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Articles from 2015 In November


European Governments Are Driving Clean, Efficient Manufacturing

European Governments Are Driving Clean, Efficient Manufacturing

Recent research from Frost & Sullivan (F&S) finds that government initiatives are the driving force behind moves toward low-carbon manufacturing. As an example, the UK government earmarked a fund of one billion pounds to promote the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a collaboration of innovators and industry experts that address low-carbon technologies in the automotive sector.

The research finds that government policies have created a huge resource pool for investment in clean, efficient manufacturing. The report also notes that non-governmental organizations and regulatory bodies are bolstering the development of sustainable low-carbon manufacturing. Government efforts are propagating low-carbon manufacturing technologies and techniques that reduce the effects of global warming and offer manufacturing cost benefits in the long term. F&S reviews many of these technologies on its TechVision website.

F&S finds that the epicenter for tackling global warming lies in policies and regulation. "The global transition into a low-carbon economy is driven by policy," Vishal Karthik, research analyst at F&S, told Design News. "Since industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, policies from various governments have strict mandates to lower industrial emissions. This is one of the biggest reasons industrial companies are adopting low-carbon manufacturing."

Europe leads the US on low-carbon initiatives

According to Karthik, Europe is out in front as the world leader in developing clean industrial policies and technologies. "European countries have stricter policies and regulations in order to align themselves in achieving the European Union's carbon footprint target for 2020," he said. He noted, however, that the US is on its way to catching up. "The US is moving towards implementing stricter policies along with the existing ones. This will likely push the US a little further in their response to global warming."

Asia continues to lag behind

Karthik noted that while Asian countries such as China and India are heavily industrialized, their transition into a low-carbon economy has just started. "Many Asian countries are yet to devise policies to tackle global warming. This pulls Asia behind Europe and the US in their efforts for a low carbon economy," he told us.

He pointed out that most Asian countries are still fighting various basic issues like poverty, economic development, unemployment, and infrastructure. "That takes precedence over measures to combat global warming," said Karthik. "Because of this, Asia is lagging in its efforts to move toward low-carbon industrialization."

Uneven moves toward clean industry

While Europe is moving quickly toward low-carbon manufacturing, lagging efforts across the globe result in overall slow improvement. "The adoption index in Europe is quite steep, but the overall global adoption only seems to be incremental," said Karthik. "The year 2020 will serve as an important milestone for global low-carbon transition." He noted that the reviews and learning from 2020 will likely produce an aggressive response to decarbonzation efforts for the next target year of 2030. "During this time, adoption rates may be steep," he said.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

Designers of Things Session Explores 'Digi-Med' Testing

Designers of Things Session Explores 'Digi-Med' Testing

Digital healthcare devices and wearable electronic products need to be thoroughly tested, lest they live short, ignominious lives, an expert will tell attendees at UBM's upcoming Designers of Things conference in San Jose, Calif.

"In digital healthcare, every single component within an eco-system needs to be tested," Sanket Mehta, account manager for Internet of Things and emerging technologies for InfoStretch Solutions Ltd., recently told Design News. "Companies in this space do not have a large margin for error. One small mistake and their product will be discarded."

At the conference, Mehta will present a case study on ingestible sensors. The study will highlight the need for end-to-end test procedures -- not just on the sensor itself, but also on the wearable patches, Bluetooth technology, mobile apps, and even the servers that are employed in such "digi-med" applications.

"The point is, you're not just testing a product," Mehta told us. "You're testing an eco-system. All the components in the eco-system are equally important."

Mehta, whose engineering expertise is in biomedical instrumentation, will draw on InfoStretch's experience in developing mobile applications and providing quality assurance services for digital design ventures. Too often, he said, designers tend to overestimate the look and feel of the product, while underestimating the functionality, regulatory and compliance aspects.

