Control Engineering Machine Control Enewsletter for May 2003


National Instruments-

A 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.



Machine vision expands beyond the traditional, says imaging group

''Machine Vision is at a critical juncture in the evolution of technology, no longer constrained to the traditional markets or applications,'' says the new president of the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), John Stack. Mr. Stack, president and chief operating officer of Edmund Industrial Optics, says machine vision is expanding into biometrics and non-visible imaging. ''My goal as AIA president is to help members locate new markets, while continuing to provide valued resources that give them an advantage within traditional markets.'' He and 14 other directors start a two-year term with AIA.

Mr. Stack's previous titles at Edmund include director of engineering. The Edmund Industrial Optics site includes an article from Mr. Stack on how to gauge the depth of field in an imaging system. In the piece, Mr. Stack advises that proper measurement requires displacement of an image and a specific resolution.

To see that piece, find out more about Mr. Stack or look around on the Edmund site, click here .

Click here for more about the Automated Imaging Association .

19% was median gross margin for 31 machine vision companies in 2002

Most machine vision companies have double-digit margins, according to Vision Systems International's (VSI) 2002 annual financial analysis report, which reviews the productivity, profitability and other information about public companies engaged in machine vision/imaging. The $600 report includes 31 companies that receive 5% or more of their revenues from the machine vision/imaging market: four Israeli, four European, three Canadian and 20 U.S. companies. Total estimated machine vision revenues reported by these companies was $1.72 billion, about 25% less than they reported in 2001. The North American companies represent 65% of all the machine vision revenues of the North American industry based on their worldwide shipments. Median gross margin was 19.2% in 2002 vs. 24.2% in 2001, VSI says. The report includes some analysis of 57 acquired machine vision companies.

Help shape our 2004 coverage in machine control, give feedback

Your opinion counts! What do you want to read in machine control in Control Engineering in 2004? We'll be working on the print edition editorial plan in the next month or so. Let me know your topic and why you think the info would be useful to you. Put ''2004 machine control topics'' in the subject line and We welcome other feedback as well, if you appreciate or have suggestions about what we've done to date.

In shaping your thoughts, if you want to see what we're delivering for 2003 in all areas we cover, click on our 2003 Control Engineering Editorial Calendar.

12 machine control products in 10 inches

I'm not much for TV, but laugh through most of '' America's Funniest Home Videos '' with the kids. One of their favorite arts of the show is a review of 29 (usually painful) clips in 25 seconds. It's slapstick at its finest. It's on ABC, Friday 8/7c.

In the same spirit, here are 12 machine control products in 10 inches. If you need slapstick humor with these, spin in your chair between reading each one, and try not to whack your leg on the file drawer.

Cameras are monochrome, compact - the IK-53N and the IK-52N cameras measure 29-mm square, weigh 1.59 oz, and have resolution of 768 x 494 pixels. Toshiba Imaging Systems , a division of Toshiba.

Controller expansion modules extend board capabilities - Modular 2 x 2.5-in. plug-in Wildcard boards expand the control capabilities of Mosaic's C-programmable embedded computers. Up to eight Wildcards can provide up to 56 (24-bit) A/D inputs, 160 programmable digital I/O lines, 32 ac control lines, or 24-V dc control lines. Mosaic Industries Inc.

Ethernet module for controllers - Rockwell Automation introduced an Ethernet Interface Module for Allen Bradley MicroLogix and CompactLogix Controllers. The Series B module is said to provide cost-effective Ethernet interface for distributed controllers. Rockwell Automation

Load cells range from 1,000 to 50,000 lb - economically priced SW0 (Universal /Tension or Compression) and TM0-2 (Stand-alone, bench-top amplifier/conditioner) are for OEM force weighing and measurement. Transducer Techniques

Linear gauge sensor measures to 0.00004in. with range of 0-10 mm - BS-112 miniature linear gauge sensor measures dimensions, thickness, curvature, eccentricity, displacement, height, depth, flatness, variation, run-out, roundness, distortion, deflection, and position. Ono Sokki Technology

Mini prox is also through-beam - SM400 Microsonic Thru-Beam proximity sensor family has output response time of 4 ms for detection of objects moving at more than 2,000 units per minute. Range extends to 8 in. (205 mm). Threaded, 12-mm and flat-profile form factors are available. Hyde Park Electronics

Module conditions signals for WaveBook data acquisition - WBK18 provides 8 channels of dynamic signal input for piezoelectric accelerometers, piezoelectric pressure sensors, piezoelectric microphones, proximity sensors, or any dynamic input source. It communicates with TEDS (Transducer Electronic Data Sheet)-compatible sensors. IOtech Inc.

Safety disconnect switches - These are available in a IP65 Watertight 30 A Non-Fused Model and IP67 Watertight Non-Fused models in 60 and 100 A with Fused models in 30 and 60 A. Leviton's Industrial Product Division

Sense force in three directions - The 260A01 ICP 3-Component Force Sensor simultaneously measures dynamic or quasi-static force in three orthogonal directions. Force/Torque Division of PCB Piezotronics Inc.

