Aug. 12, 2016 - Industrial wireless technology provides a competitive edge to operators and plant managers around the world as they seek innovative ways to improve the quality of communication in their production and distribution units. An effective communication infrastructure can make it possible for industrial equipment to deliver high levels of reliability, availability, and maintainability, thereby reducing operational and support costs, and minimizing capital investments.
May 13, 2016 - Toyota Motor Corp. has selected EtherCAT as its industrial Ethernet technology of choice and will base its new factories around the world on EtherCAT. The global announcement was made by Morihiko Ohkura, general manager of the Production Engineering Innovation Division at Toyota Motor Corporation during an EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) press briefing at Hannover Messe 2016.
Mar. 31, 2016 - ByteGrid Holdings, a provider of hosting solutions, has selected power management company Eaton to provide power management and monitoring solutions for its Cleveland Technology Center (CTC) in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, which it says is the city’s largest multi-tenant data centre.
Mar. 21, 2016 - Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kuka, a global provider of robot technology, to develop smart manufacturing solutions for industrial markets in Europe and China at CeBIT 2016 (Global Event for Digital Business) on March 14.
Mar. 11, 2016 - National Instruments (NI) has announced a collaboration with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and industry players Bosch Rexroth, Cisco, Intel, Kuka, Schneider Electric and TTTech to develop what they say is the world’s first Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) testbed.
Feb. 4, 2016 - Rockwell Automation and Kollmorgen have joined the industrial segment of AVnu Alliance, a community driving open, standard, deterministic networking through certification. According to AVnu Alliance, the two new members bring “valuable expertise to bolster the Alliance’s efforts with Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) for industrial applications.”
Manufacturing AUTOMATION’s sister publication Design Product News chats with Dr. Kurt Schmalz, managing director of J. Schmalz GmbH at Hannover Messe 2015 in Germany, for his view on the current state of global manufacturing and more.
Oct. 14, 2015 - An increasingly competitive world is forcing manufacturers to invest in becoming smarter and more productive. The Internet of Things (IoT) — the explosion of the number of smart devices that are interconnected via the Internet — is the next wave of technology that will help the industrial sector up its game. Connecting smart devices throughout a plant will allow companies to automate processes, better manage assets, and analyze real-time data from a variety of sources to make smarter business decisions and reduce costs.
Oct. 8, 2015 - The traditional approach to integrating machine vision systems or image-based ID readers with factory automation involves connecting to a personal computer (PC) with a dedicated serial line or USB port and running a translator program on the PC to interface to the programmable logic controller (PLC) running the line.
Aug. 17, 2015 - Manufacturing AUTOMATION chats with Jessica Ross, Balluff tradeshow & events specialist at Hannover Messe 2015, about the company’s IO-Link solutions.
Aug. 11, 2015 - Monitoring relative humidity in a lab can be challenging — choose wireless transmitters which can be the most simple and powerful way.
The Fieldbus Foundation and the HART Communication Foundation announced that they have entered into discussions to investigate merging the two organizations into a single industry foundation dedicated to the needs of intelligent device communications in the world of process automation.
The Fieldbus Foundation has issued a FOUNDATION fieldbus Preliminary Specification (PS) addressing fieldbus transducer blocks for ISA100.11a wireless devices. ISA100.11a is an industrial wireless networking technology standard developed by the International Society of Automation (ISA). As part of the FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management (ROM) solution implementing wireless and remote I/O, the new technical specification defines a fieldbus transducer block used within FOUNDATION for ROM devices to communicate with ISA100.11a instruments. In addition, it describes the method for configuring tools and asset-managing hosts to access ISA100.11a devices, as well as structures to identify and maintain device status in ISA100.11a networks connected to FOUNDATION for ROM devices. The new transducer block specification will enable automation end users to interface ISA100.11a devices to FOUNDATION fieldbus for better integration with a control system, or with FOUNDATION devices. The technology also supports a networked method for asset-managing hosts to access an installed base of ISA100.11a devices for configuration and maintenance purposes. HSE provides an efficient way to bring large concentrations of discrete and analog field I/O from modular devices back to the control room using a high-speed HSE connection. Employing HSE equipment functioning like a smart remote terminal unit (RTU), the technology brings all forms of conventional I/O into the native fieldbus environment easily. This solution makes discrete I/O, analog I/O, H1 fieldbus, HART® and WirelessHART available over common Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networks. The addition of the new ISA100.11a transducer block further expands the integration of process instrumentation within a FOUNDATION control system infrastructure.
