Dc motor powers auto steering
Chatsworth, CA-Delphi Automotive Systems (Troy, MI) won the 1999 Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contributions to Excellence (PACE) award for the E-Steer™ system, an all-electric, engine independent power steering system developed by Delphi Saginaw to replace conventional automotive hydraulics. The PACE program recognizes outstanding automotive suppliers.
In addition to energy reduction and environmental benefits, E-Steer offers simplified tuning, packaging flexibility and engine-off steering assist. Unlike traditional hydraulic power steering systems, E-Steer uses an electronically controlled gear-driven mechanism to provide steering assist. The design eliminates the need for a power steering pump, hoses, belts and hydraulic fluids, providing improved economy, increased fuel efficiency, enhanced performance, and improved environmental safety.
After an exhaustive search of 70 motor sources by Delphi, NMB Technologies was chosen as the OEM supplier of a proprietary brushless dc motor used in E-Steer Electric Power Steering system. The brushless dc motor will be used in E-Steer systems within cars built for European markets.
"NMB was selected due to our ability to mass produce the motor to a high level of quality," says Skip Kinford, Vice President of NMB Technologies Corp. The win reflects the company's commitment to the global automotive market, and focus on co-developing and launching cutting-edge technologies, adds Kinford.
Motor design development work was performed by NMB in Germany and testing conducted at its Detroit-based technical center. NMB drew design and manufacturing characteristics from its computer industry-oriented spindle motor in developing the E-Steer specialty motor.
First shipments began in April 1999 to Delphi Cadiz, Spain, with mass production starting in June 1999. NMB manufactures the motors in Thailand.
Design data: scrambled or over easy?
Columbus, OH-Industrial espionage. Does it bring to mind a scene from a Tom Clancy novel? In reality, it does not usually involve a spy in a trenchcoat, but occurs electronically and costs engineering firms over $3 billion a year.
Design teams are especially vulnerable when sharing proprietary information over the Internet and corporate networks, since even safeguards such as firewalls can be hacked through by data thieves. CAD designs and marketing plans can be snatched in seconds, leaving companies out in the cold after sinking millions into product development.
Just how secure is your design information? That is a question programmer and encryption expert Gregory Hensley's company answers for engineering firms every day. Hensley has created a new fractal-based encryption software which can be placed over a Token Ring network. Encryption is based on mathematical algorithms that create electronic keys and locks scramble computer data.
Character-based encryption systems rely on repetitive sequences that can be taken apart. A fractal is an endlessly repeating mathematical function. "Like a pattern in a huge field of moved grass, you don't see it until you pull away from it," says Hensley. With fractal-based systems, cracking the code becomes difficult to impossible, he says, making the software ideal for design data. Hensley's 7,700-bit shell prototype product will go into beta test in spring 2000.
PSP gets pressure PDQ
Detroit-A new way of measuring the external air pressures exerted on automobiles--pressure sensitive paint (PSP)--is faster and easier than pressure ports or computational fluid dynamics, say Ford engineers.
| CCD (charge coupled device) cameras record images that show pressure measurements on the side glass of a 4/10 scale model Ford van. Higher pressures show up as red. Purple and dark blue indicate low pressures.
One of the main advantages of PSP is elimination of experiment set-up steps. "Typically, a large number of pressure ports are used, and spaced about an inch apart," notes Patsy Coleman, a senior technical specialist at Ford. "What's time consuming is installing all of them. For example, if you measure pressure on a side glass, you'd first remove the glass, replace it with a metal plate or Plexiglas, and then carefully drill the holes and install the taps," says Coleman. A typical side glass has about 120 pressure ports. She estimates completing the process takes one person up to a week.
Ford engineers say that the technique is also faster than computational fluid dynamics. "Generating results from an average size grid might take days," Coleman adds.
PSP, on the other hand, yields full field measurement in about fifteen minutes, once the model is painted and the wind tunnel is set up. It requires no interpolation and no changes to the smooth surface characteristics of the vehicle model. "This tool allows us to get more detailed pressure distribution information more quickly," notes Stan Wallis, an aeronautical engineer with Ford. "Knowing the pressures allows creation of contours that minimize pressure fluctuations transmitted through the vehicle structure as noise to passengers," he says.
