Friday, April 6, 2018

Computing and communication unite!

MEN Mikro Elektronik GmbH and duagon Holding AG are merging to become a provider of software and hardware solutions for data processing and communication. The two companies expect their complementary product range and expertise as well as perfectly complementary sales structures to give them a leading position as manufacturers of safe computer and communication solutions in critical embedded applications.

The previous investor of MEN, HQ Equita, has decided to sell MEN Mikro Elektronik with its subsidiaries in China, France, and the USA to Deutsche Beteiligungs AG (DBAG) in the course of the merger. duagon Holding was already a company in the DBAG portfolio.

The integration and further development of the newly created group will be accompanied by MEN founder Manfred Schmitz. He will retain his shares in MEN and will remain available to the company as a shareholder and as a member of the Board of Directors of the superordinate new group.

With the joint expertise of MEN and duagon, new products and complete solutions are to be developed. The focus is on automatic safety systems and technological trends such as autonomous driving.

Dr. Markus Dilger, former CEO of duagon and future CEO of the Communication business unit, comments: "We are pleased with the new perspectives that the merger of MEN and duagon opens up for both companies. For duagon, these include access to MEN's hardware expertise, for example in terms of reliability standards, and to new markets such as aerospace and medical".

Bernd Härtlein, former CEO of MEN and future CEO of the Computing business unit, adds: "We look forward to working with duagon and are confident that this merger will create a market-leading company for complete computing and communication hardware and software solutions for safety-critical markets. With duagon's expertise, this will initially mean an even stronger focus on the rail market, but it is important to us to continue expanding MEN's existing focus markets such as industrial automation, avionics or power & energy".

@MEN_Germany  #PAuto @duagonAG

Sensors for composite moulding.

Kistler Instruments has produced a novel combined pressure and temperature sensor specifically to support automated resin transfer (RTM) and wet moulding composite manufacturing methods.
For some years the aerospace industry has been using composite materials to save weight without compromising strength but now the automotive industry is rapidly catching up in the quest for lower fuel consumption and emissions. Unlike the aerospace sector where a relatively few, large items can be produced by expensive, labour intensive methods, the automotive sector needs to produce large quantities of much smaller components cost effectively. The techniques used for high volume composite production demand monitoring and control similar to conventional injection moulding to ensure consistent, high quality output. With its long experience of developing systems and components for the injection moulding industry, Kistler Instruments is ideally placed to provide the process monitoring systems needed by low pressure composite moulding techniques.

Much like injection moulding and other filling processes, the cavity pressure curve is a key factor in process optimization and production monitoring. Characteristic process phases such as evacuation, filling and curing can easily be identified from the pressure curve allowing process parameters to be easily optimized to make production more cost-effective.

The pressure signal can also be used as a control variable for individual process steps for online process control. Anomalies in the pressure curve show whether defects can be expected in the final part which, if out of tolerance, can be ejected. The pressure signal is also captured and recorded to allow traceability of individual process steps. For these reasons, the pressure curve is an essential tool for quality assurance. Due to the much lower cavity pressure experienced in composite moulding systems, the cavity pressure sensor needs to measure low pressure with high resolution to reliably detect even the smallest pressure or vacuum changes. The new Type 4001A sensor meets all of these demands plus the integrated temperature element, accurate up to 275°C, monitors the temperature conditions inside the mould allowing automatic temperature compensation to correct the pressure signal due to thermal changes during the process.

#Kistler #PAuto

Linear motors.

Aerotech’s ECO-LM and ECO-SL series linear stages combine high performance and rugged mechanical design in a cost-effective, economic package. A comprehensive choice of direct-drive linear motor, rotary servomotor, or stepping motor versions is available across 44 models with travels from 50 mm to 800 mm, plus vacuum and cleanroom versions.

