WePower Launches and Demos Gemns Energy Harvesting Generators

No sooner had interest in wireless sensors developed batteries were identified as a weak point. Sending maintenance crews out routinely to replace batteries became a sticking point. For every difficulty lies an opportunity. Technologies to harvest energy from equipment vibrations and other sources went into development.

Here we are many years later and a notice of more kinetic energy harvesting came my way thanks to an exhibit at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January.

WePower Technologies introduced Gemns Energy Harvesting Generator (EHG) product line. The Gemns product line includes three distinct products, each of which use both permanent and oscillating magnets to harvest kinetic energy through electromagnetic induction: the Gemns G100 Integrated RF Switch, the Gemns G200 EHG, and the Gemns G300 EHG.

The kinetic energy transient provided by each of these Gemns products can be used to trigger a sensor, perform a reading, form a data packet, and transmit a radio signal with the range and reliability necessary to advance the RF communication needs of the IoT industry.

The three products are:

  • Gemns G100 Integrated RF Switch – A wireless industrial push button, the G100 has been tested to over 1 million activations and has served as the initial proof of concept for the growing Gemns product lineup. The G100 includes space for Gemns’ energy harvesting circuit and another PCB that would typically be the transmitter. Anticipated applications beyond industrial will include automotive, smart home and city, and aerospace.
  • Gemns G200 EHG – The workhorse of the Gemns lineup, this is our most powerful EHG. Initially designed for industrial IoT applications in safety and limit switches, the expected applications where the G200 will excel include automotive, home/office IoT, and other higher energy applications.
  • Gemns G300 EHG – A high-output device that requires less force to activate, making it useful for consumer products in lighting and smart home devices, as well as in future IoT products where new activation methods will be explored.

eYs3D Launches One-Stop XINK Development Platform for Vision-Equipped Robots

The vision and streaming video area seems to be ripe for continued investment and innovation. I’ve discussed a few applications lately that look promising. Here is news of an underlying technology that will boost these other applications.

eYs3D, a silicon-design-AI computer vision solutions company, introduced at CES a state-of-the-art computer vision development platform for next-generation autonomous robotic applications such as AIoT (artificial intelligence of things), smart city, indoor cleaning robots, and outdoor agricultural robots for both industrial and retail sectors. 

XINK offers multiple benefits:

  • Industry 4.0 application readiness, via high-speed communications and conformance to IEEE 1588 standards
  • Effective power management, including with sleep and deep sleep modes for unused blocks, supporting always-on capability
  • Superior computing performance through the quad-core Cortex A55 and the 4.6 TOPS NPU in the eCV1 chip, which provides dedicated machine learning instructions, a patented neural network engine, and Tensor Processing Fabric
  • Highly flexible image and computer vision processing for domain-specific applications

The platform, called XINK, is both a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) as well as a hardware and software development kit that is a cost-effective solution for design of safe, vision-capable mobile AI products equipped with field analysis, object recognition, obstacle detection, object tracking and following, and route planning functions.

XINK provides all the necessary elements for product development, including high-performance compute power, AI accelerator, I/O controls and Flexi-bus communication peripherals, smart power management and machine vision subsystems. The modular XINK platform takes care of low-level programming, freeing developers to use cut-and-paste coding for application-specific design while reducing design cycles for quicker commercialization.

The platform has H.264 compression for video streaming as well as Imaging Signal Processing (ISP) support features. XINK accepts image data from either an external ISP such as eYs3D’s separate eSP87x series stereo video and depth processor, or from the ISP soft code inside the XINK CPU. 

The edge AI processing is powered by eYs3D’s new eCV1 AI chip that incorporates four Core ARM 64-Bit CPUs and a 4.6 TOPS neural processor unit (NPU). An additional low power ARM Cortex M4 processor can be used as an MCU. The platform supports various AI inference tools including TensorFlow, TensorFlow Lite, PyTorch, Caffe, TVM and more.

McMenon Acquires Flowmeter Line from ABB

This news came to me via a UK company called McMenon Engineering Services. It concerns ABB, too. To quote from McMenon, “A UK manufacturing company’s growth plans have taken an exciting leap forward with the acquisition of a state-of-the-art product line from Europe.”

A range of Variable Area (VA) Flowmeters will now be manufactured in Workington, Cumbria, after McMenon Engineering Services Ltd was chosen by global technology company ABB to make the VA flowmeter product portfolio that had been produced by ABB in Germany. 

Following the acquisition, McMenon, under a supply partnership agreement, will continue to supply VA meters carrying the ABB brand and the meters remain part of ABB’s product offering.

McMenon, a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of quality flow and temperature measurement instrumentation, and ABB have a long-standing partnership.