PSP technology uses oxygen quenching of luminescence for obtaining pressure readings. During the wind tunnel tests, two PSP images are taken, then ratioed. One image, called wind-off, is taken at ambient tunnel conditions. The other wind-on image is taken at test velocity, which ranges from 70 to 100 mph.
At test velocity, some parts of the vehicle model experience higher air pressures. To the luminescence chemical, the higher air pressure is the same as higher oxygen concentration. As the oxygen quenches the luminescence, the intensity of the signal decreases. The wind-on wind-off ratio is less intense when the model surface experiences higher pressure.
Ford worked with McDonnell Douglas, one of the first PSP developers for aircraft testing, on readying PSP for the automotive industry. Typically, aircraft testing velocities are 0.5 Mach (about 370 mph at sea level) or higher.
—Bruce Wiebusch, Regional Editor
To space and beyond
Space.com (http://www.space.com) has all the latest news from outer space. There are news briefings on the various U.S. space missions, as well as European and Asian space news. For the history buff, you have to check out the link and see what happened today in space history along with other interesting articles of the past. The site also features a Space Shop and what they call Space Imagined with links to TV, movies, books, and the ever-popular Area 51.
Detroit-Volvo debuted its sleek new "estate" (station wagon to us Americans) at last month's auto show here. Based on the company's best selling S80 luxury sedan platform, the 2001 model year wagons will initially come with two choices in engines: a high-pressure turbo with 247 bhp and 243 ft-lb of torque, and a low-pressure version having 190 bhp and putting out 199 ft-lb of torque. Each will have a different 4-speed automatic transmission.
Hot Spots in Cyberspace
A new look to an old friend
The next time you check out www.designnews.com, you may be in for a surprise. We are reorganizing to make the site easier to use, add new features and functions, and open up a brand new portal into the world of design engineering. So what's new on the site? Even more categories added to the market and technology Channels, including professional organizations and seminar and conference listings. We'll be introducing tool boxes and tutorials in the coming months, more animations and videos in our tech theatre, even more career and salary information, and engineering resources too numerous to mention.
But our best feature yet, at least in our opinion, is the introduction of Search Engineer. One click will lead you to more than 3,100 sites hand-picked by our editors and users as the most valuable to design engineers. Use it like any other search engine out there. The big difference is, when you type in chips, you won't get chocolate chips or chips n' dip or even chipshots. You'll get a listing of sites relevant to the design engineer.
The new look goes online this month, so check it out. If you have sites to add to Search Engineer, or any other comments on the site, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking classes and working at the same time isn't always easy in today's business world. But LifeLongLearning.com may open some educational doors. The site lists graduate and undergraduate courses available at a variety of universities across the country. Right now, the site claims a database of more than 9,500 accredited classes, helpful hints in taking distance classes, and even a link for scholarships for e-colleges. Check it out at http://www.lifelonglearning.com.
Apple Rubber Products (http://www.applerubber.com) recently introduced an interactive seal design guide on their website. The guide has 14 sections to assist design engineers in coming up with the right sealing products. Included are formulas for determining maximum and minimum O-ring cross section, maximum O-ring value, as well as 15 basic rules of thumb for engineers working with seals. Users have to register to use the design guide, but it's free.
Head over to the software store
Rockwell Automation has opened the Rockwell Software WebStore with more than 800 software products, including instant Internet ordering and single point of contact and servicing. The site has secure registration, so you can set up who's authorized to access your account and preset spending limits. Users can order via credit card or company purchase order. Product lines at the site (www.rockwellautomation.com/RA/index.jsp) include communications, information, logic, power, process, and visualization.
Controls and power transmission equipment online
Fairchild Industrial Products Co. (http://www.fairchildproducts.com) offers a site with both its operating divisions in onePneumatic and Electro-Pneumatic Controls and Mechanical Power Transmission Equipment. Users can download .pdf files of products by section or in full detail. There's also a distributor locator online so users can find the nearest representative.
All the better to enclose you
Serpac Electronic Enclosures' website at http://www.serpac.com features its product line and includes product drawings in both .pdf and .dwg formats. Downloading and modification is a snap. You can even e-mail your altered drawing back to the folks at Serpac for a free quote. The site also features an ordering page and a list of distributors and reps.
Concurrent design and analysis shorten time-to-market
Palo Alto, CA-Hewlett-Packard charged engineers at its Workstation Systems Division with improving the company's commercial hit: the VISUALIZE C240 workstation. Their objectives:
Improve true application performance by 1.5 to 2 times over that of the C240
The design called for reducing both the number of layers and the total number of boards in the system. Plus, because the board design included 266-MHz busses with rise times as small as 200 picoseconds, high-speed timing and signal integrity issues posed significant design challenges.
