Progressive Innovations

Everything that can be invented has been invented. Yeah, right. After 15 years, it may briefly seem like this statement—erroneously attributed to a U.S. patent commissioner in 1899—has some validity. However, this misquote is probably only appealing because it gives people a chance to catch their breath—just before they're again swept up by the inspiration of the inventor...

03/01/2002


Everything that can be invented has been invented. Yeah, right. After 15 years, it may briefly seem like this statement-erroneously attributed to a U.S. patent commissioner in 1899-has some validity. However, this misquote is probably only appealing because it gives people a chance to catch their breath-just before they're again swept up by the inspiration of the inventors among them.

 

Control Engineering 's editors know this sensation too, experiencing it often as they selected the 35 best products of 2001 to be awarded the publication's 15th annual Editors' Choice Awards.

 

'Despite all the events and pressures of the past year, competition for 2001's awards was still as heated as usual because so many innovative products were released,' says Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief , Control Engineering and Control Engineering Online. ' Control Engineering 's editors began by examining thousands of products featured in our print and electronic editions during 2001; nominated 175 candidates; deliberated extensively on the merits of each; and subsequently narrowed the list to the final 35 winners.'

 

All contestants were judged on technological advancement, service to the industry, and impact on the control market. To be eligible for consideration, products had to be featured in Control Engineering or at the magazine's Control Engineering Online web site at www.controleng.com .

 

Winners in the magazine's nine editorial coverage areas were selected. These areas include: process and advanced control; instrumentation and process sensors; software and information integration; machine control and discrete sensors; human-machine interface; motors, drives and motion control; embedded control; networks and communications; and control components.

 

Frank Bartos, Dave Harrold, Mark Hoske, Dick Johnson, Jeanine Katzel, Gary Mintchell and Vance VanDoren also contributed to this article.

 

 

 

PRODUCT CATEGORIES

 

 

 

MOTORS, DRIVES & MOTION CONTROL

Collaborative test, measurement platform

Cranston, R.I.- Electro Standards Laboratories' collaborative test and experiment platform for motors and power systems, Virtual Engineering Laboratory (VE-Lab), operates via the Internet with a web browser, which allows interactive control of system hardware. VE-Lab's graphical user interface (GUI) provides real-time progress data; allows local and remote operator monitoring and control of the experiment; and stores data for offline analysis. An outer-loop, fuzzy logic controller maps optimum efficiency operating points; automatically tunes the system based on a user-specified point; and communicates efficiency results to the remote site for contour mapping. www.electrostandards.com Electro Standards Laboratories

 

Tubular linear servo motor packs punch

Carlsbad, Calif.- Series 4000 and 5000 Tubular Linear Servo Motors offer high force per volume in a direct-drive configuration. Ring-shaped neodymium magnets of alternating polarity line the length of the output shaft, which is the motor's only moving part. The cylindrical stator-also composed of rings with teeth and slots-fits around the shaft, producing smooth electromagnetic interaction over the shaft's surface. Motor position and force are programmable. Six standard models based on 3-phase brushless dc motor technology are available with a peak force of 1,125 lb, and stroke lengths of 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 18 in. www.calinear.com California Linear Devices

 

Magnetic 'coupling' allows variable-speed control

Seattle, Wa.- MagnaDrive Adjustable Speed Drive allows control of ac motors up to 600 hp at 460 V, as well as control of medium-voltage (4,300-V) motors. MagnaDrive consists of a copper conductor assembly connected to the motor shaft and a precision rotor assembly, containing rare-earth neodymium-iron-boron magnets, connected to the load shaft. Relative motion between the Nd-Fe-B magnets and copper conductors develops a magnetic field that transmits torque through the air gap between the input and output members. A linear actuator that responds to 4-20 mA process signals controls torque magnitude by adjusting air gap width. www.magnadrive.com Magna Drive Corp .

 

Low-cost, accurate capacitive encoders

Misgav, Israel- Rotary Sine/CosineElectric Encoder, by Netzer Precision Motion Sensors, is a non-contact encoder based on variable capacitance sensing that promises to bring up to 18-bit angular resolution or 10 www.netzerprecision.com Netzer Precision Motion Sensors Ltd.

