Human-machine interface league: The impact of digital decay for older industrial devices

Philip Oakey
What, him? Together in electric dreams… Phil Oakey of The Human League in his heyday, with mullet out of sight for once. Oakey had no idea about cloud computing.

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of industrial automation supplier EU Automation examines how digital decay is affecting industry

The 80s: an era of double denim, floppy disks and such classics as Don’t You Want Me, by The Human League. Back then, the concept of storing the vinyl collection of your standard new romantic as well as enough movies to rival the local video shop on a “cloud” was unimaginable and let’s be honest, ridiculous.

Today, data storage for consumer and industrial technology is advancing rapidly, but what does this mean for older industrial devices?

Digital decay describes storage media, or anything stored in computerised form, gradually decaying over time. Much like the spine of a well read book will crack and its pages will fade and crease, digital media is also vulnerable to breakdown and deterioration over time. For consumers, the throw out and upgrade attitude to storage devices is fine, but for industrial manufacturers it’s not quite so simple.  Continue reading Human-machine interface league: The impact of digital decay for older industrial devices

Qualcomm unveils first communications chip for connected cars

qualcomm at ces

Chip giant Qualcomm has revealed its first communications chip for connected cars, a market in which it is soon to be dominant after its acquisition of NXP Semiconductor goes through. 

Presenting the new chip at CES, Patrick Little, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of automotive, said the chip can handle cellular signals at speeds measured in gigabits per second, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

“No longer will you be cranking windows and pushing buttons,” WSJ quoted Little as saying. “You’ll walk into your car and it will feel like a very seamless transition with your handset.”

Full report on Wall Street Journal

Reality ain’t what it used to be: The Sword of Damocles gets a reboot

Leroy Spence, head of sales development at industrial spares supplier EU Automation, looks at how AR and VR are changing the world of manufacturing

The Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens and even Google Cardboard are a far stretch from the first virtual reality headset, created in 1968 by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland.

The concoction was called the Sword of Damocles and, because of its formidable size and weight, had to be anchored to the ceiling so it didn’t crush the user.

Almost 50 years later, we are only now seeing VR and augmented reality being used in manufacturing environments.  Continue reading Reality ain’t what it used to be: The Sword of Damocles gets a reboot

Maxim Integrated launches new PLC development platform

maxim-Pocket IO PLC Development Platform

Maxim says its new platform transforms traditional manufacturing processes with real-time intelligence, adaptive manufacturing, and distributed control

Maxim Integrated has launched a new Pocket IO programmable logic controller development platform which its says can significantly increase manufacturing productivity.

The company says the platform provides customers with the ability to achieve the smallest form factor and highest power efficiency for next-generation PLC designs.

Lost productivity is a common concern for Industry 4.0 designers challenged with keeping a manufacturing line running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Continue reading Maxim Integrated launches new PLC development platform

Beyond Moore’s Law: Human-plus-machine computing

d-wave processor

By Adam Devine, vice president of marketing, WorkFusion

How do we move forward in a world where Moore’s Law no longer holds true? For five decades, Gordon Moore’s famous prediction about processing power doubling about every two years held firm.

It was a reliable sort of constant as innovators continued to increase the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits.

But all good things must come to an end, and Moore’s Law has been confounded by another, more immutable law: physics.  Continue reading Beyond Moore’s Law: Human-plus-machine computing

Raspberry Pi partners with RS Components to expand manufacturing operations to Japan

raspberry pi starter kit

New manufacturing hub in Japan complements UK production operation and expands capacity for famed Raspberry Pi microcomputer

RS Components and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have agreed a deal which will see the latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi 3 credit-card-sized single-board computer being manufactured in Japan under a local contract manufacturing arrangement.

This increase in global production of Raspberry Pi is to serve large and increasing demand for the popular platform in the Asia Pacific region.

William Chong, head of product, supplier, inventory and pricing management, Asia Pacific, RS Components, says: “Existing models of the Raspberry Pi will continue to be manufactured in South Wales, UK, with the dual manufacturing locations in place to cater for future demand growth globally.

“Asia Pacific is a significant growth market for Raspberry Pi, and this new ‘Made in Japan’ element means that we are now geared up for this growth.”  Continue reading Raspberry Pi partners with RS Components to expand manufacturing operations to Japan

Infineon chip solves Rubik’s Cube in about one half of one second

rubik infineon
Picture from Caschy’s Blog

Lightning fast machine sorts out the squares in 637 thousandths of a second

The Rubik’s Cube is one of the world’s most famous puzzles, and one of the best-selling products in history. 

Tens of millions – possibly hundreds of millions – of people have tried to manipulate the cubic puzzle to manoeuvre the colours so they match on all six sides. And millions have succeeded.

But it would impossible for any human to do what a machine did earlier today at the electronica trade fair, where a machine called “Sub1 Reloaded” pulled off the feat with the help of microchips from Infineon in less than a second – 637 thousandths of a second to be exact.  Continue reading Infineon chip solves Rubik’s Cube in about one half of one second

Board leader: 10 million Raspberry Pi units sold and new kit launched

Raspberry Pi sold its 10 millionth unit last month, four years after its founders launched the tiny computer, expecting to sell only a few thousand. 

