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Posts From November, 2015

Charging your electric car at home 

26 November 2015 09:55:00
45th story for the pitchbook on home electrical installations
Monday, November 16, 2015 — Do you already own an electric car, or perhaps considering buying one? Remember to also think about the charging of the car. Many people assume you can charge a car just by plugging a simple cable into a simple power socket. While they are correct, this method has serious disadvantages, including the time it will take to fully charge the car’s battery.
With the pilot phase and the market introduction more or less complete, 2016 will take us into Phase 3 of establishing a new product, i.e. the volume market. More and more people will be driving on electricity. Hence, the importance of taking the appropriate measures inside your home in order to optimize the charging of your car.
Types of electric cars
There are currently several different kinds of electric vehicles. They range from micro, mild and full hybrids to plug-in hybrids with a range extender and a fully electric car. It is the latter two types that consume the greatest amount of electricity. The plug-in hybrid with the range extender has a small fossil fuel engine which serves as a generator providing a supplementary battery charge. This increases the practical range of the vehicle. Full electric vehicles no longer have a fossil fuel engine.
Charging at home
In most cases, electric cars are charged where they’re parked: in the street, the parking garage, the mall, at work, or at home. This is a major difference to cars running on fossil fuels that must be filled up at gas stations on the road. The charging rate and time depend on various factors. The charge still remaining in the battery plays its part, but also the type of connection to the charging point. A mono-phased connection to a standard 16A/230V power socket (3.7kW) will require many hours (sometimes up to 11 hours) to fully charge an electric car’s battery. Using a multi-phased 32A/400V connection reduces the charging time dramatically. It is wise to adjust the capacity of your home charging station to that of your vehicle. A home charging station with a large charging capacity of for instance 22 kW offers the greatest flexibility. You can use it to charge all types of electric cars, regardless whether they have a 3.7, 7.4, 11 or 22 kW charger on board.
Your home connection
In most cases, a home connection has a limited maximum capacity, which is often too small to charge a car within a very short timeframe. In that event, you can choose to have a larger maximum capacity installed, preferably with a multi-phased connection.
Types of plugs
There are Type 1 and Type 2 charging plugs. As of 2011, the worldwide standard is the Type 2 plug, which can be used for mono- and multi-phased connections and currents of 13 to 63A. In addition, the Type 2 plug enables you to transfer energy from the public power grid to the vehicle, as well as the other way round. The latter can be interesting if you also have solar panels at your home. However, when there is no or little sunshine, the stored energy can be used for other energy consumers in and around the home. Beginning in 2017, all electric vehicles will be equipped with a Type 2 connection cable.
A charging station at home
Certain manufacturers offer a charging station that you can use at home. This device is installed in the garage and is fed the required tension. Some models also have a wireless connection to the Internet (WiFi), enabling you to start, stop or pause the charging process via an app on your smartphone or tablet. Furthermore, such a charging station has multiple charging methods in order to reduce the cost of energy or maximize the use of self-generated solar power. In this way, you use electricity to fill up your car’s battery at the cheapest rate. You can track and monitor your electricity consumption both via your charging station and your app.

Industry 4.0 Made in India 

19 November 2015 03:50:00 Categories: Comment

With 58-60 million people employed in the Indian manufacturing industry, representing about 12% of the country’s overall working population, the Indian manufacturing landscape needs to undergo a massive revamp in order to remain competitive in terms of investment, infrastructure, and technology. The Indian Government therefore, invented a strategic initiative called ‘Make in India’ to reform the manufacturing industry in the country. With this road map laid out for the industrial sector, the concept of Industry 4.0 could form a key part of the debate surrounding the Make in India initiative.

The impact of Industry 4.0 on the Indian manufacturing industry will be outlined by Frost & Sullivan Global President and Managing Partner, Mr Aroop Zutshi, during his presentation at upcoming SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany. On Wednesday 25th November 2015, he will discuss how Industry 4.0 will become an inevitable necessity for the Indian manufacturing revolution. Mr. Zutshi will deliver his presentation at the VDMA Forum in Hall 3, Stand 3-668 at 9:20am CET.