 

Linear motion module actuated by servo motor

San Jose, Calif.- Adept Technology's SmartAxis integrates a power amplifier and motion controller, and is packaged as a self-contained, single-axis linear motion module actuated by a servo motor. This motion controller, located in the amplifier rather than the motor, delivers trajectory planning and advanced servo-loop control using a DSP that runs an embedded subset of Adept's V+ robot programming software. www.adept.com Adept Technology Inc.

 

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HUMAN-MACHINE INTERFACEModule tracks downtime, efficiency

Irvine, Calif.- Wonderware Corp.'s DT Analyst module enables plant managers to easily determine if equipment is functioning at optimum levels, and then take corrective action as needed. DT Analyst consists of seven component modules that acquire and decode information from plant systems and equipment to determine if a subsystem or machine is down. It can also assist evaluation of long-term equipment productivity to correct production weaknesses. www.wonderware.com Wonderware

 

Platform links operations, supply chain

Charlottesville, Va.- GE Fanuc Automation's Cimplicity Plant Edition provides an enabling platform that links manufacturing operation systems with supply-chain execution systems. Equipped with a client-server architecture and an open-system approach, Cimplicity Plant Edition allows users to connect to the machine level, and then share information up to higher-level planning and execution systems. Web and wireless technologies allow users to create and implement monitoring and control operations from one machine to plant-wide supervisory systems. www.geindustrial.com GE Fanuc Automation

 

Report generator uses Excel

Walpole, Mass.- SyTech's XLReporter, Version 2.0, is an automated report generator that uses Microsoft Excel for automation applications. New features include direct access to history data from Intellution FIX and iFIX, as well as from the OSI PI Historian. This version also supports the new OLE for Process Control-Historical Data Access (OPC-HDA) standard, which offers data access from other products, such as Canary Labs' Trend Historian, Matrikon and other OPC-HDA-compliant products. www.thereportcompany.com SyTech Inc.

 

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CONTROL COMPONENTSLoop calibrator has easy to-use interface

Everett, Wa.- Fluke 707 Loop Calibrator features an ergonomic design that combines the best of knob-based and button-based loop calibrators in one device. Compact and easy-to-hold, technicians can operate the tool with one hand. The device, which is 6-in. long and weighs 12 oz, can source, measure and simulate loop current. Fluke 707 has a 0.015% accuracy and 1- www.fluke.com Fluke

 

Safety relay cuts need for switches

Farmington Hills, Mich.- Pilz PNOZ e1p electronic safety relays eliminate the need for mechanical switches within safety relays, which increases lifespan and reduces maintenance. These relays can be used for many safety applications from emergency stopping to light curtain monitoring. It meets European safety standards from Category 2 through Category 4, in accordance with EN 954-1. Two microprocessors use different hardware and software systems. Semiconductor outputs use the same approach. The microprocessors perform continuous self-diagnosis, signaling faults and other information to operators through LEDs. www.pilzusa.com Pilz Automation Safety

 

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PROCESS & ADVANCED CONTROLProcess control station enhanced

Warminster, Pa.- ABB Inc.'s Control IT 53MC5000B Process Control Station includes a networkable controller, a hot-swappable operator interface display, ABB's Easy-Tune self-tuning algorithm, and up to four control loops. It comes standard with four analog, two discrete inputs; two analog, two discrete outputs; RS-422/485 data highway; and RS-232 connections. Several module options allow expansion to nine analog/two discrete inputs; four analog/two discrete outputs; and 16 user-defined discrete I/O points. www.abb.com ABB Inc.

