founding member and CSIA Certified member headquartered in Maumee, Ohio, U.S. During Goldberg’s term, interest in CSIA membership by system integrators located outside of the United States grew significantly, and the organization adopted a global strategy to serve an increasingly diverse, international membership. In addition, great gains were made in educating system integrators’ potential clients about CSIA. Goldberg will continue to serve on the board as immediate past chair.

Joe Martin, president of Martin Control Systems Inc., Dublin, Ohio, U.S., concluded a four-year term on the board of directors.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mobile Machine Control conference

The program for the 1st international Mobile Machine Control (MMC) conference has been published. The conference will take place in Nuremberg (D), June 12 and 13, 2013. It is sponsored by Hirschmann Automation, Inter Control, Sensor-Technik Wiedemann, Softing Automotive Electronics, and Sontheim Industrie Elektronik.
MMC 2013

Experts in mobile machine control from all over the world meet at the event to lecture on latest developments, to discuss new applications, and to exchange experience. The MMC offers visitors to become acquainted with the latest developments in mobile machine control not only focused on CAN-related topics, but also on safety, system design, and other subjects of controlling mobile machines. The presentations will be held in English language. The conference will be accompanied by a tabletop exhibition.

Advanced silicon photonics technology

MOSIS, a provider of low-cost prototyping and small volume production services for custom ICs, teams up with ePIXfab, the European Silicon Photonics support centre providing low-cost prototyping services for photonic ICs. The partnership gives MOSIS' customers access to imec’s state-of-the-art fully integrated silicon photonics processes and Tyndall’s advanced silicon photonics packaging technology.

Packaged passive silicon photonics chip. 
Imec, silicon photonic chip; 
Tyndall, fibre array packaging.
Imec’s silicon photonics platform enables cost-effective R&D of silicon photonic ICs for high-performance optical transceivers (25Gb/s and beyond) for telecom, datacom, and optical sensing for life science applications. The offered integrated components include low-loss waveguides, efficient grating couplers, high-speed silicon electro-optic modulators and high-speed germanium waveguide photo-detectors. A comprehensive design kit to access imec technologies will be provided. Moreover, the Tyndall National Institute, being a partner of ePIXfab, offers the ability to provide packaged silicon photonics devices. This includes the design and fabrication of custom photonic packages, fibre coupling (single and arrays) and electrical interconnects. Designs rules to support these packaging capabilities will also be provided.

“Imec’s Silicon Photonics platform provides robust performance, and solutions to integrated photonics products. Companies can benefit from imec silicon photonics capability through established standard cells, or explore the functionality of their own designs in MultiProject Wafer runs,” stated Philippe Absil, program director at imec. “With this collaboration MOSIS will offer its first access to a mature Silicon Photonics infrastructure, with the option for follow on production” added Wes Hansford, MOSIS Director.

The first ePIXfab-Europractice run for passive silicon photonics ICs is open for registration from June 2013 with design deadline September 9th 2013. MOSIS' customers can register for this run and obtain the design kit via MOSIS in June 2013.

Imec’s Si Photonics 200mm wafer platform offers extensive design flexibility and includes:
• Tight within-wafer silicon thickness variation 3sigma < 2.5nm
• 3-level patterning of 220nm top Si layer (193nm optical lithography)
• poly-Si overlay and patterning (193nm optical lithography)
• 3-level n-type implants and 3-level p-type implants in Si
• Ge epitaxial growth on Si and p-type and n-type implants in Ge
• Local NiSi contacts, Tungsten vias and Cu metal interconnects
• Al bond pads
• Validated cell library with fibre couplers, polarization rotators, highly efficient carrier depletion modulators and ultra-compact Ge waveguide photo-detectors with low dark current. 
• Design kit support for IPKISS framework, PhoeniX Software and Mentor Graphics software
Tyndall’s Si Photonics Packaging Technology enables
• Passive device packaging , single and mult-fibre arrays to grating couplers
• Active device packaging, modulators and detectors with electrical ports and fibre arrays
• Custom packaging requirements (mechanical, thermal stability etc.)

Docking frame features floating mount

A new docking frame with a floating mount has been added to the Harting Han-Modular® series of industrial connectors, allowing users to assemble customised connector configurations using “blind” connection.

The new docking frame, in the 10B size range, makes it possible to create a modular docking connector without a housing. This type of connector is typically used as an insert in switch cabinets, where the insert cassette is pushed into the cabinet and the sides of the connector are brought together “blind” to form a reliable connection.

The float mount frame can move freely over a distance of ±2 mm, and incorporates leading centring pins and bushes with high mechanical stability to ensure that both connector sides connect reliably together.

The new device is designed for docking applications in the IP20 range, and is available in four different versions suitable for two, three, four or six modules. It completes the Han-Modular® docking frame product portfolio, which is now available in all sizes from 6B to 24B.

The Harting Han-Modular® series is constantly being expanded, and currently comprises over 40 modules for electrical, optical and gaseous signals for a multitude of applications.

Exploring the Advancements in energy production, transfer and usage

The need for an intelligent power grid that offers accurate, robust information and two-way communication is becoming a reality. Digital technologies are enabling better power quality measurements and system health diagnostics, while distributed intelligent control is allowing the grid to localise faults. This 4-part webcast series, taking place in June, explains the technologies enabling these innovations.

Technologies used to control and instrument energy systems are moving from analogue to digital due to the advancements in embedded computing, sensing and signal processing.  These advancements, combined with high-efficiency power electronics are rapidly changing the way we produce, transfer and consume energy, as outlined in the Keynote webcast. National Instruments is making development investments to provide a comprehensive toolchain and platform to enable a successful energy future. Delegates will discover how companies, such as Intel and Xilinx are designing state-of-the-art tools technologies for digital energy embedded systems.