For complimentary access to more information on the Industr y 4.0 Ecosystem as outlined in a new Frost & Sullivan report, please click here

“Although German in provenance, the concept of Industry 4.0 is bound to achieve global resonance,” explains Mr. Zutshi. “India will have to take part in the development of a globalised manufacturing environment, and the Make in India initiative is a solid kick-off in this direction.”

India’s manufacturing industry contributes around 16 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year and less than two percent of the overall global manufacturing output. With nearly 250 million people set to enter the workforce in the next 15 years however, the adoption of Industry 4.0 will be an inevitable necessity for the Indian economy in realizing its plans of elevating its manufacturing industry to global levels of excellence.

2016 SmartFactoryKL Demonstrator to Include ODVA's Machine Data Model Concept Bosch Rexroth 

06 November 2015 06:17:00 Categories: Comment

In a keynote speech given by Prof. Dr.-Ing Detlef Zühlke, executive chairman of SmartFactoryKL, at ODVA's 2015 Industry Conference & 17th Annual Meeting of Members held October 13-15, 2015 in Frisco, Texas, it was announced that the 2016 SmartFactoryKL Demonstrator will include a proof of concept implementation of ODVA's machine data model. The proof of concept will be supported by ODVA principal member Bosch Rexroth, which is also an executive member of SmartFactoryKL.

ODVA's machine data model is a result of ODVA's initiative for the Optimization of Machine Integration (OMI) which was first announced in 2011 in cooperation with Sercos International and the OPC Foundation.  The OMI initiative is focused on techniques to optimize the integration of manufacturing machinery with the industrial ecosystem. One of the key machine integration problems that OMI seeks to solve is the streamlining and standardization of heterogeneous communication interfaces, such as CIP and Sercos, in order to enable standard reporting methods and tools across machines and thus aid in the management of machines and the monitoring of their states. To investigate and develop standards in this area, ODVA established a Special Interest Group for Machinery Information (SIG) with participants from ODVA principal members Bosch Rexroth, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric along with invited experts from OPC Foundation and Sercos International. The SIG has now completed its first phase of work to define a standard approach to machine data models which will then be mapped to the structures in CIP, OPC-UA and Sercos. The 2016 SmartFactoryKL production cell sponsored by Bosch Rexroth will illustrate the benefits of this approach.

"The concepts and standards being developed as a result of ODVA's initiative for the Optimization of Machine Integration are well aligned with the goals of the SmartFactoryKL," said Prof. Dr. Ing Detlef Zühlke, executive chairman of the Technology-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. "The concepts for ODVA's machine data model will be a welcome addition to the SmartFactoryKL demonstrator in 2016."

"Certain types of data are typical to machine-to-supervisory communication. This data can be placed into logical groupings such as base machine context, condition monitoring, energy, safety, machine diagnostics, machine states, production recipes and product information," stated Dr. Ludwig Leurs, co-chair of ODVA's SIG for Machinery Information and engineering manager of Ethernet convergence for Bosch Rexroth. "The SmartFactoryKL demonstrator will allow the SIG participants to prove out the concepts in ODVA's machine data model before completing final specification for the model and its mapping to the protocol standards."

"The concept of ODVA's machine data model is groundbreaking because it applies the concept of 'Things' as conceived in the Industrial Internet of Things to the machine itself," said Katherine Voss, ODVA president and executive director. "The alignment of SmartFactoryKL with the Industrie 4.0 initiative, and thus the Industrial Internet of Things, makes the 2016 SmartFactoryKL demonstrator an ideal venue to illustrate the benefits of ODVA's concept of the machine."

ODVA's machine data model will be integrated into the Bosch Rexroth production cell for 2016 SmartFactoryKL demonstrator that will premiere at Hannover Fair 2016 on April 25th, 2016. 


