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Industrial Bluetooth demos preview 2003 launches

01 May, 2003

Industrial Bluetooth demos preview 2003 launches

Parker Hannifin is planning to launch a series of wireless industrial automation products later this year, based on the Bluetooth short-range communication and networking technology. To give an insight into the capabilities of these products, the company had several demonstrations of Bluetooth in action on its stand at the recent Hannover Fair (shown below).

According to Parker, wireless communications could cut cabling costs and eliminate many connectors, as well as reducing wear, corrosion and contamination problems and enhancing configuration, control and monitoring capabilities.

• In the first demonstration, signals from a hydraulic fluid diagnostic system monitoring a hydraulic steering mechanism, were transmitted to a handheld computer which displayed them graphically. The diagnostic system included sensors to measure temperatures, pressures and moisture levels and to count particles in the hydraulic fluid.

• In the second demonstration, visitors could have their names printed on yo-yos selected from a rotating dial table. The demonstration used Bluetooth to link various pneumatic, electromechanical and hydraulic devices, including a wireless valve island which was providing output control signals to valves on the rotating table. Another island was controlling the motor drive and the hydraulic trim actuator that presented the marked yo-yos to the visitors.

• In the final demonstration, visitors could monitor and control three types of process device -- pressure controllers, pressure regulators and rotary actuators -- using a Pocket PC. The devices were fitted with micro-controller-based Bluetooth "dongles" that provide a single input and a single output.

Sandy Harper, a senior R&D engineer with Parker Hannifin, predicts that wireless technologies will prove particularly attractive to industries where some functions are difficult to perform because of harsh operating conditions or other restrictions. He also expects the technology to be used in ultra-clean industries such as food and beverages where it will help to monitor, control and configure equipment.

"The new wireless technologies will eventually provide considerable cost savings and efficiencies in industrial automation," he adds, "helping companies to achieve their `lean` business goals". The market for wireless industrial automation equipment is forecast to be worth almost $3bn by 2006.

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