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Articles from 2016 In August


‘Don’t Go Gangbusters’ on Your IoT Applications

Sensor deployment in automated factories should be done slowly and conservatively, otherwise engineers may face the loss of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, an Internet of Things (IoT) expert will tell attendees at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Show in Minneapolis.

Sandhiprakash Bhide, an IoT thought leader and former director of innovation for Intel’s Internet of Things Group, recommends that engineers begin with a proof-of-concept IoT application in a small area before spreading it broadly across a factory. “Don’t go gangbusters,” he told Design News recently. “Start on a small scale. You have to take a conservative approach because millions of dollars can be at stake.”

IoT thought leader Sandhiprakash Bhide will offer common sense solutions for IoT applications at the Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis Show.

(Source: Sandhiprakash Bhide)

Bhide’s session, “Developments in Sensors for Automation & Inventory Control,” will focus on the idea of limiting automation mistakes by using sensors as an extra pair of eyes. It will examine the resulting advances in precision, as well as proper maintenance and best practices in real-time monitoring. It will also look at advancements in IoT devices designed for optimizing warehouse space and eliminating inventory.


D&M Minn logoSensor Best Practices Learn how sensors can create an extra pair of eyes in your lean machine architecture during Sandhiprakash Bhide's Industry 4.0 session "Developments in Sensors for Automation & Inventory Control" at Design & Manufacturing, Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.


Mostly, though, it will focus on applying common sense solutions for hands-on applications. Bhide, who has spearheaded IoT applications in automated factories, hydro-electric generating plants, and dozens of other locales, will share his insights into the advantages and pitfalls of sensor deployment. “Let no contractor come onto your premises and offer an IoT solution to solve all your problems,” he said. “A contracting company should have a clear understanding of the problem, the goals, and the timeframe to achieve those goals before doing anything.”

The key, Bhide will tell attendees, is integration. That, he said, is more important than the type and number of sensors. “The trick isn’t to use newer and sexier sensors,” he told us. “The trick is integrating the sensors in an intelligent and unique way.”

Bhide’s solo presentation is scheduled for Sept. 22, at 10 a.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 32 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.

‘Don’t Go Gangbusters’ on Your IoT Applications

‘Don’t Go Gangbusters’ on Your IoT Applications

Sensor deployment in automated factories should be done slowly and conservatively, otherwise engineers may face the loss of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, an Internet of Things (IoT) expert will tell attendees at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Show in Minneapolis.

Sandhiprakash Bhide, an IoT thought leader and former director of innovation for Intel's Internet of Things Group, recommends that engineers begin with a proof-of-concept IoT application in a small area before spreading it broadly across a factory. "Don't go gangbusters," he told Design News recently. "Start on a small scale. You have to take a conservative approach because millions of dollars can be at stake."

Bhide's session, "Developments in Sensors for Automation & Inventory Control," will focus on the idea of limiting automation mistakes by using sensors as an extra pair of eyes. It will examine the resulting advances in precision, as well as proper maintenance and best practices in real-time monitoring. It will also look at advancements in IoT devices designed for optimizing warehouse space and eliminating inventory.


D&M Minn logoSensor Best Practices Learn how sensors can create an extra pair of eyes in your lean machine architecture during Sandhiprakash Bhide's Industry 4.0 session "Developments in Sensors for Automation & Inventory Control" at Design & Manufacturing, Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.


Mostly, though, it will focus on applying common sense solutions for hands-on applications. Bhide, who has spearheaded IoT applications in automated factories, hydro-electric generating plants, and dozens of other locales, will share his insights into the advantages and pitfalls of sensor deployment. "Let no contractor come onto your premises and offer an IoT solution to solve all your problems," he said. "A contracting company should have a clear understanding of the problem, the goals, and the timeframe to achieve those goals before doing anything."

The key, Bhide will tell attendees, is integration. That, he said, is more important than the type and number of sensors. "The trick isn't to use newer and sexier sensors," he told us. "The trick is integrating the sensors in an intelligent and unique way."