Driverless cars will stall without independent perspectives to drive consistent global standards, interoperability and test platforms 

05 November 2015 11:09:00 Categories: Comment

Plextek Consulting vision paper highlights the various steps the industry can, and will need to take, to make the autonomous car vision a reality over the next 10 years

Driverless cars, and more broadly autonomous vehicles, are high on the agenda for every major player in the automotive industry (and the likes of Google and Apple) with innovations set to monumentally change the landscape of the automotive industry and create the biggest transformation of society’s view of the vehicle in 150 years. However, getting there will necessitate the coming together of many diverse stakeholders, each with their own agenda, to try to resolve complex debates over safety, security, reliability and liability.

Plextek Consulting argues that it is therefore essential the industry takes on-board independent perspectives if it is to successfully drive the consistent global standards, interoperability and test platforms needed to certify the resilience of autonomous vehicles to wireless threats and cyber-attack. This will ultimately help fuel public confidence and acceptance of the benefits that autonomous vehicles bring to society, with the potential to create a $42 billion market by 2025.

Andrew Ashby, Automotive and Transport Business Manager at Plextek Consulting commented: "To realise the autonomous ‘dream’, industry and societal stakeholders must be brought together in order to discuss and resolve complex issues over safety, security, reliability and liability to ensure this revolutionary technology makes the leap from concept to reality. To produce fully autonomous vehicle systems where drivers or owners will reap the full benefits - such as reduced journey times, insurance premiums and a healthier lifestyle overall - a whole new level of integrated connectivity over and above what Google call an ‘autonomous car’ is a fundamental requirement.”

To elaborate on the challenges the autonomous vehicle industry faces, Plextek Consulting's Andrew Ashby has authored a vision paper "Why won’t Google eliminate human driving in five years?” drawing on more than a decade of experience designing leading-edge technology for automotive equipment manufacturers in areas such as infotainment systems, vehicle tracking, telematics and communications. This paper can be downloaded here .

The vision paper discusses in detail five key steps to achieving industry momentum:

  1. Government legislation must be passed to allow autonomous vehicles (the level of autonomy that Google refers too) on all public roads
  2. Insurers will need to accept the risks/implications of new levels of connectivity and an entirely new model for ownership that doesn’t make the driver/owner responsible
  3. Manufacturers & service providers must agree – as a partnership – to standards for resilience to cyber-attack
  4. The automotive industry will need to adopt international rules for interoperability that ubiquitously apply across all manufacturers and vehicle models
  5. Manufacturers and service providers must agree – as a partnership – to standards for data-
    sharing between vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication. There will be need for end-to-end communications of critical/private data to be authenticated by some means

RS Components supports Practical Action’s ‘Pumpkins Against Poverty’ appeal with 3D printed pumpkin 

04 November 2015 05:02:00 Categories: Comment

Halloween pumpkin designed with DesignSpark Mechanical 3D CAD tool to help raise awareness of the worthwhile initiative 

RS Components (RS), the global distributor for engineers, supported the international development charity, Practical Action, and its ‘Pumpkins Against Poverty’ appeal, by designing a pumpkin with DesignSpark Mechanical to raise awareness of the initiative. The 3D printed file can be shared in time for Halloween, so that anyone can 3D print one and add an LED to illuminate it.

Every year 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are thrown away in the UK after being carved for Halloween. In Bangladesh, 160 million people still live in extreme poverty, on less than £1 a day; and on the banks of massive rivers which drain meltwater and rain from the Himalayas, people have lost their land to river erosion. Moreover, climate change is causing devastating floods to become ever more regular, with more families losing their possessions year after year.

Practical Action has come up with a clever way of using pumpkins to feed families and supplement their income by using sandbars which emerge from rivers as flood waters recede. Previously, this land was considered barren and unusable, but through new growing techniques and training, people with no land of their own are able to grow up to 600 pumpkins a year, eating what they need and selling the excess to enable them to send their children to school, buy livestock and other foodstuffs.

“At RS, we've been supporting engineers for over 75 years, and last December we made friends with Practical Action when we ran a Power Hack - Hackathon at the Google offices in London,” said Pete Wood, Community Manager at DesignSpark. “What we love about these guys is that they utilise technology to find practical solutions to improve the lives of poverty stricken communities around the world. When we heard about their latest project in Bangladesh, Pumpkins Against Poverty, we were keen to get involved.”

