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Happy 70th Birthday to the transistor 

09 January 2018 06:54:00 Categories: Comment news

Few people outside of the electronics industry know this but the fact remains – the transistor has transformed the world that we live in and today, in the internet age, it is just as important.

In 1957 three engineers named John Bardeen, Walter Houser Brattain, and William Bradford Shockley working for Bell Labs in New Jersey, USA, invented the first transistor. Together, they ushered in the silicon age.

Before the transistor, engineers relied on vacuum tubes, which were enormous, slow to respond and burnt out. The transistor represented a major shift in technology and led to the integrated circuit. The first of these contained just four transistors at 125 microns in size but since those early days, the technology has improved so much that the number of transistors in a product has grown exponentially. Today, transistors are built on processes down to as small as 7nm—or 10 billionths of a metre. 10 million of them fit on a pinhead and the typical smartphone boasts around 85 billion of them.

It is no exaggeration to say the transistor is the foundation of our modern world. It has had an enormous impact in every sphere of our lives, influencing medicine, politics, science, and via the transistor radio, even helped transform popular culture.

The first available product to use a transistor was the hearing aid. Technology advancements during World War II meant that by the late 1940s hearing aids with circuit boards and button-sized batteries were possible, enabling the batteries, amplifier and microphone to combine into one portable unit that could fit in a pocket. But, the move to transistor-based hearing aids meant they were even smaller and needed far less battery power. They could be worn either inside or behind the ear, making them practical. In 1953 over 200,000 transistor hearing aids were sold, eclipsing the sale of vacuum tube hearing aids.

By the 1960s Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel observed in a 1965 magazine article that the number of components that couple be placed on an integrated circuit could double every year, later revising this in 1975 to every two years. This forecast proved accurate and rate held steady until 2012. 

No technology has leant as heavily on this astonishing growth in transistor count as the GPU. The first Graphics Processing Unit or GPU in 1999, integrated transform, lighting, triangle setup/clipping, and rendering engines into a single-chip processor and contained 22 million transistors.  

Generally, the smaller the transistors, the less power is required, which helps improve power efficiency and as chips shrink in size, it has a positive impact on form factor, usability, power consumption and performance. This is of critical importance for mobile SoCs where power budgets are tiny.

A cutting-edge smartphone containing Imagination’s PowerVR GPU IP today contains around 100 billion transistors; were this made out of individual transistors it would be 60 football pitches in size and cost US$150 billion.

For Imagination Technologies, the on-going development of the transistor has enabled us to innovate, creating low-power, high-efficiency designs to help our customers create ever better SoCs for all parts of the market, from mobile to TV, to IoT, and now for AI.

Architectural innovations are now as important as large transistor counts at increasing performance and maintaining power efficiency. Thanks to its innovative designs, Imagination is well placed to continue to build on the legacy of the amazing breakthrough by Bell Labs 70 years ago.

Imagination Technologies 
www.imgtec.com

IET response to Queen’s Speech: driverless vehicles will need software MoT 

22 May 2016 06:14:00 Categories: Comment

New laws announced in today’s Queen’s Speech will allow fully autonomous vehicles to be insured under normal policies in the UK. This announcement, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), is an important step forward which will ultimately improve road safety and reduce congestion, but the Government also needs to introduce legislation to improve cyber security in autonomous vehicles.

Hugh Boyes, the IET’s cyber security expert, said: “Driverless vehicles have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network and are a great opportunity to test the technology so that the UK can remain at the forefront of research and development.

“However, we must ensure that cyber security is carefully considered. It is not just about the threat of a car being hacked, it also relates to the overall security and safety of the vehicle’s operation. 

“For that reason it will be crucial that the Government introduces proper regulations for autonomous vehicles, which should include the need for a software MoT to be performed on a regular basis. This should help to assure the ongoing trustworthiness of the vehicle software and systems.

“Operation of an autonomous vehicle will be heavily dependent on a lot of software embedded in the vehicle, which provides very complex functions that are currently performed by the driver, e.g. interpreting potential hazards, changes in vehicle direction and speed (both of the vehicle itself and of adjacent or approaching vehicles), and responding safely to vehicle faults or malfunctions.

“It will be vital to ensure that this software runs smoothly so, in the same way as we take our cars for annual MOTs at the local garage today, in the future we will need to include a check on the software to ensure defects and vulnerabilities are addressed. How these checks happen – and who is responsible for them – is something we should be thinking about now.

“While we are used in our daily lives to putting up with software errors in non-safety critical situations, such as when our computers freeze and require a reboot, we cannot tolerate such behaviour in autonomous vehicles as this could put the safety of the vehicle’s passengers and those outside the vehicle at risk.”

Should I Specify an AC- or DC-operated LVDT Linear Position Sensor For My Application? 

08 January 2016 06:02:00 Categories: Comment

Mike Marciante
TE Connectivity (Macro Sensors LVDTs)

An AC-operated LVDT Linear Position Sensor does not contain any internal electronics and requires an external oscillator, carrier amplifier, or demodulators and filters to operate. A DC-operated LVDT Linear Position Sensor is comprised of an AC-operated LVDT and a carrier generator/signal conditioning module.  It maintains all the desirable characteristics of the AC-LVDT, but has the simplicity of DC operation.   

Applications often dictate the choice of an AC- or DC-operated LVDT.  Here are some examples:

AC-OPERATED LVDT APPLICATIONS

  • Extreme temperatures: below -20°C or above 85°C:- Constructed with appropriate materials, AC-operated LVDTs can operate in temperatures from ‑200°C to 500°C.  A DC-operated LVDT, on the other hand, is limited by the properties of the materials in the electronic signal conditioning module. 
  • Hard-to-Reach installations:- While LVDTs with internal electronics may have a 20 year expected life, free-core, non-contact AC LVDTs have an even longer life expectancy.   Their high reliability makes them ideal for installations in locations without easy access.  Without the need for internal electronic components, AC-LVDTs also can be offered in smaller package sizes to fit in compact locations. Remote electronics can be installed in an accessible location away from the LVDT.  
  • High Shock/Vibration Environments:- Sensitive electronic components can be affected by shock and vibration.  Installing an AC- LVDT allows the user to segregate the sensing element from the electronic circuitry. Connected by long cables up to 31 meters (100 feet), AC-operated LVDTs can work in hostile environments with remotely-located electronics that operate in benign areas.

DC-OPERATED LVDT APPLICATIONS

  • Easy and Fast Installation:- DC input/DC output and factory-calibrated output allow for a simple and quick set-up. Using ASIC and microprocessors, internal electronics can provide for more complex processing functions as well as signal conditioning within the sensor housing. As there is need for calibration or reliance on amplification equipment, setup time is reduced as well as overall system cost.
  • Eliminates Signal Conditioning Requirements:- The DC-operated LVDT can eliminate the volume, weight and cost of conventional external AC excitation, demodulation and amplification equipment (ideal for outdoor applications where a control panel may not exist).   They also can produce digital outputs directly compatible with computer–based systems and standardized digital buses, which is desirable in metrology and subsea applications.
  • Loop-Powered Designs:- Unlike voltage signals, current signals will not diminish over a long run of cable.  This makes loop-powered 4-20 mA LVDTs ideal for applications where long cable runs in excess of 1,000 feet are required.  This is a very useful feature in subsea and outdoor applications where control panels can be located far from the sensor.

Benefits of AC- vs. DC-Operated LVDTs at a Glance

AC-Operated LVDTs

DC-Operated LVDTs

Unlimited electrical/mechanical life

Pre-calibrated analog or digital output

Greater shock and vibration resistance

Eliminate reliance on signal conditioning

Wide operating temperature ranges

Integrated error compensation

Smaller package size/hard to reach places

Lower overall system cost

Infinite resolution

Faster set-up time

SCENARIOS FOR CHOOSING AN AC VS DC LVDT

1. A position sensor was required on the door to a large furnace where temperatures reach 175°C.  Because of its 200°C temperature rating, TE Connectivity’s Macro Sensors HSTAR AC-operated LVDT and LVC-4000 signal conditioner were specified.  While the LVDT was exposed to the high temperatures, the LVC-4000 was mounted remotely where the temperature was controlled to produce a 4-20 mA output.      

