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Automation & Control

Agile Planet Launches Plug-and-Play Smart Motion Controllers

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Nancy Golden
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Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Nancy Golden   1/23/2013 1:01:00 PM
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This technology sounds very exciting - I particularly like the cross-platform concept if that is what Kapoor means by platform agnostic (sorry, haven't heard that term before). I am wondering about more details in how that is achieved and if there is an "easy-to-use" proprietary software involved that facilitates,

"[Agile controllers] make any hardware that is downstream look the same to the user. An end-user programming it can mix and match servo drives and robotics from different vendors, and they will come across the same."

Or how is that actually achieved?

Charles Murray
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Charles Murray   1/23/2013 8:01:41 PM
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Seems like cross-platform operation has always been lacking in motion control and industrial automation. Good to see smart, plug-and-play motion control.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Elizabeth M   1/24/2013 7:37:28 AM
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Yes, Charles, I think that's the real value of this technology. I am surprised there hasn't been a solution before this, but I suppose it is in the best interest of the platform providers to keep everyone on a single system.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Nancy Golden   1/24/2013 9:37:12 AM
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I think part of it is breaking out of the "proprietary" mindset. As a test engineer, I often used GPIB instrumentation and while the IEEE standard was the same - some manufacturers managed to make their controler cards proprietary so that in order to use their instrumentation, you had to use their card, and to use their card with other instrumentation - you had to purchase special drivers from them - IF they were available. I remember in one system, the only way I could work around two major competitors in the same test rack was to use two different controller cards. It was a software integration nightmare. I LOVE cross-platform products!!!!

Elizabeth M
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Elizabeth M   1/24/2013 1:00:55 PM
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I am sure you're not the only one, Nancy! Vendor lock-in and homegenity has its benefits, but it also has its frustrations, as you aptly described. It also paves the way for more best-in-breed design versus just using everything from one provider because it's more convenient. Could be the beginning of a trend!

Nancy Golden
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Nancy Golden   1/24/2013 1:15:51 PM
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Hopefully so - Elizabeth. I have seen some hardware/software companies go to extremes to get a larger market share. They would buy out a competitor with a solid product and then gradually have that product go away by phasing out support and not providing any upgrades - unfortunately that has made more than one quality product disappear. It would be great to see companies working together rather than stepping on each other!

Charles Murray
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Charles Murray   1/24/2013 6:46:44 PM
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Good point, Nancy. The proprietary mindset has been a challenge for the automation world as long as I can remember.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Nancy Golden   1/24/2013 6:57:04 PM
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I think the only thing that has reduced it if anything in recent years is not so much a change in mindset, but larger companies buying out smaller ones and then bringing all of their products under the same technology umbrella...I really appreciate software and hardware standing on their own merits rather than having to purchase them simply due to their availability.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Ann R. Thryft   3/20/2013 4:33:14 PM
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I did a feature on automation disties about 1.5 years ago where they were all saying that open standards were increasing and vertical integration was decreasing. But those may be longer-term trends that won't show for awhile.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Elizabeth M   1/24/2013 7:30:33 AM
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Yes, Nancy, forgive the confusing expression. I do mean cross-platform here. To my understanding from what Chetan told me, Agile Planet's controllers can be plugged into any system and automatically just work, kind of like when you plug a printer into your Windows PC and the computer knows what it is, finds the driver and it just works after a quick set-up. It's a handy concept for motion controllers.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Software Implementation to Achieve Hardware Control
Nancy Golden   1/24/2013 9:23:24 AM
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Thanks for the clarification, Elizabeth. Very cool concept - and not a small accomplishment. The easier it is for the user, generally the more intense the amount of engineering behind it!

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