Industrial

Electronics underpins many industrial systems; with applications ranging from programmable logic controllers to sensors to communications. But the market has its particular requirements, including reliability and immunity to the often hostile environment. This means companies involved in the sector, as well as those looking to supply products to those building industrial applications, need to keep up to date.

New Electronics covers developments in the industrial electronics sector, bringing technology updates and opinion from the market.

Automotive market to benefit from Industry 4.0

?The automotive segment is often considered to be associated solely with cars and related applications. It is, however, much bigger than that; encompassing a broad range of applications such as buses, trucks, industrial vehicles, mobile machinery, forklifts, automated cleaning machines and emergency vehicles.

Functional abstraction to help achieve digital continuity

Model-based approaches to electrical and electronic system design – usually based on UML derived languages such as SysML – are frequently not suited to agile, iterative architecture optimisation. But there is another approach; one that uses standardised, hierarchical function models combined on a single abstraction level to describe the technical content of system architecture.

Helping customers determine what sensor they need

Different force-sensing technologies have been around for decades, but Apple’s decision to incorporate force touch into its products has raised the technology’s profile. Rather than interacting with our smartphones or notebooks using simple taps, we can now control them in different ways, depending on how hard we press. Force-sensing solutions enable device-makers and software developers to create much more natural, intuitive and immersive user experiences for those using their kit. However, measuring and using the analogue, non-linear output from force sensors is an entirely different animal than integrating capacitive sensing or traditional buttons, so it’s vital to have the tools in place to make force-sensing solution design and high-quality mass production as straightforward and as reliable as current technologies are. This article looks at some of these emerging use cases, and explain the characteristics that force sensors must have if they’re to deliver the desired performance, particularly in mid-range and high-end applications.

Oscilloscope manufacturers are looking to supply more intelligent probes as engineers seek greater measurement accuracy

Connecting a probe to a device under test can prove to be a time consuming activity, especially in the case of the increasingly complex devices that are now entering the market. While the ideal probe should offer ease of connection, convenience, absolute signal fidelity, zero signal source loading and complete noise immunity, there is currently no ideal probe size or configuration.

Revolutionising networking technology

The networking world has largely been defined by the development of fixed function chips. While these devices have been one of the means by which data rates have increased, this has been achieved at the expense of configurability.

Farming embraces the IoT

The farm is perhaps the last place where you would look for advanced technology. But pressures on food production make agriculture a prime candidate for harnessing the potential of automation and the IoT. Real-time data collection is the key to improving yields and making the most of precious resources.

Six techniques for measuring dielectric properties

If you think about dielectric properties at all, it is probably in the context of school physics experiments on charge storage, or perhaps the way in which the choice of dielectric materials influences the characteristics of a capacitor you’re working with. It turns out, though, that the dielectric properties of materials matter to all sorts of industries for different reasons. Measuring those properties accurately, therefore, is important in many contexts. This article looks at some key techniques for measuring dielectric properties, and some of the application areas for each of them.

Medical devices are driving innovations in sensors

The world today has become increasingly mobile with advancements in powerful and portable technologies and medical devices, traditionally used in hospitals and clinics, are also evolving to become more portable, creating possibilities in terms of home healthcare.

Are PCB design skills keeping up with increasing complexity?

It may seem something of an understatement, but Phil Mayo, director of sales for Altium UK, believes: “The PCB is important.” And perhaps that’s one reason why the workshop and conference sessions addressing PCB design at last year’s Electronics Design Show (EDS) attracted record numbers of engineers.

How can wearables designers navigate the compliance minefield?

With the global market for wearable devices growing rapidly, manufacturers are having to address the quality, performance and safety of their products without specific standards or regulations. According to market researcher Mintel, one Briton in seven now owns a wearable device, with some 3million wrist worn wearable devices sold in the UK in 2015 – a sales growth of 118%.

The choices involved in adding IP support to embedded systems

The tentacles of the internet are reaching further into the domain of deeply embedded systems that used, at most, to be attached to simple fieldbuses. Although the internet may stop short of ‘smart’ light bulbs that use Zigbee or Bluetooth to communicate, more organisations are looking at supporting the Internet Protocol (IP) directly in sensor nodes and smart actuators.

How to improve your product design efficiency

In an ideal world, when the hardware and software for a new product are mated and the power applied for the first time, everything works just as specified. But we don’t live in that ideal world; we live in a ‘buggy’ world where not everything goes as planned.

Managing devices securely over their lifecycle

Trust is inherently a fragile concept, based traditionally on knowledge and experience. And trust is something which is challenging to embody in a ‘new’ device. As such, the industry needs to develop new approaches to certify, validate and verify devices as they appear in the market. While regulation and guidance is a critical part of this, the problem is too large for a single government or industry regulator; instead, it must become part of the industry’s DNA of product creation, production and distribution.

Seeding a new future for farming with technology

Technology is changing the way farmers manage their operations; developments in the IoT, big data, machinery and software are giving them more control over how they both manage and operate their farms. In turn, the UK Government has identified agri-tech as one of the eight ‘great technologies’ it sees driving future economic growth in the UK.

Silicon carbide technology reaches tipping point

While silicon currently remains the material of choice of power devices, there is little headroom available to improve figures of merit such as on resistance and gate charge. However, there appears to be more room for manoeuvre with alternative materials and two such materials which are focusing the attention of device developers are silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN).

Interconnector and cabling system to address design challenges

The growth in connectivity, with billions of devices now connected around the globe, means the pressure is growing exponentially on the infrastructure that supports the collection and dissemination of data. Whatever the technical pressures, customers expect a seamless level of service.

New lease of life for the SAR data converter

There is a tension that lies at the heart of the circuitry needed to support the many sensors that underpin the IoT: battery-powered devices need to be as efficient as possible, which tends to imply the use of highly optimised, dedicated circuitry; but costs push design in the opposite direction – towards programmability. This tension is not just being felt in the processing platforms needed to execute software, but also in the analogue front ends that pass sensor data into the digital domain.

Upcoming exhibition to spark an interest in electricity

It is not unreasonable to say that we take electricity for granted. We plug appliances into sockets and turn them on, but give little or no thought to where that electricity has come from. And even less thought is given to the history of discoveries and inventions that explains how electricity can be used at a flick of a switch.

How small diameter electrolytic capacitors in power supplies can impact reliability and cost

Recently a member of TDK-Lambda’s technical marketing team experienced first-hand just how much influence small diameter electrolytic capacitors can have on long-term power supply reliability. Unfortunately he picked February to have his central heating system upgraded and Britain’s unpredictable weather system delivered snow. The seven year old boiler system in the loft had been turned off for two days while the radiators were replaced. When the installation was complete, the boiler was switched on, but failed to start

Measuring RF power in the field

The output power of an RF or microwave system is a key determinant of its performance. For this reason, signal power is measured at every stage – from design and prototyping to maintenance in the field.

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