Graphical Programming Allows Small Staff to Design Big Machine: Page 2 of 2

“domain experts” succeed in this way, including a San Francisco physician who used the graphical language to acquire data for a medical school study.

To some extent ProSlab 155, has already begun changing its industry. Up to now, a large percentage of turf harvesting has been done by hand-stacking, the company said. The few machines available for automated sod harvesting have been unpopular, in part because they haven’t been good at performing multiple parallel operations. In contrast, ProSlab 155 has been more successful, reportedly because LabVIEW and the machine’s CompactRIO embedded computer are well-suited to parallelism.

FireFly claims its new smart machine harvests 20 percent faster and uses 50% less diesel fuel than competing systems. In its first year of production, the machine has also outsold its two main competitors combined.

Equally important, the company hopes its technology will help turf farms move beyond the traditional approach of hand-harvesting. “This is faster and simpler,” Aposhian said. "It’s climate-controlled. The operator just sits inside and monitors it.”


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Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 31 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.

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