Webcasts will begin streaming on Monday 17th June and will also be available on demand after the series is complete. Delegates will be able to interact online with NI experts and other attendees, in real time, to ask questions and discuss topics. Here are more details and registration details for the Digital Energy and Technology Webcasts Series

The 4-part series is as follows:
Keynote - The Digital Energy Revolution: Changing the Way Energy Is Produced, Transferred and Consumed
Monday 17th June 2pm & Tuesday 18th June 10am
Discover what’s wrong with the embedded systems design process for the smart grid. The first webcast in the series looks at how NI R&D teams are eliminating the most restricting elements in the development process. Delegates will learn how to apply new tools and technologies to tackle these challenges. Presenters:
·        Dr James Truchard – President, CEO and Co-Founder, NI
·        Owen Golden - Vice President, Global Energy Segment, NI
·        Brian MacCleery - Principal Product Manager for Clean Energy, NI

Smart Maintenance and Control of Electrical Power Generation
Tuesday 18th June 2pm & Wednesday 19th June 10am
The power grid is moving from a one-way system in which power flows from a few central generation units to a system of many distributed generation and storage resources. Utilities and grid operators are rethinking how to manage their networks and assets. Learn strategies for overcoming generation deployment constraints. Presenters:
·        Bob Leigh, P.Eng. - CEO, Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc.
·        Yvonne Lin - Industrial Marketing Manager, Xilinx
·        Kamalina Srikant - Marketing Development Manager, Asset Monitoring Systems, NI

Modernising Transmission and Distribution With Intelligent Electronic Devices
Wednesday 19th June 2pm & Thursday 20th June 10am
Find out how, by using reconfigurable intelligent electronic device development tools, companies around the world are creating highly customised embedded systems that address the specific needs of the modern smart grid.
·        Tim Appleton - Business Development Manager, Energy Sector, Intel
·        Daniel Kaminsky, PhD - Director, Division of Virtual Instrumentation, Elcom
·        Roberto Piacentini - Senior Manager, Strategic Business Development, Global Energy Segment, NI

Creating Megawatts of Energy Conservation Through Energy Management
Thursday 20th June 2pm and Friday 21st June 10am
More than ever, large power consumers want access to timely, meaningful data about their energy consumption. Learn how the latest tools in energy management are being used to intelligently identify excessive consumption, conserve energy, increase efficiency and save money.
·        Brett Burger - Senior Product Marketing Manager, Embedded I/O, NI
·        Hugo Yza - Owner, Energyza

Electrical & control systems for PV plant in Kalahari (ZA)

ABB has won an order worth around $25 million to supply electrical and control systems for a new 75 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The order was booked in the first quarter.

Owned by WBHO, a leading South African construction company, and Building Energy, an Italian renewable energy developer and operator, the plant is located in the Kalahari Desert close to the town of Kathu and to Sishen, one of the largest open-pit iron ore mines in the world.

The Kathu PV power plant is among the first tranche of projects to be awarded as part of South Africa’s renewable energy program, which aims to diversify the country’s energy mix and reduce its carbon footprint. Once completed in 2014, it is expected to be one of the world’s largest PV power plants with a single-axis tracking system. It will have the capacity to generate around 146 gigawatt hours (GWh) of clean solar power to feed into the national grid – enough to meet the needs of over 40,000 people based on average national per capita consumption and displacing the equivalent of about 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

“Renewable energy sources such as solar have a key role to play in meeting the growing demand for electricity while minimizing environmental impact,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “We have a strong track record in delivering turnkey power and automation solutions that are optimising photovoltaic power plants all over the world.”

ABB’s turnkey electrical and automation solution will optimise the performance of the Kathu plant to maximise output while ensuring reliability in remote and demanding operating conditions. The solution includes a range of ABB power products such as medium- and low-voltage switchgear, distribution transformers, and control and protection devices. It also incorporates distributed automation and control products from the Symphony™ Plus family. ABB will be responsible for the design, engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of the project.

Key features of the ABB solution include the integration of the plant’s electrical equipment and highvoltage substation with the company’s proprietary Symphony Plus Distributed Control System (DCS) solution in conformance with the IEC 61850 open-communication standard for substation automation.

ABB will also supply an advanced tracking system with a back-tracking algorithm that optimises tracker movement and eliminates shadow on the panels. The solution also features a data-collection system that collects operational input from the trackers, inverters, string boxes and substation to enable remote operation and maintenance, thereby alleviating the need for onsite manning.

Our second FIRST story!

This is the second story (Creating young scientists! 1/5/2013) in as many days on that unique organisation founded to foster science and technology among the youth of today. The Irish phrase "Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí!" (Praise youth and it will come!) comes to mind when we think of this organisation and whenever one comes across any of their "happenings" - such as the one described here - one cannot but be impressed by their enthusiasm and exuberence.

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in the USA, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.
With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST®Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST®Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST®LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST®LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. 
As strategic alliance partners of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the International Society of Automation (ISA) and the Automation Federation took part in last week’s FIRST Championship, an annual international celebration of young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

More than 10,000 students from around the globe, from ages 6 to 18, gathered April 24-27 in St. Louis (Missouri, USA) to put their engineering skills and scientific know-how to the test in three different age-specific, team-oriented programs. This year’s event drew nearly 650 student teams from 37 countries around the world, and attracted more than 2,800 mentors, coaches and adult supporters, and over 750 event volunteers. (See short wrap-up video below!)

One of the highlights of the three-day event was the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which combined the excitement of sport with the rigors of designing and building robots. The competition provides students, from grades 9 through 12, with the opportunity to use sophisticated software and hardware, learn from professional engineers, collaborate, earn recognition, and qualify for millions of dollars in college scholarships. This year, more than 2,500 teams in 17 countries participated in 77 FRC regional and district competitions.

