Control Engineering Machine Control eNewsletter for June 2003


National Instruments-

New Breed of Industrial Controller

National Instruments Compact FieldPoint is a new breed of embedded industrial controller. It combines the best features of a PC and mixes it with the reliability and ruggedness of a PLC. Compact FieldPoint provides the high level PC type features such as a floating point processor for custom calculations, an embedded interactive web server for easy control and monitoring, removable Compact Flash for data logging, and multiple serial ports for third party device communication in a small, industrially rugged form factor that easily withstands high shock and vibration environments.

Click here to download your free white paper.



JAI and Pulnix have vision to unite

JAI and Pulnix joined forces in machine vision with JAI's recent purchase of all Pulnix shares, intellectual property, camera technology, and regional sales and support offices in Japan and Australia. Terms were not disclosed. The Copenhagen, Denmark-based JAI strengthens its North American distribution, augments its camera solutions, and expands its JAI Systems division. The Sunnyvale, CA-based Pulnix will sell both brands and retain Toshi Hori as president and CEO.

''By this move,'' says JAI CEO Jorgen Andersen, ''JAI and Pulnix will be among the world's largest suppliers of camera solutions for the global imaging markets.'' JAI has subsidiaries in the U.K., Japan, and U.S.

Recent related coverage on these companies includes:

First 3-D Vision Guided Robotics system for GM

General Motors Corp. has ordered a 3-D Vision Guided Robotics (3D-VGR) system from ABB USA and plans to install it at General Motors Powertrain Massena Casting Plant in Massena, N.Y.

The 3D-VGR uses the Braintech advanced, patent pending SC3D (Single Camera 3-D) vision technology running on the Braintech eVisionFactory (eVF) software platform. In the GM plant, vision will be used to calculate the 3-D position of sand cast engine head pairs (a left and right head joined together) as they move along a conveyor. After the location of the pair has been calculated, the robot picks them up and places them into a de-gating machine, which saws off the metal connecting the two heads, separating them for assembly.

A ''non-seeing'' robot had been used to perform this task, but it experienced tool-to-part misalignment, damage and downtime. With 3-D Vision, the robot is said to be able to accurately align its end-effector (gripper) with the location and orientation of each part and move in swiftly to grasp the part with a high degree precision.

Owen Jones, Braintech CEO, says, ''This is the first order placed by GM for our 3-D VGR technology. Naturally, we are hopeful that this initial deployment is the first of many orders from GM. We intend to work closely with ABB and GM to ensure the total success of this project.''

Braintech based in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, made the announcement June 16. ABB USA has headquarters in Norwalk, CT.

Click here for a slide tour of the GM plant .

Products: bulbs, PLCs, sensors, software

Say, who couldn't use a few new bulbs, buttons, PLCs, etc.? Here are a few recent new products to look over, which is, perhaps, even better than browsing at your neighbor's garage sale.


LED bulbs and switch reset buttons: ABB announced a new line of LED bulbs for DBK, DBG, and Compact pilot devices. A new KPR series of switch reset buttons have a larger face area and come in six colors, in black plastic or metal bezel, flush or extended versions (see photo at right).

Sensor: Reed Switch Developments Corp . FerroSense is the ''world's smallest line of ferrous metal sensing switches'' packaging the Magnasphere technology, in a 0.263-in. dia. by 0.324-in. length. It doesn't require the use of a separate magnet, additional filtering components, or a power source to operate.


PLC: Aromat Corp . recently introduced what it calls the first panel-mount PLC with LED display in a 1/16 DIN size. The FP-e series PLC (photo at left) features 2.7K steps of programming memory and over 180 instructions, two serial ports, and six programmable function keys.

Leuze Lumiflex

Software: Mastercam version 9.1 Microsoft Windows-based advanced multi-axis machining software includes Tool Axis Control and Multiple Pass 5-axis roughing and finishing. It provides fine tool control and allows easier setup.

Sensor: Leuze Lumiflex 25 Series Sensors compact, rigid plastic housing measures 27 x 36 x 15 mm, and has a range of mounting accessories (photo right). Connections are M8/M12 round plug or open-ended cable. Their push/pull outputs permit connection to PNP and NPN controllers. A teach button helps setup. Special versions detect clear glass.

Software: STEP-NC Explorer is available for free download, for desktop viewing of AP-238 geometry, machining workplans, features, tool requirements, GD&T and more. Click here for the installer and a Web tour .

Cognex withdraws lawsuit against Matrox

Matrox Imaging , a division of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd., announced that the civil action filed by Cognex Corp. in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the Geometric Model Finder (GMF) and other components of the Matrox Imaging Library (MIL) software package has been dismissed by agreement of the parties, Matrox reports. Cognex has also agreed not to sue Matrox, its distributors, its customers, or its users for infringement of the asserted patent by any current MIL product or any future product that locates edges in the same or similar manner. No compensation was made to Cognex as part of this settlement. Matrox Imaging will continue to sell the MIL software package without modification to existing and new customers. Matrox Imaging, headquartered in Dorval, Quebec, Canada, has offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Hong Kong.

Control Engineerin g news : Powered Ethern et, OPC, patent settlement

Recent June news items at of interest to those involved in machine control include:

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