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Articles from 2021 In August


New Survey Shows Consumers Want Products Made from Recycled Materials

Image: Chones/Adobe Stock plastic bottles forming recycling symbol

Most people really do want to reuse their plastic containers, and 62% of Americans confess to being “plastic hoarders.” That’s one of the findings from a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Core Hydration, a producer of bottled water sold in many retail outlets.

The study asked 2,000 nationally representative Americans about their plastic habits and what they want to improve on — notably getting rid of plastic after holding on to it for too long. Some of these items plaguing US homes include the “classic” bag of plastic bags (49%).

Count me in on that one! I have a huge plastic bag from a major clothing retailer that I’ve saved to fill with smaller retail bags, bread bags, and myriad other LDPE bags. When the bag “bag” is full, I take it to my local grocery store where they have a bin, which is usually overflowing, for recycling LDPE bags.

People surveyed also have an entire drawer of plastic cutlery (44%), which, for me accumulates when I bring home takeout and use regular silverware or — when I’m eating Chinese food — chopsticks. Typically, I save the plastic cutlery for parties to save dishwashing when I have a crowd.

Just about every kitchen has a cupboard full of mismatched Tupperware containers and lids, as is the case for 39% of respondents. My favorites to replace Tupperware are sliced lunchmeat containers. I currently have a stack of containers and lids that are great for sending food home with guests after they’ve had a happy hour or meal at my house. That way they don’t have to worry about bringing back my good Tupperware, and I don’t have to worry about them not bringing back my good Tupperware. In fact, 64% of respondents said they’ll never need to buy a matching Tupperware set because they have plenty of other containers they’ve saved.

Plastic retail bags are called single use but, in fact, other studies have proven that people tend to reuse plastic retail bags several times. I use them for garbage bags. They’re a perfect fit for smaller waste cans in my bathrooms, and I even use them in my larger kitchen waste container. They hang on special hooks that an inventor who I consulted with when I worked in plastics, designed and had molded. I’ve had a set on my kitchen waste can for about 25 years.

Half of the respondents also reported that they want to reduce their waste but feel too overwhelmed to start. Many of the them said they ask themselves an average of four times a week: “Can this be recycled?” Often, they end up tossing items in the recycling bin that they’re not even 100% certain can be recycled.

Given all of this, it’s no wonder 61% of respondents feel like no matter how much they recycle, it’s not enough to make an impact. “It’s common to feel that you might not be making a difference by recycling, but it’s important to remember you are,” said a spokesperson for Core Hydration. “Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and even saves energy, as making a product from recycled plastic takes less energy than making one from virgin or new plastic. So, toss an empty bottle with its cap on into your recycling bin and it might end up becoming a new recycled plastic product.”

Three in five survey respondents said they always try to make a conscious effort to repurpose or upcycle items. Several shared some of the innovative ways they have repurposed their plastic items, including everything from art to storage solutions. One respondent grows garlic in cut-off water bottles; another uses plastic containers as potters for plants.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they feel better about their waste habits when they purchase something made from recycled materials. Respondents said they’d be willing to pay 29% more than the retail price of an item if they know it is made from recycled materials.

“It’s important to remember that even if you make a few small changes in your life to reduce plastic use, you can make a difference,” said Core Hydration. “Choosing products made with recycled materials is a simple step in the right direction and keeps plastic within the circular economy.”

The results of the study were released by South West News Service, a British news agency.

3 Leading Car Museums Declare ‘One for All, All for One’

Ben Franklin noted, on the value of allegiances, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” The challenges faced by tourist destinations like classic car museums may not be quite so dire as the gallows, but nevertheless, three of America’s top car museums have announced an alliance that should help strengthen them.

Called the “On the Road” membership, the Gilmore Car Museum, LeMay – America’s Car Museum, and the America on Wheels Museum will each offer reciprocal membership to each other’s members.

