The dynamics of a service business and innovative product business are dramatically different. Established product companies tend to emphasize the practices and culture they know best when they move into services. The tendency is to find synergies based on their products that become the recommended solutions for customers. Additionally, it can be more difficult for a product company who provides services to be the champion for the customer when there is a problem with the product being implemented.
Ideal Product Company Focus
I believe that product companies should always be striving to eliminate implementation and operations labor with improved and innovative automation technology. There is an inherent conflict by having a company that provides services and products.
I believe that companies who aspire to grow from services are in a sense making a statement that product innovation cannot be achieved to further automate. I think a major goal of product companies should be to use technology to compete with service providers. Consider the history of copiers where Xerox dominated the market and had a massive service organization. A group of Japanese companies changed this with copiers that could be installed and serviced by the user. In the automation industry, open network protocols have certainly enabled systems to be applied using best of breed sensors.
Is it possible?
Is it possible for an automation vendor to be effective at products and services? Maybe, but there have been a number of large computer companies that tried to offer services and products eventually becoming total service providers or went out of existence.
On balance, the use of a totally independent service provider may be in the best interest of the user.
Acrosser Technology Co. Ltd, a world-leading industrial and embedded computer designer and manufacturer, announces the new AES-HM76Z1FL embedded system. AES-HM76Z1FL, Acrosser’s latest industrial endeavor, is surely a FIT under multiple circumstances. Innovation can be seen in the new ultra slim fanless design, and its Intel core i CPU can surely cater for those seeking for high performance. Therefore, these 3 stunning elements can be condensed as “F.I.T. Technology.” (Fanless, Intel core i, ultra Thin)
The heat sink from the fanless design provides AES-HM76Z1FL with great thermal performance, as well as increases the efficiency of usable space. The fanless design provides dustproof protection, and saving the product itself from fan malfunction. AES-HM76Z1FL has thin client dimensions, with a height of only 20 millimeters (272 mm x183 mm x 20 mm). This differs from most embedded appliances, which have a height of more than 50 millimeters.
The AES-HM76Z1FL embedded system uses the latest technology in scalable Intel Celeron and 3rd generation Core i7/i3 processors with a HM76 chipset. It features graphics via VGA and HDMI, DDR3 SO-DIMM support, complete I/O such as 4 x COM ports, 3 x USB3.0 ports, 8 x GPI and 8 x GPO, and storage via SATA III and Compact Flash. The AES-HM76Z1FL also supports communication by 2 x RJ-45 gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x SIM slot, and 1 x MinPCIe expansion socket for a 3.5G or WiFi module.
Different from most industrial products that focus on application in one specific industry, the AES-HM76Z1FL provides solutions for various applications through the complete I/O interfaces. Applications of the AES-HM76Z1FL include: embedded system solutions, control systems, digital signage, POS, Kiosk, ATM, banking, home automation, and so on. It can support industrial automation and commercial bases under multiple circumstances.
‧Fanless and ultra slim design
‧Support Intel Ivy Bridge CPU with HM76 chipset
‧2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM, up to 16GB
‧Support SATA III and CF storage
‧HDMI/VGA/USB/Audio/GPIO output interface
‧Serial ports by RS-232 and RS-422/485
‧2 x GbE, 1 x SIM, and 1 x MiniPCIe(for3G/WiFi)
Industrial automation systems are performing more tasks and doing so more quickly, more accurately, and in harsher environments than ever before. They are becoming connected tools with substantially more computing and communication capabilities, allowing them to interoperate with other devices. As they evolve and proliferate, these systems put new demands on their computing technology. Rugged COM Express modules not only meet the computing needs of today’s rapidly changing industrial landscape, but also protect the investment to meet tomorrow’s performance needs.
At the dawn of the “Industrial Internet,” the ante is being upped for modular embedded systems. More and more machines are being connected, many in remote and challenging environments such as oil and gas, locomotives, transportation, and ship-propulsion systems. To meet the demand for more data in less time, these systems must work faster and longer. Accelerating with the demand for data is the evolution of computer processors. But businesses can’t afford the downtime required to replace processors, or the expense of replacing the carrier board when upgrading the processor. According to a 2006 Department of Energy study, idle industrial machinery can cost as much as $800 per minute.
With the FAA and EASA adopting aviation standards such as DO-178C and ARP4754A, UAV software developers should familiarize themselves with these standards, particularly when transitioning to model-based design.
Few applications place more importance on verification, or prescribe more process guidance, than aviation. The FAA and its European equivalent, EASA, provide guidance using standards such as ARP4754 for aircraft systems and DO-178B for flight software. These standards are often used outside of civil aviation, in whole or in part, for applications including military aircraft and land vehicles. Adoption for UAV programs is rapidly growing because of the FAA’s recent decision to require UAS and OPA certification via FAA Order 8130.34A. UAV systems are heterogeneous, and not restricted just to flight software. Therefore, other standards are used such as DO-254 for hardware and DO-278 for ground and space software.
However, these standards are more than a decade old and are showing their age. For example, they lacked guidance on modern development and verification practices such as model-based design, object-oriented technologies, and formal methods, at least until the nascent DO-178C standard was developed. So the FAA and EASA have worked with aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, and tool vendors to update standards based on modern technologies (Table 1). Rather than significantly modify the standards, they created technology supplement documents.
The impact of the new standards to UAV developers using model-based design is especially significant. Before describing this, an introduction to model-based design is appropriate.
Introduction to model-based design
With model-based design, UAV engineers develop and simulate system models comprised of hardware and software using block diagrams and state charts, as shown in Figures 1 and 2. They then automatically generate, deploy, and verify code on their embedded systems. With textual computation languages and block diagram model tools, one can generate code in C, C++, Verilog, and VHDL languages, enabling implementation on MCU, DSP, FPGA, and ASIC hardware. This lets system, software, and hardware engineers collaborate using the same tools and environment to develop, implement, and verify systems. Given their auto-nomous nature, UAV systems heavily employ closed-loop controls, making system modeling and closed-loop simulation, as shown in Figures 1 and 2, a natural fit.