To accomplish the first two goals, engineers used new technology including a PA-RISC processor and memory architecture. The C3000 leveraged nothing from previous designs, not even the sheet metal of its box.
| Using signal integrity and timing analysis concurrently with the entire design process results in fewer design iterations and improved overall quality.
But the HP team realized that their conventional design process would fail to meet a schedule that was 25% more aggressive. To dramatically compress the design schedule, they had to similarly change the design process. So HP implemented parallel team design and concurrent analysis.
In concept, concurrent design sounds simple: break the design into several pieces and have separate teams working in parallel. When done, merge the pieces together to create the final design. However, implementation and execution are not trivial. HP says up-front planning is critical and fraught with difficulties. The environment, tools, and libraries must support parallel design by ensuring compatible and successful merging of the design partitions. Concurrent analysis verifies the design as it moves through the process, eliminating design iterations and debugging at the back-end.
To support both parallel team design and concurrent analysis, HP augmented their existing Mentor Graphics (Wilsonville, OR) board design environment with the Mentor Interconnectix™ timing and signal-integrity analysis tools.
The company partitioned the design into four sections, or "blocks." The schematic was designed in a hierarchical fashion to facilitate the partitioning and parallel design efforts. Engineers also performed analysis and verification at the block level. The board had specific signal integrity constraints and extremely tight timing margins. Concurrent analysis provided real-time feedback as the design progressed. Signal integrity and timing verification were part of the design process--not post-process--and the iteration between design and analysis was so tight that little effort was needed to redo work after a signal integrity or timing problem was discovered. An unexpected bonus engineers realized was design reuse. Engineers were able to drop the completely verified and proven memory subsystem for the C3000 right into HP's other development, the dual processor VISUALIZE J5000 workstation, helping that design team meet its schedule.
Parallel team design and concurrent verification allowed HP to meet aggressive design schedule and helped make the C3000 one of the company's most successful "power ups" of a new workstation design team that members had ever seen. The design was fully functional at full frequency within a couple of days of powering on the first prototype board.
Consider RIM for fast parts
Concord, CA-When you need tomorrow's production parts and need them yesterday, a variety of rapid tooling and production methods may come to mind. To that ever-expanding list, add reaction injection molding, or RIM, a decades-old process that has now emerged as a way to get true production parts without the lead times or the expense of injection molding. "Over the past year, we've found a brand new niche for RIM as a rapid production solution," says Gary Quigley, production manger at Rimnetics Inc., a RIM house.
Materials advances have helped breathe more life into RIM. According to Quigley, modern RIM urethanes, such as Prism 200 from Bayer (Pittsburgh), can achieve UL 94 ratings with wall thicknesses in the 0.125-inch range--compared to 0.250 inch with past RIM materials. In particular, the thin-wall capability opens up doors for instrument enclosures.
New rapid tooling methods have also given RIM a boost. Rimnetics, for example, can go from art to production part in as little as a week, thanks to its new Rapid Production System (RPS). To make an RPS tool, Rimnetics first machines a pattern from Ren Shape, a polyurethane board from Ciba Specialty Chemicals (East Lansing, MI). Quigley says he machines the Ren Shape board at rates as fast as 400-600 ipm, compared to just 80-120 ipm for aluminum.
Rimnetics then casts a tool around the pattern, using a proprietary aluminum-filled epoxy that needs no time-consuming finish work other than some polishing. The casting process can produce molded-in features as well as deep, sharp corners without protracted EDM work.
Tolerances for finished RPS parts are ±0.002 inch/ inch, Quigley reports, adding that RPS achieves the same surface-finish quality as traditional molding processes.
RPS may serve as bridge tooling to a higher-volume injection molding part. "If the part goes big time, the economics for RIM are not there," Quigley concedes. But the thinner wall sections of today's RIM parts mean that same part design can often be translated into a higher-volume injection mold part without any changes. He places the volume cut-off at which RIM starts to make less sense at around 3,000 shots, though he adds that the number can be much higher for parts that take advantage of RIM's unique capabilities--such as encapsulating very large inserts.
