Qualcomm Unleashes A Raft of New Products for WiFi and Autonomous Robots

Qualcomm has been quite busy releasing new products and devoting time to conversations. Networking advances are intriguing. Qualcomm has news beyond WiFi 6 that others are touting with news of a WiFi 7 platform. Other news includes an AR chip set and technology for mobile robotics.

Let’s take a tour through Qualcomm news:

Qualcomm Debuts Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series, a Scalable Commercial Wi-Fi 7 Platform

Highlights:

  • Qualcomm Technologies is currently sampling the world’s most scalable Wi-Fi 7 networking platform portfolio commercially available, with offerings ranging from 6 to 16 streams, for next-generation enterprise access points, high performance routers, and carrier gateways
  • Third-generation Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms bring key Wi-Fi 7 features like 320MHz channel support establishing new performance benchmarks in wireless networking of up to 33 Gbps wireless interface capacity and peak throughputs over 10 Gbps.
  • These Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms continue the legacy of innovative, custom architectural design optimized for multi-user environments, to power the collaboration, telepresence, XR, metaverse, and immersive gaming applications of today and tomorrow’s home and enterprise environments.
  • Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms are supported by Qualcomm Technologies’ turnkey service for Automated Frequency Control (AFC) to enable the highest performance possible in the 6GHz spectrum band.

Qualcomm Technologies announced its Wi-Fi 7 capable Qualcomm Networking Pro Series Gen 3 family of platforms. Now sampling and available to global development partners, the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series, Gen3 is the world’s highest performance Wi-Fi 7 network infrastructure platform portfolio commercially available. Building upon the multi-generation legacy of the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms, the products combine Wi-Fi 7 features with Qualcomm Technologies’ intelligent multi-channel management technologies to improve speeds, lower latency, and enhance network utilization for users of Wi-Fi 6/6E devices while offering game-changing throughput and incredibly low latency for the next generation of Wi-Fi 7 client devices.

This third generation of the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series sets new industry benchmarks for networking platform performance. The family enables systems with peak aggregate wireless capacity of 33 Gbps and point-to-point connections exceeding 10 Gbps. With advanced features for interference detection and multilink operation, the Wi-Fi 7 Network Pro Series enables deterministic low latency across challenging shared wireless environments, enabling application performance rivaling private spectrum. The products can support high speed low latency wireless backhaul for home mesh Wi-Fi and enterprise infrastructure with reliable performance even in the presence of neighboring interference. When combined with high performance internet access such as 5G fixed-wireless access or 10G PON fiber, customers can experience immersive connected experiences including high resolution videoconferencing, AR/VR, and high-performance cloud gaming.  

Wireless AR Smart Viewer Reference Design Powered by the Snapdragon XR2 Platform

The Wireless AR Smart Viewer eliminates the cord between an AR glass and a compatible smartphone, Windows PC, or processing puck and still achieves virtually lag-free AR experiences using a fully integrated Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 System combined with the new FastConnect XR Software Suite.

The reference design, which is being sampled to select OEMs, boasts a 40% thinner profile and a more balanced weight distribution2 .

Qualcomm Technologies announced another milestone in making extended reality (XR) the next computing platform with the Wireless AR Smart Viewer Reference Design, powered by the Snapdragon® XR2 Platform. The cord-free reference design helps OEMs and ODMs more seamlessly and cost-efficiently prototype and bring to market lightweight, premium AR glasses to enable immersive experiences that unlock the metaverse. 

Greater Performance, Sleeker Device: The purpose-built, premium Snapdragon XR2 Platform now packs powerful performance into a slim, smaller AR glass form factor. The AR reference design hardware, developed by Goertek, has a 40% thinner profile and a more ergonomically balanced weight distribution3 for increased comfort. SeeYA provides the dual micro-OLED binocular display enabling 1920 x 1080 per eye and frame rates up to 90Hz and a no-motion-blur feature to deliver a seamless AR experience. Dual monochrome cameras and one RGB camera on the smart viewer enable six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) head tracking and hand tracking with gesture recognition to achieve AR precision.

