Control Engineering Machine Control eNewsletter for August 2002


In this issue:



Machine control in Control Engineering

In the last two months in Control Engineering , I have covered some important topics for machine control.

The July cover story was about embedded control. This article was somewhat of a general survey of the technologies, platforms, and product categories that we will be covering as part of the explosion of products in this category. Software pioneered by the PC-based control companies when combined with the continued evolution of hardware driven by ever smaller yet more powerful silicon has sparked new products that enable a distributed machine-control architecture.

In August, I covered the current state of machine vision. There are many suppliers in this market with many new products, as well as an explosion of a new market area-vision sensors.

Coming in September is a review of some powerful programming tools based on component, otherwise know as object, programming. These will be a significant benefit for control programmers of all types.

See them online at /

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RS Logix 5000

Rockwell Automation has added new design editors -- Sequential Function Chart (SFC) and Structured Text (ST)-to Rockwell Software RSLogix 5000 programming software. SFC is a graphical language used to organize the flow and control of complex, multi-tiered operations. ST is a high-level, text-based editor with constructs typically found in modern programming languages like BASIC.

Among other features added is symbolic data modeling. With this feature there are no predetermined tables or physical memory addresses. Memory is created by name, defined by the user, and stored directly in the controller.

Daniel Parrish, director of engineering for OEM Tegron, says, 'We find SFCs work well not only as a programming structure but also as a valuable diagram for customer documentation. We make extensive use of ST both for data handling routines and for programmers without a Ladder Diagram background. But the key add that makes this software valuable for us is symbolic modeling. Since tag names are loaded directly into controller memory it is easier to both program and troubleshoot the application.'

RSLogix 5000 is the programming and development software for the Logix family of controllers.

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Business ethics

In a follow up to my discussion about corporate ethics and responsibility and specifically the Stanley Works, I see that its board has decided to stay in the US. This was timely news, I just won some Stanley tools at a golf outing raffle. I may keep them.

Notice, too, a spate of press releases hitting general media 'revealing' that corporate graft and thievery is bigger at the lower levels than with the high profile cases that we've recently witnessed. Think that is a coincidence? Me neither.

See any good news about corporate responsibility? Got a gripe with the power of finance over engineering? E-mail

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Sensor news

2002 has been the year of sensor news. Many companies have released hot new products, and it isn't over yet. By the way, Sensors Expo is coming up in Boston September 24-26. I plan to be there. If you spot me, say Hi.

An all-day session Wednesday, September 25, at Sensors Expo, 'Nanotechnology and MEMS/MST/Micromachines: A global perspective,' will address issues and technologies of Nano and Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Microsystems Technologies (MST), and micromachines.

Read abstracts of papers at

The Sensors Expo web site is at

New sensor products include:

  • Two integrated Hall sensors from Sentron AG respond to a magnetic field parallel to the chip surface, unlike conventional Hall sensors, which only measure the field component perpendicular to the device surface. Type CSA-1 single axis and the Type 2SA-1 two-axis are integrated CMOS sensor systems including Hall elements, biasing circuit, amplifier, and programming of gain, offset and temperature coefficient. The sine and cosine output signals are useful for linear or angular position sensing. For more, visit and

  • Hyde Park Electronics has released an ultrasonic proximity sensor with a small, flat profile (33.0 x 7.62 x 19.05 mm) with sensing up to 102 mm from sensor face. SuperProx SM300FP series 12 to 24 V dc sensors are either field programmable or fixed field from the factory. For more, go to

  • Baumer Electric's new family of ultrasonic sensors are available in either an M12 tubular enclosure or 15 x 20 x 49 rectangular housing and feature 6 deg. sonic beam angle with a 10 msec. reaction time. For more, visit

  • ifm efector's miniature background suppression sensors ignore shine metal or bright white backgrounds sense small objects at up to 400 mm. OJ Series sensors measure 24 x 45 x 11 mm. For more, see

  • Banner Engineering's QS30 diffuse laser sensors feature visible laser beam for alignment and 400 mm sensing distance in low-contrast applications. For more, visit

  • Omron E3NT-L programmable diffuse sensor features double triangulated optics and 2-part diodes for reliable calculated accuracy. It offers background suppression, foreground suppression, and window evaluation. For more, go to

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More news about vision

The vision article includes an online portion with a bunch of new products. These arrived too late for the article.