2. The Macro Sensors GHSIR Spring-Loaded 4-20 mA Loop-Powered LVDT was specified to monitor structural components on a bridge.  Because control panels on bridges can be far apart, the cable runs between an LVDT and its associated electronics could be as high as 1,000 ft.  Using TE Connectivity’s Macro Sensors GHSIR allowed the customer to make the measurements with little concern over the LVDT’s proximity to the closest control panel.

http://www.te.com/

Market Gravity predicts business trends for 2016 

18 December 2015 06:16:00 Categories: Comment

Technology is set to have an even bigger influence on British businesses and their product development strategies in 2016, with growth expected within connectivity, omnichannels, financial and payment technology and Artificial Intelligence. In addition, the way big businesses discover and implement innovation is set to shift, with the launch of venture teams and accelerator panels or internal ‘incubators’ to bring a start-up mentality to corporate organisations. 

Gideon Hyde co-founder of Market Gravity, the specialist innovation and propositions design consultancy, shares his predictions on emerging technology and innovations and how businesses can embrace these to enhance their offerings, launch new products, services and ventures to stand out in the competitive marketplace.  

Get connected  

Homes around the UK are going to be smarter and more connected than ever as consumers embrace the benefits of using devices and smartphones to control energy and thermostats, lighting, security and safety systems and even fridges and washing machines. Energy, utilities and home appliance organisations should ensure they are up to speed with the latest product offerings so development teams can embrace the trend for ‘connected homes’ and the Internet of Things. Cisco estimates that by 2020, there will be between 30 and 50 billion connected entities so businesses should act now to avoid getting left behind.  

Onmichannel retail strategies 

Retailers and marketers are understanding the benefits of offering customers multiple ways to shop – via the internet, through social media channels and apps and the ability to sell, cross, sell, upsell, reward and personalise the shopper experience is a highly attractive proposition. Beacon technology, geo-location services, and content filtering based on personal preferences, purchase patterns and history all enhance the interaction and we expect to see even more retailers adopting an omnichannel strategy across all their sales channels next year. 

Fintech, banking and payments

Mobile banking and payments are already gaining traction as there has been an influx of new tech companies, start-ups and retail banking organisations launching disruptive and innovative new products and services. Established banks need to be proactive with disruption and accelerate change so may need to offer new capabilities and facilities, while also investing in traditional systems to open their offering up to customers of all ages. Digital and mobile services are key but enhancing and personalising the customer experience also plays a big part in retaining and attracting new users so ensuring new products and services are seamless, secure and convenient is more important now than ever before. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not as futuristic as it sounds as there are already UK businesses embracing the benefits of this technology. We predict that 2016 could be AI’s biggest year yet, especially within customer services. It’s algorithms can process ‘big data’ far more efficiently than humans and it can recognise speech, images, text, patterns of online behaviour, for example to detect fraud as well as appropriate advertisements. Smart machines and technology can turn data into customer insights and enhance service provisions, bringing the digital experience closer to the in-store interaction for consumers. 

Innovation within big businesses

Big businesses are embracing the concept of ‘intrapreneurship’, an entrepreneurial approach where teams and individuals are driving new venture ideas from within the organisation. We are witnessing an increase in the launch of venture teams, or internal ideas incubators, as well as in investment in research and prototype development. It’s essential for businesses to work collaboratively with experts in this field, listen to creative new ideas from all levels of the company and encourage a culture of change and innovation to facilitate commercial growth. 

For further information on Market Gravity please visit the website http://marketgravity.com/

Better demand management needed’ to handle rising complexity of electronics supply chain, Future Electronics conference is told 

14 December 2015 05:25:00 Categories: Comment

OEMs need to re-think the way they manage their demand for electronics components if they are to handle the risks inherent in an increasingly complex supply chain, a speaker from STMicroelectronics told a conference hosted by Future Electronics in Leipzig on 12th November.
    
The conference, which was dedicated to the theme of ‘Supply Chain Innovation’, was organised by Future Electronics and held in a Leipzig hotel close to its EMEA Distribution Centre (EMEA DC), one of Europe’s largest stores of electronics components. Some 150 invited customers of Future Electronics from all over Europe attended the event, which also included visits to the EMEA DC and to the largest DHL logistics hub in the world, on the site of Leipzig airport.

Alberto Della Chiesa, Vice-President for Supply Chain Solutions at STMicroelectronics, told the conference that e-commerce retailers such as Amazon have opened to the market and to consumers the possibility of next-day delivery of almost any electronics device. This can lead, together with the wide and different product options and flavours, to extreme day-by-day swings in demand for specific parts. At the same time, he explained that semiconductor manufacturers typically require between 8 and 12 weeks to produce a finished, packaged IC.

Mr Della Chiesa added that the increasing complexity of the interactions among semiconductor manufacturers, foundries, packaging facilities, test establishments, OEMs and end users meant that the supply chain’s traditional reliance on inventory management alone was becoming ineffective. He said that it is only by combining demand management, demand propagation and inventory management with an intensified focus on manufacturing excellence that the entire electronics supply chain can handle the increasing volatility in demand that it is facing – something that STMicroelectronics calls flexible networking.

Closing the conference, Tom Galligani, Global Vice-President of Supply Chain at Future Electronics, echoed the theme, saying: ‘Supply chain complexity is not a threat that we have to think about preparing for in the next few years – it’s affecting OEMs and CEMs right now.
    
‘Electronics component distributors have a big part to play in helping OEMs and CEMs to manage the resulting volatility. Services such as Future Electronics’ Bonded Inventory Management (BIM) programme will help, giving manufacturers a three-month buffer stock and providing extra time to respond to spikes or falls in demand for specific parts. This long-distance backward visibility into the supply chain helps to make up for OEMs’ dramatically reduced forward visibility of end-user demand.’

Delegates to the conference also heard contributions from DHL, Witron, BMK, Artemis Group, IBM, Peiker, ADR International and Bird & Bird, as well as an introduction by Ole Gerkensmeyer, Regional Sales Director (Central Europe) of Future Electronics.
 

Have scientists cracked clothes to power your phone?  

10 December 2015 05:47:00 Categories: Comment
Industrial design researchers at Brunel University London have solved two of the major challenges which prevent everyday items of clothing being turned into power sources for smartphones, tablets and other personal tech.
 
Technology to produce supercapacitor thread capable of being made into cloth has been around for some time. But until now scientists have been unable to make it provide sufficient voltage for most devices or devise a method to produce it economically outside the lab.
 
Now patented breakthroughs made by colleagues Professors David Harrison and John Fyson, Dr Yanmeng Xu, Dr Fulian Qiu and Ruirong Zhang of Brunel’s Department of Design mean thread capable of storing and supplying enough power for common devices and of being manufactured at industrial scale are a reality.
 
Explained Prof Harrison: “Supercapacitors are already ubiquitous as back-up power in phones, PCs and tablets.
 
“They store energy without a chemical reaction so can be charged and discharged almost indefinitely. But in thread form they have never before been able to break the 1V barrier.
 
“What we have done is show we can produce a multi-layered structure with two sequential capacitive layers capable of producing up to 2V. Breaking the 1V threshold is important as in the real world we work on the voltage of common batteries – 1.5V.
 
“We also wanted to address mass production issues so developed a process to semi-automatically coat stainless steel wire the thickness of a human hair with eight separate layers.”
 
The work at Brunel is part of the EU-sponsored Powerweave programme which brings together researchers from seven countries to produce textiles which can both generate and store power. The Brunel paper can be found here.

Circular economy pivotal for electrical engineering 

09 December 2015 10:40:00 Categories: Comment

Nick Bull of Slaters Electricals gives an insight into the importance of remanufactured power and distribution equipment to the Circular Economy.

Remanufacturing end of life power distribution equipment provides a quick, cost effective, high performance and environmentally friendly solution that meets the best practice of a Circular Economy.

Transformers and their associated switchgear are an integral part of an electrical power network. Industrial transformers ensure that power is delivered to site at the required voltage, and industrial switchgear ensures the safe operation and maintenance of transformers and other electrical equipment.