READ MORE ARTICLES ON WEARABLE MEDTECH:

"There's a proliferation of wearable devices on the market today," he said. "But often, because those devices haven't been tested well, they wither away and die a natural death."

He added that thorough testing procedures are especially important for so-called digi-meds, which involve encapsulating a sensor in a pill. Pharmaceutical companies are paying particular attention to such products because they enable doctors to know how medicines are working, or whether patients are forgetting to take their pills. By having such information at their fingertips, insurers can cut costs, which is why they are now pouring billions of dollars into the technology.

"Our message is that this is a product that involves a lot of regulatory and compliance aspects," Mehta said. "If it's not tested well, it will never be a success, no matter how well it is designed."

The 45-minute session, "Going Beyond Wearables: Ingestible Sensors," will take place at UBM's Designers of Things on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 3:30 p.m. at the San Jose Convention Center.

About Designers of Things

Designers of Things is a new conference produced by UBM that is dedicated to the revolutionary potential of Wearable Tech, 3D Printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), the business strategies and inventive people behind these technologies, and how they can successfully accelerate innovation to take their inspirations to the next level. Through in-depth educational programs, ground-breaking technology demonstrations, and unmatched networking opportunities, Designers of Things offers one of the most comprehensive and impactful meeting places for the technology design and development communities in the world. The Designers of Things event will take place at the BIOMEDevice event in San Jose, Calif., Dec. 2-3. For more information, follow us on Twitter at @DoThingsCon

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.

Like reading Design News? Then have our content delivered to your inbox every day by registering with DesignNews.com and signing up for Design News Daily plus our other e-newsletters. Register here!

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

Designers of Things Session Will Examine Importance of Haptics

Designers of Things Session Will Examine Importance of Haptics

Designers of electronic interfaces will need to be prepared to incorporate haptics in next generation products, an expert will tell attendees at UBM's upcoming Designers of Things conference in San Jose, Calif. Dec. 2-3.

"Sense of touch is under-utilized in a lot of modern digital interfaces," David Birnbaum, director user experience design for Immersion Corp. told Design News recently. "A lot of the time, interfaces are made to be understood quickly. But often, there isn't a lot of depth to the experience. One of the reasons for that is lack of touch."

Birnbaum, who has worked on haptic technologies for a decade, said he will discuss the need for touch-based sub-systems in products ranging from automotive touch screens and Internet of Things objects to smart watches and fitness devices. To do that, he will draw on Immersion's 22 years of experience in designing haptic interfaces, starting with its success in "rumble systems" for video games with Sony Corp. and Microsoft.

"In an ideal world, I envision creating digital devices with a low barrier to entry, so you'll be able to use them right out of the box," Birnbaum told us. "But over time and with multi-sensory feedback, you'll have the potential for enriching the user experience."

He says haptic sub-systems enable digital devices to fit neatly in an analog world. Such devices typically incorporate electric motors, amplifiers, mechanical mounting systems, and software interfaces, to name just a few of the component parts. He added that he hopes attendees at the session will leave with ideas for ways that haptics can help add new features and unique "brand moments" to their products.

"It's hard to imagine a set of technologies where haptics don't apply," Birnbaum said. "They always apply if there's a human in the loop because humans have a sense of touch."

The 45-minute session, "Adding Meaning to Mobile Experience with Haptics," will take place at UBM's Designers of Things on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 10:45 p.m. at the San Jose Convention Center.

About Designers of Things

Designers of Things is a new conference produced by UBM that is dedicated to the revolutionary potential of Wearable Tech, 3D Printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), the business strategies and inventive people behind these technologies, and how they can successfully accelerate innovation to take their inspirations to the next level. Through in-depth educational programs, ground-breaking technology demonstrations, and unmatched networking opportunities, Designers of Things offers one of the most comprehensive and impactful meeting places for the technology design and development communities in the world. The Designers of Things event will take place at the BIOMEDevice event in San Jose, Calif., Dec. 2-3. For more information, follow us on Twitter at @DoThingsCon

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.

