Engineer more, faster
Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief
-Photos of NIWeek demos
-Graphics to help illustrate
-More products, applications
Higher efficiency can get an engineer’s attention, especially where improved operations intersect with more effective personal workflow. In the 2009 Mind of the Engineer survey by Reed Business Information, 66% of engineers said that doing more with less would be the most significant change in their jobs in the next two years.
Citing that statistic, Arun Veeramani, LabView product manager at National Instruments, talked to Control Engineering about how the new edition of the company’s software and the NIweek conference, Aug. 4-6, lead to higher personal and production efficiency. Distributed intelligence, parallel computing, advanced control, and digital prototyping are among tasks addressed by more than 100 new or improved features in LabView 2009 graphical design and control software, says Veeramani.
“Knowing LabView, one engineer with one tool can do what a group of engineers can do with fragmented tools,” he adds.
Distributed intelligence designs , with local sensors, logic, and actuators, are helped significantly by wireless technology, since cutting wires cuts costs and enables a large channel count over large areas. Wireless connections into hazardous areas can lower risk to personnel, reducing the need to put people near hazards. Engineers can use LabView and NI’s Wireless Sensor Network platform to drag and drop I/O points for more efficient setup.
Parallel computing via a field programmable gate array (FPGA) puts faster processing closer to the I/O connections, allowing the system to return information to another controller or the network, rather than just data. Taking advantage of dual- and multicore processors, the NI Real-Time Hypervisor partitions I/Os, shares some CPU and RAM elements, and runs two or more operating systems in one computer.
Advanced control : Optimized control algorithms have new real-time math capabilities, allowing high-speed PID and custom, text-based algorithms to be deployed to real-time systems for machine control, says Veeramani. MathScript support eases the transition from design to deployment.
Digital prototypes : In cooperation with Dassault Systemes SolidWorks, NI tools visualize and simulate operating machines and their control code, allowing faster component selection for the designed motion control task. That puts the physical prototype much closer to the finished product, minimizing risk and speeding time to market.
Doing more with less requires investment. NI’s R&D budget consistently exceeds 15% of revenue, and NIWeek showcases resulting innovations. Thunderous NIweek applause during product demos and discussions shows how National Instruments gets inside the mind of the engineer—which can even make non-customers think again.