Remanufacturing these units offers a cost effective means to complement the supply of brand new power distribution equipment.

Traditional business practices can lead to the over use of natural resources and energy and also produces large amounts of waste, potentially causing severe environmental impact. The Circular Economy concept offers the opportunity for businesses to mitigate the impact of their activities by adopting a more strategic and thoughtful approach to the use of materials, energy and labour.

According to the Ellen MacArthur foundation, the Circular Economy is: ‘One that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times.’

Recycling of materials is of course not a new concept. However, the Circular Economy process covers the whole length of the supply chain, from initial design to the product end life, ensuring the maximum value of a product is derived by retaining as much of the embedded materials, labour and energy invested in the original product.

Refurbishing or remanufacturing parts or the products themselves, and the re-use and redistribution of refurbished products, is critical in minimising the need for completely new components and units to be manufactured; with the attendant heavy demand for materials, labour and energy.

The evidence to support the circular remanufacturing process is strong. The All-party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) recently produced two reports estimating that remanufacturing typically uses 85% less energy than manufacturing. Remanufacturing is currently worth £2.4 billion to the UK economy, with the potential to increase to £5.6 billion and the creation of thousands of skilled jobs.

The remanufacturing of transformers and industrial power distribution equipment is commercially and technically feasible when the product meets three conditions. Firstly, when the product has a high embedded value, through the materials and/or labour used in the original construction. Secondly, when the product has a slow technological evolution rate and is not subject to legislative restrictions or can be upgraded to overcome these. Thirdly, when the product design allows for re-constructability, including disassembly, overhaul, re-assembly and testing.

For nearly 70 years, Slaters have remanufactured power distribution equipment – returning end of service transformers and switchgear to their original performance. Today, we have developed a business model offering customers, new or remanufactured equipment either on a permanent sale or temporary leasing basis. Slaters can also remanufacture customer equipment using our in-house stock of power distribution spares – one of the largest in the UK.

Temporary leasing can be advantageous for customers requiring short-term transformer equipment for extra power requirements, in emergencies or due to budget restrictions, as no large upfront investment is needed and can be paid for over the hire period.

Whilst newly manufactured transformers tend to be more expensive than remanufactured units, they are produced in accordance with the recent EU Ecodesign directive which requires new transformers placed on the market after 1st July 2015 to meet strict energy efficiency requirements.

It must be stressed that remanufactured units are not subject to the Ecodesign directive, allowing us to reuse and remanufacture transformer units and components whilst being fully compliant with EU legislation.

There are challenges to remanufacturing power distribution equipment. Some customers may be unfamiliar with purchasing equipment that is not new, or perceive remanufactured units to be ‘second hand’ and therefore ‘second rate’.

However, they come with many advantages. Remanufactured units can be installed on a like-for-like basis or configured to specific orders and customer requirements. They can also be supplied with shorter lead times, are typically 35-40% cheaper than a new unit, and are offered complete with an extended warranty to that of a brand new equivalent.

Offering new or remanufactured transformers and switchgear means that we can be flexible to our customers’ requirements, as well as upholding our business philosophy of trying to be ethical wherever possible by mitigating waste and reducing the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

More details at www.slaters-electricals.com

New development kit for smart home and IoT devices runs Brillo from Google 

08 December 2015 05:12:00 Categories: Comment

Imagination Technologies has launched a new development kit called Creator Ci40 on Kickstarter. The Ci40 microcomputer has been specifically designed for smart home, IoT and other connected devices (drones, robots, etc.) – but it also has the hardware requirements (802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port, SD and USB storage) needed to be used as a high-speed wireless router.

The Creator Ci40 board runs not only Linux (Debian, OpenWrt) but also Brillo, the new operating system from Google. In fact, Creator is one of the few platforms selected by Google to be part of its Brillo golden reference program – these boards can be seen as the equivalent of the Nexus phones/tablets, receiving regular updates and patches from Google every six months: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rPkbyyviGI
 
Hardware-wise, the microcomputer packs a powerful dual-core chip that has been optimized for IoT and networking applications. Many existing IoT dev boards reuse existing mobile chips but this leads to increased power consumption and short battery life – a phenomenon recently noticed in wearable devices. Instead, Creator Ci40 includes an innovative, custom-built chip called cXT200 that delivers high performance but also includes a balanced feature set aimed at low power consumption and is manufactured using a low power process node from GLOBALFOUNDRIES. 
 
In addition, whereas other boards today might use only 802.11n Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (or don’t have any form of connectivity at all), Creator Ci40 includes a full wireless connectivity package: 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (Classic and Low Energy) and 802.15.4. The latter represents the foundation for many IoT standards including the Thread protocol, ZigBee and 6LoWPAN (Imagination is a member of the Thread Group as well as the Qualcomm-backed AllSeen Alliance).
 
Some developers are already using Creator during an initial trial; for example, a company is using the kit to monitor the temperature and humidity of the soil on several farms and adjust irrigation accordingly. Another developer is using it to monitor multiple car parks and send notifications to an iOS and Android  app that directs drivers to the nearest space available.
 
Prototyping an IoT device using Creator Ci40 is a simple process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DpZlxtOIJQ. The board supports over 200 sensors today - and more are being released every week.

Imagination Technologies is a UK-based company that designs the PowerVR and MIPS processor technology inside billions of devices around the world; its customers include companies like Apple, Broadcom, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony and many others.
 
 

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

 

Cyber hacking medical devices - letter to the editor 

15 October 2015 05:44:00 Categories: Comment

A recent presentation of findings at US hacker conference DerbyCon demonstrated that medical cybercrime is on the rise.

Using a specially designed search engine called Shodan, hackers were able to identify vulnerable hospital networks along with all their connected devices including MRI machines, defibrillators and equipment in radiology and paediatric units.

Even though 68,000 medical systems have already been exposed, I expect this number will continue to rise. The growing trend in the medical technology (MedTech) industry for more portable and wearable medical devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT) will render more devices vulnerable.

The problem here is that we have so far only been concerned with the cybersecurity and software based protection of our devices. For those OEMs who design, develop or manufacture their own hardware, it's vital to consider a more holistic, hardware based, approach.

The last thing you want is for your life-critical medical device to be compromised when it's needed most. Built-in algorithmic security, for example, can detect when a fake battery is used with a host medical device.

Algorithmic security prevents attempts to use counterfeit or copycat batteries, of which there are millions in worldwide circulation that are easily available at the click of a button from grey market sources online.

By ensuring that software and hardware works harmoniously to protect our medical devices, we can prioritise patient safety in the face of increasingly malicious cybercrime.
 

Rob Phillips, managing director
Accutronics

Dream bigger and build faster: a look at the new Bluetooth Developer Studio 

14 October 2015 09:32:00 Categories: Comment

Steve Hegenderfer, director of developer programs at the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), explains why the organisation created the tool and how it will help to ease development for those building for the IoT.

When I first joined the Bluetooth SIG, although I was a wireless developer I wasn’t familiar with the ins and outs of Bluetooth® technology. I spent a long time immersing myself by reading through over 3,000 pages of specification guidelines, learning about the development process for both adopted and custom profiles and finding out what tools were already available, with the ultimate aim of trying to understand how to implement the technology. The bottom line was that it was not prescriptive. As a developer understanding Bluetooth technology, then the terminology and then how to get it onto a Bluetooth chip or module, was difficult to get your head around. It was at that point that I decided there must be a better way.

Because of that my team at the Bluetooth SIG started to create tools to make developing with Bluetooth simpler and quicker. We created a couple of great tools, including the Application Accelerator and Smart Starter Kit, but we still thought we could do better. We wanted to achieve three key things: to lower the barrier to entry, speed time-to-market for developers and increase consistency and collaboration.  

Lower the barrier to entry: we wanted to get developers what they needed quickly while reducing the learning curve. Bluetooth has lots of great documentation but as the technology advances, it gets harder for developers to keep up with the changes, even in just the GATT technology. The concept of creating custom profiles, use cases for how a device should function in a solution, added an extra layer of complexity. We had to find a way of doing this without creating a massive document.  