The America on Wheels Museum is in Allentown, Penn., the Gilmore Car Museum is in Hickory Corners, Mich., and LeMay – America’s Car Museum is in Tacoma, Wash., so car enthusiasts will be encouraged to go on the road by the “On the Road” membership benefits.

The thinking is that such cooperation will break down the silos that tend to grow around car collections by encouraging collaboration and travel between museums. Membership benefits that are shared include free admission, free parking, and a 10 percent discount on merchandise purchases from the museums’ stores.

“The best way to perpetuate car culture is by working together to break barriers, enhance experiences, and offer frictionless ways for passionate enthusiasts to enjoy cars,” said Tabetha Hammer, CEO of America’s Automotive Trust, an association of automotive organizations created to help promote their collective welfare.

Click through our slide show for a preview of some of the classic rides awaiting visitors at these three museums so you can plan your trip.

Really Want to Test at Higher RF Spectrums? ADAS Can Show You How

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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) ADAS systems have demanded an increased spectrum and bandwidth to higher levels than ever before. This means that test facilities must accommodate RF and EMC spectrum testing at higher levels of frequency.

The topic of ADAS and ADS EMC testing was the focus of an IEEE IMS 2021 industry talk by Garth D’Abreu, Director of Automotive Solutions at ETS-Lindgren, and Ram Mirwani, Director for Global Business Development at Konrad technologies. What follows is a summary of that presentation.

RF and Antenna Testing

Manufacturers have continued to roll out more advanced versions of ADAS. Such systems' RF and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) tests require an increase in the frequency range of interest. Traditional EMC tests were done from 150 kilohertz to 1 gigahertz. This was expanded in recent years to 2.5 GHz. Today, there are communications infrastructure and century infrastructure that uses frequencies that even surpassed these upper limits.

For example, DSRC and WiFi links operate up to 5.9 gigahertz and radar modules in current production vehicles that use up to 24, 79, and even 81 GHz bands. That’s why, when testing for electromagnetic compatibility or interoperability, operational validation is needed to ensure that the test facilities can manage the performance of these systems across this broad range of frequencies. Managing would involve handling the air communication link, the performance of the antenna, the receiver subsystem, etc. The network can be tested by measuring the fundamental behavior or performance of the first stage of the communication link.

Testing Antennas

The IMS speakers went on to explain that two well-established methods have been used for measuring actual antenna performance. One is an upper hemispherical measurement that looks at the radiation pattern over the upper hemisphere of the antenna, such as one mounted on the vehicle.

The second method looks at a two-dimensional single plane cross-section of an antenna pattern, typically used for systems that have a directional, forward-looking antenna. This method lets you measure the pattern of an antenna system with an asthma code. These measurement systems are well-established and have been used in other industries. (Image Source: IEEE IMS2021, D’Abreu, Mirwani)

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Test systems based on a single moving antenna measurement arc, similar to a gantry arm that rotates the antenna over the upper hemisphere during the test.

With this system, you can monitor and measure the fundamental pattern of the antenna and make measurements of the behavior of the radio system, i.e., the total radiative power. The speakers explained that you could also measure total isotropic sensitivity. Further, with additional communication simulator hardware, it was possible to measure data throughput, interference levels, other more advanced measurements. In total, this approach lets you measure one stage of the automated communication link of the system.

But this is just one element of the communication link. A good testing process will also look at how the other parts of that system come into play and continue to exercise those other elements during that overall measurement, e.g., ADAS and EDS testing.

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

AI’s Unusual Role in Marvel Studio’s WandaVision Was Hidden. Know What It Was?

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Have you ever wondered how Vision’s beet-red head was created for the Marvel TV show, WandaVision? The answer is rather incredible, but first, here’s a little context.

WandaVision is an American television miniseries created by Jac Schaeffer for the streaming service Disney+, based on Marvel Comics featuring the characters Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch and Vision. The series takes place after the events of the film Avengers: Endgame.