Qualcomm Advances Development of Smarter and Safer Autonomous Robots

Highlights:

• As 5G advances beyond the smartphone, 5G and premium AI-enabled robotics, drones and intelligent machine solutions will empower more productive, intelligent, and advanced robots, unlocking new possibilities with critical intelligence and maximum efficiency.

• Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform and the Qualcomm RB5 AMR Reference Design – bring enhanced AI and 5G together to power next-generation robotics, drones and intelligent machines including autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), delivery robots, highly automated manufacturing robots, urban air mobility (UAM) aircrafts, autonomous defense solutions, and beyond.

• Latest solutions unleash innovative possibilities for industries looking to adopt robots and realize the benefits of the solutions at the connected intelligent edge.

The Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform and the Qualcomm RB5 AMR Reference Design will support evolving applications for OEMs and robot manufacturers looking to integrate ground robots in industrial use cases across sectors including government service applications, logistics, healthcare, retail, warehousing, agriculture, construction, utilities, and more. The new solutions will accelerate the digital transformation of industries and serve as a key enabler for Industry 4.0.

Updates from Honeywell

I am in a hallway of the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando attending my first Honeywell User Group meeting in several years. I missed a couple before the pandemic shut things down. More than 1,200 people here, so it’s a lively return to conference season. 

There were several announcements in CTO Jason Urso’s usual high energy product keynote this morning. The one I am reporting today deals with sustainability—of which they had much to say. Other announcements will discuss the future of process control and other goodies. I was also sitting on an update from Honeywell Forge (software) that I’ll tack on to the end of this report.

Honeywell Introduces Emissions Control and Reduction Initiative

This initial offering will focus on the detection and reporting of fugitive methane emissions to help users reduce production losses, improve productivity and comply with ongoing legislation.

Honeywell announced an Emissions Control & Reduction Initiative designed to help customers achieve carbon neutrality in a wide range of areas. The initiative will initially focus on helping oil and gas customers with upstream, midstream and downstream operations to monitor and reduce fugitive methane emissions, which are more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

By combining its portfolio of fixed, portable and personal gas detection solutions with gas cloud imaging cameras, Honeywell will provide customers with early detection of fugitive methane emissions, including the precise location of any leaks and associated data analytics and trends. Equipped with this data, users can act quickly to address leaks and other identified risks to minimize production losses and maintain compliance with legislation.

The solution – which combines wireless gas detector technology with enterprise-wide data management solutions – works in tandem with existing Leak Detection & Repair (LDAR) testing methods to improve the accuracy of reporting and increase productivity by enabling users to find production losses faster.

Honeywell’s methane detection capability will be available to customers in Q4 2022.

Honeywell Introduces Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse

Honeywell announced the Spring 2022 release of new offerings and enhancements to Honeywell Forge, the leading enterprise performance management software solution, designed to assist customers in accelerating the digital transformation of their operations. This class of offerings, which includes Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse, will help organizations simplify operations and lower costs by providing increased visibility to data as well as real-time insights, monitoring and automation. 

“Our new Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse offering brings a scalable and cloud-based solution to help distribution centers accelerate their productivity, predictability and transformation strategies,” said Kevin Dehoff, president and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “We are proud to also introduce several enhancements to our current software solutions across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors, enabling enterprises to optimize asset performance and drive operational savings.”

Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse provides organizations with two modules that provide real-time visibility across their warehouse site operations and advanced analytics to reduce unplanned downtime, address recurring challenges and automate legacy processes. The Site Operations module features a dashboard that indicates how sites are performing against plan and helps managers identify repetitive bottlenecks and proactively address issues that may impact performance. The interface, which is optimized for tablets, enables enterprise benchmarking, monitors areas such as picking and shipping and makes recommendations to achieve daily targets. Users can use the Honeywell Forge Connect edge solution to connect devices and integrate with standard warehouse systems.

Honeywell is launching enhancements to other software across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors.

• The all-new Honeywell Forge Pilot Connect mobile app is our latest aerospace offering, designed to improve fuel savings while engaging flight crews in their companies’ sustainability and efficiency initiatives. The easy-to-use app works with Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency to provide pilots with briefing information like historic fuel averages, debriefing information like trajectory analytics, and customizable KPIs and targets.