The ECO linear stage series builds upon Aerotech’s long tradition of producing low total cost of ownership motion designs. Excellent positioning specifications, high stiffness, and a variety of options and features combined with economic pricing make ECO stages an ideal choice for applications where robust motion performance is needed.

Long-life precision recirculating linear bearings, along with Aerotech’s machining and assembly craftsmanship, enable the best geometric performance per unit price on the market today. Unlike other low-cost competitive motion stages, ECO stages can be integrated into complex machines with the assurance they will perform at a high level and outlast other machine components.

The ECO-LM series direct-drive linear motor stages are optimized with high precision, noncontact linear encoders. The precision noncontact encoders enable minimum incremental motion to 10 nm with micrometer-level repeatability. The optional HALAR factory calibration improves positioning accuracy to ±1.5 µm. The ironless forcer coil provides high force with zero cogging for smooth velocity and position control, ideal for applications requiring outstanding contour accuracy and smooth velocity profiling. The linear motor has zero backlash, no windup, zero friction, and excellent dynamic responsiveness. ECO-LM stages are available in 17 different models with travels ranging from 100 mm to 800 mm and speeds up to 2 m/s. Configurable cable management solutions are available for single and multi-axis systems as standard options.

For even more cost-sensitive applications, the ECO-SL series includes several NEMA 23 stepper motor and brushless servomotor options. The ECO-SL series is designed with many standard features and options that make the design adaptable to specific applications. Several encoder options provide electrical resolutions ranging from 0.5 µm down to sub-nm. A holding brake can be added for vertical applications. A motor fold-back kit is available for space-constrained applications to reduce the overall stage length. ECO-SL stages are available in 27 different models with travels ranging from 50 mm to 800 mm and speeds up to 300 mm/s.

@aerotechmotion #PAuto 

The effects of tariffs?

Though not strictly automation the "trade-war" between the US and China may have implications for manufacturers of automation products and hardware. This release from the British Electronic Component Supply Network (ECSM) examines some possible implications.

US Trade Representative proposes an additional tariff of 25% on products produced in China and imported into the US. Imports of Chinese steel and aluminium products have grabbed the news headlines but further analysis of the US Government’s Notice of Determination of Action Pursuant to Section 301: China Acts, Policies and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and Innovation reveals that many electronic components are also included.

Adam Fletcher,
Chairman, ecsn / IDEA
The current list released on 3th April contains over 1,400 products includes all tantalum, aluminium, ceramic, paper or plastic capacitors, many carbon, composition or film resistors, fuses, relays, LEDs, transistors, thyristors lithium, air zinc and silver oxide primary cell batteries. It also includes some consumer products, many automotive products and industrial equipment.

Members of the International Distribution of Electronics Association (IDEA) are in the process of formulating a position paper to submit to US Trade Representative requesting that electronic components are removed from the Annex during the consultation process which begins with submission of written comments on 11th May ‘18.

According to ecsn and IDEA Chairman Adam Fletcher, the application of the proposed tariffs to these electronic products would obviously increase direct costs to customers in the US but also transactional costs for manufacturers and manufacturer authorised distributors involved in the import of goods from China into the US and then onward shipment to international customers. To avoid the tariff manufacturers and manufacturer authorised distributors would have to drop ship goods or pay the incoming tariff and claim it back on exported products, they will also have to ensure goods were not re-shipped into the US from China via a third-party country. “It’s an additional administrative burden for the entire electronic components supply network where the lead-times for passive components are already significantly extended,” said Fletcher.

“There have been some suggestions that the current products listed on the Harmonised Tariff Schedule Annex are part of a wider negotiating strategy between US and Chinese Officials,” continued Fletcher. “I hope that is the case, but our industry must react quickly to request that all electronic components are removed from the proposed schedule during the consultation process”.

However, the findings of the investigation into China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer and intellectual property and innovation by the US Trade Representative concluded they are an ‘unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict US commerce’.

“We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” concluded Fletcher.