With this acquisition, McMenon, already a highly recognised name in the global flowmeter and temperature instrumentation market, will now be placed among the top global manufacturers of VA flowmeters. ABB customers will see no difference and can expect the same product quality they are used to. 

Streaming Video Analytics AI Assists Industrial Engineering

Video as a sensor has been a topic for several posts here at The Manufacturing Connection. One notable case study involved detecting unwanted critters wandering into the facility when gates were opened to allow train cars to enter or leave. Machine vision has been usable since the 1980s to detect flaws, presence, and other quality issues, as well as to guide robots.

Anurag Maunder, CEO and founder, and Subbu Kuchibhotla, VP Growth and Development, of a new company in the video streaming market called Sensable.

They told me this is the first vision platform built for industrial engineering. Almost all current vision and video applications involve narrowly focusing on a part or a piece of a machine. The idea of the Sensable platform is to broaden the focus of the camera, or combine multiple camera, such that an entire operation or segment of the plant can be viewed, captured, and analyzed.

My grandfather told me of the time he was summoned to the front office of the GM plant where he was a production superintendent. The US had entered World War II and his plant was converting to production of aircraft armaments. Production ramp up was slow. Management picked him to organize things and get production up to expectations. 

He explained to 8-year-old me how he went up on the mezzanine and watched the process. Guys were performing a process, dragging a crate of parts to the next operation across the department, where the next operation took place, and that operator dragged the crate across the facility to the next operation. He told me how he organized the process to minimize material handling. That and other things boosted production and won the war—well, anyway, he did his part. And I learned a lesson.

Now imagine that you don’t have people to just stand and observe and take notes over three shifts a day for a week or so. What if you could position a few cameras in strategic locations. The video is captured and run through analytics. Engineers, operators, and managers would not have to  manually parse through hours of video. They would be presented with data visualization designed to help them get to root causes of problems, assist worker ergonomics, improve safety, and boost productivity.

That is what the Sensable solution does.

Imagine another scenario. You are an operator on a production line. You have been trying to point out bottlenecks to production on your machine. Then engineers install streaming video pointing not just at a specific point on you or the machine but with wide enough scope to see the larger process. The video analytics point out the bottleneck. Voila. Vindicated. Proof in the data. 

The video is not for spying on employees. It is designed to help them. Just what true digital transformation is—an aid to decision making and continuous improvement.

Key spots:

  • Missed throughput targets—station utilization lower than expected, unplanned downtimes more than planned
  • Low process efficiency—cycle time variability, too many interruptions
  • Low operations visibility—safety challenges due to best practices violations, missed inspection or assembly steps

Use cases:

  • Manage work area or assembly line—real-time feedback, identify bottlenecks, performance reports by shift/day, remote visibility-ideal for managing off shifts
  • Perform long duration time studies—data-driven Kaizen setup/changeover analysis, run/analyzed over weeks, compare across time and facilities, store metrics for Kaizen, perform SMED analysis in large areas
  • Identify missed inspection steps with 360 degree analysis—rapidly identify root cause of defects, search for video clips associated with product assembly
  • Achieve healthier, safer, well trained workforce—capture near misses and best practice violations, capture the impact of fatigue by measuring throughput at beginning and end of shift, capture and share the best practices for training
  • Build realistic engineering standards—capture data for the entire shift or multiple shifts before creating a standard to be enforced 

SiLC Technologies Launches Machine Vision Solution

LiDAR is on everyone’s mind these days relating autonomous vehicles—either cars or industrial vehicles. It is a cool light sensing technology first played around with in 1961 and getting lots of interest today. I received a news release from SiLC Technologies. The news is interesting. The release had the most superlatives per square inch of text of any I’ve ever seen. Here is the condensed version of this news that is worth your time to check if you have any interest in vision systems.

  • SiLC Technologies Inc. (SiLC) announced the launch of the Eyeonic Vision System.
  • High resolution
  • High precision
  • Long range
  • Turnkey solution
  • Targeted to robotics, autonomous vehicles, smart cameras and other advanced products
  • Integrated silicon photonics chip
  • Roughly 10 milli-degrees of angular resolution
  • mm-level precision
  • integrates all photonics functions needed to enable a coherent vision sensor

Honeywell Connect 2022 Updates

Honeywell has been an enigma to me for several years. I haven’t been confident in product direction, where different elements of process automation would fit, and would it make a transition to software. Then came Honeywell Forge. Where did that fit with Process Solutions and UOP? Then we had the pandemic and I couldn’t make the User Group this year due to many conflicts.