Speed time-to-market: reducing the documentation and making the process more intuitive would certainly speed up the process. But we wanted to go further. There are a lot of great tools in existence for creating device-side (and client-side) code, including compilers and IDEs. We didn’t want to create a whole new tool chain. The tool needed to be easy to use, but also flexible enough to allow for integration into other tool chains to avoid duplication and ensure the process is as quick as possible.

Increase consistency and collaboration: I’m constantly astounded by the amount of good ideas we see from the community. Hobbyists, makers, all the way through to large ODMs are using Bluetooth to create the latest and greatest connected devices and applications. We wanted a way for people to be able to share their innovations in a simple way that would benefit the community as a whole.

That’s why we have created the Bluetooth Developer Studio, the official new Bluetooth development tool. We launched an Alpha version earlier this year and is now in beta with a full launch scheduled for Q4 2015. It allows developers to use existing adopted profiles, or create their own custom profiles, in the same intuitive graphical tool. You don’t have to poke around strung-together XML files, and then parse them to get what you want. You don’t have to read a 3,000 page specification to see how the GATT-based services hang together. You can interact with those things in real-time.

Bluetooth Developer Studio is designed with ease of use in mind, allowing you to focus on the solution you’re building, not the Bluetooth implementation. For those that don’t know much about developing with Bluetooth you can get started quickly using an intuitive, drag and drop user interface. The tool gives you a list of all the adopted profiles and lets you search within it, for example if you’re creating a fitness tracker you could type in ‘fitness’. Once you’ve found the correct profile you can then drag and drop it into the designer frame to import it.

If you don’t find an adopted profile that meets your needs the tool allows you to reference a library of custom solution implementations published by community members to see if you can find one that already fits the needs of your product. Developers can also share and rate these profiles, providing an extra layer of assurance and information from the community to help you make the right decision on what profile to use.  If you don’t find what you want from the adopted profiles or from within the community you can still turn to creating a new custom profile. Bluetooth Developer Studio makes this far easier by using a template for profile, service, and characteristic development.

To ensure interoperability with partner tool chains and various development tool sets, Bluetooth Developer Studio is built with a plug-in infrastructure. We already have a range of plug ins available in the beta from chipmakers including Nordic Semiconductor and Texas Instruments, as well as OEMs like Seed Labs, and we expect this ecosystem to grow. If you want to ensure your product will work with other devices, applications and platforms these plug-ins enable the quick creation of code that can easily be flashed on to a development kit or a particular device. If you’re creating a temperature sensor and you want to allow a particular application to be notified when the temperature changes, a Bluetooth Developer Studio plugin could generate that stub code for you.

To take you right through the development process Bluetooth Developer Studio also ties in with the testing process. Currently the Bluetooth SIG Profile Tuning Suite automates protocol and profile testing, ensuring a device supports the specification and is therefore interoperable with other devices. But while it supports technical testing it doesn’t support functional testing to ensure the product works in the way you want it to. So PTS can tell you if your device supports the heart rate profile but not what will happen when a user’s heart rate goes below a certain amount. With Bluetooth Developer Studio, we’re looking to provide functional testing in real time, using virtual testing environments and physical devices, within the tool so you can do all your testing in the same environment.

Throughout the process if there are things that still aren’t clear, service annotations, descriptions and notes all help you along the way. But you can also access in-depth tutorials directly from the tool – including how to create a custom profile or use a plug in. Bluetooth Developer Studio has a full help system with access to the in-depth documentation already in existence, so if you do need it you don’t have to find it somewhere else. We know people learn in different ways so whether you like to read, watch or listen we’ve got different types of tutorials for you.

Over 3,000 people have signed up to the beta and the feedback that we’re getting so far is that it is a solid development tool. The programme will continue for a couple of months before launch so if you’re a developer interested in the tool sign up today – get involved and give us your feedback. We’ve created a tool for the community and will continue to develop it so we want to hear your ideas on how we can improve it. We don’t want Bluetooth developers to feel constrained by the process, we want them to focus on their products and making them unique. We hope Bluetooth Developer Studio will allow you to dream bigger and get your product to market quicker.

Moore's Law turns 50 today  

20 April 2015 06:49:00 Categories: Comment

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law, an unspoken agreement between the electronics industry and the world economy that inspires engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs to think about what is possible. Moore’s Law enables much of today’s innovation - wearable technology, genomic sequencing, smart cities –and is helping industries tackle seemingly intractable problems and turning fantastic ideas into profitable business ventures.

What will the next 50 years hold?

Why are our cars still so much smarter than our so-called Smart Homes? 

08 April 2015 10:26:00 Categories: Comment

Check out this new white paper from Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak.

Various analyst groups and industry prognosticators have been tossing out some very big numbers. According to these fortune tellers, within the next few years, there will be hundreds of millions, tens of billions, even trillions of smart homes connected by the Internet of Things.

However, if you take a careful look at what is really happening – if you actually count up the number of homes that actually are “smart” – having intelligent systems installed within them that actually make our lives smarter, easier and safer, you will see that the number is actually pretty small. Why is this?

Because today’s – and tomorrow’s smart homes – are not very smart. In fact, most of them are still downright dumb.

This is because people are confusing “connected” with “smart”.  Just because a house, its devices and its systems are connected to each other and to the Internet, enabling the home owner to monitor and maybe even control what is happening in the home from a smart phone, does not make the house smart.

To be smart, the smart house actually needs to have some intelligence of its own. It needs to be able to gather information from its network of sensors, review and analyse that data, and then take some kind of action – without a human person in the loop to make the decisions for it. Sentrollers need to actually do something without waiting for us – their masters – to tell them what to do!

Check out the entire white paper at http://greenpeak.com/Press/PressKit/2015GreenPeakWhitePaperSmartHomeHype.pdf

Saft batteries provide critical backup to Crim Sales and Engineering for utilities 

07 April 2015 05:46:00 Categories: Comment

Saft, a designer and manufacturer of advanced technology batteries for industry, has been awarded a contract by Crim Sales & Engineering. Under the contract, Saft has already delivered nearly 30 lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery systems to provide traditional power generating units deployed at a major Southeast utility with critical backup for process controls.

Crim Sales & Engineering was the first United States Standby customer to utilise Saft’s battery technology, IntensiumFlex, in their AC/DC UPS power supply. This specific power supply was custom designed with Saft’s battery solution for a major Southeast Utility. The IntensiumFlex range of Li-ion solutions for industry offers utility end users significant advantages including internal continuous monitoring.

Saft’s intelligent IntensiumFlex Li-ion battery technology based on proven Synerion modules will produce a highly reliable modular AC/DC power supply. These batteries allow operating and alarm parameters to be continuously monitored.  The IntensiumFlex system provides increased efficiency by decreasing installation, start-up and operating costs as well as minimising the amount of necessary preventive maintenance.

The IntensiumFlex battery technology, delivered by Saft, will provide a nominal voltage of 125 Vdc backup power for a mix of AC and DC loads. The system has a total nominal power rating of 7.5 kW in two-hour modular backup increments and has an energy content of 15 kWh.

Each Saft IntensiumFlex system is equipped with two parallel strings, each comprised of five modules in series with a battery management module (BMM). The entire battery is managed by a master battery management module (MBMM). The battery utilises Crim Sales & Engineering’s advanced switch mode power conversion system to back up a major Southeast Utility’s AC and DC loads.

“The agreement with Crim Sales & Engineering highlights a continued demand for Saft’s IntensiumFlex technology as a reliable and efficient solution for utility customers. The Saft IntensiumFlex solution provides a system with 3X the energy density requiring 1/3 the space allowing the critical scrubbers to continue operating for longer periods than traditional battery technology,” said John Adeimy, vice president sales and marketing, Saft America. “Saft’s dedication to advancing Li-ion technology for the utility industry will bring cost-savings to end-users. We are appreciative of the opportunity to continue our mutually beneficial relationship with Crim Sales & Engineering and look forward to growing our presence in the utility marketplace.”

The IntensiumFlex system has the potential to generate significant growth in the US utility markets in the future. 