Signal conditioner is loop-powered - Waveanalog opl converts and isolates control signals while deriving power from the output 4-20 mA current loop, eliminating need for a power supply. It has screw or tension-clamp connection technology and is 17.5-mm wide. Weidmuller

Six-axis acceleration data recorder - MotionMaster measures and records tri-axial linear acceleration and angular rates: three-axis roll, pitch, and yaw. It's said to be first of its kind. Instrumented Sensor Technology Inc.

View hydraulic and pneumatic pressure - Weksler instrumentation displays pressure for applications with dial sizes from 1.5 in. to 4-in. (100 mm) sizes. Dresser Instruments

Light reading for the beach: real-time, robotics, adaptive control

Are you looking for some light reading for the beach this summer or to update your department reference shelf? You may know Control Engineering has a bookstore, run by Elsevier Science, another part of our parent company, Reed Elsevier. I love browsing in libraries and bookstores, and this one's no exception. Click here to visit the bookstore .

Enter your favorite term or author in the search box. A title search on ''machine'' brings up 39 replies. Not all may apply (like the one on farm machinery maintenance), but other titles include ''Manufacturing in Real-Time,'' ''Robotics: Designing the Mechanisms for Automated Machinery,'' and ''Process Plant Machinery.'' Some have extras. The real-time book on smart machines, for instance, includes a CD with lectures, slides, tutorials, and dynamic models.

An author search on ''Vance'' brings up Control Engineering's own Vance VanDoren, along with his book, ''Techniques for Adaptive Control,'' which includes practical applications to ''revolutionize plant and process efficiency, response time, and profitability.''

Most books in the store have detailed descriptions and author biographies one or two clicks away. Best part about a bookstore is that sometimes you don't know what you need until you're there. To see the front door to the whole manufacturing area, click here .

Ask for free literature, on PLCs for instance, or connect directly

Need to request information about PLCs? You can request free info directly from manufacturers mentioned in recent issues of Control Engineering , even without an issue in hand. Every print edition gives ''Enter'' numbers, but you don't need a number to use this service.

First, click here to go to the free information page .

Select all issues in the first pull down. Then you can select all advertisers or all editorial mentions and browse. In another pull-down menu, select company or product, then type in a company or keyword. Check the box to receive information, or click directly into vendors' websites. Select all issues (12 month's worth), select ''Product,'' then type in PLC to see more than 70 references. It's like an editorial index on steroids.

OMAC, laser welding, faster material removal, wireless hydraulics

As busy as you are, you may not have seen all of what we've written lately. Here's a smattering of recent Control Engineering Online postings, with links to the full story if you want to read more.

OMAC working group's ''Best Practices'' helps users evaluate, implement Microsoft - The Open Modular Architecture Controls (OMAC) Users Group's Microsoft Manufacturing User Group (MS MUG) published a recent ''Best Practices'' report that highlights key aspects of Microsoft's architecture related to reliability, cost, and supportability. It also provides options for plant-floor users to consider when applying Microsoft technology. The report was drafted with input and help from user firms, such as 3M, Boeing and Procter & Gamble, and suppliers, such as Cisco, Microsoft, Siemens, Wonderware, and the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences. This first version of Best Practices covers seven of the 10 areas.

For more, click here .

In related news, in April, a new OMAC board was announced. To see who's onboard now, click here .

Electron Beam Engineering adds laser to four-axis CNC system - Electron Beam Engineering Inc. recently added a 400-watt YAG laser to a four-axis computer numeric controlled (CNC) work handling system, which enables the laser to accurately follow weld profiles. The new machine handles components up to 24 x 24 x 24 in.

For more, click here .

GE Fanuc's adaptive control reduces milling cycle time by 40% - The iAdapt for Milling adaptive control system is said to automatically maximize a machine's material removal rate during rough cutting; reduce cycle times by as much as 40%; increase tool life; and allow users to leverage their existing installed base of CNC technology.

Click here to learn more

Hannover Fair 2003: Parker Hannifin shows wireless solutions - Hydraulic system wireless diagnostics, shown at the fair in Germany, featured a Parker hydraulic fluid diagnostics system that wirelessly provided information on the cleanliness and health of a small-scale hydraulic steering mechanism. The diagnostics system incorporated sensors that count minute particles and measure moisture, temperature and fluid pressure. Signals from the sensors were transported via Bluetooth devices to a Bluetooth-equipped pocket PC with a Parker-designed graphical user interface. Related wireless products will be available later this year, Parker Hannifin said.

For more, click here .

Quick REMINDER: Update your Buyer's Guide listing

Quick REMINDER: If you're in our Buyer's Guide (registration required) and haven't updated your listing for this year, please do so by June 5. For more updating instructions, click here .

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