Like reading Design News? Then have our content delivered to your inbox every day by registering with DesignNews.com and signing up for Design News Daily plus our other e-newsletters. Register here!

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

Beyond Inflation: 2015 Engineering Salaries Are on the Rise

Engineering salaries are ticking upward, according to a study and survey compilation by Randstad Engineering. In addition to Randstad’s research, the study includes data from The Society of Human Resource Management, Mercer, and Aon Hewitt.

Mercer’s data indicated that 99% of 1,500 participating companies expect to raise engineering salaries in 2015. A hearty 68% intend to do so to ward off competition. The raises range from 1% to as much as 4.8% for top employees deserving of merit increases. The average base pay raise over the past five years was in the 2.7% to 2.9% range. The study also pointed to salary improvement as the most-cited reason for engineers to leave one job for another.

Here's a look at the average salaries -- low, medium, and high -- for individual engineering disciplines.

Click on the image to begin the slideshow

  • Low $73,323
  • Mid $80,902
  • High $90,697

Salaries are about 10% higher on the West Coast.
(Source: burcas.co.uk)

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Like reading Design News? Then have our content delivered to your inbox every day by registering with DesignNews.com and signing up for Design News Daily plus our other e-newsletters. Register here!

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast’s most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

ON Semiconductor Keeps Watchful, High-Res Video Eye with Development Kit

ON Semiconductor Keeps Watchful, High-Res Video Eye with Development Kit

If you are just entering the realm of IoT device design, you might come to realize that you have stepped into familiar territory. When you step back and take an objective look at it, the majority of IoT device design is based on the reuse of existing technology. Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth have been around for a long time, and IoT devices depend heavily on those technologies and their refinements. This dependency is reflected in a new offering from ON Semiconductor aimed at home automation and home security applications.

ON Semiconductor anticipates high-definition video will be the next mature technology integrated into the IoT domain. In support, the company has attached its 1080p-resolution AR0230 CMOS image sensor to a Texas Instruments TMS320DM368 DaVinci digital media processor, which reigns over a land where USB, Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth Smart roam freely. A video-enhanced reference design is known as the MatrixCam Video Development Kit.

The idea behind the MatrixCam device is to store and forward single-frame and 30fps streaming video on demand. Video storage is accomplished via an 8-GB microSD card that is serviced by the TMS320DM368. A Realtek 8201CP Ethernet PHY, which is also under the control of the chip, handles the wire-based forwarding of video. WiFi video transfers are performed by a GainSpan GS2011MIES 802.11b/g/n WiFi module. Cloud services such as the Wowza Streaming Engine, Amazon Web Service, and Google Cloud Platform are supported. The MatrixCam's ability to access these services allows video to be stored and retrieved from the cloud manually or programmatically.

If you happened to attend my recent Digi-Key-sponsored Design News Continuing Education Center lecture series, "Buidling IoT Devices from Scratch, you are familiar with the Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 Bluetooth Smart SoC. In the lecture series, we deployed it as an Eddystone beacon. The MatrixCam employs the nRF51822 as an optional wake-up device, which wakes up the GainSpan GS2011MIES WiFi module, which in turn wakes up the TMS320DM368. On wake-up a Bluetooth Smart-initiated push notification can be sent to a mobile device, alerting the user that a video or image is available for viewing. By default, a wake-up event is triggered by the MatrixCam's integral PIR sensor when movement is detected. The stated detection angle is 140 degrees within a 10-to 15-foot detection radius.

The MatrixCam exterior design is clean, as there are only two pushbuttons (power and reset). Its configuration is performed using its embedded HTTP server. The MatrixCam's USB portal can be used for debugging, firmware upgrades, and recording/viewing video from the microSD card. A single-cell lithium-ion battery powers the system. Optional power can be obtained from the USB portal.