#ecsn #PAuto #IDEA #USA #China

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Youth and Automation!

Upcoming FIRST® Championship an opportunity for STEM-gifted young people to showcase their inventiveness, learn about potential career paths in automation.

Approximately 30,000 young people from around the world are projected to gather in two US cities in late April to participate in the 2018 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship.

The annual championship—which celebrates excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), innovative thinking and teamwork—takes place 18-21 April in Houston, (TX USA) and 25-28 April in Detroit, (MI USA).

The event, culminating months of regional qualifying competitions involving K-12 students, features three separate robotics competition championships—the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship (grades 9-12); the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship (grades 7-12); and the FIRST LEGO League World Festival (grades 4-8)—as well as the FIRST LEGO League Jr. World Festival Expo (grades K-3).

The showcase event is the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), where finalist teams enter robots they have designed, programmed and built in detailed, demanding contests against like-minded competitors. More than 4,100 teams of high school students, ages 14-18/grades 9-12, throughout the world participated in FRC events this year.

Steven Pflantz
2017 ISA President & Current Chair A.F.
As strategic alliance partners of FIRST, the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation (AF), actively support FIRST’s educational programs and mission, and encourage more young people to pursue careers that fully utilize their STEM skills and interests.

Practicing automation professionals will be available at the Houston event
to answer questions about the automation profession
A select group of practicing automation professionals—volunteering on behalf of ISA—will be present during the FIRST Championship Innovation Faire in Houston (at Exhibit #128) to meet with FIRST competitors and their family members, and to answer any questions they may have about career opportunities in automation and engineering.

“I invite all FIRST competitors to come by our exhibit and learn about the many rewarding, exciting and well-paying careers in automation and engineering,” says Steven Pflantz, an electrical and automation engineer and ISA and Automation Federation leader who has routinely attended and supported FIRST Championship events.

Pflantz, the 2017 ISA President who now serves as Chairman of the Automation Federation, insists the experience will be informative.

“You’ll find out what automation really is all about, what an automation professional really does, and discover the best educational and training paths to follow in order to become one,” he explains. “You’ll get direct insights—first hand, from working professionals in the field—about what automation jobs are really like. Who better to talk about these types of careers than the people who are actually in them?”

In simple terms, automation professionals create and apply technology to control and monitor the production of goods and services. Automation professionals are needed in virtually all areas of manufacturing and industrial innovation, including:  
  • Oil, wind, and solar power production
  • Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing
  • Food and beverage manufacturing
  • Computer software and networking
  • Industrial cybersecurity
  • Government, military, and national defense
  • NASA and space programs
  • Automotive production, including professional racing
  • Amusement parks and entertainment, including roller coaster and ride design
The need for automation professionals far outpaces available supply
The time is right and employment trends are favorable for students interested in careers in automation and engineering. The reason? Demand for qualified employees in these fields far outstrips availability.

For example, the manufacturing sector in the US employs nearly 12 million people (the equivalent of 1 in 6 private sector jobs) and supports almost 5 million more jobs. However, five percent of manufacturing jobs remain unfilled due to a lack of skilled candidates. By one estimate, the US alone will need more than 120 million workers with advanced manufacturing skills by 2020. At the current pace, America will prepare less than half of that number.

“The good news for young people who are capable in STEM fields is that there are a lot of career options relating to automation,” reports Pflantz. “These are well-paying careers that are very rewarding. They give young people the opportunity to invent, explore and create new ways of making our economy, our society, our world better.“

#PAuto #STEM #ISAuto @FIRSTweets #USA

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Oxygen analyser to reduce energy costs and help meet environmental regulations.

To improve energy efficiency and meet environmental regulatory requirements for small and midsize boiler markets, Emerson has introduced the Rosemount CX1100 in-situ oxygen analyser, the first high-performance, zirconia cell-based combustion control system designed for these users. The new system offers the ease of use, economy, and simplified maintenance they require for flue gas measurement. It features the same sensor reliability found in large industrial technology, but the system is built to the requirements of boilers used in such applications as food and beverage, manufacturing, commercial, and municipal.