During this year’s FIRST activities and competitions, ISA and the Automation Federation hosted an informational exhibit where students involved in FIRST learned about the automation profession and how to plan for careers in the field.

“This event continues to amaze me each and every time I go,” proclaims Steven Pflantz, vice president of ISA’s Professional Development Department who was among a contingent of ISA and Automation Federation leaders and staff that attended. “The positive energy from all these kids having fun, being challenged and competing in this way is uplifting and awe inspiring. This is a remarkable and talented group of kids, and a lot of them are potential future automation professionals. Based on the energy and commitment they show, the future looks bright for the automation profession.”

Robert Lindeman, Chairman of the Automation Federation and 2012 ISA President, came away equally as impressed: “It was truly eye opening to see these young people so motivated to learn and apply engineering skills. If we can harness this energy, I feel there is no limit to our future, and no boundary that these students cannot reach in leading us there.”
The FRC competition, Pflantz points out, also “provides the practical skills and real-world experience that young technical professionals need to succeed in the workplace. From budgeting and scheduling to meeting deadlines and working together, these students are required to meet very realistic project scenarios that even seasoned professionals would find challenging.”
Lindeman says that by applying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge in a non-traditional, fun environment that stresses the importance of teamwork, problem solving and innovation, FIRST events are highly successful.

“Fostering interest and enthusiasm among young people is critical to developing the new engineers and technicians needed to meet the challenges of the future,” Lindeman asserts.

Most government and corporate leaders in the US echo this point of view, insisting that directing more students toward science and technology will boost American innovation and economic strength. Certainly, demand is growing for graduates in these fields.

In the US, for example, the number of science and engineering jobs this past decade has grown three times more quickly than jobs in other sectors, according to a 2012 report from the US Department of Commerce.

At the same time, however, colleges and universities aren’t producing enough graduates to fill the jobs. Just half of college students who start with a science- or math-related major graduate with this type of degree, the report says, placing the US near the bottom of industrialized countries in this area.

Both Pflantz and Lindeman agree that more needs to be done to encourage STEM learning among young people and to expand awareness about careers in automation and engineering.

“Automation and control professionals need to get the word out about the advantages of pursuing a career path in engineering and automation,” Pflantz declares. “We need to work with schools and guidance counselors so that students can better plan for these careers. As working professionals, we can play an important role in helping young people decide what to do, and make better decisions as well as providing mentorship during the initial phases of their careers.”
“It’s an honor for ISA and the Automation Federation to partner with FIRST,” Lindeman emphasizes. “I encourage all of our members to get involved in FIRST on a local level. I guarantee that you will be invigorated by participating and inspired by the enthusiasm and talents of these impressive young people.”

Along with Pflantz, Lindeman and ISA staff members, the following members of ISA’s St. Louis Section attended last week’s event: Nick Erickson, Mike Unterreiner, Keith Thomas and Brian Nixon.

FIRST and the FIRST logo are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

LIMS experiences phenomenal growth in US & GB

Autoscribe, developer of the Matrix Gemini Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), is pleased to announce an excellent start to the year. The first quarter of 2013 has seen a 98% growth in business in the USA and 131% growth in the business booked in Britain as compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Autoscribe founder and Managing Director, John Boother, said: “Approximately 12 months ago Autoscribe invested in strengthening our marketing effort in the UK and USA. This has resulted in much more exposure in the marketplace via seminars, exhibitions, electronic bulletins and PR. This, together with enhancements to our web site, has resulted in an increase of enquiries of approximately 100% compared to April 2012. It is therefore no coincidence that we are also seeing substantial business growth figures.”

“What is even more encouraging is that this increase was due to a series of system orders and a significant increase in services including support agreements rather than one large contract”, he continued. “The business growth in the USA is particularly pleasing as 2013 is the second year of operation for Autoscribe Informatics, Inc. following the change from a distribution outlet. Looking to the future our order pipeline is very strong and hence I am confidently predicting sustained growth during 2013.”

Creating young scientists

FIRST® Robotics Competition students program
robots to run autonomously, or control them with
a gaming joystick
FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and National Instruments have announced that they are extending their technology partnership through 2019 with the shared goal of creating more scientists and engineers. FIRST engages young people in exciting mentor-based robotics programs that celebrate science and technology, inspire innovation and foster self-confidence and communication skills. NI provides the real-world engineering tools that power these programs.  

This phase of the technology partnership centres around the creation of a next-generation embedded robotics control platform code-named “Athena.” Athena is a super-rugged, reconfigurable controller that, when paired with NI LabVIEW system design software, makes it possible for FIRST teams to design real systems faster than ever. Students will use Athena starting in the 2015 season of the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®).

 Starting with Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®), which is the entry-level program in a Progression of Programs at FIRST for youths ages 6 to 18, students use tools powered by LabVIEW to intuitively learn embedded control and robotics programming concepts. As students advance through these four robotics programs, access to tools that scale with each skill level is essential to their success. Athena, which is programmable with LabVIEW, gives high school students experience with the same tools they will use throughout college and in their science and engineering careers.

 “We’re excited to extend our technology partnership with FIRST to continue pursuing the shared goal of creating more scientists and engineers,” said Ray Almgren, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at National Instruments. “We believe the combination of LabVIEW and this next-generation controller will continue making programming more accessible to all students.”

 Through a donation from NI, FIRST will provide these next-generation robotics systems to participating teams starting in 2015. This donation provides hardware for all existing and “rookie” FRC teams over a five-year period. NI also currently provides LabVIEW software to all FRC teams. Students in FIRST will use the same hardware and software platform professional engineers currently use to create applications in virtually every industry, from testing smartphones to launching spaceships.