The show’s timeline starts three weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Wanda Maximoff and Vision are living an idyllic suburban life in the town of Westview, NJ. Both are trying to conceal their true natures from their neighbors. But as the series evolves, the couple suspects that their surroundings are not so idyllic or even real.

Vision is a vibranium-synthezoid with a body created by the villain Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Vision becomes a sentient being thanks to the Mind Stone and the work of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, uploading the core software of Stark's AI, called J.A.R.V.I.S., into the vibranium. Vision becomes a member of the Avengers and develops a romantic relationship with Wanda Maximoff.

How It’s Done

Vision is portrayed by actor Paul Bettany with a bit of help from modern artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) recently talked to Ryan Freer, Creative Director at VFX Supervison, a Toronto, ON, company. Freer and the team at Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies crafted Bettany's head frame by frame in VFX using a mix of AI and top talent to produce their amazing visuals.

Apparently, Vision’s beet-red head is computer-generated (CG), with only the actor Bettany’s eyes, nose, and mouth being used to reveal the actual human-generated expressions. CG has been used in the motion picture industry for a long time. So, where does AI contribute?

During the MPA interview, AI's role in changing the actor into the superhero Vision became clear. Typically, the conversion from a real actor to a digital rendering requires tracking markers all over the person’s face and body. For Vision, the majority of the tracking markers seemed to be on his beet-red, earless head.

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Cinema motion capture process with targeting markers.

According to Freer, his team received footage of actor Bettany wearing a bald cap, ears sticking out, and tracking markers all over his face and neck. The critical step was that the markers were removed with an in-house removal system driven by AI. Previously, such tracking markers would have been removed by more labor-intensive and very costly means.

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Vision’s (played by Paul Bettany's) head frame in VFX for Marvel's WandaVision.

On a side note, new technology is emerging that allows AI can be used more directly to capture a 3D representation of an actor in a process known as “markerless” motion capture. With this approach, actors don’t need to be encased in Lycra suits with lots of white balls attached to them.

According to Matt Panousis, J.D. Chief Operating Officer at MARZ (from that same MPA interview), AI saves their clients “hundreds of thousands of dollars and tons of time, about a day of savings per shot. Multiply that across 400 shots that we did for the show, and it adds up to about 400 artist days that are effectively gone.”

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

Want to Solve the Secrets of Capacitors? Check Out This Simple Reveal

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Ever wonder what goes on inside of an electrolytic capacitor? Nick Visic from AiSHi Capacitors shows how these popular capacitors work in this tear-down video from DesignCon. The screw terminal capacitors are large in size and characterized by high capacitance and voltage. They are used in industrial power supplies as well as new energy applications.

Now that we understand how electrolytic film capacitors are made, how are they tested?

Testing Capacitors

The simplest method to test a capacitor is by using a multimeter that has a capacitance setting. This method can measure capacitors ranging from few nano Farads to few hundreds of micro-Farads of capacitances.

If you have a low-end digital multimeter without a capacitance setting, then all you can do is test whether the capacitor is good or bad. A working capacitor will look like an open circuit when measured for resistance. A bad one will show some level of resistance after the transients have settled down.

Most engineers will remember testing a capacitor by measuring its time constant value. This test requires that the capacitance is known. The test will determine more precisely if the capacitor is good or bad. The trick is to measure the time constant of the capacitor to derive the capacitance from the measured time. If the measured capacitance and the actual capacitance are similar, then the capacitor is a good one. You’ll really want to use an oscilloscope for this test to accurately obtaining the time constant.

As a reminder, the time constant of a series RC (resistor/capacitor) circuit is a time interval required to charge the capacitor to 63% of the voltage of the source. In the RC time constant, also called tau, the time constant (in seconds) of an RC circuit is equal to the product of the circuit resistance (in ohms) and the circuit capacitance (in farads), i.e., tau =R x C. (Image Source: Inductiveload - Own work, Public Domain)

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Series RC circuit.