With increasing environmental requirements, users of light industrial and commercial boilers are faced with escalating compliance demands that increase the need for measurement and control of the fuel-air ratio, which optimises energy efficiency and reduces emissions. Many small to midsize boiler users currently do not measure oxygen in combustion flue gas, leaving themselves open to regulatory as well as energy inefficiency problems. With the Rosemount CX1100, it is now economically feasible to bring high quality and repeatable zirconia technology to these markets.

“Midsize and small boiler users need a system that provides a high level of measurement reliability but justifying the costs and complexity of industrial combustion systems can be a challenge,” said Peter Lagerlof, vice president and general manager, liquid and combustion analysis products, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Our customers have requested a system that is right-sized for their needs – one that provides the performance they need without incorporating features the smaller end user doesn’t require.”

The lifespan of the sensor resulting from the zirconia sensing cell and the all-welded probe gives users and OEMs the quality and reliability they need. At the same time, the system offers an easy-replacement design that enables simplified post-warranty service. The combustion control system requires no reference gas, which keeps installation and maintenance costs low, a significant benefit for commercial and light industrial users with boilers that are sizes 10-100 MMBtu/h (3-30 MW).

With the addition of the Rosemount CX1100, Emerson now offers the full range of boiler combustion technology from smaller commercial boilers to high temperature, multi-measurement hazardous approval applications.

@EMR_Automation  #PAuto @Emerson_News @HHC_Lewis 

Test & Measurement leader relocates in vehicle testing facility.

HBM has relocated to Millbrook Proving Ground, (Bedford, GB), Europe’s leading facility for vehicle testing.

Bringing sales, marketing and product development together under one roof, the state of the art research facility also provides training facilities, which will enable HBM to provide even higher levels of customer service, whilst continuing to build on its leading position in test and measurement.

Millbrook is an ideal location, contained within a unique site with over 40 miles of varied test track, including hill routes, high speed areas and challenging off road courses, Millbrook has a range of test facilities for components and full vehicles. These include engine dynamometers, environmental chambers, crash laboratories, battery test facilities and advanced emissions chassis dynamometers.

Home to an increasing number of innovative companies who benefit from access to Millbrook’s testing facilities and expertise, HBM is delighted to be a part of the Britain’s vehicle technology cluster and looks forward to its continued growth and development plans.

@HBMmeasurement #TandM @millbrook_co_uk

Rugged, high resolution display.

A new 7.0-inch Rugged+ TFT display has been introduced by KOE. The TX18D212VM0BAA features WXGA (1280 x 768 pixels) resolution, a 5:3 wide aspect ratio, an extended operating temperature range and IPS (in-plane switching) wide viewing angle technology that delivers exceptional optical performance.

Jason Tsai, Marketing Manager, KOE, said, "KOE's new high performance, high resolution 7.0-inch display benefits with exceptional optical performance, highly consistent colour reproduction and wide viewing angles through the implementation of IPS technology. Additionally, Rugged+ displays have been specifically designed and developed to have robust electrical, mechanical and environmental characteristics that are highly resistant to vibration, shock, electro-static discharge and temperature variation."

Designed for use in high reliability industrial, in-vehicle, medical, aerospace and marine environments the Rugged+ 7.0-inch display is suitable for use where extreme temperature, mechanical shock and vibration are present. The environmental and optical specifications of KOE's Rugged+ display modules are derived from the same exacting standards as used in automotive specification display modules.

When used in human-machine interfaces, IPS display technology delivers exceptional colour saturation and image stability, high contrast and deep black levels with 170° wide viewing angles (vertical and horizontal). The 7.0-inch display features a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and a white LED backlight with a brightness specification of 1000cd/m². The display module has a built-in dimming control allowing backlight brightness to be controlled with a PWM or DC voltage input.