 “Support from partners like National Instruments is helping FIRST provide hands-on learning experiences that mirror what students will do in their future careers,” said Steve Chism, Vice President of Programs at FIRST. “We’re creating a generation of scientists and engineers ready to confidently take on the challenges facing our world.” 

Alarm management and actuator capability expanded

Emerson Process Management has released cost-saving new diagnostic capabilities in its FieldQ rack & pinion, fully integrated valve actuator and controls. The updated capabilities greatly simplify daily work practices with the release of FieldQ Foundation fieldbus Version 3, with device diagnostic alarm management in a flexible modular package.

The enhanced diagnostic alarm tools enable users to categorise and prioritise device alarms based on the criticality of the device and the severity of the problem detected by the diagnostics. Alarm settings can be configured to alert appropriate plant personnel so they can take action without being distracted by irrelevant alarms.

"Our device diagnostics can be tailored for maintenance and matched to predictive routines. Users will see efficiency improvements in their daily maintenance and turnaround planning, which help to maximise uptime and reduce costs," said Sue Ooi, Vice President, valve automation rack & pinion products, Emerson Process Management.

The FieldQ product modularity further extends efficiency by offering plug-and-play modules for many requirements, including explosion-proof and intrinsically safe capabilities, as well as bus communication options. In addition, control modules are available for diagnostics such as travel time, cycle counts, time in position, and module temperature. This capability enhances field services capabilities and makes user interface more cost effective

Italian company appoints US distributor

Paralan is now the official USA distributor for LAM Technologies. LAM components are utilised in many different industries including packaging, woodworking, food processing, paper and CNC machine, textile manufacturing, etc.

Stepper Drives
“A world leader in the motion control market, LAM Technologies has been producing highly innovative and competitive drives for stepper motors for over 20 years,” explains Marc Brooks, CEO of Paralan. "Our knowledge of overseas export rules and regulations enables us to simplify and facilitate the ordering and delivery process of LAM products for US based companies without adding any cost.”

Stepper Motors
LAM Technologies offers control by traditional step and direction signals, programmable and managed by the Fieldbus control system. The use of the latest digital technology has allowed LAM Technologies to significantly reduce the overall dimensions and to introduce many advanced features. The high-efficiency power stage limits losses and heating. With LAM’s free software, developers can configure the drives and execute diagnostics in a simple and effective manner.

According to Marc, “The care taken in every phase of LAM’s product creation, from its initial concept to shipment to the customer, ensures quality and reliability of each item sold.”

Integrated temperature Sensor in passive RFID

With a typical measurement accuracy of up to 0.5°C, the EM4325V11 is ideal for wireless real-time or data-logged monitoring of perishables.

EM Microelectronic has announced the EM4325V11, a versatile and multipurpose, battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID chip with a calibrated temperature sensor. This chip enables accurate remote temperature monitoring using industry standard EPC™ Gen2 wireless protocol. Temperature data logging can easily be implemented with a companion microcontroller connected to the EM4325V11 via a standard SPI interface.

The integrated temperature sensor monitors ambient temperature from -40°C to +60°C with 9-bit measurement accuracy of up to 0.5% over the full temperature range. In pure passive mode, the temperature sensor can be used for field-powered snapshot readings. But the chip can also be programmed to perform self-monitoring with user-programmable alarm conditions (upper and lower temperature thresholds). Self-monitoring operation is supported with an on-board real-time clock (RTC) to control sampling intervals and provide a timestamp for alarm conditions. The sensor may be configured to provide Simple Sensor Data reporting according to the data formats defined in ISO/IEC 18000-6 and ISO/IEC 24753.
Operating in the UHF frequency range, the EM4325V11 is compliant with the following standards:
• ISO/IEC 18000-6 Type C and Type D (TOTAL)
• EPC™ Class 1 Gen2
• AIAG™ B-11
• ATA 2000
The EM4325V11 expands the viability of UHF RFID for new applications by offering longer read range, increased communication robustness and more configuration options and interface capabilities for auxiliary functions. EM Microelectronic designed all the EM4325 ICs with an advanced feature set which leads to performance and functionality well beyond that of ordinary Gen2 chips.

EM4325’s BAP RFID technology combines the lower complexity, simpler communication protocols and lower cost of passive RFID with significantly higher read range and increased communication robustness available with active RFID. The EM4325V11 operates in both BAP and purely passive modes. It integrates smart power management for longer battery life when used in BAP applications. The EM4325V11 also allows programmable duty cycle and automatic switching between battery-powered and field-powered operation when the tag is too far away from the reader. A unique ultra-low power (ULP) mode can be activated or disabled via a simple reader command. The ULP mode extends tag battery life when the tags are stored for long periods.

The EM4325V11 further contains 4 kbits of high speed, non-volatile memory (EEPROM). It supports either ISO or EPC™ data structures compliant with EPCglobal®’s Tag Data Standard, Version 1.6. To ensure full traceability, the chip is delivered with a factory programmed and serialized Unique Identifier (UID).

The EM4325V11 has a programmable external interface for auxiliary functions and a 4 bit I/O port. These interfaces open the door to advanced applications where it can be operated either as an RFID tag or as an RFID interface or modem for embedded applications. The auxiliary function may be configured as input for tamper detection or as an output to notify external devices of RF events. The 4 bit I/O port can be programmed to support 4 discrete signals or as a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) configurable as an SPI master or slave device.