Over the past year, Rimnetics has built more than 40 RPS tools for a variety of customers. One recent project involved a 6 X 3 X 2 ft enclosure for a Becton Dickinson flow cytometer, a lab instrument that sorts blood cells. The job consisted of seven RIM parts, with walls from 0.25 to 1.25 inch and with some nearly draftless deep-draw sections to 12 inches. Still, all seven tools took just 10 weeks to first article inspection, reports Doug Dutra, a commodity team leader who sources mechanical parts for Becton Dickinson's Biosciences division (San Jose, CA).
Before selecting RIM, Dutra ruled out three other methods of producing the enclosures. The traditional choice, sheet metal, couldn't easily produce the sculptural styling that infuses the enclosure design. "It's tough to get the rounded shapes and compound radii we needed in sheet metal," Dutra explains.
Structural foam, a seemingly strong candidate for producing the enclosures, was eliminated because its tooling costs and lead times exceeded those of RIM. "A structural foam tool can cost a quarter million dollars," says Dutra, who notes that the entire seven-tool set for RIM costs about $180,000.
Finally, thermoforming didn't make the grade because Dutra felt it wouldn't offer enough rigidity without some sort of interior metal framework. "Thermoforming can achieve the shapes we wanted, but it creates a skin with more of a flimsy feeling," he says. RIM, by contrast, required no interior metal framing and allowed Becton Dickinson to mold in structural features such as bosses and ribs.
RIM also edged out the other processes because the job has just the right volume to offset drawbacks of RIM in particular and molded plastics in general. According to Dutra, the volumes for the instrument, at a "few hundred" units per year, are low enough to overcome RIM's cycle time disadvantage. "Reaction time can string out the ability to make parts quickly," says Dutra. In fact, the largest part takes up to 30 minutes to cure, but at a few hundred pieces per year, the cycle time doesn't come into play. At the same time, the volumes are high enough to allow the company to get a favorable amortization on the tooling. Dutra notes that many jobs--especially in the medical instrument business--have volumes and design requirements for which RIM makes a lot of sense. "RIM is very much an emerging process," he says.
—Joseph Ogando, Mid-Atlantic Regional Editor
Dallas, TX-"Counting strokes while swimming fast is like trying to think about your baseball swing with Nolan Ryan throwing you a fastball," says Bill Geiser, an entrepreneur, former swim coach, and inventor of a sleek wristwatch styled data monitor. Just strap it on, dive in, swim your best and forget about the rest. The device acts as a personal swim coach to count laps, analyze stokes, and track elapsed time, number of strokes, stroke cycle, distance, cycles per minute, and velocity.
"It is almost too simple," says Geiser, who created the tool to give the serious 100,000-meter-a-week competitive swimmer instant feedback on training performance. Every time a swimmer's hand enters the water, a stroke is recorded by two metallic sensor nodes that sit at 12:00 and 6:00 on the face of the monitor. The sensors short circuit while the device is in water and cause an interrupt signal to an internal Toshiba 4-bit microprocessor. The chip counts each stroke taken by the swimmer and calculates a variety of swim stroke indicators, which are displayed on the device's LCD readout.
| When the stroke monitor is submerged, the water on the instrument’s surface forms a bridge extending from the first to the second sensor, creating a short circuit between them.
Geiser spent a year gathering peer data and researching accelerometer and force transducer-based designs before opting for a simple switch for stroke detection, saying it was low cost easy to build, with consistent, predictable results. He found that mechanical force and motion measurement components were expensive and difficult to produce in both the watertight chambers required by the product as well as air, humidity, and temperature changes in manufacturing. "Just as the world's best swimmers travel farther in fewer strokes, sometimes the world's best devices beat out the others by creatively applying older technology," says Geiser. The unit is marketed by Speedo.
Black box or white bottle?
Redmond, WA-When U.S. Navy robots pulled the "black boxes" from Egypt Air Flight 990 out of the North Atlantic in November, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder looked pretty beat up.
Dripping with seawater, with their "pingers" snapped off from the crash impact, and dented from the enormous ocean-bottom pressure, it seemed amazing they could hold any useful information about the grisly accident that cost 217 lives.
| Flight data recorders protect their valuable memory boards by sandwiching them inside layers of armor, and leaving all the electronics outside the protective “bottle.”
But investigators were able to recover detailed data about the doomed flight, because that visible abuse was superficial, just damaging the "sacrificial enclosure" that protected the memory stored inside.
