Compression Brings Bandwidth Boost to Vision Applications

As long as I have been working with and covering vision technology in manufacturing bandwidth has been the constraint to robust applications. A Canadian company called Pleora Technologies has introduced a patented lossless compression technology called RapidPIX that is said to increase data throughput by almost 70 percent while meeting the low latency and reliability demands of machine vision and medical imaging applications.

RapidPIX is initially available on Pleora’s new iPORT NTx-Mini-LC platform, which provides a compression-enabled drop-in upgrade of the widely deployed NTX-Mini embedded interface. With added compression, designers can deploy the iPORT NTx-Mini-LC to support low latency transmission of GigE Vision compliant packets at more than 1.5 Gbps throughput rates over existing 1 Gb Ethernet infrastructure. Manufacturers are designing the iPORT NTx-Mini-LC embedded interface with RapidPIX compression into X-ray panels for medical and dental imaging, contact image sensors (CIS), and industrial camera applications.

Pleora’s RapidPIX compression is now available on the iPORT NTX-Mini-LC embedded interface to support low latency transmission of GigE Vision compliant packets at more than 1.5 Gbps throughput rates over existing 1 Gbps infrastructure. To speed time-to-market, the iPORT NTx-Mini-LC with RapidPIX Development Kit helps manufacturers develop system or camera prototypes and proof-of-concepts easily and rapidly, often without undertaking hardware development.

Telit Cinterion and Alif Semiconductor Unveil the Vision AppKit: A Postage Stamp-Sized, Intelligent Connected Camera Platform

I began working with vision applications in the 1980s and sold and installed a few in the 1990s before the technology went bananas and prices dropped precipitously. Companies have begun investing in vision systems again with new technologies now available. This new app kit from Telit Cinterion is interesting.

  • Vision AppKit utilizes the Alif Semiconductor Ensemble® MCU family of industry-leading Edge ML MCUs and Telit Cinterion’s power-efficient LTE-M and low-power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology modules
  • Ultra-compact camera design can perform on-device AI use cases like face and object detection, image classification, and more at a significantly lower power consumption than previously possible for these use cases

Telit Cinterion, an end-to-end IoT solutions enabler, and Alif Semiconductor, a supplier of the most secure, power-efficient Edge AI-enabled MCUs and fusion processors in the market, have announced the Vision AppKit — the world’s smartest and most efficient connected camera reference design. The Vision AppKit combines Telit Cinterion’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology or LTE-M communication modules in an ultra-compact camera design together with Alif Semiconductor’s Ensemble E3 series MCU, capable of performing on-device AI use-cases like face and object detection, image classification, and more at significantly lower power consumption than previously possible.

The Vision AppKit is a reference design for ultra-low power, small form factor AI-enabled camera that can capture images and/or video, perform AI-based processing in real-time on captured data, and deliver the results wirelessly to a display or other external system. Alif’s E3 Series MCU — known for its EdgeAI capabilities in battery-operated IoT devices — powers this groundbreaking design. Telit Cinterion supports communication in the Vision AppKit with the ME310 LTE Cat-M and WE310 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0 modules.

Open Technologies Part Two from ARC Forum with Schneider Electric

I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. Here is the open technology news from Schneider Electric this year.

In brief:

  • Schneider Electric delivers next-generation, open automation infrastructure in collaboration with Intel and Red Hat 
  • New Distributed Control Node (DCN) software framework to help drive open automation 
  • Solution helps replace vendor-specific hardware with plug-and-produce offer 
  • Interoperability and portability support industrial innovation, reduce obsolescence 

An extension of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert, this new framework enables industrial companies to move to a software-defined, plug-and-produce solution, allowing them to enhance their operations, ensure quality, reduce complexity, and optimize costs. 

“This project is the culmination of two years of co-innovation to create efficient, future-proof distributed control systems,” said Nathalie Marcotte, Senior Vice President of Process Automation at Schneider Electric. “The DCN framework is key to fostering an open automation approach, enabling industrial businesses to grow and innovate for the future. Its interoperability and portability help our customers enjoy the freedom of shaping technology around their business needs – and not the other way around.” 

Red Hat, in collaboration with Intel, recently announced the creation of a new industrial edge platform that helps provide a modern approach to building and operating industrial controls. Since implementing this platform, Schneider Electric has now deployed Red Hat Device Edge in the new DCN software, in addition to Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat OpenShift at the compute layer for DCN deployments, combined with a control infrastructure from Schneider Electric and reference architecture from Intel. 