• For the commercial real estate industry, Honeywell Forge Predictive Maintenance provides near real-time visibility into buildings’ health & performance, and service cases in order to prioritize asset issues based on safety, operational and quality risks.

• Additionally, Sine occupant experience solutions provide frictionless access to buildings via mobile Bluetooth. Other improvements include new scheduling and capacity planning features along with occupant experience enhancements such as better feedback, information and wayfinding.

• UniSim Design now provides a common simulation platform for upstream oil and gas, downstream processing and sustainability. It contains new features for modeling Green H2, CO2 capture, transportation and storage. 

• Honeywell Forge Inspection Rounds offers new features for industrials customers that allow the capture of images and videos during task execution and the creation of reusable checklists to drive standardization across an organization. Other additions include GPS-enabled monitoring of worker proximity, enhanced capabilities for gaining insights from historical data trends and improved asset identification through NFC tagging.

• For OT Cybersecurity, Honeywell is rolling out a new Cyber Care services offering to supplement its Process Control Network (PCN) Hardening Service. After completion of the initial PCN hardening services to help industrial companies reduce their OT attack vectors, Cyber Care provides an option to purchase bi-annual onsite Cyber Care visits by Honeywell consultants for maintaining previously implemented networking hardening benefits and identifying potential additional PCN hardening settings for enhanced protection.

Honeywell Forge is a purpose-built software solution on a native edge-to-cloud, data-driven architecture designed to accelerate digital transformation of operations. Explore the Spring Release, learn more about Honeywell Forge, request a demo and follow Honeywell Forge on LinkedIn for the latest news.

Phoenix Contact Unveils Rooftop Solar System

Seth Godin initiated a project that has enlisted many volunteers from many countries called The Carbon Almanac. You can get yours soon. I thought I could contribute from the point of view of manufacturing and industrial production. I couldn’t get any information in time to contribute. However, I have had a couple of sustainability reports in the past month. Here is one from Phoenix Contact which has installed a nearly 1-megawatt array that will produce 30% of facility’s energy needs.

“We estimate this solar power installation will reduce our electricity costs by approximately $150,000 per year. While a smart business choice for us, reducing our company’s carbon footprint is more important in the long term,” said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA. “Sustainability and renewable power generation are at the heart of Phoenix Contact’s vision for an All Electric Society. This is one critical step on our journey to becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2030.”

Phoenix Contact partnered with Gatter & Diehl Consulting Engineers and Terrasol Energies, Inc. to design the rooftop solar array. Phoenix Contact designed and installed the monitoring portion of the system, which features numerous Phoenix Contact products. 

Terrasol Energies, Inc. also installed the solar array on the roof of Phoenix Contact’s Logistics Center for the Americas last year. The solar array consists of 2,185 SunPower photovoltaic panels, which can generate up to 961 kilowatts. A $250,000 PEDA restart grant and a $270,000 grant from the PPL ACT 129 fund helped offset the $1.8 million investment into the solar array.  

In 2014, Phoenix Contact installed a 1-megawatt Combined Cooling Heating and Power (CCHP) facility. The system provides 65 percent of the facility’s energy needs and saves the company more than $300,000 annually. With the CCHP and the solar array, Phoenix Contact will generate enough energy to go off the grid on sunny days during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall). 

Updated: Schneider Electric Launches Universal Automation Discovery Packs

Updated and corrected. I’m just off the “phone” with Louis Arone of Schneider Electric. Here are a few amplifications to what I wrote earlier this week.

  1. This release deals with factory automation, not process automation. Specifically technologies in use with the Modicon product line.
  2. Universal Automation is an organization. Check out the website. It lists 31 current members. The organization promotes standardization under IEC 61499.
  3. The foundation is software defined control. For Schneider Electric the instantiation is EcoStruxure Automation Expert software.
  4. Schneider Electric is developing on two PLC platforms, a drive platform, and a softPLC platform.
  5. While my comments about how important open automation is to the process side still stand, this conversation revealed the same importance to Schneider’s strategy for factory automation, as well.
  6. Ethernet remains the core network, just as my conversations with executives going back several generations emphasized.