 

Neural network tools aid development, deployment

Austin, Tex.- Emerson Process Management's (Austin, Tex.) DeltaV Neural makes developing and deploying artificial neural network solutions easier. DeltaV Neural data collection is automatic, and begins when a user defines a neural network block; assigns up to 30 related input variables from anywhere in the system; assigns a manual laboratory or online analyzer data collector; and downloads everything into the controller. www.easydeltav.com Emerson Process Management

 

Controllers usable in harsh places

Stamford, Conn.- CN3440 Controller is a versatile, wall/pipe mount universal single-loop process controller packaged in a field-mounted housing. With a NEMA-4X rating, it mounts next to a process, even in harsh environments. The instrument has extensive control and I/O capabilities fitted as standard, allowing it to be rapidly configured for almost any application. Other capabilities include autotune PID control, comprehensive setpoint profiling, and one controller for every PID control application. www.omega.com Omega Engineering Inc.

 

Control, optimization based on algorithms

Salt Lake City, Utah.- KnowledgeScape Systems, a division of EIMCO Process Equipment, offers KnowledgeScape Adaptive Optimization and Expert Control system based on genetic algorithms, a form of artificial intelligence, to emulate the functions of expert plant operators. It also uses a neural network that continually models the process. These features allow it to evaluate alternative operating conditions for future effectiveness, then implement the best set. www.kscape.com KnowledgeScape Systems

 

Fault-tolerant system reacts in milliseconds

Alpharetta, Ga.- S7-400F/FH is designed as a failsafe version of Siemens' S7-400 programmable logic controller for applications where protection is essential. In a critical situation, the controller goes into a user-defined safe state for an orderly shutdown, while providing extended diagnostic data to operators with safety-related functions and 200-500 msec reaction times. Safety I/O racks are incorporated into the system via Profibus with a safety-rated protocol. www.sea.siemens.com Siemens Energy & Automation

 

Aiding batch review and approvals

Foxborough, Mass.- Intellution's iWorkInstruction 1.0 allows one S88 recipe to control both automated and manual processes of batch manufacturing. Using a client-server architecture, iWorkInstruction provides a common batch record for automatically collected data and operator actions, which accelerates batch review and approval processes. iWorkInstruction authoring functions can also be integrated using an included recipe editor or standalone tools. www.intellution.com Intellution

 

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MACHINE CONTROL & DISCRETE SENSORSFaster machine vision sensor

Norcross, Ga.- DVT Corp.'s new version of its machine vision sensor, Legend 540, is eight times faster than its existing SmartImage sensors. Legend 540 features built-in Ethernet connectivity and a Hitachi SH4 processor, which achieves an ultra-fast image processing rate. This reduces digitizing time to 13 msec, which allows the vision sensor to be used in even the fastest manufacturing lines. www.dvtsensors.com DVT Corp.

 

Vision sensor sorts based on color

Natick, Mass.- Cognex's expanded, low-cost offerings includes its In-Sight 1000C Color Vision Sensor. This self-contained system verifies and sorts parts based on color. Each sensor has a library of Cognex vision tools and a vision spreadsheet interface for quick and easy set-up. Image processing and grayscale analysis tools include PatFind for locating parts. The Ethernet-enabled system communicates readily with PCs. www.cognex.com Cognex Corp.

 

Infrared test, inspection

Montreal, Quebec, Canada- ISIS Infrared Screening and Inspection Solution for printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) provides fast, noninvasive, and reliable detection of PCB defects beyond the capabilities of traditional systems. After a PCB is powered up, ISIS analyzes the board's thermal signature via an IR camera that scans areas up to 16 x 12 in. using up to 156 K pixels/image. Two cameras cover PCB sizes up to 16 x 24 in. ISIS compares thermal signatures of test PCBs with those of good boards based on statistical sampling. It detects thermal differences that can be related to various PCB defects. www.art.ca ART Advanced Research Technologies Inc.

 

Pixel-counting sensor triggers inspections

Minneapolis, Minn.- PresencePlus pixel-counting sensor scans a 1.3 x 1.0 in. area, which means line changes can be enabled without mechanical repositioning of the sensor. PresencePlus captures a 512 x 384 pixel grayscale image, and then converts it to black and white pixels. Depending on a user-adjusted threshold, the sensor counts the pixels, and renders a 'pass' or 'fail' judgement. When a bottle is missing one or more labels, for example, PresencePlus activates a warning light and sounds an alarm. PresencePlus2, right, configures via PC. www.bannerengineering.com Banner Engineering Corp.