Writing on the company’s blog, one of the founders, Eben Upton, says “imagine how strange it feels” to announce having sold 10 million, and that the figure has “beaten our wildest dreams by three orders of magnitude”.

Raspberry Pi was originally started to provide encourage to more people to join the Computer Science courses at Cambridge University, UK.  Continue reading Board leader: 10 million Raspberry Pi units sold and new kit launched

Small potatoes: A closer look at chips


One of the issues with analysing the chip market, as with some others, is that the products are complex and have a huge array of applications. This often makes it difficult to compare one chip with another. 

Moreover, some people might not know the difference between a micro-processor and a micro-controller, or what a semiconductor is… and where microchips fit into all this.

So here’s an attempt at an explanation. Continue reading Small potatoes: A closer look at chips

Qualcomm could become king of the road if it buys NXP

qualcomm headquarters

Mergers and acquisitions happen quite frequently these days, and there’s a lot of interest surrounding them. 

For example, there are currently strong rumours that US smartphone chip giant Qualcomm is about to buy NXP Semiconductor for $40 billion.

NXP itself last year bought Freescale for $12 billion. The deal gave NXP access to the market for micro-controllers, in which Freescale is one of the leading companies.

And in a separate, similarly large deal, Japanese communications colossus SoftBank recently agreed to buy the British chip designer ARM for $32 billion.  Continue reading Qualcomm could become king of the road if it buys NXP

Qualcomm and NXP ‘agree $40 billion deal’

nxp chip on board

Chipmakers Qualcomm and NXP Semiconductors have reportedly agreed a $40 billion takeover deal, according to CNBC

Wall Street Journal reported a couple of weeks ago that Qualcomm was in negotiations to buy NXP for $30 billion, and says the acquisition would be “a huge consolidation move for the silicon industry”.

Neither company has so far commented on the talks, and have not confirmed they are taking place.

But now, CNBC is confident that Qualcomm and NXP “have agreed an all-cash handshake deal that Qualcomm will pay $110 a share for NXP … in a deal that would be close to $40 billion”.

Qualcomm has a market capitalisation of more than $100 billion, and earned over $25 billion in revenue in 2015. The company has 27,000 staff and is headquartered in California, in the US.

NXP is valued at $35 billion and had revenues of $6 billion in 2015. It has 45,000 staff and is headquartered in the Netherlands, Europe.

Distec signs distribution deal with Wincomm on industrial computers


Industrial computing specialist Distec has agreed a deal to stock the Wincomm Range of 15″, 19″ and 21.5″ fully waterproof industrial PCs.

The Manchester, UK based company, which supplies touchscreens, PCs and computing accessories to sectors including the food and beverage industry, says it has chosen the Wincomm range for its high quality components, which make it suitable for even the toughest environments.

The Wincomm range is particularly designed for the food and beverage industry, abattoirs and chemical plants, where PCs can be exposed to dangerous or unhygienic solids or liquids. Wincomm industrial PCs are housed in stainless, high-strength, anti-corrosion housing, meaning they will not wear over time.  Continue reading Distec signs distribution deal with Wincomm on industrial computers

SEL launches new industrial computer


Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories has launched the newest addition to its compact industrial computer family, the SEL3360E.

SEL says its compact, expandable industrial computer includes 10-year warranty and delivers performance and durability.

The SEL-3360E Compact Industrial Computer is made in the USA, and features the Intel Core i7 processor, a -40° to +60°C operating range, no vents and no moving parts.  Continue reading SEL launches new industrial computer

Manufacturing: A different type of industrial cloud

Not so long ago, computers were almost always in a business location – an accountant’s office, or something like that. But gradually, partly thanks to Apple iMac, the machines started making their way into homes in large numbers. 

But there are still categories of computers which don’t really belong in the home, or at least weren’t designed for domestic bliss. If you can comfortably fit a supercomputer or a mainframe into your house, that’s probably enough domestic bliss for you anyway.

For most of us, desktop computers – or increasingly laptop computers – are just about all the space we can share, and the largest manufacturers of such poor-man’s systems were recently listed by Gartner.

Worldwide computer shipments in second quarter of 2016

  1. Lenovo – 13.2 million units
  2. HP – 12.3 million units
  3. Dell – 10 million units
  4. Asus – 4.7 million units
  5. Apple – 4.6 million units
  6. Acer – 4.4 million units
  7. Others – 15.4 million units

Source: Gartner

Continue reading Manufacturing: A different type of industrial cloud

Omron develops new industrial computing platform

omron industrial pc platform

Company says will make production sites integrated and intelligent

Omron is planning to release its new Industrial PC (IPC) platform in August. The company says the system will “innovate manufacturing through IoT utilization and high-speed, high-precision automation”.

The IPC is a PC architecture-based platform that meets strict quality standards required for factory automation devices and can be supplied stably on a long-term basis.

Omron assists manufacturers to make production equipment smarter by utilizing IoT and big data through the IPC.  Continue reading Omron develops new industrial computing platform