Bhide's solo presentation is scheduled for Sept. 22, at 10 a.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 32 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.

'Octobot' Is the First Autonomous Soft Robot

'Octobot' Is the First Autonomous Soft Robot

A team led by researchers at Harvard University has produced the first untethered, autonomous, "soft" robot. Dubbed "Octobot," because of its octopus-inspired design, the robot was created using a combination of 3D printing, molding, and soft lithography and has no rigid parts like a circuit board or battery. The researchers, who published their work in the journal, Nature, this month, hope their proof of concept will lay the foundation for a new generation of soft robots with the flexibility and dexterity to move and operate in tight spaces.

Octobot is made of silicone polymers, poured into an octopus-shaped mold. As detailed in the Nature paper, the researchers used 3D printing to embed channels throughout the robot's body to allow for the flow of liquid fuel. "Instead of passing electrons around, we're passing liquids and gases," Robert Wood, the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, told Nature.

Given that Octobot is not designed to perform any specific task and doesn't have any sort of programmable CPU, it really is a robot by only the broadest definition. Rather than electronics, the robot derives its power using microfluidics. A 50% hydrogen peroxide solution is injected into two reservoirs that are infused with platinum. The hydrogen peroxide reacts with the platinum, releasing pressurized gas throughout the channels (eventually passing out via exhaust vents), allowing the robot to extend it arms. According to the paper, 1 mL of fuel is enough to power Octobot for about eight minutes.


D&M Minn logoWork Smarter, Not Harder. From machine learning to cognitive computing, robotics and automation are empowering decision making and business strategy development. Get the details in "Working Smarter, Not Harder: Human Collaboration with Robotics and Automation" at Design & Manufacturing. Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company UBM.


Interest in soft robots has been accelerating over the years. In 2012, for example, IEEE established a Technical Committee on Soft Robotics. And soft robotics technology was the inspiration behind the Baymax character in the 2014 animated Disney film, Big Hero 6. Octobot is not the first soft robot, but merely the first untethered one. The credit for the first soft robot with no hard components goes to OCTOPUS, a European Commission-funded project to develop an eight-armed, octopus-like robot capable of swimming and performing grasping tasks.

Octobot itself has its origins as a DARPA-sponsored program. Back in 2012, under DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, Wyss Institute researchers developed a predecessor to Octobot. And last year researchers at Cornell University unveiled a 3D-printed robotic tentacle designed around a soft actuator (also inspired by the octopus). All of these previous systems were tethered to an external system both for power and control. Octobot demonstrates that it may be possible to someday develop soft robots that can perform sophisticated tasks autonomously.

Octobot is also only the latest in a series of soft robotics advancements coming out of the Wyss Institute. Back in June, researchers from Wyss announced the development of vacuum-driven soft robotic actuators inspired by human muscle.

According to the paper published in Nature, the next step for researchers will be to create more complex soft autonmous robots that can perform a variety of actions -- including movements like swimming and crawling, responding to their environment, and functioning beyond performing only pre-programmed routines. While no core use case has been identified for soft robots as of yet, advocates of soft robots believe they will someday have applications in various fields from construction to medical devices and environmental exploration.

Harvard has released a video of Octobot in action. Watch it below:

Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News  

'Octobot' Is the First Autonomous Soft Robot

A team led by researchers at Harvard University has produced the first untethered, autonomous, "soft" robot. Dubbed "Octobot," because of its octopus-inspired design, the robot was created using a combination of 3D printing, molding, and soft lithography and has no rigid parts like a circuit board or battery. The researchers, who published their work in the journal, Nature, this month, hope their proof of concept will lay the foundation for a new generation of soft robots with the flexibility and dexterity to move and operate in tight spaces.

Instead of rigid electronics, Octopod is powered by a hydrogen peroxide solution that reacts with platinum and produces gas, allowing the robot to move.

