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In brief

01 April, 2003

In brief

IAONA, the organisation promoting the use of industrial Ethernet, has produced a new version of its Ethernet planning and installation guide. The third edition of the publication, produced in association with other organisation including the IDA, ODVA, VDE and the German standards body DKE, creates a multi-national basis for using Ethernet in industrial applications, and is aimed both a systems integrators and at users. It is available as a free download from IAONA`s Web site.

Controlstar Systems, the Horncastle-based manufacturer of low-cost control systems, has received a grant under the DTI`s Smart awards scheme to help fund the development of two remote condition monitoring systems. One is a vibration monitor that will predict the failure of rotating equipment in the field, while the other will analyse energy use and power quality at remote sites.

• The Fieldbus Foundation has provided a copyright covering its Foundation Fieldbus Device Description Language (DDL) specification to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for inclusion in a draft electronic DDL standard. DDL is a text-based language for describing the characteristics of field devices used in networks. An IEC DDL document is currently being circulated for approval as a draft international standard.

• In a separate move, the Fieldbus Foundation, has begun a collaborative project with the Hart Communication Foundation and the Profibus Users Group to extend the specification for the DDL to add the ability to describe display characteristics of device parameters, as well as including algorithmic relationships for complex device parameters, persistent data and real-time trends. The work will focus on defining advanced visualisation capabilities for diagnostic and calibration procedures such as sensor calibration curves.

SHEP Technologies, the UK-based company developing a hydraulic system for recovering energy normally lost when vehicles brake, has signed an agreement with a UK automotive electronics developer Pi Technology to build a prototype vehicle based on a Jaguar X-type, by the end of this year. The vehicle will use wire-based controls and is intended to demonstrate the potential for the SHEP technology in a wide range of vehicles.

• A new study from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in the US predicts that a combination of improved battery lives and cost reductions for components, including electric drive trains, will make electric vehicles (both pure and hybrid) cost-competitive with petrol vehicles even at production volumes as low as 50,000 vehicles per year.

• The Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA) and the US-based Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has signed a co-operation and cross-licencing agreement with the aim of building common industrial Ethernet specifications. They will share information on standards that each body is developing for the Ethernet physical layer to ensure that they are aligned.

• Two sister companies, PI and PI Ceramic, claim to have developed the world`s first multi-layer piezoelectric nano-actuators to use ceramic instead of polymer-film insulation. They claim that the tiny devices will operate reliably at up to 150°C, compared to the 80°C limit of conventional multi-layer actuators. The devices, aimed at applications such as nano-positioning and high-speed valves, are said to have longer lives and to be less susceptible to environmental extremes such as high humidity.

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