There are many other ways to test a capacitor. For beginners, though, it’s always best to properly discharge a capacitor before testing.

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

Want a Live Trade Show? Let’s Go to Toronto for Advanced Manufacturing

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The end-to-end event connects the advance manufacturing and design engineering community for in-person networking and deal-making for the first time in eighteen months.

Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Toronto, Canada's leading end-to-end conference and exhibition driving exploration into the latest trends and technological advances in the design and manufacturing industries, today announced the in-person return to Toronto with the support of key industry partners:

  • Annex Media
  • Chemical Industry Association of Canada, Plastics Division
  • PAC – Packaging Consortium
  • PEMA – Process Equipment Manufacturers Association

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Slated for November 9-11 at the Toronto Congress Centre, the 2021 edition of ADM comprises five renowned event brands – PackEX, PLAST-EX, Automation Technology Expo (ATX), Powder & Bulk Solids, and Design & Manufacturing (D&M). Strategically designed to provide an all-in-one experience, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the latest trends and technologies shaping the future of advanced design and manufacturing across automation, robotics, energy efficiency, packaging, plastics, processing, and more.

"The power of face-to-face connection plays an undeniable role in the industry's advancement and has been sorely missed over the past eighteen months," said Jenny McCall, Group Event Director, ADM, Informa Markets. "We could not be more excited to reconnect the industry in-person this November in Canada's epicenter of innovation and progress the manufacturing industry, a sector that accounts for 10% of the country's GDP. This event is strategically held in Toronto, as its home to a selection of the world's leading injection mold and toolmakers, additive manufacturing metal powder suppliers, and emerging R&D in machining technology. Many of these innovators will walk the halls of ADM in search of new deals and peer-to-peer connection."  

Geared up to connect 250 brands with thousands of buyers, the event will reunite the community for the first time since in-person meetings came to a halt over eighteen months ago. Among the industry-leading exhibitors includes Absolute Haitian, CAM Packaging Systems, Carlo Gavazzi Canada, Cog-Veyor Systems, Creaform, Firing Industries, Flexlink Systems, IKO Thompson Bearing Canada, Jenike & Johanson, Kongskilde Industries, KUKA Robotics Canada, Multivac Canada, PlexPack Corporation, Proax Technologies, Reiser Canada, SMC Corp, VC999 Canada, and Vortex.

Also serving as a platform for international business connection, the event follows the U.S. and Canada opening borders to international travel. As of August 9, vaccinated American and Canadian travelers with documented proof of vaccination are permitted to travel internationally.

Further laying the foundation for a successful in-person gathering, Canada is now one of the leading countries in the world for vaccinations, with 71% of their population having received at least one dose of the vaccine and 62% of the population being fully vaccinated as of August 13.

Visitor registration is open. Register here.

Need the Perfect Medical Device or a New Bone? Try 3D Printing

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From hearing aids to customized prosthetics and face shields, 3D printing has changed the medical industry for the better. Not only is 3D printing accelerating the development of medical devices, but additive manufacturing has also enabled the customization of medical devices and products for patients.

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Sona Dadhania, a technology analyst at IDTechEx, will present the Design News webinar, Is 3D Printing Advancing Medicine? Yes, Through Prosthetics, Devices, and Gear, on September 2 at 2:00 Eastern.

3D Printing Disrupts the Medical Industry

According to the report from ResearchAndMarkets, Medical Devices 2021: Market Opportunities for 3D Printed Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Audiology Devices, 3D printing is beginning to show true signs of disruption within the healthcare industry across different fields. 3D Printing allows for greater levels of digitization, customization, and automation. This all leads to improved patient outcomes. Another benefit of the disruption is greater innovation and cost reduction for device OEMs and healthcare providers.

3D printing has become well established in the production of advanced orthopedic implants, the production of dental aligner tools and models, and increasingly in pre-surgical planning and more so within surgical training. Even so, major innovations within the medical field through the adoption of 3D printing are yet to be seen.