Thanks to its rich feature set, the EM4325V11 can thus be used in a variety of use cases:
  • Standard Supply Chain Management: EPC™ Gen 2 was developed to establish a standard for RFID tags used in supply chain applications (e.g., tracking inventory). The EM4325V11 is fully compliant with this standard. It also integrates additional security features such as its factory programmed and permanently locked unique ID to prevent tag cloning and a 32bit password protected access command. It can be operated in purely passive mode or in BAP mode when longer reading distances are required.
  • Cold Chain Temperature Monitoring: In BAP mode, the internal temperature sensor of the EM4325V11 can be configured for self-monitoring operations with defined alarm levels, thus allowing the detection of disruptions in the cold chain. Fast and easy reads can be performed at each transfer of custody to guarantee the quality and security of the received goods (e.g. food, medical products), thus increasing profitability and delivered freshness 
  • Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI): BAP technology avoids the pitfalls of both passive and active RFID in AVI applications; it is significantly less expensive than active RFID but offers excellent read performance at high speeds and at long range, even in wet conditions. In BAP mode, the EM4325V11 offers -31dBm read sensitivity at chip level, which corresponds to open-field read ranges in excess of 50 meters.
  • Product configuration and control: The EM4325V11 can be implemented as an embedded RFID interface or modem in a more complex system; with 4kbit of memory, it can be used as a Gen2-compliant communication channel for configuration operations. Specific parameters (e.g. pairing information for wireless devices) could be programmed into products which are already packaged, but which are not yet powered. Once the product is unpacked and switched on, it could read these parameters via the SPI interface on the embedded tag. Furthermore, the availability of an RFID tag which is not just attached to an item, but which is truly integrated into and interfaced with a wide variety of consumer electronic devices enables many new opportunities for the “Internet of Things”.
  • Tamper Detection: The EM4325V11 can be configured to support a seal tamper sensor that detects breakage or removal of a seal strap. It is an ideal building block for a variety of electronic seal (e-seal) applications (e.g. container security or access control of sporting or cultural events by non-transferable RFID wrist bands).
  • RFID for Challenging RF Environments: In BAP mode, the EM4325V11 provides increased read reliability for bulk reads at longer distances or in challenging real-life environments with higher liquid or metal density and/or noisy RF communication environments.
• For more information on EM’s RFID and NFC solutions, refer to their Vendor Information on RFID Connect . 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Security for embedded devices

New features added to the LynxSecure separation kernel help protect embedded systems from advanced cyber threats

LynuxWorks are adding new security features to the LynxSecure embedded hypervisor to offer real-time detection, alert and protection against new cyber threats - including zero-day rootkits and bootkits. As more embedded devices are connected to the outside world, as well as being connected to each other (machine-to-machine), the more they are vulnerable to malicious cyber threats seeking to threaten critical infrastructure, financial infrastructure and corporate domains.
LynxSecure is based on separation kernel technology and was designed from the ground up with security as a key design goal. Adding virtualisation to the separation kernel allows for multiple different guest operating systems (OS), both real-time and general purpose, to run in secure domains on a single embedded system. LynxSecure 5.2 is the latest version of this established product and adds a new feature that offers real-time detection of stealthy advanced persistent threats such as rootkits.

Rootkits are the most sophisticated and lethal type of malware--stealthy and extremely potent. A device is often infected a long time before the actual cyber attack happens, with the cyber payload being secretly injected and remaining dormant until the attack is finally triggered. When the LynxSecure 5.2 product is used on embedded devices, it can help detect these malicious infections as they inject their payload, long before the start of the actual cyber attack.

“Connected embedded devices are now becoming vulnerable to the same types of cyber attacks that we commonly see in corporate computer networks,” said Robert Day, vice president of marketing at LynuxWorks. “By using LynxSecure, with its new cyber protection mechanisms as a secure foundation between the hardware and the OS, we can help identify and protect against these attacks before the real damage is done.”

A common trend in the embedded market is that developers are starting to use more general purpose OSes, such as Windows, Android and Linux for connected devices. These general purpose OSes offer familiar user interfaces, and benefit from the wide range of applications and devices that they support. Unfortunately, this trend also adds the potential for cyber threats that have been common in the desktop, laptop and mobile arena to now attack connected embedded devices.

These most advanced variants of these cyber threats, such as rootkits, work at the lowest levels of the OS they intend to attack. The approach to combating these insidious threats needs a mechanism that offers a completely different security posture: It must execute with a higher privilege than the attacked OS; provide complete control of the platform hardware; and monitor all activities of the OS and its applications. Also, this mechanism must be self-protecting, non-bypassable and tamper-proof.

The LynxSecure product, by the nature of its virtualisation, resides beneath the OS, and allows any nefarious activity from advanced cyber threats to be observed, examined and prevented. This security architecture allows embedded developers to use general purpose OSes for their connected devices, often alongside traditional embedded RTOSes on the same hardware, with the extra protection against today’s and tomorrow’s advanced cyber threats.

• See also our ICS & SCADA Security Page for lots of links on cybersecurity in automation.

VGA Modules

Enhanced viewing angle and colour stability

Two new TFT displays featuring a new ultra wide viewing angle (UWVA) technology have been introduced by KOE. The new 5.7" TX14D23VM5BAA and 6.5" TX17D01VM5BAA displays feature VGA (640 x 480 pixels) resolution and are based on traditional TN (twisted nematic) TFT technology. Enhancements to the optical design of the LCD cell provide improved viewing angles and maintains colour stability when compared with standard TN TFT displays.

As a result of UWVA being implemented, both of these TN based TFT displays feature a wide viewing angle of 80 degrees in all directions (up/down, left/right) enabling concise, clear colour images and information to be displayed.

Mark Stephenson, Technical Marketing Manager, KOE Europe, commented, "For many applications with graphical user interfaces, colour homogeneity of the display image is mandatory. There is a growing demand in the embedded, medical and industrial markets for high quality displays that provide stable colour performance over wide viewing angles yet still offer a viable cost effective display solution. The new 5.7" and 6.5" display modules will be able to offer 'IPS like' optical performance from a TN based TFT technology."