So how do all these sensitive electronic systems survive a potential fiery crash impact? Here is the secret of black box design--they don't.
"When you see the flight recorder dragged up from the ocean, and the thing's smashed to smithereens, we don't care about that," explains Duncan W. Schofield, manager of flight recorder engineering for Honeywell International (known until recently as Allied Signal). "On Flight 990, they pulled an orange box up first, and then they pulled a white box out of that."
It's this white box that's designed to survive anything. And just as the "black box" is actually painted fluorescent orange, the "white box" is actually round.
"It's a cylindrical enclosure, about the size of a Bordeaux wine bottle, without the neck," Schofield says. It used to be made from stainless steel, but Honeywell recently moved to a tooling steel with corrosion-resistant coating.
On the outside, the protective enclosure is made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Since the boxes are not hermetically sealed, the circuit boards inside are protected with a urethane coating. This concern about corrosion is not related to watery crashes; it's done to minimize maintenance.
"The design life of an airplane is 20 years, but they're being used near twice that," Schofield says. "There are 727s still flying that were built in 1962. Since you could put a flight data recorder on a plane and not remove it for 40 years, you need corrosion resistance."
The only component that is protected inside the white Bordeaux bottle is the memory, stored at 768 bits/sec in non-volatile RAM, so it does not need power to save that data. (The memory for Flight 990 was stored on "tapes" since its box was built in 1989, but more modern boxes use this solid state memory.) The data-acquisition computers and power supply are in the outer, sacrificial box, and the microphones are connected by wires to the cockpit. The black boxes themselves are stored in the tail of the plane, so they're usually not the first components to hit the ground in a crash.
Still, the white bottle in the black box is subjected to a sadistic round of tests. First, the 17-lb, 5 x 6 x 20 inch package is fired by a pneumatic cannon at a wall, colliding at 3,400 g. Then the same box is crushed for five minutes under 5,000 lbs of force. Next, a 500-lb weight is dropped from 10 feet, driving a 1/4-inch hardened steel rod into the box. And then, the box is burned at 1,100C for an hour.
If it can withstand that, engineers get a fresh box, and cook it at 260C for 10 hours, then put it under the equivalent of 20,000 feet of sea water for 24 hours, and finally give it a 30-day soak in saltwater for a corrosion test. Afterward, the box is covered with hydraulic fluid, jet fuel and blue water (the colored toilet chemicals you see in airplane commodes) for more corrosion testing.
Despite its high-end tolerance, black box design is not likely to change much, Schofield says. It's a price-driven item for airlines, so as long as the current design works, there's no market pressure to use fancy materials. (Honeywell shares the market with L3 Communications (Sarasota, FL)). But there is one big change coming--the FAA will soon require that flight data recorders track 88 parameters of data, up from the current 29. And the agency will also require that cockpit voice recorders store 2 hours of memory, up from the current 30 minutes.
--Benjamin B. Ames, Associate Editor
Motion processor reduces controller cost, complexity
Sterling Heights, MI-JRA Company reduced cost and board complexity in the design of a 4-axis motor controller, the DSP-4, with the help of Lexington, MA-based Performance Motion Devices' MC1401A Brushed Servo Motion Processor. JRA uses the processor in trapezoidal mode for contouring, giving them the ability to update position with on-the-fly parameter changes--such as velocity and position--that help eliminate jerk in the mechanical system such as contouring and CNC applications.
This ability to coordinate motion between axes is critical in JRA's application. DSP-4 occupies one standard ISA slot in a PC, and is designed for use with dc servomotors, providing synchronized motion of up to four axes. "Other motion chips on the market just don't have the capabilities that PMD offers for contouring applications, and the compact packaging made it easy to design PMD into our controller," says JRA's Jay Joyner.
The controller accepts feedback from quadrature incremental encoders at frequencies up to 1 MHz. The unit provides 32 lines of user-configurable I/O for control and monitoring of external devices that communicate with the controller via the PC bus using C, C++, Basic or Visual Basic. A 3-axis software package developed for CNC milling applications provides a complete CNC front end, allowing users to run tool paths created using their own CAM program or programs written within the CNC package.