  • RVSI introduces the Visionscape 4000 series featuring on-board CPU coupled with a vision processing acceleration ASIC, a flexible camera interface, and application software support for a variety of semiconductor industry applications. For more, visit

  • Coreco Imaging's Bandit-II RGB integrated VGA frame grabber supports JAI's CV-M77 RGB camera. It is designed for use with RGB, composite video, and S-video cameras. Software development tools allow users to develop applications with C DLLs, C++ classes, or ActiveX controls on Microsoft Visual C/C++ 6.0 (or higher) or Visual Basic 6.0 (or higher) development platforms. For more, go to

  • Matrox Imaging's Odyssey Xpro vision processor board features the Motorola G4 PowerPC embedded microprocessor, running at 1 GHz. The single-slot Odyssey Xpro also offers over 5 GB per second of memory bandwidth, up to 1 GB of DDR SDRAM memory and up to 2 GB per second of external I/O bandwidth. For more, go to

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Cool machine control products

Cool new products continue to come out. Looks like the industry is still vital.

  • Acces I/O Products introduces Model 104-IIRO-16 low cost 32-channel PC/104 utility board featuring change-of-state detection, 60 V optical isolation on the input lines, and standard Form C SPDT relay outputs. The isolated, non-polarized inputs may be driven by either DC sources of 3-30 V (or higher by special order) or ac sources at frequencies of 45Hz to 10KHz. Each input circuit includes a jumper selectable slow/fast filter to accommodate ac inputs and is also useful for slow dc inputs in noisy environments. More is available at

  • Sola/Hevi-Duty has expanded its SDP family of low power, DIN-rail power supplies to include a 4.2 amp unit. The 100-Watt SDP4-24-100 features narrow enclosure, overload capacity, and tool-free installation. For more, visit

  • Sealevel Systems' Ultra 530.LPCI low profile PCI bus serial I/O port adaptor offers RS-232/422/485/530 field selectable interface to a variety of data collection devices. For more, see

  • Phoenix Contact's IP67 rated Fieldline modules I/O modules can be implemented on a number of fieldbus protocols including DeviceNet, CANopen, Interbus, and Profibus DP. Integrated diagnostics include bus error states and I/O device status. For more, go to

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Control Engineering Buyer's Guide

Control Engineering Online Buyer's Guide includes more than 35 software subcategories that may be useful. If you've registered on the website, you can gain access through the following link. If you're not logged in or if you need to register, the link will take you to a page where you can register, enter your username and password, or use the 'forgot my password' function. For more, visit /buyersguide .

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Control Engineering plans October webcasts on manufacturing productivity

Control Engineering will conduct two October webcasts, moderated by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, on how automation tools boost productivity.

'Standard roadmap to manufacturing productivity' will show how OPC Foundation improves manufacturing by delivering non-proprietary technical specifications -- a common roadmap to productivity. Getting participants to agree on the best course hasn't always been easy, but results benefit end-users. Efforts now extend into Ethernet to ensure interoperability advantages continue among automation/control applications, field systems/devices, and business/office applications. Speaker: Tom Burke, OPC Foundation president and advisory software developer at Rockwell Automation.

'Everything you need to know on one screen' asks if the ultimate productivity tool has arrived? A broad class of software shows key performance indicators for manufacturing, design, sales, logistics, or whatever needs monitoring. This 'digital dashboard,' a human-machine interface on steroids, can be rapidly customized to fit users needs and changing business goals. Panelists advise on how to get the most from this software. Panelists: Jamie Bohan, Business Manager for the Honeywell Industry Solutions Uniformance product line; Kevin Roach, Vice President, Global Solutions Business, GE Fanuc, part of GE Industrial Systems; and a representative from Manufacturing Industry, Industry Solutions Group (ISG), Microsoft Corp.

Other presentations will include speakers from IBM, Segway, Unilever, Microsoft, 3M, JC Penney, Amana, Honeywell. The webcasts are part of SupplyChainLinkExpo, a FREE online conference and tradeshow, October 16-17. Learn more at

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