The 5.7inch TX14D23VM5BAA features a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a LED backlight producing a brightness of 800cd/m² with a 40K hour half brightness lifetime. A 40-pin data interface supporting 18-bit RGB CMOS enables a colour palette of 262k colours. The module has mechanical outline dimensions of 131.0mm (w) x 102.2mm (h) x 7.6mm (d) and an operating temperature range of -20°C to +70°C.

The 6.5inch TX17D01VM5BAA features a contrast ratio of 350:1 and a brightness of 800cd/m² with a specified 70K hour time to half brightness. A 31-pin data interface supports 18-bit RGB CMOS and a 262k colour palette. The display supports an operating temperature range of -20°C to +70°C and has mechanical outline dimensions of 153.0mm (w) x 118.0mm (h) x 9.1mm (d).

Both display modules feature a 4:3 aspect ratio, COG (chip on glass) construction and are fully RoHS compliant. Suitable for many varied embedded, industrial, instrumentation and medical applications the new UWVA 'IPS Like' 5.7" and 6.5" TFT display modules are supplied through KOE Europe's distribution partners and are available across Europe immediately.

4-Port mini USB Hub

B&B Electronics has expanded its family of industrial-grade USB 2.0 hubs with the UH104, an affordable, four-port mini USB hub used to connect multiple peripheral devices to a single USB port. Powered exclusively by the host USB port, it provides downstream devices with 100 mA of power and High Speed USB connectivity at 480 Mbps.

Designed for easy mounting in harsh environments and cramped spaces, the mini (2.4 x 1.75 x 1.10 in, 6.1 x 4.45 x 2.79 cm) USB hub features a rugged ABS plastic housing, built-in mounting tabs, a wide (-40 to 80°C) operating temperature, and B&B Electronics’ signature high-retention USB connectors that require up to 3.4 lbs. of force to disconnect, ensuring tight connections even in high-vibration situations.

The UH104 is made primarily for industrial automation, instrumentation, security, kiosks, point-of-sale and laboratory market applications. The hub is designed, tested and proven rugged enough for industrial EN61000-6-1 harsh environments. Its construction was validated using IEC60068-2-32 drop testing, and it also adheres to 15 kV ESD protection and FCC / CISPR Class B standards.

This entry-level hub shares many of the features of B&B’s top-of-the-line USB hubs, although it does not include their built-in surge protection and electrical isolation, features that are intended for use in ultra-rugged applications.

Cooling systems

Rittal has launched its range of DX based LCP cooling systems. Rated at 12kW, the Liquid Cooling Package Direct Expansion (LCP DX) can be deployed in either cold aisle containment or high density rack cooling. The LCP Rack DX is mounted on the side of the rack, to form a closed system in either the rack or the cold/hot aisle containment pod.

Warm server air is drawn in directly from the rear of the rack and cooled air is blown back in front of the 19" equipment level from the side, over the whole height of the enclosure. Rittal’s LCP DX has four EC fans for maximum efficiency and minimum power consumption. Flow characteristics of the heat exchanger are optimised for the lowest possible pressure losses on the air side, this minimises the energy consumption of the fans.

Maintenance and service for all relevant components can be achieved quickly and simply due to the optimised layout. Rittal’s fans can be exchanged quickly and at any time, even while the system is operational (hot swapping). In addition the fans are installed in the cold air section, which increases their service life.

PC development system for software radio apps

Pentek has announced the launch of its Model 8266 PC development system, pre-configured to speed application development for the expansive family of Pentek Cobalt® Virtex-6 and Onyx® Virtex-7 FPGA PCI Express software radio and data acquisition I/O boards. The 8266 is delivered with the selected Pentek hardware configured for either Windows 7 Professional or Linux operating systems along with ReadyFlow® BSP drivers and software examples, fully installed and tested. Upon delivery, the system allows development engineers to immediately run example applications out-of-the-box.

“The Model 8266 is offered as a standard pre-integrated platform, saving our customers valuable time and cost in selecting, assembling and configuring components for a high-performance, real-time development system,” stated Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek. “We resolve the typical hardware, operating system and software compatibility obstacles inherent in new PC development platforms. All hardware is installed in appropriate slots, fully configured with proper cabling, power and cooling strategies, and optimized BIOS and operating system settings. The customer simply needs to remove the system from the package and start developing. As an added benefit, the tested and proven configuration of the Model 8266 streamlines Pentek customer support.”

Pentek collaborates with customers to select from the extensive family of 786xx Cobalt® and 787xx Onyx® PCI Express modules and then evaluates system requirements to define the Model 8266 configuration most appropriate for the final application.

ReadyFlow Software
Pentek ReadyFlow drivers and board support libraries are preinstalled and tested with the Model 8266. ReadyFlow includes example applications with full source code, a command line interface for custom control over hardware, and Pentek’s Signal Analyzer, a full-featured analysis tool that continuously displays live signals in both time and frequency domains.

System Implementation
Built on a professional 4U rackmount workstation, the Model 8266 is equipped with the Intel Core i7® processor, DDR3 SDRAM and a high-performance PCIe motherboard. These features accelerate application code development and provide unhindered access to the high-bandwidth PCIe links connecting the Cobalt and Onyx analog and digital I/O modules. All necessary coaxial and timing cables are installed and tested, providing SMA connectivity for all analog I/O lines. The Model 8266 can be configured with 64-bit Windows or Linux operating systems.