The MatrixCam Video Development Kit is supported by a number of downloadable documents on the ON Semiconductor website. I don't see future MatrixCam-based designs locked into the home automation box, as serious video capability has arrived for embedded IoT design.

Fred Eady is the owner of EDTP Electronics, which was established in 1988 following the publication of his first magazine article. Since the formation of EDTP Electronics, Fred has written thousands of magazine articles. He has written for all of the major electronic magazines, including Radio Electronics, Electronics Now, Nuts and Volts, Servo, MicroComputer Journal, and Circuit Cellar. To date, he has authored four books and contributed to a fifth. He currently works as a PIC microcontroller consultant and is a Microchip Authorized Design Partner. Fred also authors monthly columns in Nuts and Volts and Servo magazines. His customers include machine shops, specialty startup companies, medical machine manufacturers, coin-operated device businesses, and various other research and development companies. He has a very close working relationship with Microchip Technology, the manufacturer of PIC microcontrollers, and has taught Ethernet and WiFi classes at Microchip's annual Masters Conference.

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

Can Siemens, Georgia Tech Fill Gaps in Additive Manufacturing, Industrial Engineering?

Can Siemens, Georgia Tech Fill Gaps in Additive Manufacturing, Industrial Engineering?

Siemens and Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering to address limitations in the current additive manufacturing design-to-production chain in an applied research project as part of the federally backed America Makes program. It is part of a larger industrial technology research partnership between the two bodies.

According to Ulrich Raschke, director of Siemens' human simulation products, a cause of the gaps in the current additive manufacturing workflow, which has been referred to as the digital manufacturing chain by some in industry, is the result of traditional CAD and CAE tools not having the capabilities to realize AM's full potential.

Siemens has been trying to fill some of those gaps with its NX mechanical design software, adding design intelligence for so-called hybrid manufacturing process -- those that incorporate additive manufacturing with subtractive manufacturing such as machining. For NX, Rasche told Design News that Siemens is "developing modules that can enable better designs from additive manufacturing processes," accounting for manufacturing process constraints and impact on material properties.

The German industrial giant has a long history of partnering with academic institutions on advanced manufacturing research. It recently expanded its 20-year partnership with Georgia Tech to pursue manufacturing and design improvements through software. Siemens and Georgia Tech have partnered on a number of initiatives in recent years, including several government-funded collaborations. America Makes was the pilot program for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation began by the government to propel applied research in a number of fields for US advanced manufacturing.

Siemens uses additive manufacturing internally for its industrial products. One particularly relevant application is expediting gas turbine repairs, according to Fred Villeneuve, manager of integrated design system in gas turbine engineering for Siemens Power and Gas.

"For certain types of gas turbines, defective burner posts are simply reprinted, reducing repair times by as much as 90%," Villeneuve told Design News. "This type of application enables more complex part and component designs to be produced, which results in longer lifespan, lower cost, and better performance."

The second major project in the Siemens-Georgia Tech expanded partnership will be further development of Siemens PLM's Jack simulation software, a part of the company's Tecnomatix portfolio. Jack allows companies to use realistic avatars to simulate factory workspace processes and improve the design of factory floors and workstations.

Users of the industrial engineering tool can design for greater task efficiency, ergonomics, and safety for line workers. The new project with Georgia Tech aims to improve Jack through advanced analysis of geometric shapes and action optimization to make it easier to build simulations on a broader scale. The goal is to reduce worker fatigue and improve work instruction fulfillment.

A company might, for example, use simulations to ensure that an operator can exert the physical forces required for an engine hose installation, Raschke said.

"If an awkward posture is required due to other components being in the way of a good grip, reduced force capability may result," he said. "The Jack software can estimate what these forces are, and this information can be compared against the required forces for the hose installation. If the force is insufficient, then the specification for the hose connection may be changed, or the process may be changed."