Testing actual UAV systems via ground-controlled flight tests is expensive. A better way is to test early in the design process using desktop simulation and lab test benches. With model-based design, verification starts as soon as models are created and simulated for the first time. Tests cases based on high-level requirements formalize simulation testing. A common verification workflow is to reuse the simulation tests throughout model-based design as the model transitions from system model to software model to source code to executable object code using code generators and cross-compilers.
A recent report by IHS has shown that in 2012, capital expenditure on industrial automation equipment in Asia reached a total of $76.6bn, representing 46% of global investments in the sector.
Despite this established and rising trend, selling industrial automation equipment in Asia remains a clear business opportunity and one where many European providers are lagging behind.
Despite the first half of 2012 seeing an Asian market slowdown, with only a 3.7% growth in overall revenue from industrial automation equipment, the second half of the year showed definite improvement. The positive trend has continued in 2013, with the solutions sector set to grow by 6.2%. In such a dynamic market, getting new business can be both a business and technical challenge.
Every year, when I sit down to write this article, I am a bit challenged to come up with some new and interesting data to share with you. This year was no different. At first glance, the salary data does not seem to change much from year to year. Sure, there is always a little fluctuation in the salaries by job function, degree, industry segment, etc.
It turns out that we have extracted some pretty interesting data from this year’s survey. Be sure to read the entire article, because at the end I provide you with a recipe to achieve the highest salary.For example, the average salary in the U.S. has increased by 2.8%. Ho hum. The top paying job function is Industrial management. Did not see that coming! Actually, I did. So what do we have that is new to share this year?
There is definitely some good news. Salaries have increased slightly, but job satisfaction has increased more—by five plus percentage points. It is definitely a job seekers market. The demand for quality automation professionals continues to increase. In fact, if you are in the market for a new job, you will likely have multiple offers on the table. The bad news is the skills shortage is very real and will not get better any time soon.
So without further ado, InTech again collaborated with Automation.com to conduct the annual salary survey. Our survey had 4,674 responses from automation professionals located around the world, with 56% from the U.S. Because salaries around the world vary greatly, we broke out the U.S. responses only to avoid skewing results. All the results quoted in this article, other than average salary by region of the world, represent U.S. responses only.
Today’s utilities have a highly productive and efficient business environment that is very competitive and needs to comply with many stringent regulatory requirements to prevent situations that would cause a facility to be down for even a short time.
A slight failure of equipment translates into immediate consequences from both a financial and safety perspective. These pressures move utilities toward building high-availability smart sites that help minimize unscheduled down time and allow for shorter time to repair.
A direct result of this trend is the need for the site to have remote access to equipment. To help facilitate this access, utilities are converting networks to become IP-enabled – but with the many benefits that come with this, the move to IP networks also adds a level of complexity as it becomes increasingly important to securely connect these critical industrial infrastructures. To that end, cellular automation enables cost-effective monitoring and control of data at remote sites.
Controlling Data At Remote Sites
For the most part, Networking with critical equipment are located in places that are difficult to access due to long distances or harsh conditions. Accessing critical information, such as equipment health and operational data at these sites can be time-consuming and costly. Also, given today’s aging industrial infrastructures, monitoring and controlling the data within these sites is more critical than ever. In fact, we are beginning to witness the consequences of not updating and maintaining outdated networks, as demonstrated by recent explosions at gas pipelines and blackouts in major cities when parts of the electrical grids have gone down.
Keeping a closer eye on these infrastructures is necessary not only to prevent loss of revenue, but more importantly, loss of life. Unfortunately, however, communicating with remote sites to proactively prevent equipment degradation is far from an easy task and may even require a four-hour helicopter ride. In order to proactively monitor and control remotely located assets, users must be able to access local sensor data. The most cost-effective and intelligent way to do this is through cellular automation.
Color machine vision has its challenges. Systems can produce three times the data (or less than one-third the resolution) of a monochrome camera solution. Color can introduce more potential sources for imaging errors, more complexity, more cost, and require careful engineering that reduces the system’s flexibility to deal with lines that make products of varying shape, colors, and size. In fact, if designers can find a way to use filters and lighting to measure a colored area using monochrome cameras, they usually do. However, for many applications ranging from electronic manufacturing to printing and food processing, color is the only way to solve the problem. Let’s look at some of the considerations a system design needs to take into account to create a successful color machine vision solution, including careful matching of camera, optics, and light source.
The ability to operate and manage operations in a location-agnostic manner opens the door to a wealth of opportunities. For instance, experts and operations staff can be relocated to population centers, and out of harms’ way. They can then be leveraged over multiple assets in real-time to ensure maximum utilization. Networking collaboration also allows for much faster creation and utilization of best practices across a network of operating assets, thereby contributing to better knowledge retention and management as well as greater efficiency, and establishing a true, shared corporate culture throughout the enterprise.
The Situation: A leading global producer of crude oil and natural gaslooked for a way to stay ahead of dynamic market demands and overcome challenges associated with offshore oil and gas Automation. As part of an innovative technology project and with the help of Honeywell, this company built a Solutions to help coordinate control of multiple offshore platforms in the North Sea, and improve operations and efficiency.
With the new CCR, this company has centralized operations at 18 of its 26 offshore platforms. All operating and production procedures are fully automated and synchronized, creating increased flexibility and competitive advantage. At the heart of CCR is Honeywell’s Experion Process Knowledge Management System (PKS), which enables operators to monitor and control production at various platforms.