Monday, June 30, 2008

Industrial Encoders for Dummies

US manufacturer BEI has teamed up with the iconic "For dummies" brand to produce an innovative tutorial guide on industrial encoders. Aimed at novices and experts alike, "BEI industrial encoders for dummies" reaches beyond the primer to provide an interesting, informative and very readable 42-page reference covering optical encoder technologies and applications.

This free guide, available from BEI's exclusive UK and Ireland distributor, Variohm EuroSensor, provides a detailed overview of incremental and absolute optical encoders and how they are applied in real world applications; with hints and tips on key specifications, system design information, installation procedures and environmental considerations. There is also a "things to know about your manufacturer" chapter that aims to deal with true cost of ownership issues and supplier evaluation.

The book also takes time to entertain with some fascinating and surprising uses for encoders. As a leading European supplier of sensors and associated components, Variohm Eurosensor provides sales and application support for BEI's complete range of linear and rotary encoders, electronics and displays.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

HVAC Market Benefits From Building Boom

Rising competition is squeezing electric drive manufacturers' profit margins, especially with the rising demand for smaller and low-cost HVAC drives. The boom in the construction business has rippled into the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry in Europe, which, in turn, has buoyed the electric drives market This is because HVAC accounts for nearly 10% of its total market revenue.

New analysis from Frost and Sullivan Electric Drives Market in the European HVAC Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of US $292.5 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach US $456.5 million in 2014. The HVAC industry's status as one of the major consumers of electrical energy among industries in Europe and the recent hike in energy costs have compelled electric drive manufacturers to develop energy-efficient systems.

The passing of standards and directives stressing energy conservation bolstered this development. However, the implementation of these directives has not been smooth in certain Eastern European countries due to their unstable political situations and lack of efficient systems. Their changing economies and varying construction industry trends have also deterred long-term investments in the market. Meanwhile, rising competition is squeezing electric drive manufacturers' profit margins, especially with the rising demand for smaller and low-cost HVAC drives.

Manufacturers have to develop clever business strategies to maintain their market share in this price-competitive environment. However, the falling prices have also had a positive fallout. "The declining prices of the drives have ensured that the payback period of the investment on these drives has shortened", says Frost and Sullivan Research Analyst Venkataraman Salavakkam.

"With shorter payback periods, users are able to justify the capital expenditure on these products". The growing awareness of the financial benefits of energy conservation is increasingly driving the replacement of power-hungry HVAC systems with energy-efficient systems, which incorporate variable frequency drives that increase efficiency levels.

To sustain this momentum, participants could also offer value-added services, as they can often sway purchase decisions in their favour in this highly competitive market. They can ensure customer loyalty by developing a strong, responsive and agile after-sales service network that will ensure that customers' after-sales requirements are met. This move will also bring in substantial service revenue. In fact, while the AC and servo drives segments are the biggest revenue generators, the DC segment mainly relies on maintenance and repair orders to sustain itself.

The sales of electric drives are likely to be buoyed by the products' ease of use. The improvements in technology have eliminated the need for operators to have excellent technical expertise or an understanding of the machines and processes. "The control panel of the drives is user friendly and embedded with a range of features", notes Venkataraman. "This ease of use has converted them to simple devices and has encouraged OEMs and mechanical contractors to use the drives in HVAC systems".

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Asia-Pacific To Lead Machine Safety Expansion

The worldwide market for machine automatic safeguarding products is forecast to reach US $2504.3 million in 2012, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.7%. A new market study by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), covering 27 types of machine automatic safeguarding products, finds the worldwide 2007 market for these devices to have been US $1647.1 million. Product categories covered in the study were: emergency-stop controls (two types); presence-sensing safety sensors (five technologies); programmable safety systems (safety PLCs) - both stand-alone and integrated with machine controllers; safety controllers/modules/relays (six types); safety interlock switches (10 types); and two-hand safety controls (two types).

The worldwide market for these products is forecast to reach US $2504.3 million in 2012, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7%. Via the implementation of these products users gain cost savings in operations through more efficient operation of high-speed and powerful machinery and equipment without fear of personal injury or equipment damage. Nonetheless, many factors will determine the rate of shipment growth for these products.

Automation innovations are bringing about needs for newer equipment and machinery, including safeguarding methods and equipment for these. Often these innovations are driven by the need for higher productivity at lower cost as well as the need for new equipment or machinery for new products. Other factors include: changing machine safeguarding safety standards, regulations and enforcement, and the pace of these changes; concerns over lawsuits from noncompliance and injuries or death, and changing company safety policies; increasing levels of understanding and acceptance of machine automatic safeguarding technologies in various regions and countries; and growth expectations in the various worldwide economies, and likely growth in levels of capital investment in manufacturing.

By far the highest overall growth rate is forecast for shipments to Asia-Pacific markets. The most significant reason for this forecast is the rapidly increasing manufacturing operations in Asia-Pacific countries with emerging economies, particularly China. Manufacturing businesses in these countries are being formed and expanded. In addition, manufacturers in other regions are moving operations to these countries with low labour costs.

Part of the increases in capital investment by these firms will be the need for machine automatic safeguarding products. In addition, governments in the Asia-Pacific region are becoming more concerned about worker safety, with stricter enforcement of standards/regulations. Also expanding the market are global firms opening manufacturing operations in the region who will tend to implement the same type of machine automatic safeguarding they use elsewhere.