Schneider Electric took a bold step last year announcing an open control platform evidently not proprietary to itself at all. Based on IEC 61499 open distributed control standards, it put this control out into the wild and asked competitors to forsake their own proprietary boxes and join it in the brave new Open Process Automation world. 

Pause while we listen for the rush to join.

Here are two articles I wrote last year about the announcement—Hannover announcement and Automation Expert.

Somewhere about the time of the sale of Foxboro and other assets to Schneider Electric, Foxboro executives told me firmly that they were betting heavily on the Open Process Automation  initiative as their competitive advantage. And to this day years later Schneider Electric has been a stalwart supporter of the work.

Today’s news involves release of Discovery Packs designed to jump start the program by offering free 12-month engineering software licenses. This obviously targets people who might possibly become internal advocates in end user companies spanning the globe. I did not count the number of references to innovators. You can catch that drift.

The news in brief:

  • New program designed to help industry professionals break the confines of traditional systems and enable next-generation automation
  • Innovative offer addressing the barrier of single vendor lock-in by testing the ability to decouple hardware from software using tools to reduce commissioning time and associated costs
  • Free 12-month engineering software license available for innovators to explore the benefits of universal automation and IEC61499-based solutions

Schneider Electric launched its Universal Automation Discovery Packs program in the U.S. May 18, 2022, giving innovators the opportunity to explore the benefits of universal automation. Through this program, experts from all aspects of the industry, including OEMs, system integrators, end users, distributors, academics, and others can receive a free license to explore this next-generation automation system for themselves. 

Universal automation is a disruptive technology based on the IEC61499 standard for interoperability and portability that decouples hardware and software by addressing one of the industry’s largest challenges to innovation — single-vendor lock-in. By having the opportunity to explore this new technology before leveraging it for commercial projects, innovators can better understand how the platform can support their organizational goals and improve operational efficiency.

“Today’s industry is changing faster than ever before, requiring both new solutions that offer greater flexibility and higher productivity, and a skilled workforce familiar with those solutions able to implement them,” said Kaishi Zhang, Global Director, Product Management at Schneider Electric. “Through this program, we are fostering digital innovation and creativity in the next wave of the industrial automation workforce by providing access to the latest universal automation platform and tools to get them started, encouraging them to take the next step in driving the industry of the future forward.”

Universal Automation Discovery Packs are for non-commercial use, enabling innovators to experience the benefits of universal automation while testing the interoperability and portability of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert system with compatible 3rd party hardware. Available on both Microsoft- and Linux-based machines, the plug-and-produce automation software components are based on IEC61499, a key industry standard that defines high-level system design language for distributed Industrial Control Systems (ICS). Adoption of an IEC61499-based automation layer common across vendors has unlimited potential for modernization across industries.

The vendor-agnostic EcoStruxure Automation Expert — the world’s first universal automation solution — is an ideal platform for Industry 4.0 solutions, providing excellent reusability, scalability, and architectural flexibility. Through the implementation of a common distributed control runtime across hardware and software platforms, it represents a new approach to designing, building, operating, and maintaining industrial automation systems, offering a unique technology mix that defines a new category of integrated automation systems.

High Speed Robotics Alignment Software

Robotics has been more in the news coming my way the past six months than in perhaps the past six years. Much development shows progress, but I hope for more expansion of applications into areas of life adjacent to manufacturing. Society will face future worker shortages give the global decline in birth rates. Robotics will be necessary to fill the gap. I unfortunately will miss the Automate show next month where robots will be on display since I’ll be at the ARC Forum. But I’ll pass along news. For starters, here is an interesting advance from ABB Robotics.

ABB launches breakthrough robot alignment software, increasing electronics manufacturing speed and accuracy.

TL;DR:

  • HighSpeed Alignment software uses vision technology to deliver breakthrough 70 percent increase in speed and 50 percent increase in accuracy
  • Software adds to electronics manufacturing portfolio that includes new variant of ABB’s IRB 1300 with cleanroom option and IP54 IRB 920T SCARA robots

ABB’s High Speed Alignment software is the first to offer manufacturers the ability to increase the speed of 6-axis robots by 70 percent, and accuracy by 50 percent – significantly reducing time-to-market while increasing accuracy levels.