3D Printing Aids Medical During the Pandemic

3D Printing and additive manufacturing played a significant role is helping the medical industry respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As hospitals experienced major shortages in equipment, 3D printing companies stepped in to produce PPE and ventilator parts. The FDA praised the response from the 3D printing industry, noting that “non-traditional manufacturers and community responders helped address shortages and gaps in medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

3D printing produced millions of pieces of equipment and supplies, including masks, face shields, and medical devices. In September 2020, the FDA released the study, Assessing the Role of Additive Manufacturing in Support of the U.S. COVID-19 Response. The report examines the impact of 3D printing on the overall COVID-19 response. The study shows successes, challenges, and key lessons learned to build on and improve future crisis response.

On Thursday, September 2 at 2:00 pm Eastern, Design News will present the free webinar, Is 3D Printing Advancing Medicine? Yes, Through Prosthetics, Devices, and Gear, presented by Sona Dadhania, a technology analyst at IDTechEx. The webinar will explore the 3D printing technologies and materials that have become dominant in medicine and highlight current and emerging medical applications. The webinar will look at a wide range of 3D printing’s medical applications, and participants will learn:

  • The benefits 3D printing brings to medical professionals and patients
  • What important 3D printing processes are changing medicine
  • How 3D printing has improved tons of medical applications and which ones are essential
  • The emerging 3D printing applications that will change medicine forever.

Register for the webinar  here.

How to Build a Better HMI: Create the Screen That Runs the Plant

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Building a successful HMI platform to support manufacturing requires the right combination of hardware and software. The system needs to bring together IT and OT in order to gather, present, and analyze data from smart equipment.

We spoke with Rockwell Automation about what it takes to create a successful HMI system for manufacturing. Their responses came as a team effort, with four experts weighing in on the process to build a better HMI. The experts who chimed in include Sue Burtch, visualization software marketing manager, Joe Geigel, visualization hardware marketing manager, Tom Jordan, ThinManager marketing manager, and Chris Mason, visualization hardware platform leader.

Design News: What are the components of an effective HMI in plant operations?

Sue Burtch, Visualization Software marketing manager: An HMI system must be able to converge hardware and software components into a single, seamless system that an operator can use with ease to monitor and control plant-floor equipment. The system also must be able to converge IT and OT to fulfill its role of gathering, presenting, and analyzing data in today’s smarter, more data-driven operations.

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Rockwell Automation equipment that supports an HMI system.

How all these elements come together to create your HMI system depends on your application’s unique needs. For a single machine application, an electronic operator interface (EOI) terminal and machine-level HMI software can suffice. Larger applications and plantwide process control systems may need a mix of industrial PCs, terminals, and mobile devices, along with site-level HMI software.

However, operators are increasingly realizing the benefits of centralized HMI architecture for applications of all sizes. This approach uses one server to deliver HMI and other content to thin-client terminals, mobile devices, and industrial PCs throughout your plant. A centralized HMI architecture reduces the number of operating systems on the plant floor that need to be updated and maintained, which can reduce downtime risks. It also allows you to store content centrally, instead of on several plant-floor devices, to enhance security.

DN: What are the qualities that are critical to making the HMI a visualization system for a plant?

Joe Geigel, Visualization Hardware marketing manager: Scalability and usability are both crucial. Your HMI platform should be able to scale to meet the needs of your operations today and in the future. And for optimal usability, the platform must be able to present the right information to the right person.

With a centralized HMI approach, you can customize the content delivered to a device based on who logged into that device and what their role is. You can even deliver non-HMI content, such as a live camera feed, to give them line-of-sight into a process and help them better do their job.

Mobility is also increasingly important. Modern HMI software can turn smartphones and tablets into operator interfaces. And a centralized architecture that uses location-based mobility allows you to do even more. Upon entering a defined location or scanning a location ID, like a QR code, staff can access specific information that’s relevant to where they are and what they’re looking at, so they can be more informed and make better decisions.