(Source: Lori Sanders/Harvard University)
?

Octobot is made of silicone polymers, poured into an octopus-shaped mold. As detailed in the Nature paper, the researchers used 3D printing to embed channels throughout the robot's body to allow for the flow of liquid fuel. "Instead of passing electrons around, we're passing liquids and gases," Robert Wood, the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, told Nature.

Given that Octobot is not designed to perform any specific task and doesn't have any sort of programmable CPU, it really is a robot by only the broadest definition. Rather than electronics, the robot derives its power using microfluidics. A 50% hydrogen peroxide solution is injected into two reservoirs that are infused with platinum. The hydrogen peroxide reacts with the platinum, releasing pressurized gas throughout the channels (eventually passing out via exhaust vents), allowing the robot to extend it arms. According to the paper, 1 mL of fuel is enough to power Octobot for about eight minutes.


D&M Minn logoWork Smarter, Not Harder. From machine learning to cognitive computing, robotics and automation are empowering decision making and business strategy development. Get the details in "Working Smarter, Not Harder: Human Collaboration with Robotics and Automation" at Design & Manufacturing. Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company UBM.


Interest in soft robots has been accelerating over the years. In 2012, for example, IEEE established a Technical Committee on Soft Robotics. And soft robotics technology was the inspiration behind the Baymax character in the 2014 animated Disney film, Big Hero 6. Octobot is not the first soft robot, but merely the first untethered one. The credit for the first soft robot with no hard components goes to OCTOPUS, a European Commission-funded project to develop an eight-armed, octopus-like robot capable of swimming and performing grasping tasks.

Octobot itself has its origins as a DARPA-sponsored program. Back in 2012, under DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, Wyss Institute researchers developed a predecessor to Octobot. And last year researchers at Cornell University unveiled a 3D-printed robotic tentacle designed around a soft actuator (also inspired by the octopus). All of these previous systems were tethered to an external system both for power and control. Octobot demonstrates that it may be possible to someday develop soft robots that can perform sophisticated tasks autonomously.

Octobot is also only the latest in a series of soft robotics advancements coming out of the Wyss Institute. Back in June, researchers from Wyss announced the development of vacuum-driven soft robotic actuators inspired by human muscle.

According to the paper published in Nature, the next step for researchers will be to create more complex soft autonmous robots that can perform a variety of actions -- including movements like swimming and crawling, responding to their environment, and functioning beyond performing only pre-programmed routines. While no core use case has been identified for soft robots as of yet, advocates of soft robots believe they will someday have applications in various fields from construction to medical devices and environmental exploration.

Harvard has released a video of Octobot in action. Watch it below:

Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News  

The Shop Floor Slowly Adopts Mobile Technology

Plants are not quite going mobile, but they are beginning to deploy some mobile technology on the plant floor. A recent study by VDC Research finds that mobile hardware in the manufacturing sector reached $1 billion in 2015. This hardware includes mobile devices used to support specific shop floor workflows and do not include the mobile devices used by manufacturing sales reps in the field.

While a billion dollars spent on mobile hardware may seem significant, it’s a small chunk of the $200 billion spent on automation technology yearly. “Some analysts claim the manufacturing sector is entering a new era with Industry 4.0, and while a digital, connected factory would certainly represent a significant transition from the past, progress toward this pinnacle remains limited,” David Krebs, executive vice president of VDC Research, told Design News. “Most manufacturers remain years away from this type of production environment given ample obstacles, slowly emerging technologies, and market trends.”

Manufacturing Lags in Mobile Adoption

The manufacturing sector as a whole has been slow to adopt mobile, even while plant managers are showing interest in mobile technology. “The manufacturing sector still lags others in its adoption of mobile solutions, even while interest in mobile technology consistently rates high,” said Krebs. “Yet when you look at actual IT budgets, mobile’s share is disproportionately small.”