So far 120,000 people have benefited from Practical Action’s Pumpkins Against Poverty project. Moreover, the UK Government is backing this appeal by matching every pound raised, meaning all donations will have double the impact. Since the appeal is not a tech project, RS is helping to raise awareness of this worthwhile initiative with the help of its DesignSpark Mechanical 3D CAD tool.

For further details or to learn how to make a donation please visit Pete’s blog on DesignSpark.

The Amazing ― and Emerging ― World of Electronics and Vanishing Electrics  

04 November 2015 04:59:00 Categories: Comment

By Dr. Peter Harrop, IDTechEx

In Japan, a leading car manufacturer grows a car seat as a structure based on the principles of a bird bone – with extreme porosity yet containing plenty of strength while using almost no material. However, he does more than this: his 3D printer creates the heating elements and other electrics in the seat as it grows. Germany-based CoTexx molds a load-bearing aircraft aerofoil with knitted heating mesh sealed in the composite to do the de-icing. In the United Kingdom, Imperial College does something similar with two carbon fiber textiles with glass textile holding an electrolyte in between. In this way they make shaped load-bearing car bodywork that doubles as a huge supercapacitor.  In the USA, NASA realizes that composite fuselages for aircraft do not conduct like the old aluminum ones and lightning can be catastrophic ― so they mold conductor patterns into the composite. These also act as antennas:  electrically smart aerospace bodywork unfolding in many forms.

Taking a Closer Look

At first glance, this may all seem prosaic, but it is a leading technological mega-trend of this century with profound implications. It is structural electronics. Consider the most glamorous things that recently burst upon the scene, such as the MIT robot dog that jumps over obstacles, the Dyson robot vacuum cleaner that is as effective as a traditional model or the latest smart watch with its myriad features. Behind the dazzling exterior, they are made by 100-year-old design rules: buy components, connect them together and drop them in a box. Yes, those components are awesome: think of the sensors, integrated circuits and displays and the heroic software behind them. Nonetheless, components-in-a-box for electronics and electrics is equivalent to cooking dinner in a spaceship by lighting a wood fire: the future with an anachronism inside. That is about to change and that change will be rapid.

Consider the conventional car with its 30,000 parts fitted together and put into a mindless body. It is becoming much simpler as it turns into a pure electric car, making modernization with structural electronics far easier. TactoTek say their first 3D molded electrics will be seen in a volume-produced car soon. “Dumb” windshields being replaced by ones with embedded heaters and antennas was only a beginning. The company states: “TactoTek manufacturing process removes constraints on the traditional design so that products with great functionality and form factors can be delivered by the brands. TactoTek has made possible thin and light designs that are capable of incorporating electronics and structural plastics. It uses LEDs for advanced lighting systems, sensors, touch controls and ICs in rigid as well as flexible designs.” Be it lighting features, integrated circuits, controls, sensors or antennae, solutions that incorporate design and intelligence together that can be produced in rapid cycles are highly desirable, is its point.

We’re Closer Than You Think

Individual vehicle components are merging and vanishing. The BYD K9 is the best-selling pure electric large bus and it already has in-wheel motors and the option of a solar roof instead of a dumb one. Boeing, Airbus and others are starting to use Conformal Load-Bearing Antenna Structure CLAS and Smart Composite Actuators SCA in aircraft. Structural metamaterials as honeycomb will be used for antennas and electromagnetic manipulation, according to a researcher in one major car company.

The W. M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, University of Texas at El Paso has developed what it calls Multifunctional Impact-Resistant Structural Batteries. By interrupting the 3D printing process and integrating electronics functionality into the structure, rapidly-developed, high-fidelity prototypes can be fabricated in order to capture and evaluate form and functionality simultaneously. In a collaboration between the University of New Mexico’s COSMIAC, Keck Center launched structural electronics in a CubeSat Satellite.