 

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EMBEDDED CONTROLControl processor has smaller platform

Milwaukee, Wis.- Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5320, a small, modular control processor, is designed for OEMs seeking standalone, machine-level solutions, such as packaging and conveyor applications with limited I/O count and communications capabilities. CompactLogix is part of a complete system-level architecture that uses the same Logix control engine shared by ControlLogix, FlexLogix, and SoftLogix. It also employs the same RSLogix 5000 programming package as other Logix platforms, enabling users to move from one application to another with little added program development and training. www.rockwellautomation.com Rockwell Automation

 

I/O modules have die-cast housings

Harrisburg, Pa.- The Rugged Line I/O product family from Phoenix Contact consists of I/O modules that combine a rugged, die-cast zinc housing and single-channel diagnostics. It has an IP67-protected connection for either fiber-optic or copper network interfaces. www.phoenixcon.com Phoenix Contact

 

Control, networking and connectivity combined

Temecula, Calif.- Snap Ultimate I/O, the latest entry in Opto 22's line of industrial automation products, combines I/O, control, networking and enterprise connectivity into one cohesive system. Snap Ultimate I/O communicates directly with enterprise systems, which eliminates the need for complex middleware. www.Opto22.com Opto 22

 

DIN-rail mountable modular PC

Milpitas, Calif.- Contec Microelectronics USA Inc.'s CPU-SB10(FIT) industrial PC is so small that it looks like a microPLC, and is, in fact, designed to compete with robust microPLCs. This DIN rail-mountable modular PC runs any Microsoft Windows, Linux or MS-DOS-based OS from a compact flash disk. It operates with a 120-MHz CPU and has 64 MB of built-in memory, two USB ports, one Ethernet port, one COM port and a VGA interface. It can connect eight devices to one I/O controller. DIN rail-mountable servers and hubs connect to other I/O modules. CPU-SB10 can also function as a factory web server. www.contecusa.com Contec Microelectronics USA

 

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NETWORKS & COMMUNICATIONSWireless network saves cable, adds flexibility

Schaumburg, Ill.- Omron Electronics' Wireless DeviceNet saves on cabling and allows more flexible layout of production lines because it's easier to deploy than wire bundles that usually run back to a central processor. Its 34 channels can accommodate 34 devices or 34 wireless masters, each with 32 slaves. Consequently, Wireless DeviceNet allows users to have a main trunk and traditional topology, and then supplement or replace it using wireless linkages to smart DeviceNet nodes that can perform intelligent processes. www.omron.com Omron Electronics

 

Single chip, multiple protocols

Irvine, Calif. - Hardware design of EC-1 (EmbeddedComm) Communications System on a Chip from Synergetic Micro Systems (Naperville, Ill.), was made part of the DSTni-LX (Device Server Technology Network Interface) product line, after Synergetic became a division of Lantronix. A new RTOS, SuperTask!, and USNET TCP/IP protocol suite were applied. It is based on an 80186 16-bit microprocessor with on-chip peripherals operating at 48 MHz, on-chip memory, to support multiple networks, as a primary processor or a coprocessor. www.lantronix.com Synergetic Micro Systems, a Lantronix Co.

 

Wireless sensor network

Thousand Oaks, Calif.- HiDRA (highly deployable remote access) Wireless Sensor Network simplifies installation and enhances sensor use. The network of communicating nodes can be placed on individual pieces of factory-floor machinery. Each node connects to a variety of sensors, and contains a processor to convert raw data into information, and a low-power radio to transmit information. The 'intelligent' nature of the nodes creates the capability for each to learn machine parameters and trends. www.rockwellscientific.com Rockwell Scientific

 

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INSTRUMENTATION & PROCESS SENSORSClamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter for gases