ProfiNET enabled I/O Solutions

New PROFINET I/O Scanners for PACSystems RX3i, PAC8000, VersaMax IP round out I/O offering

GE Intelligent Platforms has extended its commitment to high-performance solutions in today’s connected world with the release of the PACSystems RX3i, PAC8000 and VersaMax IP Scanners for the PROFINET industrial networking platform. PROFINET connectivity ensures fast, easy-to-configure connectivity to GE’s PACSystems RXi and RX3i controllers and extensive range of I/O options, enabling scalable machine automation and highly distributed modular machine designs.
PAC8000 I/O PROFINET Scanner allows rugged I/O 
to be used in extreme temperature & corrosive 

Every level of a GE Intelligent Platforms’ control system from PROFINET networked I/O modules to the cloud-based automation development platform – is built to connect and collaborate. The new PACSystems RX3i I/O PROFINET Scanner enables GE’s most advanced I/O to be used easily and efficiently as a distributed intelligent node. Combined with the PACSystems RX3i controller, it makes a high performance, powerful, singular form factor for the most demanding applications. The PAC8000 I/O PROFINET Scanner allows rugged I/O to be used in extreme temperature and corrosive environments. And, the VersaMax IP is IP67-rated, so it can be bolted right to the equipment it controls.

GE’s PROFINET-enabled high performance automation platform combines PACSystems controllers with PROFINET I/O, to allow infrastructure OEMs up to a 25% reduction in their implementation footprint as multiple media types and Ethernet switches are integrated directly into the scanners. Setup is fast with easy-to-use name-based configuration over the network or with a standard memory card. OEMs can maximize their customers’ uptime by simply adding one extra cable to create instant network redundancy. Speeds up to 1Gigabit are available without reducing the bandwidth other networks types might experience.

“PROFINET is the standard for industrial networking in automation,” said Steve Pavlosky, Product General Manager, Control & Communications Systems Platforms for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Because we use PROFINET, we build on a high speed, high bandwidth network to enable better access to real time plant floor data by taking the worry out of volume, latency, and frequency of information flow. This delivers a high performance automation solution for today’s, and tomorrow’s, connected world.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sensors & Instrumentation on show!

Sensors & Instrumentation, a new, dedicated exhibition, conference and seminar programme, is taking place in Hall 3 at the NEC, Birmingham (GB) on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th September 2013.
The free-to-attend show, organised by Datateam Business Media in partnership with Trident Exhibitions, combines the solid industry foundations cemented by previous shows Sensing Technology and Sensors and Systems. The result: a single, focused, bigger and undoubtedly better event.

The exhibition will showcase sensors, test and measurement equipment along with a variety of other types of instrumentation and will play host to a range of seminars aimed at professionals from areas including: automation; calibration; cases and enclosures; condition monitoring; control systems; data acquisition; displays; environmental analysis; flow and level; gas detection; inspection and measurement; instrumentation, thermal imaging and many more.

Just some of the companies that will be exhibiting at this important trade event include: Dewetron; Infratec Infrared; Michell Instruments; Techni Measure; Optris; Rose Plastic; Kistler Instruments; National Instruments; Keller UK; PCB Piezotronics; Global Sensor Technology and FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, along with many others.

As well as an exhibitor list featuring a comprehensive collection of market leaders, the show will offer visitors the opportunity to enhance their professional development with a wide-ranging seminar programme and an array of innovative workshops. Papers are being submitted and discussed from National Instruments; Kistler Instruments; NPL; The Profibus Group and Techni Measure. In particular, Andy Mangel, Managing Director at Bronkhorst, will be discussing the manufacturer’s new ultra flow coriolis meter.

Visitors to the show will also benefit from an exciting event co-location, providing easy access to nearby shows Micro | Nano | Mems 2013, The Machine Building Show 2013, TCT Live and Mediplas. Due to the significant overlap in technology usage within these sectors, more visitors than ever are expected to attend Britain's only event of this kind.

The British National Physics Laboratory is also endorsing the event. Pete Moores, Business Development Manager, NPL Training, said: “The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is pleased to be exhibiting and presenting at Sensors & Instrumentation 2013. It is a great opportunity for us to meet and network with all the key players in this sector at one event. This year we will be providing a preview of our new Instrumentation and Sensors training course, so delegates can get a taster on the underpinning principles of measurement good practice, which can really make a difference within their workplaces, giving them the opportunity to generate a return on investment and improve measurement capability.”

Website eases access to display & component technical content

Product information cross referenced by application and supplier

Ginsbury has announced the launch of their new website. The new site has been designed to provide the end user with ease of access to technical data and product information. A simple, user-friendly navigation structure has been implemented and a new look complements the refreshed online portal.

Ginsbury specialises in the supply of high quality 
display components, monitors, digital signage
 and power components to commercial, industrial
 & retail markets throughout Europe
Site navigation is aided with product and application images that enable users to find supplier information and product data quickly thanks to an uncomplicated menu architecture. Content on the new site includes revised and updated product pages containing information for new and existing products and applications.

John Halton, Director, Ginsbury said, "One of our main goals was to create a website that provides a user-friendly experience and ease of navigation. Displays provide a visual indication of information and data. We wanted to employ a similar philosophy with the new website design. Every picture tells a story, hence the use of picture-based product and application menus and a minimal number of pages to drill through."

Ginsbury is hoping the new website will provide another tool for strengthening business relations and is asking online visitors to sign up for its Newsletter which will include the latest product news and corporate announcements from key suppliers and principals.

More applications for measuring image dimensions

By drastically reducing measurement times, Keyence's IM Series Image Dimension Measurement System has revolutionised full-part inspection. Now with a twice as large field of view (200 × 100 mm) and new illumination options, it can handle larger and more complex targets.

The IM Series measures dimensions in seconds both reliably and with greater accuracy. Simply place a target on the stage and press the button. Up to 99 points are measured in a matter of seconds with a high degree of accuracy. The system simplifies measurement procedures. In addition to recognising and measuring shapes automatically, it features an autofocus complete with a motorised Z-stage with a 30 mm travel range and distortion adjustment. Lastly, it offers the advantage of eliminating inter-operator variability problems and makes managing measurement records easy.