D&M Minn logoYour Plant. Smarter. Get informed on factory retrofitting, converging OT & IT, mastering cyber-physical transformation, predictive maintenance, 3DP in the factory, designing for maximum ROI and more in Industry 4.0: The Building Blocks of a Well-Oiled Smart Plant at Design & Manufacturing, Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.


Krebs noted that mobile technology is not just a luxury on the shop floor. The technology stands a good chance paying for itself. “ROI is typically challenging to measure well. However, when considering the leading investment drivers -- improving worker productivity, reducing error, increasing asset uptime, improving operational visibility -- the results we have tracked have been overwhelmingly positive,” said Krebs.

Barriers to Mobile

The VDC study offers a number of reasons that mobile technology is not getting a wide reception on the plant floor. “The barriers are varied and span budgetary constraints, security concerns, and a lack of IT resources,” said Krebs. “In addition, many existing manufacturing environments are not conducive to wireless technologies and its infrastructure. Low penetration of WiFi in manufacturing environments and the difficulty of wirelessly interfacing with shop-floor equipment also represent gating issues.”

Even with that resistance, the allure of mobile’s ability to cut downtime is attractive. “Minimizing machine downtime is a huge priority with most plants running near capacity. The cost of downtime in heavy process industries can represent as much as 1% to 3% of revenues,” said Krebs. “Mobile solutions have proven to be extremely effective at addressing these issues.”

Given mobile technology’s potential for cutting downtime, plant managers are beginning to look into the benefits of mobile technology. On another positive note, changes in the mobile market are beginning to knock down some of those traditional barriers. “Mobile solutions have matured significantly over the past couple of years and leading industrial automation vendors are now paying more than just lip service to mobile capabilities,” said Krebs. “Mobile solutions today are much more intuitive and easy to use and the cost barriers -- while still high -- are coming down, especially as organizations better understand the tangible benefits of these solutions.”

Torn About IoT and Torn About Mobile

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been widely discussed for its potential to revamp manufacturing into a super-efficient system. IoT vendors are painting pictures of significant gains, but manufacturers are traditionally conservative about adopting bleeding-edge technology. “While IoT -- as a broad theme -- has opened the door to discussions about connectivity and mobility on the shop floor, manufacturing technology decision makers are very pragmatic in what IoT is -- and more importantly -- is not,” said Krebs. “Essentially, manufacturers want the benefits of IoT without the costs and complexities that these solutions so often entail.”

Krebs also sees the lag in widespread adoption of mobile technology on the plant floor as part of a larger resistance to new plant investments. “Demand from customers for overall equipment effectiveness measures and high-quality products is a driving force for new technologies such as IoT, automation, and 3D printing, yet these technologies often require large monetary outlays, both in terms of acquisition costs and in supporting infrastructure costs. Plus, they often impose new security threats,” said Krebs. “Faced with a weak global economy and a technical skills gap, few manufacturers have the financial and technical resources to make a quick transition to the emerging, digital factory."

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.

The Shop Floor Slowly Adopts Mobile Technology

The Shop Floor Slowly Adopts Mobile Technology

Plants are not quite going mobile, but they are beginning to deploy some mobile technology on the plant floor. A recent study by VDC Research finds that mobile hardware in the manufacturing sector reached $1 billion in 2015. This hardware includes mobile devices used to support specific shop floor workflows and do not include the mobile devices used by manufacturing sales reps in the field.

While a billion dollars spent on mobile hardware may seem significant, it's a small chunk of the $200 billion spent on automation technology yearly. "Some analysts claim the manufacturing sector is entering a new era with Industry 4.0, and while a digital, connected factory would certainly represent a significant transition from the past, progress toward this pinnacle remains limited," David Krebs, executive vice president of VDC Research, told Design News. "Most manufacturers remain years away from this type of production environment given ample obstacles, slowly emerging technologies, and market trends."