Security is essential in any HMI system. If you are deploying a centralized architecture, for example, your content management software must be designed for the OT space with IT security in mind. It should use access groups and permissions to restrict access to assets. And it should require multi-factor authentication when establishing location-based mobile connections.

DN: How does HMI software fit into a complete visualization system?

Sue Burtch: Modern HMI software helps make data-driven operations possible. How? By integrating with your plant-floor hardware and software to provide instant access to data. By contextualizing that data into meaningful information that staff can understand and act on. And by presenting information with easy-to-understand graphics and helping workers focus their attention on alarms and other important details.

The software also improves how your staff interacts with data, such as by using touch gestures to scroll through data and flip through pages. It also supports the latest technologies that enable digital transformation, such as cloud computing, virtualization, and AR/VR technologies.

When modern HMI software is combined with thin-client management software, you unlock even more possibilities to improve how people work. Location-based mobility and access to additional information like camera feed improve the situational awareness of staff. Also, terminal-to-terminal shadowing allows one person to view on their device the session from another person’s device. Imagine a technician – at a moment’s notice and from anywhere in the plant – being able to shadow on their mobile device an operator’s terminal. This could set a new standard for troubleshooting and issue resolution times.

DN: What is the role of modern PCs and thin clients in the HMI visualization system?

Tom Jordan ThinManager marketing manager: Industrial PCs play an important role on the plant floor, but “white box” PCs are on their way out. Their use of rotating media, coupled with commercial-grade construction makes them prone to failure on the plant floor.

Thin clients offer improved reliability and reduced maintenance because they have no moving parts. The devices are also centrally managed, so you can install your HMI software once in a thin-client server and then deliver it to all your thin clients. Thin clients also reduce security risk at the local device level. They don’t provide access to the system beyond what’s displayed on the screen, and they don’t provide a point of entry for viruses.

New solutions like compact box PCs offer a best-of-both-worlds approach. These PCs, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, can run on a Windows OS or switch to run on thin-client management software. This allows you to use the device as a PC today and as a thin client in the future. It also offers other benefits, like the ability to load applications from a PC if a central server goes down.

DN: What engineering skills are required for developing this system? Software engineering, systems engineering, knowledge of plant systems, knowledge of HMI tools?

Chris Mason, Visualization Hardware Platform leader: The answer is all of the above. The challenge is that most engineers don’t come out of college equipped with all these skills. Instead, they spend several years building their competency across multiple functions. And as we know, experienced and highly skilled employees are harder than ever to find and retain today.

Fortunately, the same technology that’s creating more connected and information-driven operations is also helping ease system development. For example, modern HMI software that integrates with your control system can directly access and reference tags in the controller. This reduces work for the system developer by eliminating the need to create HMI tags. It can also help increase accuracy in state tracking and alarm time stamps. The ability to store and reuse device faceplates and other objects in a library can also help developers more quickly deploy interfaces across machines, lines, and plants.

DN: What quality-control elements are required to create a successful HMI system?

Joe Geigel: Modern HMI software that’s designed to integrate with your other production systems can give you access to not only real-time controller information but also information stored on the plant floor. This can empower staff to better analyze the production, track quality, optimize equipment performance, and more.

Alarming is another crucial element of a successful HMI system. Your HMI software should optimize how staff sees, understand, and respond to alarms. Software that overlays alarm information on trend data, for example, can help staff speed up troubleshooting by connecting alarm occurrences with data-point values. Device-based alarms can also more quickly detect alarm conditions and give workers more accurate alarm time stamps than tag-based alarms.

Your HMI software can even take on a more proactive role in alerting staff of alarms with alarm escalation. For instance, the software can notify an operator of an alarm with a traditional HMI alarm and smartphone text message. If the operator is unresponsive, or if conditions worsen, the software can then send the text message notification to other plant personnel. The software can even trigger your plant’s emergency monitoring system to begin an evacuation if conditions reach a critical threshold.