PMD's MC1401A is an intelligent, programmable motion processor designed for controlling 4 brushed servomotors simultaneously. A processor for profile generation and PID calculations, and a logic device that handles motor-specific functions, make up the device. With user-selectable profiling modes including S-curve, trapezoidal, velocity contouring, and electronic gearing, the processor accepts input parameters such as position, velocity, and acceleration from the host via an 8-bit bi-directional parallel port, then generates a corresponding trajectory. The motion processor uses incremental encoder position feedback signals and interfaces to a DAC or PWM compatible output drive.
New sensor technology enables simpler, cheaper machine vision
Natick, MA-A promising new machine vision technology could give original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a new way of inspecting incoming vendor components. The technology, known as In-Sight 2000, has the potential to bring machine vision to applications that previously could not justify the cost.
Developed by engineers at Cognex Corp., In-Sight 2000 is said to offer better performance than photoelectric sensors and so-called "smart cameras." At the same time, it brings a simpler and cheaper form of machine vision to manufacturers of electronics, consumer goods, and medical devices.
Because the new stand-alone technology is not PC-based, Cognex engineers say it can be easily integrated into the feeder mechanisms of assembly machines. "You typically wouldn't do that with a conventional vision system because of the cost of cameras and other components," notes George Blackwell, senior manager for end user marketing for Cognex. The new system, Blackwell says, costs less than $5,000, which is less than a quarter of low-end conventional machine vision costs.
The In-Sight 2000 system accomplishes all that by employing a digital camera that connects to a digital signal processor (DSP). That's a departure from conventional machine vision technology, which typically uses PC-based Pentium processors. By going to a DSP, instead of a PC, In-Sight 2000 eliminates the need for a cooling fan and a larger enclosure because the DSP dissipates less heat, Cognex engineers say.
Software control of the system is accomplished through a spreadsheet application, which users access through a handheld keypad. Known as the In-Sight spreadsheet, it eliminates the need for programming. The patent-pending software program allows users to select tools and vision parameters through a series of dialogue boxes--all while using the keypad. As a result, users don't need a programmer to set the system up.
Cognex engineers expect the system to be applied in such industries as automotive manufacturing, where it could serve to inspect component parts from second- and third-tier suppliers. The system senses the presence and location of objects, finding the part in any orientation and in almost any lighting conditions. "You typically wouldn't have used machine vision in applications like those because of the cost of cameras and other components," Blackwell says. "That's where smart cameras fit in. But smart cameras didn't offer the same performance as machine vision."
In those applications, Cognex engineers say the system could come close to matching conventional machine vision performance. Says Blackwell: "It puts the power of machine vision in a sensor, and does it at a price that's comparable to that of a smart camera."
--Charles J. Murray, Senior Regional Technical Editor
Ethernet races to the factory floor
Waltham, MA-Once the subject of great controversy regarding its suitability in industrial environments, Ethernet is now used routinely for command and control. Although it's still a developing standard with few technical standards set, organizations such as the Industrial Ethernet Association work on finalizing specifications. With consistency comes ease of use, since multiple company's products will be able to peacefully coexist. But one of the major barriers to open networking on the factory floor has been the non-deterministic nature of Ethernet. If fast enough however, Ethernet could be used for many real-time industrial applications. NETsilicon, Inc., manufacturer of system-on-chip (SoC) networking solutions, recently introduced NET+FAST IP™, a software module that removes one barrier for using Ethernet in high-speed real-time industrial automation applications. NET+FAST IP reduces the time required to process and execute commands over Ethernet by providing a mechanism to respond to incoming packets instantly by associating a data buffer auto-reply or an automated processing routine with particular IP ports.
| NET+FAST IP, reduces the time it takes to process and execute commands over an Ethernet network.
Using this new module, which supports NETsilicon's NET+Works™ family of Internet/Ethernet-based embedded networking solutions, industrial automation equipment providers can now deliver Ethernet-connected applications that require a deterministic response. "We now have a technology that removes all doubts about the use of Ethernet for real-time industrial automation applications. NET+FAST IP meets or exceeds response times from proprietary vendor-specific fieldbuses and paves the way for Ethernet and Internet protocols on the factory floor," said Michael Evensen, NETsilicon's vice president of industrial automation worldwide and embedded systems, Europe. "Our patent-pending NET+FAST IP solution will make a significant impact in the oil and gas, power distribution, and control industries for many applications, including intelligent instruments, valve actuators, and robotics, among others."
