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April News in Brief

01 April, 2009

♦  At the Hannover Fair, five companies – Elpro Technologies, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Pepperl+Fuchs and Mactek – demonstrated wireless field devices based on the WirelessHart sensor networking technology developed by US-based Dust Networks. The technology is said to combine the reliability of wired connections with the cost advantages of wire-free operation.

♦  The Profibus Group says that 1.6 million Profinet nodes were installed by the end of 2008, making the system the market-leader in Ethernet-based industrial communications. The figure represents a 40% increase on 2007 and is forecast to reach 3 million by the end of 2009. In 2008, 5 million Profibus nodes were installed, bringing the total to 28.3 million. By the end of 2008, there were 66,000 Profisafe systems and 630,000 Profisafe devices installed, giving the system a 90% share of the safety network market, according to the Profibus Group.

♦  The ISA100 wireless standards committee has approved a new standard, ISA100.11a - Wireless systems for industrial automation: process control and related applications. The standard is intended to provide reliable, secure wireless operation for non-critical monitoring, alerting, supervisory control, and open- and closed-loop control applications.

♦  Sercos International (SI) has announced it will provide an open source software driver library for the Sercos lll real-time Ethernet communication system master implementation, making it the first high-performance, real-time protocol to make driver software available as source code, without any license fees and without any usage limitations. SI is also developing a specification and conformance tests for a Sercos III encoder profile to make the functions of absolute or relative encoders available via vendor-independent interfaces. The encoder profile will be available in November 2009.

♦  Seven companies and institutes – including ABB, Siemens and Daimler – have founded the AutomationML Organisation as an industrial consortium, based in Germany. The aim of the consortium is to develop AutomationML as an open, free and standardised data exchange format for plant engineering. AutomationML is already in use and some of the first products were on show at the Hannover Fair.

♦  The chip-maker, austriamicrosystems has announced the first Hall-effect-based linear magnetic encoder to offer submicron resolution. The encoder can be used as an alternative to optical encoders. For linear motion sensing, a multi-pole magnetic strip is used and, for rotary motion, the strip is replaced by a multi-pole magnetic ring. An incremental output with a 10-bit resolution per pole pair and a travelling speed up to 650mm/s is possible.

♦  US-based Nextreme Thermal Solutions claims to have doubled the efficiency and power output of thin-film thermoelectric power generators which convert waste heat into electricity. Its thin-film embedded thermoelectric generator produces electricity from a temperature differential across the device, harnessing the Seebeck effect. At 9W of heat input power, the device generates 247mW of output power – equivalent to a 2.6% power conversion efficiency.

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