Manufacturing Lags in Mobile Adoption

The manufacturing sector as a whole has been slow to adopt mobile, even while plant managers are showing interest in mobile technology. "The manufacturing sector still lags others in its adoption of mobile solutions, even while interest in mobile technology consistently rates high," said Krebs. "Yet when you look at actual IT budgets, mobile's share is disproportionately small."


D&M Minn logoYour Plant. Smarter. Get informed on factory retrofitting, converging OT & IT, mastering cyber-physical transformation, predictive maintenance, 3DP in the factory, designing for maximum ROI and more in Industry 4.0: The Building Blocks of a Well-Oiled Smart Plant at Design & Manufacturing, Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.


Krebs noted that mobile technology is not just a luxury on the shop floor. The technology stands a good chance paying for itself. "ROI is typically challenging to measure well. However, when considering the leading investment drivers -- improving worker productivity, reducing error, increasing asset uptime, improving operational visibility -- the results we have tracked have been overwhelmingly positive," said Krebs.

Barriers to Mobile

The VDC study offers a number of reasons that mobile technology is not getting a wide reception on the plant floor. "The barriers are varied and span budgetary constraints, security concerns, and a lack of IT resources," said Krebs. "In addition, many existing manufacturing environments are not conducive to wireless technologies and its infrastructure. Low penetration of WiFi in manufacturing environments and the difficulty of wirelessly interfacing with shop-floor equipment also represent gating issues."

Even with that resistance, the allure of mobile's ability to cut downtime is attractive. "Minimizing machine downtime is a huge priority with most plants running near capacity. The cost of downtime in heavy process industries can represent as much as 1% to 3% of revenues," said Krebs. "Mobile solutions have proven to be extremely effective at addressing these issues."

Given mobile technology's potential for cutting downtime, plant managers are beginning to look into the benefits of mobile technology. On another positive note, changes in the mobile market are beginning to knock down some of those traditional barriers. "Mobile solutions have matured significantly over the past couple of years and leading industrial automation vendors are now paying more than just lip service to mobile capabilities," said Krebs. "Mobile solutions today are much more intuitive and easy to use and the cost barriers -- while still high -- are coming down, especially as organizations better understand the tangible benefits of these solutions."

Torn About IoT and Torn About Mobile

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been widely discussed for its potential to revamp manufacturing into a super-efficient system. IoT vendors are painting pictures of significant gains, but manufacturers are traditionally conservative about adopting bleeding-edge technology. "While IoT -- as a broad theme -- has opened the door to discussions about connectivity and mobility on the shop floor, manufacturing technology decision makers are very pragmatic in what IoT is -- and more importantly -- is not," said Krebs. "Essentially, manufacturers want the benefits of IoT without the costs and complexities that these solutions so often entail."

Krebs also sees the lag in widespread adoption of mobile technology on the plant floor as part of a larger resistance to new plant investments. "Demand from customers for overall equipment effectiveness measures and high-quality products is a driving force for new technologies such as IoT, automation, and 3D printing, yet these technologies often require large monetary outlays, both in terms of acquisition costs and in supporting infrastructure costs. Plus, they often impose new security threats," said Krebs. "Faced with a weak global economy and a technical skills gap, few manufacturers have the financial and technical resources to make a quick transition to the emerging, digital factory."

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.