The Drayson electric racing car has a battery fitted into the aerofoil but BAE Systems has made a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) out of load-bearing battery material as a substitute for existing, dumb carbon-composite structural materials. Stewart Penney of BAE Systems declares, "There are number of people that will build a battery shaped like a beam, for example, but fundamentally that is just an odd-shaped battery, it isn't a structural battery. The beauty of what we've got is that, when it's fully developed, a company will be able to go out and buy what is a standard carbon-composite material, lay out the shape, put it through the curing process and have a structural battery," he said.

The Future of the Market by Design

Investors and technologists have much to contemplate here because structural electronics will disrupt the value chain. For example, it is well known that those making lithium-ion batteries or flat screen displays have a tough time whereas, earlier in the value chain, the materials suppliers prosper and later in the value chain the system integrators prosper. In Japan that graph is called “the smile.” Now add structural electronics ― and board-stuffing and product assembly are largely bypassed by the chemical and intermediate materials people. The smile just got deeper.

Design rules change. Components that do not swell and shrink and prematurely destroy themselves will be first candidates for vanishing into structures, not today’s batteries. That means supercapacitors and metal patterning of antennas, interconnects, capacitive controls and actuators and the chips as LEDs and integrated circuits are prime candidates for the benefits. In laboratories you already see supercapacitors as wallpaper, cable cladding, load-bearing printed circuit boards and bodywork. 

Design rules will no longer dictate that supercapacitors are much larger and heavier than batteries if the supercapacitor vanishes into the structure and the battery does not. Now the race to make solid-state supercapacitors, batteries and other components can be seen as more than seeking miniaturization, longer life and non-flammability. In cars, structural electronics company T-Ink sees up to 40% space- and weight-saving, and IDTechEx anticipates up to ten times improvement in reliability and life from the structural alternative to plug-in lighting and to switches that move. With interconnects, antennas and other components, the saving is virtually 100%. And what can go wrong in a waterproof chunk of solid, sealed composite?

From the Bench to Benefit

From the point of view of the finished product, the benefits are many. Who wants a bus that holds ten fewer passengers versus one using structural electronics? Boeing has bird-strike detector patterns printed into the leading edges of some aircraft wings and complete smart skin over the whole aircraft will give it a nervous system mimicking that of a human. Call it real-time structural health monitoring and think of it in the medical prosthetic, mobile robot, smart bridge and building applications, too. Then who will settle for less?

For the military and highly critical missions, the distributed intelligence of structural electronics can confer redundancy and damage tolerance. For others, it makes many new things possible such as the whole of a car glowing in the dark and complete interior lighting when needed. Daimler has already created concepts like these and added photovoltaic skin on the outside. The body of a vehicle can become very smart, particularly when you realize that almost every component can now be made transparent. Some vehicles doing tasks that are not time critical, such as vineyard soil and plant monitoring, can have no battery and wake up like a lizard with the sun to perform their tasks, powered by smart photovoltaic skin.

The Nature of Things to Come

Certainly biomimetics – usefully copying nature - is alive and well. Consider that integrally electromechanical device the muscle. You could call it structural electronics. In nature it is used to change shape, to actuate and to propel. It is far more sophisticated than the artificial muscles we have started to design with electroactive polymers and dielectric elastomers. This story already involves mimicking bird bones though not yet the electric nerves integral within them; it involves smart skin as in nature and the bees’ honeycomb. For the future, do not look at the embarrassingly antediluvian guts of that computer, those wearable electronics or Internet of Things nodes. Sophisticated hardware? Try again. Look up at the creatures flying over you.

More information about this topic can be found in IDTechEx Research’s study of the world of “structural electronics” in its’ new report, “Structural Electronics 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts”.  And learn even more in Santa Clara, Calif, November 18th-19th at the 2015 IDTechEx Show



Michelle WinnyMichelle Winny

With a combination of news, products and feature articles, Michelle provides up-to-wire commentary on new technology and legislation. Coupled with in depth coverage for specifiers and purchasers of electronic components and equipment, Michelle brings everything within the electronics market directly to her readers.