Equipment donation helps college specialisation  

09 March 2015 05:17:00 Categories: Comment

Specialist in connectors and industrial Ethernet products Electroustic is investing in the future of engineering by donating £3000 worth of stock to Milton Keynes College. In recognition of the current UK skills gap in science and engineering, Electroustic seeks to promote practical learning opportunities and help cultivate bright young minds for the future. 

"The progressive nature of the connector and industrial Ethernet market dictates that products must constantly evolve to keep up with security, speed and power developments,” explained Paul Carr, managing director of Electrousic. “This means equipment becomes obsolete faster than in more traditional industries. Electroustic didn’t want to see older generations of fully functional connectors, capacitors, resistors and components go to waste. 

"We came up with the idea of asking our local campus, Milton Keynes College, whether it had any use for the equipment. The response was very positive and the outreach has opened talks for future collaboration with the college. Electroustic would like to encourage other engineering companies to reach out to local schools more and get involved in training the next generation of engineers."         

The £3000 worth of stock was donated to the Department of Leadership Technology and Built Environments to provide learning materials for the college students for years to come. 

"The call from Electroustic asking if we wanted the stock couldn't have come at a better time really," explained Mark Pears, deputy director for Leadership Technology and Built Environment at Milton Keynes College. "A lot of the electronics donated were things that we were about to order anyway. This meant that we were able to allocate that budget on other equipment for the department, creating a richer learning environment and attracting prospective pupils to the college." 

Electroustic has a history of over 50 years distributing top brand connectors, leads and electromechanical components for industry, particularly sectors like automotive, transport, food manufacturing, energy, petrochemical and security.

Qi App guides you to more Than 3000 Wireless Charging Locations  

03 March 2015 03:24:00 Categories: Comment

Aircharge has announced the launch of a new mobile application to allow consumers to easily locate a public location or venue that provides wireless charging compatible with the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Qi interoperable standard. Currently, there are more than 3,000 existing locations deployed around the globe, and the WPC predicts this will increase rapidly as support for Qi wireless charging from major mobile phone manufacturers continues to accelerate, driving widespread consumer awareness and adoption.

Qi wireless charging provides a convenient and safe method for powering consumers' mobile devices throughout their day without having to carry a charger, cable or battery pack. Whether the need is to charge at home, in the car, the office, a coffee shop, restaurant, airport lounge, hotel or even at the gym, an established and rapidly expanding ecosystem is enabling this. The new Aircharge-Qi wireless charging locator app helps consumers to locate nearby public charging spots so they can charge mobile device wirelessly.

The app, designed and managed by Aircharge -- recently elected as chair of the WPC Infrastructure Application Group (IAG) and co-chair of its Promotional Working Group (PWG) -- already includes more than 3000 public locations worldwide. These include all Aircharge installed locations as well as all other Qi wireless charging locations via input from a number of WPC members. This illustrates how large the rapidly expanding ecosystem for Qi wireless charging is, already fifteen times greater than that of public available infrastructure supporting other wireless power standards. 

Users of the App can choose to set a battery percentage threshold, which when reached, triggers an alert to prompt them to locate a charging location. Using the map function, they can quickly locate and be directed to a nearby venue which offers Qi-enabled wireless charging. Consumers can also switch to a list view to view details about a nearby venue and view its distance from their current location. Additional features include the ability to leave user feedback and experiences at each specific location. Collectively these features not only supply a convenient tool for general consumers but also a powerful portal for businesses to drive traffic to their location.

The Aircharge-Qi wireless charger locator app is available to download now on iOS and Android and from the relevant App stores. It can also be downloaded from the Aircharge website at http://www.air-charge.com/app. It will be available on the Windows platform in early March. All public Qi-enabled locations can be added to the App via the Aircharge team. Please contact Aircharge for details.

It’s not the spoon that bends - Machine to machine communication - what spoon? 

16 December 2014 10:30:00 Categories: Comment

Our geeky blog readers will easily recognise the Matrix references in the title of this post. We’ve not changed our company profile, but we couldn’t resist referencing one of the greatest films of all time before talking about a more serious topic - Machine to Machine technology (M2M). 

By Jonathan Wilkins

Science fiction would have us believe M2M will inevitably lead to a dystopian future where humans only serve to power a network of sentient machines. In reality, we humans are pretty much in control, despite the ever increasing degree of automation and evolving M2M technologies.

Earlier this year, Analysys Mason delivered a forecast report predicting that at the end of 2013 there will be 0.2 billion M2M device connections worldwide. Infonetics Research was even braver, and calculated the existence of nearly 1.4 billion M2M connections in 2012, with wireless personal area networks technology comprising the vast majority.

Vodafone’s M2M research identified an encouraging growth in the M2M adoption process across several vertical sectors. Results showed that 78% of respondents thought M2M would be at the heart of successful businesses in the future. 

You take the blue pill – the story ends

Much like any term that has been around for a while, designating something vast and a little abstract – see our recent article on big data, M2M has been defined in many different ways and applied to a variety of sectors. 

A study from the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published in 2004 defined M2M as, “A term used to describe the technologies that enable computers, embedded processors, smart sensors, actuators and mobile devices to communicate to one another, take measurements and make decisions – often without human intervention.” 

Sound familiar? It might be because M2M goes hand in hand with concepts like Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT).

It definitely rings a bell with us here at European Automation, because it reflects an increase in sales for products like PLCs and more powerful industrial computers, actuators and smart sensors. 

At the moment, we’re still in the early days of M2M, and this means very high implementation costs for early adapters. Other drawbacks, like low immediate return on investment, the lack of infrastructure, power consumption and the lack of international standards will also have to be addressed before taking the next steps into the M2M universe.

You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland

Across vertical sectors, the automotive industry seems to be leading the M2M adoption race. According to the Vodafone survey, 19% of respondents in the automotive sector have already launched an M2M initiative and 88% are currently developing one. 

This information comes as no surprise for anyone following the latest developments from automotive manufacturers like Nissan - the talk of this year’s Frankfurt Motor show, where it launched the first smart watch to connect driver and car.

Another early adopter of M2M is the energy and utilities sector. Part of the reason is that M2M offers measurable returns for these specific applications. According to the Vodafone survey, 100% of the energy and utilities companies that participated said they saw some return on investment for M2M. More than half saw ‘significant’ ROI. With global energy demand set to double before 2050, smart grids and metering technologies are becoming more viable energy solutions around the globe.

What spoon?

M2M today is conceptually very different from the way we would have described it ten years ago. The pace at which technology is evolving has been growing almost exponentially in recent years. Many of today’s M2M applications are still transmitting fairly simple data across 2G or 3G mobile networks. Instead, 4G can now support bandwidth-heavy applications and wireless technology has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last few years.

In the film The Matrix, the spoon is a metaphor for our fixed views of reality. Much like the spoon Neo, the film’s central character, is trying to bend; M2M and the IoT aren’t permanent or rigid. They’re just names for technologies which are evolving continuously. 

A company that wants to survive and grow needs to stay ahead of the technology race and adapt whenever necessary. M2M is growing and will soon become a requirement for an agile engineering business, so the best solution is to embrace it wisely and steadily.   

The Spectrum Electronics Group – twenty years on 

05 December 2014 10:10:00 Categories: Comment

Twenty years in the electronics business can be compared to  a lifetime in many other industries: Continual technological evolution, radical economic changes and globalisation have all paid their part in challenging organisations in every sector of our industry to  thrive or merely survive. The Spectrum Electronics Group (a.k.a. Ismosys) has survived and is celebrating twenty years as an Integrated Sales Marketing and Operations (ISMO) business.

Focusing on the UK market specifically, managing director Nigel Watts said that the last twenty years has witnessed a revolution in the electronics industry that has affected virtually every aspect of the supply chain - from the concept of a product through to the consumption of raw materials and the production of finished goods: "Institutional OEMs such as the GEC Group, Marconi, Nortel, Psion and a plethora of others have disappeared from the industry map to be replaced by new innovators who deploy a full distributed supply chain, including outsourced design," Watts said. "The engagement rules with these organisations today are entirely different to those of the past and not everyone in  the semiconductor sales and marketing world has made a successful  transition."

