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In Brief

01 July, 2004

In Brief

• The US Government Department of Homeland Security has awarded a contract to an industrial software specialist called Starthis to develop technologies that could improve the security of SCADA systems. The Department is worried that the SCADA systems controlling power and water infrastructures are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Starthis will develop software architectures that combine the standards-based security features of Java 2 Enterprise Edition with its own iTapestry automation software. The resulting architectures could be used to upgrade existing SCADA installations, adding features such as encryption and secure communications.

Sercos vendor associations have announced the development of a profile defining a subset of Sercos interface functions for packaging applications, to improve the interoperability of servo drives and controls in packaging machinery. Products that conform with the Pack Profile will provide plug-and-play operation. The development is in response to a request from the OMAC Machinery Working Group.

Nyquist, the Dutch motion controls specialist, is developing an improved version of its NYCe motion control system for multi-axis machines, with the help of a €1.1m grant from its local Eindhoven authorities. Nyquist is collaborating with Bergson and Pancom in the project which will, among other improvements, add a "management layer" to collect, store, modify and visualise data from motors, sensors, actuators and encoders.

Rockwell Automation has opened a radio frequency identification (RFID) laboratory at its Milwaukee headquarters to help manufacturers to use RFID in their distribution operations. The lab will use a simulated factory environment to test and evaluate RFID products, and will offer advice on applying RFID technologies.

• The EtherCat Technology Group, founded eight months ago to promote a real-time Ethernet technology for control applications, has already attracted more than 105 members from around the world. The technology is still being developed by its originator, the German firm Beckhoff, but basic development and testing has been completed and implementation in ASIC chips has started. International standardisation of EtherCat has also begun.

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