Here are highlights from some articles recently posted at Besides presenting Control Engineering's entire print editions, Control Engineering Online also delivers daily news, Web Exclusives, and Online Extra articles that add value to in-print features.


Here are highlights from some articles recently posted at Besides presenting Control Engineering's entire print editions, Control Engineering Online also delivers daily news, Web Exclusives, and Online Extra articles that add value to in-print features.

Laser sensing continues to improve wallboard process

More than 15 years ago, LMI Selcom (Southfield, Mich.) helped Qualimatrix (Emeryville, Calif.) develop its Wallboard Caliper Profiling System (WTG 2000) for Georgia Pacific Corp. The systems were subsequently installed nationwide, and LMI and Qualimatrix have been making improvements ever since.

For instance, when National Gypsum requested 18 WTGs with laser triangulation technology in 1995, Qualimatrix's engineers to decided to implement two of LMI's SLS 5000 laser measuring sensors. Qualimatrix reengineered its whole caliper profiling process to include the new sensors, and the resulting WTG II solution helps users control board thickness, width, taper, high centers, high shoulders, and other surface anomalies, which has reduced quality complaints. Resulting thickness profile data allows users to make real-time adjustments, and provides closed-loop control for the wet-end of the wallboard process. For more information, .

RFID assists Toyota-South Africa

To install an automatic tracking system (ATS) in its manufacturing facility, Toyota-South Africa S.A. recently replaced its old job card system with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solution from Escort Memory Systems (EMS, Scotts Valley, Calif.).

The auto plant, which produced 100,000 vehicles and had revenues of $860 million in 2000, installed 14 of EMS' HMS820 Passive Reader/Writers, one MM80 MicroMux modules, and 500 of EMS' HMS150HT tags. These tags are mounted on the auto paint shop dollies and hangers, which provides a remote database at each. This allows Toyota to track vehicles at any point during the painting process, as well as track the maintenance records of each dolly and hanger, which helps reduce downtime.

With the RFID solution in place, Toyota is implementing the project's second phase, which involves tracking vehicles from Body and Assembly departments through to its distribution channels. For more information, or visit .

FF's HIST ensures interoperability

To help users tightly integrate disparate digital devices, the Fieldbus Foundation (FF, Austin, Tex.) developed its Host Interoperability Support Test (HIST) to check if certain features are available in a host, though not how developers accomplish them. Likewise, FF's FOUNDATION fieldbus specification doesn't dictate what features a host must process .

Consequently, HIST examines whether a host's feature actually works, rather than requiring that a certain button is clicked. HIST also checks for address assignment, block configuratation, block parameterization, block linking and others. There are a total of 19 features in the test suite, etc. The resulting test report is a Host Feature Checklist that shows users which features are available in a specific host. This, the foundation says, helps reassure users that they'll be able to access devices features in devices from different manufacturers using one tool. For more information, or visit .

Soy oil extraction plant needs single, open control system

The National Vegetable Oil Co. (NVO, Borg El Arab, Egypt) recently finished building what it reports is the largest soy oil extraction plant in both Africa and Europe, and sought a single control system that could manage both the grain terminal and the oil seed processing plant. To process its anticipated 3,000 metric tons of soybeans per day, the plant needed both sequential and extensive analog controls to automate all operations.

However, NVO's engineers also wanted to reduce the project's time and expense, and so they eventually selected Control System International's (CSI, Lenexa, Ks.) User-Configurable Open System (UCOS). UCOS provides an open, Microsoft Windows NT-based platform that employs pre-configured sequential and analog control components.

Interfaced to more than 2,600 I/O points, UCOS can monitor and control all plant functions and sub-systems, including soybean movement, cleaning, drying, flaking, extracting, storage and loadout. UCOS' open platform allows to communicate with the plant's Allen-Bradley sub-systems, Crown Iron Works processing equipment, and Kistler-Morse ultrasonic level sensors, the user says. For more information, or visit visit .

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