NI's Compact FieldPoint takes LabVIEW into harsh environments

Austin, TX—National Instruments launched Nov. 5 its new Compact FieldPoint product line, which provides a small, rugged, intelligent platform that extends the reach of its LabView software into harsh industrial environments, such as embedded machine control, industrial data acquisition, data logging and in-vehicle applications.


Austin, TX— National Instruments

Previously hampered by extreme industrial settings, engineers and scientists can use Compact FieldPoint to perform advanced measurement and control by integrating its intelligent distributed platform on a factory floor, in an industrial machine, or in remote locations. Compact FieldPoint''s family consists of 20 I/O modules and three intelligent controllers that perform analog and discrete control; user-defined data logging; and advanced inline math and signal processing. Using these processing capabilities, engineers and scientists can perform signal generation, calculus, curve fitting, statistics, and run PID loops, fuzzy logic and optimal control routines.

'Compact FieldPoint running LabView Real-Time is perfect for our standalone control of hybrid power systems in Alaska,' says Thomas Johnson, research engineer for the University of Alaska's Institute of Northern Engineering. 'These systems provide cathodic protection for the trans-Alaskan pipeline and must operate with utmost reliability in extreme and adverse conditions. Only Compact FieldPoint combines the necessary ruggedness and durability necessary to make these systems a reality.'

Compact FieldPoint incorporates a solid metal backplane for standalone mechanical ruggedness and stability. Users benefit from sturdy four- or eight-slot backplanes and steel screw fasteners that enable Compact FieldPoint to endure high vibration applications, even when mounted on heavy machinery or vehicles. Compact FieldPoint is the size of a large brick, measuring 5 x 10 x 5 in., and can withstand 50 g of shock and 5 g of RMS vibration.

'By eliminating the possibility of disconnect failures resulting from intense shock and vibration, Compact FieldPoint provides a cutting-edge solution for the challenges of in-vehicle testing. This small, rugged, and intelligent platform enables us to implement analog measurement, control and data logging to monitor signals, such as oil pressure and vehicle speed,' says Lance Butler, B&B Technologies' senior systems integrator. 'This dramatically reduces the time and cost currently associated with in-vehicle applications.'

Compact FieldPoint operates in temperatures ranging from -25 °C to 60 °C, enabling users to run embedded LabView applications in extreme environments that cause many industrial PCs to fail.

Using the Ethernet connectivity of Compact FieldPoint, users can create web-enabled applications, and remotely monitor sites to improve processes, reduce costs, and improve data throughput. The built-in web and file servers in Compact FieldPoint provide easy access to embedded LabView applications and stored data. With remote panels, users can access Lab-View's user interface through any web browser, enabling them to view or control embedded applications remotely without a separate human machine interface (HMI).

For applications requiring external device control, Compact FieldPoint offers one RS-485 and three RS-232 serial ports. These enable control and communication with industrial devices, including bar code scanners, radio modems, touchscreens and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) via the four serial ports. The RS-485 serial port provides a low-cost, long-distance (1.2 km), multidrop network for connecting industrial devices.

Because Compact FieldPoint seamlessly integrates with PLCs, engineers can achieve advanced analog control, measurement, data logging, and communication functionality. For systems incorporating a PC, LabView provides connectivity to more than 100 PLCs from many manufacturers.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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