Most control systems today are based on proprietary, expensive, hardware-centric networks that guarantee a certain response time to and from networked devices. This ability to guarantee a response time is referred to as determinism. While not considered deterministic, today's 100BaseT and Gigabit Ethernet networks provide enough bandwidth to deliver the speedy response rates necessary to support many industrial automation applications. NET+FAST IP delivers added performance to capture the many industrial applications.
| NET+FAST IP-enabled NET+Works environment consistently generated responses of 240-250 µsec.
Typically, Ethernet-connected devices offer a response time of several milliseconds. Delays of this length are unacceptable for many real-time applications. In a lab test conducted by Metrica Labs, Inc. (Portland, OR), the NET+FAST IP-enabled NET+Works environment consistently generated responses of 240-250 µsec. Without NET+FAST IP, the powerful environment produced responses in an average of 1,330 µsec--a five-factor differential. The lab test was conducted from a 450 MHz Pentium III PC client system using a 3Com 3C905B 100 BaseT Ethernet connection to NETsilicon's NET+40 processor running Integrated System Inc.'s pSOS+ä version 2.23. The 250-µsec benchmark is considered blazing speed in industrial automation and fast enough to support the overwhelming majority of real-time applications.
"One of the objections to the use of Internet protocols, both TCP/IP and UDP/IP, in industrial automation has been the slowness of the IP communications stack," explains Dick Caro, vice president at industrial automation research firm, ARC Advisory Group. "NETsilicon has addressed this directly with a high efficiency solution combined with the already low latency time and high speed of their NET+Works offering, a standard Ethernet solution appropriate for real-time applications. NET+FAST IP removes the only remaining advantage of proprietary networks." Caro adds, "Many of our clients are in the process of implementing TCP/IP into their products and will undoubtedly be very interested in this technology."
NET+FAST IP software is available as an optional module in the NET+Works Embedded Networking Solutions architecture. A run-time license is required and is priced at $3 in 10,000 quantities.
National Manufacturing Week shows off 21st Century products
Chicago-From March 13-16, 2000, McCormick Place will come alive with the bustling ideas and brand new products of National Manufacturing Week. With 2,000 exhibitors and over 52,000 attendees, last year's show brought together engineers from the OEM and process industries, including automotive, consumer goods, electronic, fabricated metals, chemicals, food, paper, primary metal, rubbers, and plastics.
The event comprises four interrelated shows, with the 48th annual National Design Engineering Show (NDES) at the center. Last year's NDES accounted for over 1,000 vendors and 32,000 showgoers, and this year should be even bigger, with new products and services ranging from CAD/CAM and CNC software to fluid power and control, motion control/power transmission, robotics and test/inspection/measurement.
This year's NDES will feature the 2nd annual Motion Hall--with 100 exhibitors focused on motion control engineering, pneumatic, electromechanical and hydraulic components, and control systems--and the Quality Hall, focused on quality assurance and reliability. And there are four special events planned for the show: the Design Theater is a series of live, 45-minute presentations by companies showcasing their newest developments; Fortune magazine will present its "Heroes of Manufacturing" award to a deserving individual; and two panels, one from Andersen Consulting's Supply Chain Group, and a panel of industry CEOs.
Visit the Design News booth to pick up a copy of our National Manufacturing Week Show Daily covering critical information on all four shows; to see exhibits of important technologies we've reported throughout the past year; and to surf our new Design News Online website and our newest online product, Search Engineer. The latter scans more than 3,100 web sites collecting items of interest to design engineers.
Visit www.manufacuringweek.com to learn more, including details about NDES and the three other shows: National Industrial Automation, National Industrial Enterprise IT, and National Plant Engineering.
Convince the world your design is a winner
Oak Brook, IL-The 38th annual R&D 100 Awards competition is open to new products from companies, research organizations, and universities. Winners are recognized as the 100 most technologically significant new products and processes of the year in R&D Magazine. Former winners have received the attention of national and international media as well as interest from potential customers. The Chicago Tribune has called these awards "The Oscars of Invention" and others have referred to the R&D 100 Awards as the "Nobel Prizes of Applied Research." Past winners have included breakthroughs like kinematic coupling, liquid crystal displays, the fax machine, IBM's Microdrive, vacuum gauges, the optical character reader, and the Modular Disk Coextrusion Die.
An application, tips on how to win, past winners, and more information about the competition and its history are available at http://www.rdmag.com/rd100/100award.htm. Applications are due March 6, 2000.