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.

UK universities getting better at commercialising research

The relationship between universities and new technology start-ups is crucial and the UK has been relatively poor at the commercialisation of ideas, let alone commercial success. Should it be about the jobs that are created or should the financial returns from technological innovation be the sole driver of whether university research is worthwhile?

Will MRAM replace flash in leading edge processes?

As microcontrollers run at faster clock rates and the amount of software needed in embedded systems increases, developers are becoming more interested in embedding memory on chip, rather than transferring data to and from an external device.

Code injection: a common vulnerability

As the Internet of Things develops, embedded devices are being deployed in environments where attackers can take advantage of source code level security vulnerabilities. Embedded software developers should, therefore, understand the different kinds of security vulnerabilities – and code injection in particular.

What does 2017 hold for oscillator design?

Modern technology relies heavily on accurate timing as its fundamental basis, so that items of electronics all have coordinated functions. This applies across a wide range of industry sectors and, without the ability to implement precise timing, the highly connected systems upon which we all depend will inevitably fail.

Using FPGAs in embedded systems

While there’s nothing new about the use of FPGAs in electronics products, many engineers are only just beginning to explore how the devices could help to improve their designs.

Demand for automotive sensors is booming

According to a new report ‘Global Markets for Automotive Sensor Technologies’, the global market for automotive sensors could be worth more than $26billion this year, rising to in excess of $43bn by 2021.

Memristors as logic gates and memory cells in tomorrow’s computing devices

As the last decade ended, ARM’s CTO Mike Muller warned the era of dark silicon was approaching. The 2008 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, published a year before, showed that scaling was diverging from transistor size. Muller argued that, while Moore’s Law might well deliver billions of transistors, they cannot all be active at the same time without making the chip cook itself to death.

Tracksure sensor system to transform rail networks

Monitoring the rail network is a costly and time consuming endeavour, but the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR) has developed a new sensor system that could transform the way in which networks are maintained by turning rail vehicles into track monitors.

Technology to improve firefighter safety

Building fires are, by their very nature, inhospitable environments. The combination of heat, a potentially toxic atmosphere, poor visibility and an unstable building can have fatal consequences, so it’s no surprise to find out that technology is being brought to bear in an attempt to improve safety, particularly when it comes to communication with and location of firefighters committed to a building.

Maintaining lightning protection systems in wind turbines

Wind turbines can present a unique challenge for maintenance teams. Due to the turbine height and remote location, often in areas of high elevation, wind turbines are at heightened risk of receiving lightning strikes, particularly on the blades. Lightning produces an electromagnetic field that can damage conducting elements inside the blade, such as sensors or beacons and so for this reason turbines need protection from the direct and indirect effects that lightning current has on these structures. The lightning protection system for wind turbine blades usually consists of a metallic conductor cable that drives the current from the extreme of the blade to the root. Over time, this cable could become damaged, increasing the risk of loss of function of the turbine, leading to knock on effects on energy production and revenue.

Simplifying industrial control design

The face of industry is changing as the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) promises a future in which highly connected machines communicate, coordinate, and make decisions autonomously.

Choosing between PCAP and resistive touchscreen technologies

Resistive touchscreens are typically found in retail electronic point of sale (EPOS) devices and companies have traditionally used them in industry. These have several layers, including two thin transparent, electrically resistive layers, separated by a thin space. When an object such as a fingertip or stylus tip presses down on the outer surface, the two layers touch to become connected. These touchscreens simply need enough pressure for the touch to be sensed and can be used while wearing gloves or other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Developments in low cost VNAs to find new applications

As test equipment has evolved, there has been a drive to provide unique and identifiable differentiations in feature sets and capabilities, suggesting to customers they will have an advantage over their competitors by providing tighter specification thresholds. For most modern Vector Network Analysers (VNAs), this trend has led to their capabilities becoming complex, resulting in an increased cost of ownership for the user, not just in terms of capital equipment costs, and calibration and support costs, but also in the time required for user understanding and training, as well as for any control software control or drivers to be written.

Technology to integrate FPGA functionality into SoCs

FPGAs are rarely out of the news, but the acquisition of Altera by Intel in 2015 pushed the technology firmly into the headlines. Intel’s main reason for buying Altera was to provide a way to accelerate the performance of its Xeon processors, used widely in data centres. But Intel hasn’t been the only company turning its attention to the use of FPGAs in such applications; earlier in 2015, Microsoft said that Project Catapult used Altera’s Arria 10 FPGAs to boost data centre power/performance.

Advances in technology to meet frequency mixing needs

Frequency mixing is one of the most critical sections of the signal chain and, in the past, many applications were limited by the performance of a mixer – frequency range, conversion loss and linearity defined whether a mixer could be used for the application or not. Designs for frequencies of more than 30GHz were difficult and packaging the devices at those frequencies was even harder.

Energy regulations in power adaptors

The external power supply has become a staple part of system design for the electronics engineer. It provides a convenient means by which to add an AC front-end to a product which already meets international safety approvals. It also provides a faster time to market, with the option to use a connector which suits the application and reduces the risk of a generic power supply being plugged in and causing damage. By supplying a lower DC voltage to the equipment, it becomes easier to design a compact product that complies with all the necessary safety standards – a key consideration in applications in the consumer, industrial and medical markets

What are your obligations when it comes to labelling?

If you ask a designer of electronic or electrical products about the various pieces of European legislation which apply, they will probably discuss EMC and WEEE. If you’re lucky, they might also talk about RoHS and REACH. ?If you ask Richard Poate, senior compliance manager with TÜV SÜD Product Service, about these various requirements, he’ll say there has been a significant increase in the amount of such legislation and that it will continue to grow.

Security risks in the connected world

To say the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay may be the understatement of the decade. We are all knee-deep in the IoT and there is no turning back – gone are the days of thinking connecting refrigerators, security systems and vending machines to the Internet is in a land far, far away.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Editor's Choice

A single source of truth

Version control – increasingly a de facto part of the embedded software development ...

Apps processor attractions

When Freescale introduced the i.MX processor line in 2001, it’s probably fair to say ...

Power in their hands

The pressure on those developing new battery chemistries is increasing as consumers ...