Ismosys uses the strap line “Innovation not Emulation” to define the company's attitude towards meeting and exceeding the challenges presented by the electronics industry today. The demand creation programmes deployed by the company are designed to access a broader and deeper customer base via low touch, high penetration methods with the aim of identifying the emerging businesses destined to become the industry leaders of tomorrow. According to Watts, it is widely acknowledged by semiconductor manufacturers that demand creation is at an all time low when in fact it should be at an all time high, especially in a design lead region such as the UK and Ireland.

Announcing the anniversary milestone Watts went out of his way to thank the partners - especially Mouser Electronics - and customers who have backed his initiatives and supported his business over the last two decades. "Twenty years on everything, and nothing, has changed!  The quest for increased business is even more relentless, but many companies are still looking under the same rocks," says Watts. "For these companies the tide has turned and sadly their  future is not guaranteed." He maintains that Innovation is the key: "Companies have to develop the courage to seek a different route and not simply roll over because the ROI is not obviously  apparent."

"So here’s to the next twenty years," concluded Watts. "The Spectrum Electronics Group sincerely wishes EVERYONE in the UK & Ireland electronics industry prosperity and success in 2015 and more immediately, a very merry Christmas!"

Operators forced into a corner with new legislation to fix mobile ‘black spots’  

05 November 2014 04:19:00 Categories: Comment

According to reports, culture secretary Sajid Javid plans to announce new legislation this week that requires service providers to introduce network ‘roaming’ across Britain. This means customers will be able to switch networks when they have no signal from their usual provider.

John Spindler, director of product management at wireless network specialist TE Connectivity, offered the following comment:

“If all goes ahead, this legislation may hold the key to solving the mobile not-spot problem that has plagued so many parts of the UK for such a long time. Indeed, unreliable network coverage is commonplace for many of those living in and travelling through more rural regions, and patience is running out. Users are increasingly expecting a certain level of service and operators need to take this, and future demands, into account and consider realistically whether they can meet these expectations using their existing infrastructure.

“While it’s good news that the Government is shining a light on the ‘black spot’ issue, operators haven’t been able to find new solutions or work together and will essentially have to be forced into a national roaming agreement. This is particularly surprising considering the benefits sharing networks provides both the customer and the operators themselves. Not only does it make more operational and economic sense in all areas – including urban towns and cities – but it is particularly effective in areas of low population. Mobile operators can share antenna sites, base station enclosures, power and even fibre assets and amplifiers, which will significantly reduce their outgoing costs. In addition, with demand for data increasing at a rapid rate, the reduced time-to-market shared infrastructure brings is hugely beneficial. Ultimately, unless significant investment is made, working together is the only solution to meet user service level expectations and this shared-system model has been successful in other regions. By failing to come up with their own plan, the Government has had no choice but to step in.”

Apple, Facebook, Google lead focus towards greener Internet, leaving Amazon behind 

11 April 2014 09:10:00 Categories: Comment news

Apple, Facebook and Google are to lead a growing number of technology companies that are working to power the Internet with 100 percent renewable energy, signaling a major shift in the sector over the past two years, according to a new report released today by Greenpeace. Those companies are leaving behind Amazon Web Services, the company which hosts the data for many of the Internet’s most popular services and powers its infrastructure with polluting energy sources that contribute to global warming, the report found.

The report, “Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet,” [1] details the immense power that technology companies have either to drive a renewable energy revolution, or to chain the new digital economy to old, polluting sources of power. The stakes are high: if the Internet were a country, its electricity demand would currently rank sixth, according to the report. Estimates from the industry expect Internet data to triple from 2012 to 2017.

Apple, Facebook and Google are powering our online lives with clean energy, and building a greener offline world for everyone in the process,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace Senior IT Analyst. “These companies have proven over the past 24 months that wind and solar energy are ready and waiting to power the Internet, and the rest of our economy, with clean electricity,” Cook said.

Greenpeace evaluated the energy choices of 19 leading Internet companies, surveying their electricity supply chains of over 300 data centers. [2] Five of those companies have committed to a goal of powering their operations with 100 % renewable energy.

Apple became the first company to achieve its 100 % renewable energy goal to power its iCloud, leading the companies evaluated with its Clean Energy Index of 100 %. Apple is operating the largest privately owned solar installation in the US at its North Carolina data center.

“Apple’s rapid shift to renewable energy over the past 24 months has made it clear why it’s one of the world’s most innovative and popular companies,” Cook said. “By continuing to buy dirty energy, Amazon Web Services not only can’t seem to keep up with Apple, but is dragging much of the internet down with it.”

Facebook flexed its muscles to push its utility in Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, to power its data center there with wind energy. MidAmerican responded by investing $1.9 billion in wind power generation, placing the world’s largest-ever order of onshore wind turbines in part to meet the social network’s demands.

Google has pioneered the use of power purchase agreements for wind energy to provide electricity for its services like Gmail and YouTube.

Google, Apple and Facebook all pushed Duke Energy, the largest utility in the US, to offer new renewable energy options for large electricity buyers in North Carolina.

Amazon Web Services, which hosts a large part of the Internet, including popular companies like Pinterest, Netflix, Spotify, Tumblr, AirBnB, Yelp and Vine, currently sources only 15 % of its electricity demand with clean energy. [3] Coal powers 28 % of the company’s cloud, nuclear 27 %, and gas 25 %. [4] Amazon’s growth is fueling the increased use and construction of coal and gas-burning power plants in Virginia, and has jeopardized clean energy growth in Oregon. [5] While companies like Apple, Facebook and eBay have led the broader sector to be more transparent about its energy use, Amazon steadfastly refuses to reveal any details about its energy footprint to its customers or the public.

Twitter also does not share any details about its energy footprint, and has made no efforts to procure cleaner electricity, in stark contrast to its social media rival Facebook.

Fast growing business-to-business companies Rackspace and Salesforce joined Apple, Facebook and Google in 2012 in committing to a goal of powering their operations with 100 % renewable energy.

Rackspace's UK data center runs on 100% renewables as will Salesforce's new UK data center opening in 2014. Next Generation Data runs a large 40MW data center in Newport using 100% renewable energy, and British Telecom, which operates numerous UK data centers has signed a utility contract for 100% renewable energy.

Greenpeace assessed colocation data center companies, which rent out data center space to customers, for the first time in “Clicking Clean,” finding that they use low amounts of renewable energy; most also lacked transparency about their energy footprints.

Greenpeace is calling on all major Internet companies to:

•Make a long-term commitment to become 100% renewably powered.

•Commit to transparency on IT performance and consumption of resources, including the source of electricity, to enable customers, investors, and stakeholders to measure progress toward that goal.

•Develop a strategy for increasing their supply of renewable energy, through a mixture of procurement, investment, and corporate advocacy to both electricity suppliers and government decision-makers.

 [1] Report available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/

[2] For 2012 “How Clean is Your Cloud?” report, see http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Climate-Reports/How-Clean-is-Your-Cloud/.

[3] For a list of many Amazon Web Services customers, see: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/all/. Tumblr: http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/14/cloud-burn-rate-tumblr-backend-architecture-amazon/; Vine: http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/amazon-web-service-outage-affects-both-instagram-and-vine-214876.html

[4] Greenpeace provided AWS with facility power demand estimates to review. AWS responded that the estimates were not correct, but did not provide alternative data. Using conservative calculations, Greenpeace has used the best information available to derive power demand. Greenpeace invites AWS to be transparent and provide more accurate data for its facility power demands.

[5] See “Where the Cloud Touches the Ground” in “Clicking Clean”, Ch. 7.

 

What next for the Internet?’ 

10 March 2014 13:14:00 Categories: Comment di displays & UIs news

To mark the ‘silver jubilee’ of the web, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is drawing attention to the huge contribution the Internet has made to society while calling for a global debate about how we develop the web and improve digital skills to make sure it continues to create opportunities and enhance people’s lives over the next 25 years.