The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) has announced the release of the new ETG.5003-1 device standard for the semiconductor industry. With the ETG.5003-1 standard and its corresponding nine specific device profiles, the ETG is now designed to be a starting point for a new generation of tools in the semiconductor industry.The release of the new device profiles ensures that EtherCAT will be used for more than just motion control, I/O, sensors and gateways in semiconductor manufacturing machines. From now on industry specific devices such as mass flow controllers or vacuum valves can be implemented directly into the EtherCAT system. On the technical side of this process, Florian Häfele supervises the ETG Semiconductor Technical Working Group and explains: “Since the release of the device profiles developed in 2012, we responded to machine builders’ demands to establish EtherCAT in the semiconductor industry as well to facilitate the creation of new industry-specific devices. We expect that EtherCAT will be found in nearly all tools, at the very latest when the 450 millimeter wafer diameter standard has been adopted for all semiconductor manufacturing machines.”The new profile, ETG.5003-1 (Common Device Profile = CDP) describes the general requirements for devices that are published within the specification series ETG.5003. At the moment this concerns nine different device types which are defined in the so-called Specific Device Profiles (SDP). Together with the CDP they provide the starting point for a new generation of devices with which more advanced machines of the future will be designed. The benefits of the new standard, according to ETG, include the fact that EtherCAT even devices from different manufacturers are now equal regarding their data structures and synchronization modes. This makes replacement and handling easier and significantly more understandable for tool manufacturers. Additionally, the industry-specific devices will get a more unique look and feel as a result.
Thermoelectric generators are devices based on the Seebeck effect that convert temperature differences into electrical energy. Although thermoelectric phenomena have been used for heating and cooling applications quite extensively, it is only in recent years that interest has increased in energy generation. This rising interest will continue and the growing market for thermoelectric energy harvesters will reach $875 million by 2023, according to the IDTechEx report “Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting 2013-2023: Devices, Applications, Opportunities.” Industrial applications taking off Wireless sensor networks are already beginning to adopt energy harvesting technologies, with industrial applications being at the forefront in this space. System integrators offering condition monitoring solutions in the process industry are adding energy harvesting-powered wireless sensors into their product portfolio, due to customer demand for wireless capability without the need for replacing batteries. Examples include the Logimote from Logimesh; small sensor nodes that can be mount directly onto internal combustion engines commonly used on well drilling rigs and natural gas compression packages using temperature differences between the engine and ambient air in order to generate power. Another example is the WiTemp, launched in 2013 by ABB, a wireless temperature transmitter for process industry applications powered by thermoelectric energy harvesting. The device features fully integrated thermoelectric generators and power management as well as standard thermowell or surface-mount installation.  It uses intrinsic process heat to power the full device (indicative required temperature difference ΔT = 30 K). In terms of data transmission, the device uses the wireless HART 7 communication protocol (2,4 GHz). It further ensures forward compatibility due to WirelessHART as well as secure data transfer. One user of this technology is Robinson Brothers, a specialty chemicals manufacturer in the U.K. that uses wireless sensors powered by energy harvesting to measure the temperature of their central heat distribution network (steam or oil) at certain points and transmit measurement values to office buildings without the need for wiring inside the process building. The device was installed in November 2012 and since that time it is powered permanently by process temperature as it is high enough to get a 100 per cent power supply from TEGs. Although the WSN segment is expected to initially grow slowly, as can be seen in the graph below, it is going to account for over a third of the overall market for thermoelectric harvesters by 2023. Non-WSN applications in the industrial sector will also see initially conservative growth but will account for almost a quarter of the market by 2023. An interesting application in this space is a concept proposed by Marlow Industries, the patent pending EverGen TEG Plate Exchanger that combines thermoelectric power generation with the high heat transfer rates, scalability and compactness of traditional plate exchanger technology. Electrical output ranges from single watts to kilowatts, depending on size and application needs. Gross volumetric power density can approach 1kW/ft3 for large systems, depending on the temperature differential available. This and other devices in industrial environments, such as steel foundries, combined heat and power plants or even applications such as hybrid solar thermal systems, are just some of the main markets that will be absorbing a large share of thermoelectric harvesters of varied shapes, sizes and performance characteristics. Dr. Harry Zervos is a senior technology analyst with IDTechEx. For more information on the industrial sector’s uptake of thermoelectric harvesters and for further details on other market segments such as consumer electronics and electrics, military and aerospace applications, as well as complete market forecast and segment penetration for the next decade, please visit
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