Waltham, Mass.- DigitalFlow GC868 F lowmeter overcomes barriers associated with clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters for gases. Designed for unlined metal and plastic pipe from 3- to 36-in. diameter, GC868 uses Correlation Transit-Time detection techniques to achieve accuracies ofnd operates on just10 W, making it suitable for remote solar-powered installations. www.panametrics.com Panametrics

 

Non-stop screen replacement

Monroe, N.C.- Big Screen allows engineers to replace screens in process piping without stopping production. It uses two screens mounted on a sliding, stainless steel blade. At the touch of a button, the system's actuator moves the screen to be replaced outside the body, and moves a clean screen into the flow area. The device's spring-loaded seats seal line pressure from Big Screen's body. The dirty screen can then be cleaned and prepared for the next exchange. Big Screen is available in 2- to 72-in. diameter sizes with a wide range of hole sizes, screen patterns, spacing and face-to-face dimensions. www.stainlessvalveco.com Stainless Valve Co.

 

Flexible temperature sensors respond more quickly

North Hills, Calif.- 'the Worm Flexible Temperature Sensor' is available in RTD and thermocouple configurations. Worm provides 13% faster step response times than standard, straight sensors; bends and slides through tight installation locations; and snaps into place without removing the enclosure, connection head or components. Worm sensors can be field trimmed to lengths up to 36 in. (91 cm) to help minimize replacement inventory. www.miinet.com Moore Industries-International Inc.

 

Multi-speed filler/dispenser controller

San Diego, Calif.- A multi-speed Filler/Dispenser Controller is the first of Hardy Instruments' new line of instruments for such applications. Features include a selectable 10/100 Base-T Ethernet port with embedded web server; an IR port for wireless connectivity to PDA devices; a standard DeviceNet interface for viewing and controlling multiple applications; and a built-in printer port. Also included are built-in diagnostics, help wizard, and Hardy's WaverSaver vibration eliminator; C2 electronic calibration, and SMM Secure Memory Module technology. www.hardyinst.com Hardy Instruments

 

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SOFTWARE & INFORMATION INTEGRATIONLow-cost process flow diagrams

West Richland, Wa.- Ae-S 2001 by Applied e-Simulators is a software package that allows users to create process flow diagrams (PFDs) and calculate material balances at less cost than with full process simulation packages. Users can create a PFD and an associated material balance by drawing the PFD with a point-and-click icon library; entering unit parameters into the function-specific input dialogs provided for each process unit; and then instructing the package to calculate the material balance. www.ae-sim.com Applied e-Simulators

 

Fluid flow analysis/pump selection

Lacey, Va.- Pipe-Flo Professional v.7 is an integrated software suite that features fluid flow analysis, piping design and pump selection practices. Enhanced features and functionality allow easier analysis, design, and troubleshooting of piping systems. Features include a 200% faster calculation engine, streamlined design specification windows, fluid data properties, and a greater graphical representation of the FLO-sheet. Pipe specifications are also included. With its fluid data specs, users can calculate properties using DIPPR, polynomial, or Yaws formulas. www.eng-software.com Engineered Software Inc.

 

Software aids report generation

Austin, Tex.- DIAdem, 8.0, software from National Instruments (NI) improves connectivity to industry-standard file formats, including new report generation features, and a way to automate the creation of standard reports and charts. DIAdem allows engineers and scientists to use a standard Microsoft Windows desktop or laptop computer to quickly analyze measurement data. DIAdem imports ASCII, Microsoft Excel, NI's LabView data files, and data stored in databases. Users can import files up to 2 GB, and analyze them using built-in technical and mathematical tools, such as signal analysis, statistics, and curve-fitting functions. www.ni.com National Instruments

 

Tool assists system design, validation

North Andover, Mass.- Onestep Generator translates project functional specifications into a process control system design, making it easier, faster, and less expensive to design and specify automation systems for complex process manufacturing applications. Onestep Generator automatically creates validation protocol document content and provides version control and change tracking features, which aid compliance with 21CFR11 regulations. It is fully compatible with ANSI-S88 standard for batch process control. www.schneiderelectric.com Schneider Electric

 

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