The 9 Worst Apple Products of All Time

<p>The "industrial" design of the iPhone 4, introduced in mid-2010, was a favorite -- especially considering that the same design was replicated not only in the following year's iPhone 4s but (in larger-screen form) in the successor iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone SE. But it wasn't without its problems, specifically those involving (quoting <span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone_4">Wikipedia</a></span>) its "uninsulated stainless-steel frame which doubles as an antenna".</p><p>As GSM cellular carrier-base customers quickly learned, its received signal strength could vary widely depending on <span><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2">how it was held</a></span> (assuming an <span><a href="http://www.dailytech.com/Apple+to+Customers+Heres+a+Free+Case+Live+With+iPhone+4+or+Get+Out/article19066.htm">insulating "bumper"</a></span> or other case wasn't on it) and <span><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/3821/iphone-4-redux-analyzing-apples-ios-41-signal-fix">how the results were reported</a></span>. And then-CEO Steve Jobs' initial response to the reports ("Just avoid holding in it that way") wasn't exactly helpful either. The antenna was redesigned in time for the CDMA-friendly version of the handset, which appeared eight months later, along with the follow-on GSM-plus-CDMA model in mid-2011.</p><p>To be clear, the iPhone 4 ended up selling quite well, anyway. Wikipedia notes that it "had the longest lifespan of any iPhone ever produced, spanning close to four years and available in some developing countries until early 2014. But those first few months were pretty rocky, and one can only guess how much <em>better</em> the iPhone 4 might have performed in the market absent Antennagate.</p><p><br>(Image source: By Justin14 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)</p>

Apple has had an enviably high product success batting average over its 40 year-plus existence. But not everything that's come out of Cupertino, Calif. has been a home run (or even a bunt single). Then again, a few strikeouts in the overall mix are indicative of taking chances; their absence would suggest an overly conservative corporate culture, which wouldn't be a good thing either. And with more than $300 billion USD in total assets as of the company's fiscal 2016 third quarter financial results announcement, Apple can probably afford a few whiffs.

It's not yet completely clear whether Apple's actually got a car under development (although, as I suggested in my recent writeup, where there's smoke there's almost always at least a small fire). Even less clear is to what degree (if at all) an Apple car would end up being a success. It may instead end up the latest entry on Apple's list of clunkers over the decades.

No company is immune to failure. Here's an alphabetical list of Apple's greatest product failures.

What do you think of these products? Are there any that should be on the list? Let me know in the comments.

Brian Dipert is the principal at Sierra Media, which provides technology analysis and consulting, along with multimedia development and publishing. He is also editor-in-chief of the Embedded Vision Alliance, and senior analyst at BDTI (Berkeley Design Technology Inc.). Brian has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. His professional career began at Magnavox Electronics Systems in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Brian subsequently spent eight years at Intel Corp. in Folsom, Calif.

Auto & Aerospace Eco Mandates Are in Siemens' Crosshairs

In the design stage of a product, you can create a digital twin of the product that can be tested and enhanced before an actual prototype is created. The automotive and aerospace industries are under intense pressure to produce extremely efficient products, so they’re turning to design tools that can provide extensive simulation testing before a prototype is produced. These design tools have become critical for creating the next generation of clean cars and airplanes.

To support this effort, Siemens PLM has released a new iteration of its LMS Imagine.Lab software. The new version is designed for ease-of-use and compatibility with a wide range of simulation, CAE, and CAD tools. Also, to help companies meet environmental mandates, Imagine Lab now contains functions geared specifically to the automotive and aerospace industries to help them develop cleaner and more efficient products.

The tools that enhance the design of cars and planes can also be applied in other industries. “Our tools are based on the representation of the physics, and these physics can be applied to any system,” Renaud Meillier, business development director simulation systems at Siemens PLM, told Design News. “The things we use for automotive can be reused for other industries.”

Industry-Specific Functionality

The new Imagine.Lab offers enhanced modeling capabilities to meet industry requirements resulting from environmental regulations, market changes, and economic constraints. A new set of interfaces enable faster parameterization and modeling to enable evaluation of the functional performance of vehicles or airplanes. Imagine.Lab attributes make it possible to design products right the first time in meeting expectations for the automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, and mechanical industries. “The automotive mandates will be tough to meet. The simulated driving cycles vehicles need to pass have not been matched to real-life driving conditions,” said Meillier. “So we created a tool that replicates actual driving cycles.”

These screens show the tracking of fuel economy.

The previous simulation tools didn’t model actual driving conditions that will be required to meet mandates. “In the past we developed it for straight roads, but our roads are not straight. So we included roads that simulate tracks for the car that are representative of real driving conditions,” said Meillier. “During early design cycles of the product, there is a need to test new innovative architectures, whether it’s hybrid or fuel cell. This helps our users to determine the best way to reduce energy consumption and emissions.”