The 20-pin LVDS interface supports 8-bit RGB, which enables a colour palette of up to 16.7M colours.The display module is manufactured using COG (chip-on-glass) construction and has mechanical outline dimensions of 164.4mm (w) x 105mm (h) x 13.5mm (d) and an active display area of 152.45mm (w) x 91.47mm (h). The Rugged+ module supports a wide operating temperature range of -40°C to +85°C and storage temperature range -40°C to +90°C.

 #KOE #PAuto

Regional and mid-sized pharma manufacturer benefits from comprehensive product-based functionality.

Desitin Arzneimittel is implimenting Werum’s PAS-X Track & Trace as serialisation and aggregation solution at its plant in Hamburg (D). The company is a regional, mid-sized pharmaceutical manufacturer with leading positions in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric illnesses – especially epilepsy and Parkinson's syndrome.

Desitin’s HQ (Pic:Desitin Arzneimittel)
Desitin required a lean, powerful and easy to implement track-and-trace solution to comply with the anti-counterfeiting requirements of its various international target markets. These include all EU countries.

“We opted for Werum’s PAS-X Track & Trace solution as the connector between the shop floor and the serialization level because it meets all of our requirements,” says Daniel Weniger, Head of Process Engineering at Desitin Arzneimittel GmbH. “It is a proven serialization and aggregation solution that is already used successfully by many pharma and biotech manufacturers around the globe.”

Werum’s PAS-X Track & Trace solution is installed out of the box thus ensuring a short implementation time and safeguarding future upgrades. Initially the system covers two packaging lines and will be extended later.

@Werum #PAuto #Pharma

Programmable power!

Magna-Power Electronics has increased the power capability of its popular 1U (1.75” high) SL Series to 8 kW with the addition of 17 new models. The new 8 kW models further extend the SL Series lead for the most programmable power in 1U within its product class. The SL Series now spans 99 models from 1.5 kW to 8 kW, from 5 Vdc to 1000 Vdc, and from 1.5 Adc to 250 Adc.
The new 8kW models come in response to Magna-Power users’ ever-increasing demands for rack-mount power density. The SL Series was introduced in 2013 as Magna-Power’s first 1U power supply, building upon over 30 years of innovation in power electronics. When first introduced, the product series was offered up to 4 kW, an industry first for its product class. In 2015, the product series was further expanded to 6 kW and has since grown into Magna-Power’s most popular product line, satisfying the application demands for: automated test equipment (ATE) system integration, automotive testing, oil and gas, consumer product validation, and aerospace systems testing.

On the 8 kW models’ introduction, Adam Pitel, Magna-Power’s Vice President of Operations said: “Magna-Power’s growth is fuelled by incorporating state-of-the-art devices and technologies, while ensuring reliability through the company’s innovative power processing topologies.”

All SL Series models come as standard with monitoring and control from a variety of sources, including: front panel, computer interface and an isolated analogue-digital I/O connector. A Standard Commands for Programmable Instrumentation (SCPI) command set is supported, allowing easy ASCII text programming over a computer interface. In addition, an IVI driver is included for the Visual Studio programming environment along with a dedicated National Instruments LabVIEW™ and LabWindows™ driver. Additional computer interface options include LXI TCP/IP Ethernet (+LXI), IEEE-488 GPIB (+GPIB), USB and RS-485.

SL Series models are available with three-phase input, including 208 Vac, 240 Vac, 380 Vac, 415 Vac, 440 Vac, or 480 Vac. In addition, 1.5 kW models are also available with a single-phase active PFC Universal Input (UI), allowing for an input voltage range spanning 85 Vac to 265 Vac.

The new 8 kW SL Series models are available immediately.

@Magna_Power #PAuto @proactivefleet 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Linux, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity.

BCD-Atlantik are to host workshops in Duxford* near Cambridge (GB) to help designers get the best performance from two key embedded module lines.