Jack software will also be able to improve the placement and elevation of part containers. It can predict the number of steps and postures required to obtain a part and bring it to an assembly area. Work-cell layouts can be optimized for the time it takes to do a task and the worker's movements.

The final element of the expanded relationship is Siemens naming Georgia Tech a Center of Knowledge Interchange (CKI) partner for research and development. As a CKI ally, Georgia Tech joins an international group of eight research universities that includes the University of California, Berkeley in the US.

Tracey Schelmetic graduated from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. and began her long career as a technology and science writer and editor at Appleton & Lange, the now-defunct medical publishing arm of Simon & Schuster. Later, as the editorial director of telecom trade journal Customer Interaction Solutions (today Customer magazine) she became a well-recognized voice in the contact center industry. Today, she is a freelance writer specializing in manufacturing and technology, telecommunications, and enterprise software.

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

10 New 3D Printing Technologies: Multimaterials, Clay, & Factory-Floor Composites

Arevo Labs in Silicon Valley has debuted a robotic additive manufacturing (RAM) platform for 3D printing composite parts that works with commercially available robots. Depending on robot size, build envelope is scalable from 1,000 cubic mm to 8 cubic m. T

Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types. Like last time, most of them come from countries outside the US. This group includes some new R&D developments, just so you know what may be coming.

Three of the new printing technologies feature very different approaches to multimaterials 3D printing, ranging from precise microstructures, to multiple resin vats, to a new printhead for active microfluidic mixing that produces parts with gradient architectures. Sadly, they're all recent inventions so you can't buy any just yet. Another R&D project, from a major chemicals company, is a new method for 3D printing silicone.


But one new commercially available technology comes from an Italian industrial 3D printer maker that has figured out a way to extrude clay. We also tell you about some new desktops, and a 3D printer with a build size big enough to print a child.

Also commercially available, the first technology in our slideshow may change what's possible in making production-quality, ultra-strong composite parts for end-use applications like aerospace, single-use medical devices, and oil & gas. The robotic additive manufacturing platform combines composite deposition end-effector hardware plus a software suite, and works with ABB robots. The build envelope is scalable up to 8 cubic meters, depending on robot size. Arevo Labs, the platform's supplier, recently launched its commercial, on-demand service for manufacturing 3D-printed, optimized, carbon composite production parts based on PEEK (polyether ether ketone) and PAEK (polyaryletherketone) thermoplastics.

Ann R. Thryft is senior technical editor, materials & assembly, for Design News. She's been writing about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for 27 years, covering manufacturing materials & processes, alternative energy, and robotics. In the past, she's also written about machine vision and all kinds of communications.

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

10 Black Friday Gadgets for People on the Nice List

For the past two years, Design News has brought you some ideas for less-than-desirable gifts you can pick up on Black Friday. Today, we thought we’d give you some ideas for gifts that people actually want.

Check out our slideshow (click on the image to start) and then get shopping – be the hero of your Secret Santa party!

This watch, dubbed the “Geek” watch by its makers, is the perfect gift for the math lover in your life. It features the equivalent notation of each number. But don’t worry, a cheat sheet is included with each watch. $68. (A clock is also available for $30.)
(Source: uncommongoods.com)

Jennifer Campbell is an award-winning journalist and the executive editor of Design News.

Like reading Design News? Then have our content delivered to your inbox every day by registering with DesignNews.com and signing up for Design News Daily plus our other e-newsletters. Register here!

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast’s most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

Gadget Freak of the Year: Help Us Break a Tie Vote!

Gadget Freak of the Year: Help Us Break a Tie Vote!

Voting has closed on our 2015 Gadget Freak of the Year contest, but it is not game over yet for two competing projects.

I can tell you that the winning project (more on that to follow soon) ran away with more than 68% of the votes and our second-place project garnered more than 19% of the votes. They will win $6,000 and $2,000, courtesy of our sponsor, Allied Electronics, respectively.

