Sensors Expo Fall 2003: Smart-sensor standard can learn from USB

Anaheim, CA—The IEEE 1451 Smart Sensor standard effort could learn a lot from the Universal Serial Bus (USB) communication effort, both launched in 1993, says James Wiczer, president of Sensor Synergy (Buffalo Grove, IL).

By Control Engineering Staff September 23, 2003

Anaheim, CA— The IEEE 1451 Smart Sensor standard effort could learn a lot from the Universal Serial Bus (USB) communication effort, both launched in 1993, says James Wiczer, president of Sensor Synergy (Buffalo Grove, IL). Wiczer presented “Smart Sensors-Interface Standards, Driving Forces, Goals and Reality” on Sept. 23 at Sensors Expo & Conference Fall 2003 . IEEE is the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (Piscataway, NJ).

As 1451 continues to develop, Wiczer’s recommends working to get large vendors onboard, and keeping the feature set as universal as possible to maximize quantities sold and reduce prices. He also suggests developing a few universal, easy-to-use, mistake-proof connectors, which helped USB reach more than 400 million devices by 2002.

“1451 cannot be everything to everybody,” says Wiczer. Adding more feature sets can “add to cost and make fewer people want to use it. You want to reduce the number of options you provide. These are some guidelines to keep in mind as development efforts progress.”

Need for the 1451 standard is great, adds Lee Eccles, technical fellow at Boeing Commercial Aircraft (Chicago, IL), who says that tests of 777 aircraft can include 8,000 strain gages, each with individual cables for ground-based testing, and 3,000 sensing parameters in flight-based testing. Eccles presented “Smart Transducer Needs: A Boeing Point of View” with L. Wayne Catlin, also of Boeing. Eccles has been actively involved in four of six IEEE 1451 committees.

“We want to move away from classical architectures,” says Eccles, “into a network-centric system.” When using RS-485, he lamented, software costs dominate costs of implementation because of the custom software code required for each of three manufacturers used. “Our present systems are cable intensive and require extensive record-keeping on data parameter locations,” which are stored for later retrieval. Boeing would much rather buy smart sensors from anyone; plug into system with network interface bought from someone else; and work seamlessly without writing a 1,000 lines of code, Eccles explains.

“With 1451’s Transducer Electronic Data Sheets (TEDS), record-keeping management and training will be reduced dramatically,” Eccles adds. With 1451 fully implemented as now outlined, “We expect hardware costs to be 10-20% less. We also expect less record keeping, and that will translate into savings that we haven’t quantified yet,” he adds.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief
MHoske@cfemedia.com