This is mostly my deficiency, but also I had lost track of contacts. All that is remedied, and the picture is beginning to focus. I was also able to catch some virtual conferences to gain insight from CTO Jason Urso.

Honeywell Forge is coalescing into a viable software division. Process Solutions is cranking out some interesting new products and services. Sustainability is a key strategy. Cybersecurity remains strong within the portfolio.

I’m quite late with this update. Following are major points from recent announcements. Check out the various links for more.

Manufacturing Excellence Platform

Manufacturing Excellence platform provides real-time end-to-end production visualization and dashboards for multiple user roles from operators to management, process unit timelines, detailed equipment status, and trends of critical process parameters. The Manufacturing Excellence platform, built for Life Sciences applications, puts actionable information in context in one interface. The solution digitizes paper-based batch records, work instructions, and logbooks to ensure consistent compliance with standard operating procedures.

Honeywell Forge Performance+

As part of the new Honeywell Forge Performance+ for Industrials suite, Asset Performance helps deliver asset reliability and energy efficiency through real-time monitoring of assets using predictive models embedded with deep-domain expertise. Asset Performance can help to both detect potential asset health issues and predict possible time to failure in order to proactively improve plant availability.

Enhancements to Existing Honeywell Software Solutions

  • Honeywell Plantwide Optimizer – End-to-end solution that integrates planning, operations and blending in near real time.
  • Honeywell Operations Management – Enhancements to the user experience designed to help industrial operations managers to better proactively monitor, document and operate their industrial processes to reduce downtime, increase throughput and yields, and standardize shift reporting.
  • Honeywell Workforce Competency – Enhancements to the simulation-based experiential learning solution to develop and enhance the competency of today’s industrial workforce include persona-based dashboards and a new soft Safety Manager direct link.

Cybersecurity

Honeywell’s AMIR managed service brings increased cybersecurity capabilities to an organization’s existing Security Operation Centers (SOCs) to strengthen OT cybersecurity across the enterprise.

Cyber App Control, previously known as Application Whitelisting, is a vendor-agnostic cybersecurity solution suitable for both Honeywell and non-Honeywell control systems designed to provide an additional layer of security that allows only known and trusted applications to run on ICS assets and increases a customer’s ability to prevent known malware and zero-day attacks on OT environments that often rely on more vulnerable legacy systems with challenging maintenance schedules.

Honeywell Forge Sustainability+

• An enterprise solution that measures fugitive and process GHG emission leaks, continuously monitors sites for new or remediated emissions, reports on emissions’ status and drives emission reduction strategies and solutions.

• Innovative gas detection technologies with Honeywell Versatilis Signal Scout gas detector and Gas Cloud Imaging, interfaces with Emissions Management for continuous measuring and monitoring of emissions, enabling customers to better manage GHG emissions proactively in near real-time. 

• Reporting of process emissions with site- and enterprise-level trending and visualization that allows organizations to locate methane leaks that may cause production loss or impact worker safety, as well as gain access to metrics and alarms associated with gas leaks.

• Enterprise-wide accounting, visualization and reporting that eliminates periodic manual reporting and provides a holistic, near real-time view of Scope 1 emissions for HSE professionals and executive teams.

Honeywell and Aramco JV for Business Process Software

Honeywell and Aramco have announced the signing of a joint venture (JV) agreement to provide a set of end-to-end business process automation solutions, under the Aramco Namaat Industrial Investments Program. The technology solutions can be offered to a wide range of industrial sectors to help maximize profitability, improve productivity, sustainability and operational excellence, on a global scale. The new JV offerings will leverage Aramco’s Plant.Digital platform (formerly Integrated Manufacturing Operations Management System – iMOMS) as well as Honeywell Connected Enterprise’s technology development and industrial digital solutions implementation experience.

The JV aims to equip industrial companies with the tools, processes and practices they need to run plant operations more effectively and accelerate sustainable digital transformation and operational excellence initiatives. It will emphasize the development, integration, and deployment of Operations Technology (OT) solutions and Digital Transformation consulting.

The new JV is expected to create more than 300 jobs in Saudi Arabia within five years, supporting the Aramco Namaat Industrial Investments Program, which is designed to boost Saudi economic and workforce development.

Partnership for Track and Trace Solutions

Honeywell announced that Imperial Brands, a British multinational tobacco company, has chosen Honeywell to provide the Honeywell Track & Trace solution (“Honeywell Track & Trace”) to digitalize and transform the monitoring and tracking of their supply chain operations.

In addition to the cloud-based Honeywell Track & Trace solution, Honeywell will provide a comprehensive and integrated system of support, professional services, and governance to help Imperial’s business meet critical requirements for compliance and executing its global supply chain.

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