Dr Mike Short CBE from the Institution of Engineering and Technology said: “In a recent US survey, 76 per cent of people believed the web has been a positive force for society. This is encouraging and, given that we have really only scratched the surface with what the web can do, the potential for it to further improve our daily lives is still considerable.

But we now need an agreed vision for the web for the next decade – and on how we will address critical challenges such as security, capacity and capability. We must also do more to create the necessary digital skills to enable the Web to achieve its full potential. Currently, the UK is facing a well-documented shortage of these technological skills.”

The wish-list for the Internet over the next few years includes:

  • A wider range of content in a greater number of languages
  • Trusted e-learning resources
     
  • Greater inclusion of, and accessibility for, groups currently not engaged with the internet such as large parts of the developing world, the older generation and those with visual and audio impairments
  • Further innovation in web technologies, for example language and format conversion
  • New thinking about how we operate commercially in a digital world, with a broader choice of ecommerce and payment options
  • Global governance and standards for data privacy and security, including techniques such as human factors and user-based design to improve user confidence and adoption.
  • The Internet has revolutionised business practices and created all sorts of new opportunities for communication and interaction – first with email and more recently with social media. We can expect to see social media transcending individual platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to bring together contacts across all platforms in the on going bid to create web technologies that allow people to communicate more widely, more easily and more often.

It won’t only be people who benefit from searching the web for information. Computers will be able to analyse the web to find data from a range of sources, linking data and identifying patterns. So in the future a faulty product or health scare could be addressed by machines scanning the web to find all available data to better prevent and prepare for future incidents.

Finally, improved usability depends on a web infrastructure that allows us to connect to the web on demand - any time, any place – without having to worry about how the connection is made. To overhaul the existing infrastructure to provide universal high-speed broadband coverage is prohibitively expensive. Instead, availability could be achieved by bringing together technical standards, embedding greater intelligence in the network architecture and introducing more proactive and innovative regulation to allow individual devices or appliances to find connectivity on demand.

IET

www.theiet.org

 

Raising the bar with the two A’s – Auditing and Accreditation 

14 February 2014 04:02:00 Categories: Comment displays & UIs news

As membrane keypad manufacturer, Fascia Graphics turns 20, Paul Bennett, MD of the company explains the importance of ISO and UL accreditation for manufacturers and their customers

This April we celebrate our 20th anniversary, and this milestone has been a time to reflect on what has been really important to our business and our customers – in a period where we have gone from the ‘new kids on the block’ with 40 customers to the market leader with over 800.

For us and many manufacturers, quality is paramount and this is why ISO and UL accreditation has been so important. For over a decade we have carried ‘ISO 9001’ status for our Quality Management Systems (“QMS”). These standards provide customers with the confidence that your manufacturer consistently provides goods and services that:

-           Meet customer needs and expectations

-           Comply with applicable regulations

As an ISO 9001:2008 approved manufacturer, monthly audits of the systems are carried out by fully trained auditors to ensure that the systems and personnel are working to the QA procedures set out in the ISO manual. ISO requirements include top management commitment to quality, customer focus, adequacy of resources, employee competence, process management (for production, service delivery and relevant administrative and support processes).

Going global?
For international manufacturers, or those businesses that are considering going global, it is vitally important that the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) mark is achieved. This is because the UL mark is the most widely recognised safety certification mark in the world, and it has been a product safety leader for over 100 years - widely acknowledged for its safety standards, integrity and independence.

The UL mark is also particularly recognised in the US by consumers, regulatory authorities and the insurance industry. So, carrying the most accepted safety certification mark in the US can open up a vast US market for UK exporters and their customers.

In conclusion, for those manufacturers serious about developing their export markets, the UL mark is essential. Furthermore, it is our view that as ISO accreditation encompasses almost every business activity, it should form part of a continuous improvement culture, as it identifies both areas for improvement, and recognises good practice such as an investment in state of the art equipment, and the development of comprehensive training systems such as Q Pulse and NVQ.

Case Study 

Quality standards – the green light to award winning pedestrian signals…

Achieving quality standards can not only help manufacturers win new business, it can also support customers in producing an award winning products.

In 2011, Fascia assisted AGD Systems Limited win a second Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2011, by supplying screens for its flagship AGD946 combined puffin nearside pedestrian signal.

The company had supplied AGD with labels for a number of years, but following a detailed market Request for Quotation (RFQ) in 2010, it was selected to provide the optical screens for the AGD94x series of pedestrian signals.

The signal, which is widely installed in city and local authorities throughout the UK, was recognised for the Queen’s Award for its innovative styling and features. In order to meet the product requirements, Fascia took the following approach:

-           The materials used for the front panel and the gasket assemblies were reviewed. As a result, the production samples utilised more cost effective raw materials.

-           Solutions were also found to minimise the number of prints required and reduce the assembly time of the rear gaskets. The product improvements allowed Fascia Graphics to continue producing product of the highest quality in the most economical manner.

Dafydd Hughes, Supply Assurance Manager, AGD Systems Limited identified the importance of quality by saying: “In an increasingly competitive environment, we recognised that we wanted to work with a screen supplier that was willing to continuously improve its products and not stand still. Fascia fitted this mould by constantly challenging itself to improve its quality, cost and delivery.”

Fascia Graphics 

www.fasciagraphics.co.uk

For further information on ISO 9001:2008, visit www.iso.org, and the UL mark, go to www.ul.com

 

 

 

 

2014 starts with same momentum that saw 2013 out 

05 February 2014 10:03:00 Categories: Comment

Erhard Hofmann, MD AdoptSMT Group Europe AdoptSMT gives an outlook for the year 2014

I started this outlook for 2014 before Christmas. Trying to finish it after the holidays I can confirm one thing: The New Year is starting as busy as the old one ended.

Productronica 2013 held in Munich last November was for us by far the best show ever (we have had our own booth at every productronica show since 1995), kept us busy into the start of 2014 and raises our confidence that 2014 will bring another nice increase of business (even though no-one will bet on future business growth any more like than they did before 2008).

We at AdoptSMT expect little changes to the trend we saw during 2013. There is no uniform market. Even comparable companies in the same geographic area and in the same industry segment can show different levels of success, one can expand, the other one be forced to reduce head count and machines in use.

While these differences between our customers help our business in our pre-owned equipment market (we need both demand and supply) we expect to gain market share in the overall stable market of consumables, spares and tools. Our additional customers in 2014 will be in the situation as the ones were we could win during 2013: They have enough business so they needed parts and supplies but are not too busy to look for alternative suppliers who save them money without compromising on quality. During 2013 we managed to enter many additional accounts, also multinationals, with our range of AdoptSMT Premium Parts and also with many parts and supplies distributed under the suppliers’ brand names including Hover-Davis, Count On Tools, Nortec, Thermaltronics, JBC, Techspray and Indium Corporation. The basis for our growth of business was of course to keep our existing customers, which was the case with the exception of some customers in areas which still suffered from the banking crises (in the South East and South West of Europe).

We do expect higher investments being done by our customers in 2014 compared to 2013. But what we see even more is the focus of them on optimising the utilisation of their existing equipment. This is where we see ourselves as their prime partner – we help them to keep their SMT lines running. This will have us continue the growth we already experienced in 2013.

AdoptSMT Group Europe

www.AdoptSMT.com

Reader Q&A session in collaboration with Farnell element14, Panasonic engineers 

21 January 2014 11:25:00 Categories: Comment news

In collaboration with Farnell element14, Panasonic engineers Jing Liu and Christian Gellmann will be answering questions around the use of polymer capacitors. Liu and Gellmann are on hand to help you overcome any obstacle you might have with a specific project or answer more generic question about polymers.

For example, what effect does humidity have on the life of the polymer capacitors? What polymer capacitors are suitable for high-end audio gear? How does Panasonic Polymer Capacitors compare to Sanyo OSCON capacitors overall and over temp?

15 questions will be answered and published on uk.farnell.com/panasonic in February 2014."

The forum is open so submit your question now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympics infrastructure supported by varying array of electronics devices and components 

15 August 2012 04:37:00 Categories: Comment

If you have been watching the Olympics, though it is hard to avoid whether you are a sporting fan or not, it cannot go unnoticed just the varying array of electronics devices and components that have gone into developing the supporting infrastructure surrounding the different venues. But to decide which aspect is the most pertinent degree is not an easy speculation, however power and lighting d evices would be very near the top of my list.