The framework consists of two main components: an advanced computer platform (ACP), which supervises the control workload by providing the content control and automation capabilities needed to deploy workloads securely and programmatically, along with virtualization and monitoring functionalities; and the DCN, which are low-power, industrial systems using Intel Atom x6400E series processors, dedicated to running controls and designed for workloads f mixed-criticality.

Rockwell Automation Touts Open Technologies at ARC Forum

I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. More on Schneider Electric in my next post. One of two ‘Open’ press releases from this year’s Forum.

This news is from Rockwell Automation. It evidently has decided to get involved with OPAF this year. You may wonder why. This statement from SVP software and control Brian Shepherd provides a clue. “We appreciate and understand our users need for products and systems that integrate well together and allow for collaboration of edge and cloud data sources. Through working with organizations like OPAF and OPC, we will continue to invest in our systems, products and services for market-leading interoperability, longevity and performance.” 

I imagine at some point we may see an open edge device or even controller from Rockwell Automation. For now, the company touts OPC-UA integration into some products along with supporting MQTT and REST. This is a good start.

Here are four examples Rockwell provided of its new emphasis on openness:

  • PlantPAx’s control platform, based on the company’s Logix Controllers, now natively supports OPC-UA, facilitating direct data sharing with edge and cloud applications. Additional connectivity options are available with MQTT and REST.
  • Embedded Edge Compute Module, which provides a compute surface within the Logix environment, enhances plant-wide connectivity through OPC-UA, MQTT, and REST API communication.
  • FactoryTalk Optix, a scalable platform that can be used in PlantPAx to provide native support for OPC-UA to allow operations, maintenance, and plant personnel to visualize various information originating across the enterprise.
  • The combination of PlantPAx and FactoryTalk DataMosaix provides a leading industrial Data Ops platform that supports OPC-UA, provides contextualization of data from multiple sources. The data models can be used to support pre-built Energy, Batch and Asset optimization solutions from Rockwell Automation or to accelerate development of custom solutions.

Siemens and Intel to Collaborate on Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing

Semiconductor manufacturing resides in its own unique niche. I have seldom covered it in detail since it doesn’t translate well to other forms of discrete or process automation. This news is more general showing the potential good from companies collaborating. It’s one way that big companies can keep progressing. This is a Siemens and Intel collaboration on manufacturing.

  • Siemens and Intel to collaborate to advance semiconductor manufacturing production efficiency and sustainability across scopes 1-3 of the value chain
  • Semiconductors are crucial for the global economy and for lowering carbon footprints across economies by enabling sustainable solutions
  • Intel and Siemens will leverage their respective portfolios of cutting edge IoT solutions, along with Siemens automation solutions to enhance semiconductor manufacturing efficiency and sustainability

“Semiconductors are the lifeblood of our modern economies. Few things run without chips. Therefore, we’re proud to collaborate with Intel to quickly advance semiconductor production. Siemens will bring its entire cutting-edge portfolio of IoT-enabled hardware and software and electrical equipment to this collaboration,” said Cedrik Neike, CEO of Digital Industries and member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. “Our joint efforts will contribute to achieving global sustainability goals.”

The MoU identifies key areas of collaboration to explore a variety of initiatives, including optimizing energy management and addressing carbon footprints across the value chain. For instance, the collaboration will explore use of “digital twins” of complex, highly capital-intensive manufacturing facilities to standardize solutions where every percentage of efficiency gained is meaningful. 

The collaboration will also explore minimizing energy use through advanced modeling of natural resources and environmental footprints across the value chain. To gain more information on product-related emissions, Intel will explore product and supply chain related modeling solutions with Siemens that drive data-based insights and help the industry accelerate progress in reducing its collective footprint.

“The world needs a more globally balanced, sustainable and resilient semiconductor supply chain to meet the increasing demand for chips,” said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel Executive Vice President and Chief Global Operations Officer. “We are excited to build upon Intel’s advanced manufacturing capabilities by expanding our collaboration with Siemens to explore new areas where we can utilize Siemens’ portfolio of automation solutions to enhance efficiency and sustainability in semiconductor infrastructure, facilities, and factory operations. This MOU will benefit regional and global industry value chains.”

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