DN: What are the maintenance and update plans required to keep the system working well over time?

Chris Mason: Thinking about the lifecycle of your hardware early in the development and specification stage can help you reduce maintenance demands in the long term. Solutions like stainless steel graphic terminals that are National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)-certified can help simplify cleaning and minimize contamination. And using thin clients in place of PCs can significantly ease the maintenance, expansion, and replacement of your HMI terminals.

If you opt for a centralized architecture, redundancy is an important consideration. Adding a second server to your architecture can give you a full server failover option to keep your HMI system in an “always-on” state and help reduce the risk of downtime.

Even the vendors you choose can have an impact on your HMI system’s lifecycle. Some vendors offer more generous long-term support for their HMI hardware than others and are more transparent in their reporting of security vulnerabilities. These points of differentiation can be easily overlooked in the buying stage, but they can help you better manage risks in your operations and extend the life of your system.

Rob Spiegel has covered manufacturing for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include automation, supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cybersecurity. For 10 years, he was the owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

 

 

Looking to Reduce Costs? Check Your Medical Device Design

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Product design can have a huge impact on manufacturing cost. “Somewhere between 80% and 90% of the manufacturing cost is typically designed into a product,” Andrew Gaillard, global director, Trelleborg Healthcare & Medical, told MD+DI during an interview at MD&M West 2021.

Gaillard said that he and his team have been asked by customers to identify ways to take cost out of medtech products. Trelleborg supplies high-performance silicone materials and molds, and extrudes silicones and some thermoplastics. The company also provides silicone that can be impregnated with active pharmaceutical ingredients. Trelleborg has been expanding its services by offering sourcing and assembly. And to help support cost efficiency, the company is now launching its Rapid Development Center.

Chris Tellers serves as director of the Rapid Development Center. “Working with our customers earlier in the product development cycle enables us to help them save time, reduce costs, and produce higher-quality parts; all while keeping in mind the long-term goal of serial production,” he said in a statement. “Employing Design for Manufacturing (DfM) principles ensures processes are efficient and cost-effective in high volumes, helping to alleviate the manufacturing costs that are often designed into a product.”

The new center enables Trelleborg to take a medtech project from design to production, globally. It also facilitates customer access to experts in DfM, materials, injection molding and assembly processes, and quality, said Gaillard. “Our team of experts can provide customers a huge advantage,” he said. “They know what works in a manufacturing environment because they spent years on the floor experiencing it. Having that kind of qualified support provides is invaluable to our customers.”

An extensive tool shop enables Trelleborg to quicky produce tooling. Tellers and his team can produce a sample prototype in as fast as 24 hours, while some can take 3 to 6 days, depending on the complexity of the part, Gaillard said. The company has opted for steel tooling inserts that can be produced quickly, rather than the more common approach to quick-turnaround tooling, aluminum. “Sometimes aluminum tools only last for a few prototypes,” said Gaillard, which could limit the number of samples for testing and evaluation.

Trelleborg’s expanding service support may also help medical device companies with another request—supplier consolidation. “Customers are saying they want to consolidate suppliers and have strategic suppliers provide more support than they do today,” Gaillard said. In addition to increasing its services offering, Trelleborg is in the process of standardizing its quality systems and automation across its facilities. “The goal would be for customers to qualify one location and then our standardization would allow them to use our other locations,” he said.

The Rapid Development Center had its soft launch with a few customers in late July and is now ready for operations. Tellers said in the statement that the center will enable Trelleborg to “take a consultative approach to help customers discover what they need and how it can be realized. Trelleborg has multiple decades of experience manufacturing silicones, thermoplastics, and metals. Our experts leverage their expertise, look at complex designs, and quickly create prototypes and tooling that help customers achieve their goals.”