In this month's issue there is a selection of these article focuses including a look at some inspiring LED ideas that are emerging and how these are driving the dynamics of modern lighting.

There is also an interview for this month's cover story with Lumonic, a relatively recent start-up. The company has developed and built an innovative LED lighting solution with support from EBV Elektronik.

With the later edition of the military stepping in to reinforce security at the games it is only apt to mention our Mil/Aero & defence focus in this issue with an interview with Hypertac exploring the company's recent industry developments in this sector.

Also the problem of counterfeit components and the threat to the supply chain is discussed in an article from Maxim.
Power supplies and batteries are our key power focus with an article from Linear Technology discussing a new range of feature rich power supplies for telecoms and datacoms from the company.h

There is also a focus on enclosures in a feature special from Rittal exploring some important design characteristics worth considering when selecting the right enclosure for housing sensitive electronic equipment.

For more latest news and features visit us online on the CI porthole: www.connectingindustry.com/electronics or follow us on Twitter: @CI_Electronics.

Boom expected in video surveillance equipment market 

14 July 2012 04:35:00 Categories: Comment

The world market for video surveillance equipment is expected to grow more than 12 percent in 2012 according to IMS Research. This is good news for companies such as BVS who specialise in biovision smart cameras.

The boom in the market is perhaps due to a wealth of new technologies as the company explains in our Security & Surveillance feature special.

Also offering a special focus on advancing technology in this sector is our cover story special from Linear Technology with an insight into the company's latest developments in this market.

Widespread adoption of retrofit LED lamps are anticipated to create global energy savings worth $100 billion over the next five years, according to another recent report from IMS Research. This is an interesting statistic for the market and will leverage technology from companies such as OMC who offers an insight into how Light Engines are enabling effective lighting design across the industry.

These are just some of the important and advancing market segments driving the industry forward, featuring in this issue.

Celebrating 30 years in the industry 

02 May 2012 04:33:00 Categories: Comment

Welcome to the May 2012 issue of Electronics and what a special issue it is indeed as we mark our 30th year anniversary in the industry.

To celebrate the occasion we have put together a special 30th anniversary supplement inside this issue, with features looking at the past 30 years in the industry and a look towards the future.

May has been a busy month also heralding the 10-year anniversary of PCIM in Nuremberg.

If you attended the show then you will have experienced its visible growth with additional halls of exhibitors and steady throng of visitors.

30 years ago microcontroller technology was taking the industry by storm, debuted first then by Intel. Now this technology can be found in just about every application.

But to look at what is driving the industry currently then that would be most certainly power efficiency, alternative energy, all things wireless and connected and anything that engages with the human machine interface.

In an industry special this month’s Editor at Large: Industry Insight focuses on the ergonomics of design and how the human machine interface is shaping the electronics of the future.

Positive results across the market 

13 April 2012 07:13:00 Categories: Comment

 The test and measurement market is experiencing positive results and according to a report by Frost and Sullivan, found that: “the world power quality test and measurement (T & M) equipment market earned revenues of $556.7 million in 2009, estimating this to reach $697.6 million by 2016.”

A feature special on test and measurement in this month's issue focuses on JTAG test architecture and how the boundary-scan tool has gone from high-end test tool to now also offer a low-cost alternative.

The connectors market is continuing to be driven by application demands such as the rail industry with a connector solution from Hypertac. This solution was developed specifically for the Eurobalise system incorporated in train communication systems throughout Europe.

Finally, enclosure design is taking on something of a fetish as device manufacturers attempt to enhance the user experience with intuitive housings that take on a whole new perspective with a new range of enclosures from OKW for the medical market.

Innovations in lighting 

13 March 2012 08:04:00 Categories: Comment

Developing innovations in lighting that are non-power intensive is a high-priority on any lighting application list. A solution that offers a low-voltage HB-LED for Li+ battery operated systems and that responds to these power budget needs.

The ten-year anniversary edition of the Embedded World exhibition and conference that took place in Nuremberg at the end of February proved that embedded technology is indeed a lucrative market that is delivery some astounding results.

Once again power comes into focus with a power efficient transmitter for the broadcast industry.

The latest power products such as a new synchronous buck regulator for dual-cell Li-Ion applications.

FPGA technology has featured regularly in the trade press recently and in this issue there is a focus on FPGA technology and how to use this to develop low power, high-performance devices.

The month of love 

07 February 2012 06:56:00 Categories: Comment

February is quintessentially the month of love with the 14th of the month marking St Valentine's Day and as we here at Electronics hold a particular passion for all things 'electronics', we have not only crafted an exciting February issue full of all the industry's latest breaking news and features but we also bring you a selection of new 'en trend' focuses.

Included in this is our special feature on 'Broadcast, audio and visual'. This is an industry sector receiving champion innovation right now fuelled by applications such as the 'big switch over' from analogue to digital penned for June this year.
Endeavours to broadcast the Olympics with vast far-reaching coverage is taking audio and visual to new levels whilst the entertainment industry, particularly the music arena is pushing the boundaries between existing and new technologies for companies such as Cliff Electronics.

Not one to be left behind in the technological revolution, the Connecting Industry industrial portfolio is stepping out, debuting its recently re-designed website porthole and online media hub.

The home of Datateam’s Connecting Industry online portfolio is now new and improved and continues to offer comprehensive news and editorial coverage but now with an even better user experience than before.

Each title has a dedicated section on the website bringing daily news feeds and links to social media sites such as Twitter. You can follow us on: www.twitter.com/CI_Electronics.

With this, Datateam is building a community within and across the portfolio’s industrial sectors thus, not only creating a comprehensive industrial news network but also offering a unique opportunity to reach every corner of these widespread markets. Visit: www.connectingindustry.com to experience the evolution for yourself.

As Editor much time is spent on the road with the role requiring the fortunate disposition of visiting and meeting a retinue of key industry players.

These latest developments and findings are bought to you in a new 'Editor at large' feature focus in each issue; delivering industry interviews, company profiles and latest industry extras. The first of these is published in this issue and explores the dynamics of test equipment supplier, Microlesease during a site visit and interview.

So whether it is online, in print or following us via social media there is a medium of every format for the ocean of information that our industry culminates around, so Electronics is well positioned as the first place to visit for comprehensive coverage of the electronics component and design community reaching every corner in the industry.

Brave new world 

13 January 2012 04:53:00 Categories: Comment

This is the year which heralds the 2012 Olympics, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the continued turning of the tides I expect across many monumental social, financial and natural situations.

For the electronics industry, developments will no doubt continue to deliver innovations that take us one step further to that ever prophesied 'Brave new world'.

But right now it is the technology in industries such as the displays and user interface arena that are shaping the world around us such as in train stations, high-streets, not to mention the installation of the latest technology advances to bring us the games later this year.

This is why we thought it timely to kick off the Jan 12 issue with a displays & UIs special, exploring a new solution in proximity detection from Semtech.

Eclipsing this is our power supplies and batteries feature special covering some of the latest advances from solutions providers such as Excelsys, with a focus on principals in power conversion.

After all power is the life source of all electronics and is vital to the performance and functionality of all devices.

Remaining positive amongst economic gloom 

21 December 2011 06:51:00 Categories: Comment

After months followed by years of economic gloom and no sign of recovery we all sit in abject fear of further disdain. Though we, here at Electronics strive to remain positive along with all those who put their best foot forward with fighting spirit.
In testimony to this we have covered considerable news on investment into the technology sector from both Government and private funding. Eclipsing this has been much direction towards training and development schemes to bolster education and accessibility of the technology industry to young engineers taking a path in our sector.I

t is to these investments and efforts that will gain footing to elevate us out of the downturn as technology comes to be the very fabric in all our surroundings from the home to industry to every conceivable application.

So ours is an industry that shall endeavour and will continue to inspire and be needed as it goes from strength to strength. So we can at least see positivity in the fact that our sector produces solutions the world cannot do without.

PS Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 

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.