The first workshop on May 8th is based around the latest DIGI ConnectCore 6UL IoT development kit and YOCTO Operating System - The Industry’s smallest wireless low-power NXP i.MX6UL UltraLite System-on-Module platform. The workshop will be a hands on event intended to assist in developing customised Linux distribution for the NXP i.MX6(UL) based ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A9 Multi Core System on Modules (SoM) and SBCs.

Starting with an overview of the Digi ConnectCore i.MX6UL and i.MX6 embedded product benefits the workshop will cover an introduction to the Yocto Operating System, Digi TrustFence Security Framework Overview, ConnectCore for i.MX6UL SBC Express and Yocto Hands-on Training.

Delegates will learn about the development environment setup and first steps, U-Boot Bootloader, application development using Eclipse or QT Creator, creating a custom Yocto layer and adding a custom application to a project, OS Customization and Device Tree Introduction and Kernel configuration

On May 9th the second workshop will cover designing Embedded Wi-Fi on the Lantronix – xPico 200 Series. The goal of the workshop is to assist designers to deliver seamless and secure Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Lantronix xPico 200 series allows OEMS to build and deploy their smart connected products with reduced complexity and lower risk.

The workshop will commence with an introduction to Lantronix and their products oxPico 240/250 and the MACH10 IoT application development and deployment platform. Two hands-on sessions will take place during the day.
Session 1 will cover, oLab1: FW upload + secure boot, oLab2-4: Tunnel (Serial to Ethernet, serial to WLAN0, serial to AP0), oLab5: Ethernet to WLAN0 bridge, oLab 6-8: Web manager, customise web page and multi user settings, demo MACH10 (OEM, portal, end user view), FW upload, remote reboot.
Hands-on session 2 will demonstrate Lab9: MACH10 end user view and Lab 10: SDK (Hello world, TCPtunnel)

Both workshops open at 9:00am for registration with a 9:30am start, Q and A sessions will follow each session at around 4:30pm.

*The IWM Duxford , is located at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, GB, CB22 4QR

New business in machine vision.

Protacon has strengthened its framework by purchasing the business of Vision Systems a Finnish company. For process industry customers this means an increasingly broad range of services with turn key deliveries that can include, in addition to measurement and quality control solutions, Industry 4.0 technology in the form of remote control as well as equipment functionality analysis.

Kari Pellinen (left) and Kari Rahkola
With the deal, the product portfolio and all employees of Vision Systems will be transferred to Protacon to form a completely new business unit specialised in machine vision.

“There are not many companies offering as broad range of services and we therefore believe that with this package we will be an even more interesting partner to paper industry customers, for example”, says Kari Pellinen, CEO of Protacon Technologies.

According to Mr. Pellinen, great growth potential is still linked to the utilisation of machine vision solutions in different industries, such as the wood processing and the metal and steel industry – as well as health technology.

“Generally, benefits can be found in areas where machine vision can help detect things that are invisible to the human eye, particularly when the object moves. For example, it can improve efficiency of production equipment”, he explains.

The transaction is a continuum to Protacon's investment in industrial integration services. In the past year, the company purchased several businesses that strengthen its concept of operation. Kari Rahkola, the owner of Vision Systems, a company founded more than 30 years ago, reflected upon various possibilities regarding the future of his company.

“I considered options of growing our business further and providing the best possible opportunities for success to our highly skilled and committed personnel also in the future. I have been following Protacon's strong development for a long time and my confidence in future perspectives is strong. In a larger company, the visibility and foothold in the market will certainly bring new opportunities and boost our business”, Mr. Rahkola says.

Kari Rahkola believes that there will be a great number of remarkable benefits for both parties, some of which are not yet even visible.

“A package containing a sufficient number of positive items creates a virtuous circle helping to find larger entities – good things will lead to other good things.”

@protacon #PAuto