The Trelleborg Healthcare & Medical Rapid Development Center offers design consultation, toolmaking, prototyping, high-precision machining, silicone molding, thermoplastic molding, automation, Class 7 cleanrooms, assembly, and secondary operations. Customers are also supported with raw material traceability and established validation processes. Trelleborg’s Healthcare & Medical facilities are ISO 13485:2016 and ISO 9001 certified and meet requirements from the FDA and the European Medical Device Regulation.

To learn more about the Rapid Development Center, visit here.

Missed the First Major Tech Show to Reopen? Check Out These DesignCon Highlights

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This year marked the in-person physical return of DesignCon, the long-running show for chip, board, and systems design engineers in the high-speed communications and semiconductor communities. This three-day technical conference and two-day expo combined technical paper sessions, tutorials, industry panels, product demos, exhibits from the industry's leading experts and solutions providers. Here are just a few of the things heard and seen during this year’s event.

Keynotes

  • 4G was about a faster data pipe. 5G will reach expand fast speeds to broader markets and verticals. The upcoming 6G technology will provide a platform upgrade to handle both computing and data. – Mike Fitton, VP, Data Platforms Group & GM, Network Business Division, Intel
  • The future of healthcare will include cultivating longitudinal (across time) patient data sets and advanced analytics and artificial intelligence personalization engineering. And the hospital of the future will be everywhere, not just in the hospital or doctor’s office. – Mark Wehde, Chair, Mayo Clinic
  • A car to see as a human does need a sensor suite that equips the vehicle to detect objects and understand its environment on any roadway, in any light and weather condition, and at any speed. -- Indu Vijayan, Director of Product Management at AEye

Chiplet for SerDes

Kandou showcased a USB-C Multiprotocol Retimer for USB4 and High-Speed, Ultra-Low Power Chord Signaling Technologies. The company is a provider of high-speed, energy-efficient chip-to-chip link solutions.

The CNRZ-5 and ENRZ product demonstrations used Keysight Technologies’ DCA-X Sampling Oscilloscope and 4x60GHz N1045B Sampling Modules to capture waveforms generated from Kandou silicon and display the linear combinations according to the Chord signaling schemes of each.

The CNRZ-5 signaling scheme was optimized for high-speed, ultra-low power USR SerDes-based chiplet interconnect in standard organic MCM packaging and power consumption of 1pJ/bit.

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Kandou and Keysight demonstrate high-speed SerDes.

Super Sensor Cars

During her keynote, Vijayan mentioned how AEye refers to the most challenging cases, the 5% that are the most difficult to solve in autonomy, as “edge” or “corner” cases. These can be weather-related, auto-related, object-related, etc. These are the types of scenarios that a sensor system must solve to be smarter than a human. This will require a system-level approach that is better than the sum of its parts and surpass the performance of both the human eye and camera alone.

VSI Labs, one of the nation’s leading active safety and automated vehicle technology experts, has reported on its verification of the performance testing of AEye’s iDAR system with emphasis on applications for safety and autonomy. AEye also announced it is making its interactive Raptor demo system available to qualified parties to experience the performance of its 4Sight M sensor.

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An editor looks at Lidar system on VSI Labs/AEye demon.

Pose Estimation with Deep Learning

3D pose estimation is used to predict the transformation of an object from a user-defined reference pose, given an image or a 3D scan. It is part of the field of video analytics which includes image classification, detection, and various other AI-powered applications.

The global AI market is forecasted by research firm IDC to approach $98.4 billion in revenue in 2023.

Socionext Inc., a global fabless ASIC supplier, showcased its advanced SoC designs at the show. Demos included 112G SerDes, 30-120GS/s ADC/DAC, PCIe Gen5, high-performance memory, and multi-die package design solutions. Among the demos was a PoseEstimator using their high-efficiency AI hardware accelerator that incorporates quantized Deep Neural Network (DNN) algorithms capable of supporting various inferencing models for classification, detection, semantic segmentation, pose & depth estimation, and others.

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An editor poses for a "pose estimator," complements of Socionext.

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.