D&M Minn logoYour Plant. Smarter. Get informed on factory retrofitting, converging OT & IT, mastering cyber-physical transformation, predictive maintenance, 3DP in the factory, designing for maximum ROI and more in Industry 4.0: The Building Blocks of a Well-Oiled Smart Plant at Design & Manufacturing, Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.


Siemens also developed dedicated tools to help the aerospace industry meet its environmental goals. “For aerospace, we’re working on fuel consumption and emission, which requires fuel tank simulations that reveal how the fuel is consumed depending on the profile of the flight of the plane itself,” said Meillier. “We also have dedicated solutions for jet engines so we can deal with fuel consumption and emissions. The aerospace mandates are not at the same level as the policies governing the automotive industry, but they’re coming.”

Ease of Use Advances

The new Imagine.Lab was designed to provide a smooth user experience through all phases of the design cycle. Siemens concentrated on enhancing workflow efficiency. The platform features improved modeling and analysis tools designed to help engineering departments develop better products faster and with higher quality. Interoperability has also been added to provide seamless integration of disparate models. “The new release has improved workflow efficiency,” said Meillier. “We know that our customers want to save time by accessing simulation early in the lifecycle, long before the prototypes are created.”

Screen showing fuel consumption analytics.

An additional goal of the new iteration was to make it easier to shift design tools. “We made a strong effort to improve the user friendliness in sketch aligning and automatically generating the model from the CAD,” said Meillier. “With the CAD it can take a lengthy process to extract the model and do the simulation. So we’ve included some automation to help extract the data from the model and move it into the platform to help the user move quickly to creating simulation.”

Part of the process to simplify and speed the design process includes easy interoperability between design tools. “The openness capability of our platform is integrated in this release. That’s important in an industry where there are many models created by many tools, using different software,” said Meillier. “You don’t have to convert the design to a different tool. You just export it into the platform.”

[images via Siemens PLM]

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.

Auto & Aerospace Eco Mandates Are in Siemens' Crosshairs

Auto &amp; Aerospace Eco Mandates Are in Siemens&#039; Crosshairs

In the design stage of a product, you can create a digital twin of the product that can be tested and enhanced before an actual prototype is created. The automotive and aerospace industries are under intense pressure to produce extremely efficient products, so they're turning to design tools that can provide extensive simulation testing before a prototype is produced. These design tools have become critical for creating the next generation of clean cars and airplanes.

To support this effort, Siemens PLM has released a new iteration of its LMS Imagine.Lab software. The new version is designed for ease-of-use and compatibility with a wide range of simulation, CAE, and CAD tools. Also, to help companies meet environmental mandates, Imagine Lab now contains functions geared specifically to the automotive and aerospace industries to help them develop cleaner and more efficient products.

The tools that enhance the design of cars and planes can also be applied in other industries. "Our tools are based on the representation of the physics, and these physics can be applied to any system," Renaud Meillier, business development director simulation systems at Siemens PLM, told Design News. "The things we use for automotive can be reused for other industries."

Industry-Specific Functionality

The new Imagine.Lab offers enhanced modeling capabilities to meet industry requirements resulting from environmental regulations, market changes, and economic constraints. A new set of interfaces enable faster parameterization and modeling to enable evaluation of the functional performance of vehicles or airplanes. Imagine.Lab attributes make it possible to design products right the first time in meeting expectations for the automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, and mechanical industries. "The automotive mandates will be tough to meet. The simulated driving cycles vehicles need to pass have not been matched to real-life driving conditions," said Meillier. "So we created a tool that replicates actual driving cycles."

The previous simulation tools didn't model actual driving conditions that will be required to meet mandates. "In the past we developed it for straight roads, but our roads are not straight. So we included roads that simulate tracks for the car that are representative of real driving conditions," said Meillier. "During early design cycles of the product, there is a need to test new innovative architectures, whether it's hybrid or fuel cell. This helps our users to determine the best way to reduce energy consumption and emissions."