Friday, June 13, 2008

For over 50 years, Entrelec® by ABB has been one of the leading manufacturers of terminal blocks, with products in use all over the world. All terminal blocks are manufactured using only the highest quality materials and carry UL, CSA, VDE, IEC and other worldwide approvals. Entrelec® by ABB offers space savings, industry standard DIN rail mountable terminal blocks and a variety of colors, functions and connection technologies that customers demand.

Product Offering

AMS 500 Marking Systems
PCB Connection Devices
ATEX Terminal Blocks
PLC Wiring System
Blocks for 5.08mm Connections
Power Terminal Blocks
Cable Management System
Screw Clamp Terminal Blocks
Distribution Terminal Blocks
Specific Terminal Blocks
IDC (ADO) Terminal Blocks
Spring Clamp Terminal Blocks
Mini Terminal Blocks
Test Connectors

The industry’s most identifiable termination technologies are:
# Screw Clamp technology remains the most popular in connection devices.
# Spring technology is a fast growing standard in screw-less connection.
# IDC (insulation displacement connection) technology is the newest, fastest, and most innovative of screw-less connections.

In addition to general purpose terminal blocks, Entrelec® by ABB offers definite purpose products such as Distribution, 5.08mm connection, Power, Mini, ATEX , and Railway terminal blocks to satisfy the specialty needs of their customers. Terminal Blocks entrelec® by ABB's dedication to its customers is proven by offering FREE software to assist in rail design and operating a 24 hour service hotline for emergencies.

Markets and applications include:

* Process Control
* Large and small panel building
* Machine Tool
* Energy/Utility
* Railway/Transport
* Chemical/Petrochemical
* Ship Building
* Building Automation
* Instrumentation
* Utilities
* Automobile

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Future For Programmable Logic Controllers

PLC applications cut across discrete, process and hybrid automation segments, and are poised for steady growth across all manufacturing. Strong economic growth in Asia and Eastern Europe significantly boosted the programmable logic controller (PLC) market in 2007 And although economic expansion is expected to continue, future growth will be at a slower pace The worldwide market for PLCs is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5% over the next five years.

The PLC market reached nearly US $9.0 billion in 2007 and is forecasted to grow to over $12 billion in 2012, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study. Robust investments in manufacturing and infrastructure industries continued worldwide.

"Emerging economies, such as those in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and Eastern Europe, helped propel the growth of the PLC market, which was driven by increasing consumer demand from the growing middle class in those countries, adding new infrastructure within those countries to boost their quality of life, and a positive environment for capital investments in emerging markets", according to Senior Analyst Himanshu Shah, principal author of ARC's "Programmable logic controller worldwide outlook".

Globalisation is causing manufacturing companies to invest in creating new capacities in various industries such as chemical, cement, metals, pharmaceutical and textile. Building automation is also experiencing strong growth with massive commercial, industrial, and residential building projects around the world. PLCs, which are used across all major discrete and process industries, will continue to experience growth as robust, emerging economies create buoyant demand for increasing automation.

While a cooling off period is expected, automation demand is expected to continue to grow during the forecast period. The market is demanding the programmable automation controller (PAC), a multidisciplined controller capable of providing real-time logic, motion and process control, in addition to HMI and other functions, on a single platform. Major automation suppliers have extended PLC functions beyond just logic, especially in higher end models.

The PLC-based PAC market growth is expected to be higher than the overall PLC market growth. This growth will be driven by the logical extension of PLC functionality to a multidisciplinary platform. ARC predicts that most of the small and large PLCs of today, as well as some of the micro PLCs, will morph into PACs, and the pure PLCs will remain at the nano and some of the micro level. PLC applications cut across discrete, process and hybrid automation segments, and are poised for steady growth across all manufacturing.

Manufacturing companies, acutely aware of the need for more automation, and for both producing and saving energy to cope with rapidly rising energy demands and costs globally, are increasingly using PLCs. In addition to the quantitative assessment of the PLC market, this report provides an insightful analysis of the products and strategies of leading PLC suppliers and explores issues that will impact this business in the future.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Measurement Systems Spot Problem Components

The ability to integrate multiaxis systems and controllers allows different faces of the parts can be simultaneously measured, matching the production timing. Automotive industry parts and assembly quality standards have moved from sigma level sampling to zero defect requirements This can be achieved through a combination of containment through 100% inspections (eliminating bad parts) and correction through immediate feedback and adjustment

Manufacturers of critical parts and assemblies such as airbags, wheel bearings and pistons have achieved this by adding SMAC XYZ measurement systems to their inline manufacturing process. These linear motor based systems incorporate a "softland" capability that removes the need for expensive probes. Volumes up to 100mm3 can be covered by a single system.

Robust guiding and the direct drive linear motor greatly reduce the need for periodic offsets, which are a major problem with standard commercial CMMs. The ability to integrate multiaxis systems and controllers allows different faces of the parts can be simultaneously measured, matching the production timing.

SMAC devices can be used in machine shop floor environments where the presence of oil often causes CMM systems to fail. All SMAC controllers allow the output of variable data in a variety of formats that the user can configure in their program.

This allows easy interfacing with another system. The system integration of the high-volume individual SMAC moving coil actuators combined with in house development of key components including encoders makes the systems cost-effective solutions to 100% verification of parts and assemblies.