A broad range to cover a maximum of applications.
The IM-6600 controller can be used with four different head units — the IM-6015/IM-6025 (general-purpose models), the IM-6140 (high-precision model, 0.1 µm repetition accuracy) and the all-new IM-6120 (200 mm wide-field model). The IM-6120 features a 200x100mm stage yet still has a remarkably small footprint.

Four types of illumination are now available — backlighting, epi-illumination (for measuring non-through dimensions), ring epi-illumination (for measuring shiny targets or tapered surfaces such as conic sections) and grazing illumination (for measuring targets with uneven surfaces or contours that are hard to delineate due to the diffusion of light).

Plastic cap/Mouldedcapacitor.
Ring epi-illumination makes measuring non-through dimensions on bottle caps and other targets with raised surfaces possible. This high-intensity ring of white LED light is cast onto the circumference of the lens. The ring is divided into four parts that are individually turned on and off to obtain the sharpest image. These settings are retained for each specific target to be measured.

Statistical processing of data has also been improved with a new application that extracts measurement data so that it can be imported into conventional spreadsheet software. Users can choose from a set of document templates and customise each layout with a logo or other visual element. The trend graph/histogram function allows on-site analysis of production trends and variations and can help to reduce rejection rates.

Simpler vision systems

Simplified vision systems with power over Ethernet frame grabbers

National Instruments has announced the NI PCIe-8236 and NI PCIe-8237R two-port GigE Vision frame grabbers featuring PoE technology. The PCIe-8237R features LabVIEW FPGA-enabled I/O, including isolated digital inputs and outputs, as well as bidirectional TTL lines for implementing custom counters, PWM signals and quadrature encoder inputs. It also offers advanced triggering and synchronisation options, such as a low-jitter, low-latency FPGA-based network trigger as well as RTSI synchronisation bus support.

Both frame grabbers are fully compliant with isolation specifications in the PoE standard to provide additional safety for the vision system and its operators. They can also interface with the latest low-cost PoE cameras on the market as well as non-PoE GigE Vision cameras with cable lengths up to 100 m.

“With these new frame grabbers, you can power a camera, perform triggering and acquire images from a single Ethernet cable,” said James Smith, Director of Industrial Embedded Marketing at National Instruments. “Engineers are constantly being challenged to do more with less, so this is a huge advantage for anyone building a vision system.”

New corporate marketing manager at instrument company

Tom Watson is the new Corporate Marketing Manager at Moore Industries-International, Inc. In this role, Watson will help guide the company’s strategic marketing efforts in strengthening its leadership position in the design and manufacturing of electronic measurement and interface instruments for various process industries.

Prior to joining Moore Industries, Watson was the Director of Global Marketing and Communications at Goellner, Inc., a worldwide manufacturer of machine tools and machine components. While at Goellner, Watson handled two of the company’s brands: Henning (a manufacturer of machine protection and coolant management products) and Advanced Machine & Engineering Co. (a machine and components manufacturer). At Goellner, Watson improved sales and marketing processes while updating corporate websites and instituting a successful PR-oriented demand generation campaign.

Watson also held several roles during 22 years at Hewlett-Packard, including the title of Worldwide Advertising Manager of the Electronic Products & Solutions Group at HP’s test and measurement spin-off Agilent Technologies. While with Agilent, Watson oversaw a brand rebuilding campaign based on tutorial-driven content that helped increase brand sales and grow sales within the group.

“Tom’s ability to combine creative strategic thinking with tactical project management and execution makes him a great fit for this position as our company looks to reach new customers while retaining our existing base,” said Scott Saunders, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing and COO at Moore Industries. “In addition, we feel that Tom’s many years of experience in marketing communications and advertising combined with his background in marketing products to test engineers and manufacturers will enable him to make valuable contributions to the continuing success of Moore Industries.
“Moore Industries’ commitment to bringing innovative products of such high quality to process control customers is unparalleled within the industry. The company has several upcoming product and technology innovations planned. I am excited about the opportunity to work with this dedicated team to develop new ways to bring these excellent products and services to our diverse process control marketplace.”

Analyser in composter!

An organic fertilizer manufacturer has selected Michell’s XZR500 analyzer to monitor oxygen levels in its composting process. The innovative process dramatically reduces the time taken to break down animal dung into a useable form and the XZR500 forms part of the control system. Traditionally animal dung takes around 21 days to compost, however the fertilizer manufacturer achieves this in just 24 hours, with great benefits to their efficiency and costs.

The dung is fed into a rotating cylinder which agitates it for 24 hours during which time the composting process is completed.   Conditions in the compositing chamber are very aggressive: the chicken and cow excrement used as a compost feedstock produce high levels of ammonia. The conditions in the chamber are also very humid with temperatures ranging between 20 and 70°C. After the process is completed, the compost is dried and powdered.

The XZR500 – usually associated with applications measuring the combustion efficiency in boilers, incinerators and furnaces – helps to ensure the levels of oxygen in the composting chamber remain at the optimum level for maximum performance.

The XZR500’s probe is placed directly into the air outlet and an ejector is used to pull a sample out to the sensor housed in the ex-situ head.  The MSRS zirconium oxide sensor is able to withstand the harsh atmosphere in the composting chamber without the need for a sampling system and does not require frequent replacement, ensuring low running costs.

The previous analyzer used in process had needed a sampling system with a more complex installation and routine maintenance.  The original sensor used in this application was an electro-chemical cell which depleted over time, needed periodic replacing and added to the cost of ownership.

• Michell are represented in Ireland by Instrument Technology.