D&M Minn logoYour Plant. Smarter. Get informed on factory retrofitting, converging OT & IT, mastering cyber-physical transformation, predictive maintenance, 3DP in the factory, designing for maximum ROI and more in Industry 4.0: The Building Blocks of a Well-Oiled Smart Plant at Design & Manufacturing, Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.


Siemens also developed dedicated tools to help the aerospace industry meet its environmental goals. "For aerospace, we're working on fuel consumption and emission, which requires fuel tank simulations that reveal how the fuel is consumed depending on the profile of the flight of the plane itself," said Meillier. "We also have dedicated solutions for jet engines so we can deal with fuel consumption and emissions. The aerospace mandates are not at the same level as the policies governing the automotive industry, but they're coming."

Ease of Use Advances

The new Imagine.Lab was designed to provide a smooth user experience through all phases of the design cycle. Siemens concentrated on enhancing workflow efficiency. The platform features improved modeling and analysis tools designed to help engineering departments develop better products faster and with higher quality. Interoperability has also been added to provide seamless integration of disparate models. "The new release has improved workflow efficiency," said Meillier. "We know that our customers want to save time by accessing simulation early in the lifecycle, long before the prototypes are created."

An additional goal of the new iteration was to make it easier to shift design tools. "We made a strong effort to improve the user friendliness in sketch aligning and automatically generating the model from the CAD," said Meillier. "With the CAD it can take a lengthy process to extract the model and do the simulation. So we've included some automation to help extract the data from the model and move it into the platform to help the user move quickly to creating simulation."

Part of the process to simplify and speed the design process includes easy interoperability between design tools. "The openness capability of our platform is integrated in this release. That's important in an industry where there are many models created by many tools, using different software," said Meillier. "You don't have to convert the design to a different tool. You just export it into the platform."

[images via Siemens PLM]

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.

Belden's New System Taps Into Plant Data From Afar

Belden and Secomea have partnered to create what they call a simple and secure way to provide remote network access, programming and diagnostics, with the Hirschmann Secure Remote Access Solution. This combined hardware and software package was designed to help companies connect to plant systems from any location.

The remote access package lets users connect to their plant devices in order to troubleshoot and fix problems. At the core of the package is Secomea’s GateManager, a cloud service that enables users to use PCs or mobile devices to connect to plant assets. “Remote access has been in the industry for a while. People have tried to set up VPNs, but they are not always suitable for remote access,” Friedrich Haussmann, manager of commercial products, told Design News. “By separating the configuration from the set-up phase and user phase, we reduced the need for a VPN.”


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Haussmann explained that the companies worked to deliver a system with simple set-up, ease of use, and secure technology to make the remote system a good fit for the machine building, automotive, and food and beverage industries that need remote access to plants and machinery around the world. “Remote access reduces the need for travel and allows staff to work more efficiently by handling multiple systems simultaneously,” said Haussmann. “Now it’s as simple as clicking a button. Unlike other systems, this is directly connected to the end device. If you have all your configurations on your laptop it will look just like it would look at the plant.”

Secure Access to the Plant

Security is always an issue when someone from outside reaches into the plant network. Belden secures the access system through cloud services. Haussmann noted that Belden has a reputation for delivering products with unique security features. He also noted that Secomea recently passed a major security audit performed by an independent security organization in Germany. “In the past, you had to make sure your system was secure then make your configuration secure,” said Haussmann. “We take care of security in our own cloud. You can track the users on the system. You can detect if someone has entered the system unauthorized.”

Haussmann noted that the remote access package provides a protected cloud system that can be set up with minimal assistance. “Permanent IP addresses are not required, and there is no need to reconfigure firewalls,” said Haussmann. "This enables secure access for remote programming and diagnostics without disrupting existing systems.”

[image via Belden]

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.