That brings us to our third-place winner and the recipient of our second $2,000 prize. "The Handy Rival," an arcade game that allows an individual to play rock, paper, scissors against a robotic hand, and "The Portable Weather Station," a weather station equipped with multiple sensors for gauging temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure, and altitude, are locked up in even numbers.

So, we're opening up voting again and asking you, dear readers, to settle this once and for all. Watch the two videos below (placed in no particular order) and cast your vote for our third-place gadget.

Watch the following videos, click the name of the project to learn more about each gadget, and then cast your vote! We will tally up the votes and announce all the winners Dec. 7.

The Handy Rival

Portable Weather Station

Create your own user feedback survey

Jennifer Campbell is an award-winning journalist and the executive editor of Design News.

Like reading Design News? Then have our content delivered to your inbox every day by registering with DesignNews.com and signing up for Design News Daily plus our other e-newsletters. Register here!

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

UL Clarifies IEC Guidelines for Safety Features in PLCs

UL Clarifies IEC Guidelines for Safety Features in PLCs

Independent science safety company Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is providing new guidance for manufacturers about how to follow the latest IEC standards for implementing safety features in programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

UL's paper "Programmable Logic Controllers and IEC 61010-2-201" provides an overview of new PLC safety requirements as presented in the standard, and the technical changes that PLC manufacturers must address to certify new and modified PLC designs. It also looks at the technical requirements for the standard and provides information on timelines for transitioning equipment to meet them.

UL verifies, investigates, and tests control systems, industrial equipment, and other components that comply with international safety standards for design and use. PLCs for automation of machinery and factory fixtures are included in these evaluations.

The IEC published the latest standard for PLCs in 2013, but they do not go into effect until April 2016, John R. Kovacik, principal engineer at UL, told Design News in an interview. That has given manufacturers of PLCs time to integrate the requirements into new PLCs and also make changes to older designs to comply with the standards. UL can help them depending on which path they decide to go down, which each have their own challenges, Kovacik told us.

"If the want to reevaluate [older designs] for the new standard, we encourage them to dialog with us and do a thorough review -- an analytic-type review -- against the new requirements to determine if they're going to comply," he said. "That would give them an idea whether or not they should pursue recertifying."

As for ensuring that new products meet the standard, UL also can help them during the design process to meet the requirements before the production of new PLCs, Kovacik said. "We can tell them what they would be up against even before they start to go into production."

While often new standards for safety of electrical components just mean the introduction of new requirements, IEC 61010-2-201 goes one step further and puts PLCs in an entirely different category of products, which changes the methodology for evaluation, Kovacik said.

The previous standard for evaluating safety in PLCs was a standard out of the United States that was based on an industrial control philosophy, he said. IEC 61010-2-201 is an international standard that changed previous requirements to ones based on process control equipment.

"To be more specific, this would encompass more equipment such as instrumentation, lab instrumentation equipment, recording equipment, and laboratory-type equipment for measuring different types of electrical parameters," Kovacik said. "In general we're talking about the equipment that has traditionally been evaluated differently than industrial control equipment, which was where programmable controllers were previously categorized.

"The advantage of knowing there's a new standard out there is a bonus because they can gear their design philosophy to the new standard," he said. "But the old one, if they want to convert [older products], they have to go through complete reevaluation and there is always the risk that the product might not comply with the new requirements because it was designed with the old requirements."

Specifically, some of the new requirements of IEC 61010-2-201 that differ from the previous standard govern issues of durability of markings when exposed to cleaning materials; insulation; protection against mechanical hazards; risk assessment for mechanical hazards; production line testing; single fault testing; and enclosures.

More about the IEC 61010-2-201 standard and its requirements for manufacturers can be found in the white paper, which can be downloaded from the UL website.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga, and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.

Like reading Design News? Then have our content delivered to your inbox every day by registering with DesignNews.com and signing up for Design News Daily plus our other e-newsletters. Register here!

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Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2016. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.