The PC-based software includes Visual Servoing technology using one or more cameras, combined with a computer vision system, to control the position of the robot relative to the workpiece.  As the robot is moving, the cameras continuously capture image information that the computer vision system processes to cross check and adjust the robotic movements to deliver 0.01 to 0.02 millimeter precision.

Liang Rui, Managing Director for ABB’s Robotics Electronics business line said “Sales of smartphones, wearables and other high-tech devices are growing and advances in electronics are gathering pace. As devices become smaller and more powerful, new automation solutions are required to quickly and accurately place components, ensuring that production can keep pace with demand while maintaining the highest levels of product quality.”

ABB’s articulated 6-axis robots are highly flexible for handling complex tasks in tight spaces and can perform a variety of meticulous placement tasks. The High Speed Alignment software was developed to find the balance between speed and accuracy.

The software is compatible with ABB’s IRB 1100 and IRB 120 industrial robots. More information and access to RobotWare High Speed Alignment can be found here.

Alongside its software portfolio, ABB robotics continues to expand its robot portfolio for electronics manufacturing with its IRB 1300 new variant and the IRB 920T SCARA new options. The new IRB 1300 combines a high payload of 12 kilograms and a reach of 1.4 meters, allowing it to handle more and heavier objects at the same time, enabling more products to be produced per hour and increasing productivity.  ABB’s IRB 920T SCARA robot includes new options with IP54 and Cleanroom, ensuring stable production in dusty, wet, and cleanroom environments. 

Siemens Continues To Build Additive Manufacturing Momentum

Siemens reserved a central location at its stand at Hannover Messe for additive manufacturing (AM) the last couple of times I made it to Germany. It has released a few news items lately revealing an ever expanding AM initiative.

This news announces opening of a new technology hub in Charlotte, NC designed to “accelerate plans for the industrialization of additive manufacturing.” AM momentum grows.

Siemens is announcing the opening of its new Charlotte Advanced Technology Collaboration Hub (CATCH) which will be located in Charlotte, NC. This new strategic research and development hub, spearheaded by Siemens Digital Industries, Siemens Technology and Siemens Energy, now a separately operated company, to focus on helping our customers accelerate their plans for the industrialization of additive manufacturing (AM). Specifically, Siemens will use this space to collaborate with key machine builders (OEMs), end-users and U.S. national laboratories to ensure the successful industrialization of additive manufacturing.

In conjunction with this announcement, Siemens also recently announced partnerships with ExOne, Xerox and Roboze, leaders in building industrial 3D printers. This partnership will ensure that Siemens and its collaborators have the most advanced hardware on the market.

“We are excited to launch this new additive manufacturing hub and to begin inviting customers in to collaborate and find ways to accelerate the industrialization of this technology,” said Tim Bell, Additive Manufacturing Business Manager, Siemens Digital Industries. “The benefits of additive manufacturing are clear from faster time-to-market, to better design through digital prototypes, to localized manufacturing helping to reduce supply chain constraints. We believe that future of manufacturing is additive.”

Dr. Hallee Deutchman, Head of Research in Materials and Industrialized Manufacturing (US) for Siemens Technology stated, “the CATCH center will not only help industrialize additive manufacturing, but also help incubate and grow the next generation of cutting-edge technology to solve industry’s hardest manufacturing problems.”

CATCH will be the entry point for many manufacturers to understand how and why AM is crucial to designing products more effectively, manufacturing them closer to the point of purchase and creating a more resilient supply chain.

Further enabling the collaboration between Siemens, machine OEM’s, and end users, Siemens Financial Services (SFS) – the financing arm of Siemens – supplied the CATCH lab with a financing solution that aided the leasing of several 3D printers for use in the lab. Financing additive manufacturing is a strategic priority for SFS as the evolution and digitalization of manufacturing continues, and the revolutionary use of 3D printing expands.