by utthunga | May 29, 2022 | Blogs
What is an Embedded System?
An embedded system can be described as a hardware system that has its own software and firmware. One embedded system is built to do one task and forms a part of a larger electrical or mechanical system. An embedded system is microcontroller and/or microprocessor based. A few examples of embedded systems are automatic transmission, teller machines, anti-lock brakes, elevators, automatic toll systems.
To explain in detail, let’s take a look at the smartphone. It has tons of embedded systems, with each system performing a particular task. For example, the single task of the GUI is user interaction. Likewise, there are numerous other embedded systems, each with a specific task, in the mobile phone.
Embedded systems are used in banking, aerospace, manufacturing, security, automobiles, consumer electronics, telecommunication and other fields.
1. Yocto Project
Yocto Project was released by Linux Foundation in March 2011 with the support of 22 organisations. This collaboration project has software, tools and processes that enable developers to build Linux-based embedded systems. It is an open source project that can be used to build the software system irrespective of the hardware architecture. Three major components that determine the output of a Yocto Project are:
- Package Feed – It refers to the software package to be installed on the target. You can choose from package formats such as rpm, deb, ipk, and more. Developers can either install the pre-installed packages on target runtime binaries or choose to install them in the deployed system.
- Target run-time binaries – They include auxiliary files such as kernel modules, kernel, bootloader, root file system image and more. These files are used to deploy the Linux embedded system on the target platform.
- Target SDK – This output component is a collection of header files and libraries that represent the software installed on the target platform. Application developers can use the libraries to further build the code on the target platform.
- It works with all kinds of hardware architecture.
- It has a large community of developers.
- Even after project release, developers can add layers to the project. These layers can also be independently maintained.
- This project gets support from a large number of board and semi-conductor manufacturers. So, this project will work on any platform.
- It is customisable and flexible.
- The project has override capability.
- The layer priority can be clearly defined.
- It has a long learning curve, which can be a deterrent for many developers.
- More resources and time are required to build a Yocto project
- Developers will need large workstations to work on Yocto projects
2. OpenWrt Wireless Freedom
The OpenWrt (OPEN Wireless RouTer) is used to route network traffic on embedded devices. It can be described as a framework that developers use to build multi-purpose applications without a static firmware. That is because this tool offers a fully writable filesystem supported by package management. This build design offers a huge freedom for customisation based on target platform. Developers need not have to build a single static firmware. Instead, they can create packages that will be suitable for different applications.
- It features bufferbloat control algorithms that reduce lag/latency times.
- Has more than 3000 ready-to-be-installed packages.
- Large community support of developers.
- Control all the functions of the tool via your device or router.
- No license or subscription fee.
- Only suitable for developers with more technical expertise.
- Not very user friendly.
- Takes a lot of time to setup and run.
- Doesn’t support a large variety of routers.
Developed by Peter Korsgaard and his team, Buildroot is an automation tool used for building Linux embedded systems. This tool can independently build a root file system with applications and libraries. It can also create a boot loader and generate Linux kernel image. This tool also has the capability to build a cross-compilation tool chain. All these systems can also be built together using Buildroot.
The three output components of Buildroot are:
- Root file system and auxiliary files for the target platform.
- Kernel modules, boot-loader and kernel for the target hardware.
- Tool chain required to build target binaries.
- Simple to learn and deploy.
- The core system is scripted using Make and C.
- The core is short, but expandable based on needs of target platform.
- Open-source tool.
- Build time and resources required is relatively less.
- As the core is simple, a lot of customisation may be required based on target platform.
- Developers need to rebuild the entire package to make a small change to the system configuration.
- Requires different configurations for different hardware platforms.
Debian is one of the earliest developed Linux-based operating systems. The Debian project was launched by Ian Murdock way back in 1993. The online Debian repositories contain free and paid software in more than 51,000 packages. The features of this Linux distribution include kernels, desktop environments and localisation. Debian GNU/Linux can directly build applications on the embedded systems using Debian tools such as gdb (GNU project debugger) and gcc (GNU compiler collection). The open-source platform also has numerous tool kits that include integrated development environments, debuggers, and libraries. There are tool kits that even have kernels and operating systems.
- It has a large community with really experienced developers as it is one of the oldest Linux platforms.
- Detailed and comprehensive installation.
- Debian testing and repositories are highly stable.
- Developers have the freedom to choose free or propriety software.
- Supports multiple hardware architecture.
- It doesn’t have many software updates.
- Doesn’t provide enterprise support.
- Installation is only with free software.
How Utthunga can provide solution for your embedded engineering problems?
At Utthunga, we offer a host of embedded engineering services customised to your specific requirements. We have more than 12 years of experience in this domain. Plus, our team consists of experienced professionals. As a part of our embedded engineering services, we offer hardware, software and firmware development. We also provide wireless SoC-based product development, Obsolescence management, Motor Control Hardware and Firmware Development, and Embedded Linux.
With such varied expertise and in-depth domain experience, we can confidently handle any type of embedded engineering requirement. Whether you want to automate your process or design a product, reach out to us. Just drop a mail at [email protected] or call us at +91 80-68151900 to know more in detail about the services we offer.
by utthunga | May 28, 2022 | Blogs
How Smart Sensors are Driving the Industry
Sensors were traditionally employed to collect field data, which was then delivered to I/O modules and controllers to be processed and meaningful outputs were provided. Smart sensors can gather field data for a variety of critical activities, as well as process data, and make decisions using logic and machine learning algorithms, thanks to the integration of intelligence down to the component level.
Smart sensors are the driving force behind Industry 4.0. Almost every intelligent device in industrial automation relies on sensors. Sensors have been used to simplify and automate industrial processes in a variety of ways using their capacity to obtain important field device information. Some of the main operational factors taken by the sensors include diagnosing the health status of assets using signal noise to prevent breakdowns, generating alarms for functional safety, and so on. The list goes on and on, starting with condition-based monitoring and power management and ending with image sensing and environmental monitoring.
Now to make it more clear let’s check out the types of smart sensors that are primarily used in industrial units:
- Temperature Sensor: Product quality is a key element to consider in industrial operations and it is directly affected by room temperature. These intelligent sensors can detect the temperature of its environment and convert the signal into data to monitor, record, and/or raise alerts.
- Pressure Sensors: Pressure sensors have the ability to detect the changes in the pressure on any surface, gas, or liquid and convert the data into an electrical signal to measure and control it.
- Motion Sensors: Motion sensors are designed to trigger the signals that increase or decrease power supply in smart factories or industrial setups. When there is a physical presence of a human, a signal is detected to automatically switch on/off lights, fans, and any other in-house device. These can save a lot of energy in commercial buildings with wide spaces and a lot of people.
- Thermal Sensors: Thermal sensors enable smart buildings and workplaces to automatically modify room temperature to maintain a steady temperature in space regardless of changing environmental conditions.
- Smoke Sensors: These sensors ensure the security of homes and offices. When smoke is detected, for example, an immediate warning is triggered in fire burst circumstances, to increase safety and the possibility of escape from the accident scene.
- Other Sensors: Some of the other important sensors used in industries are MSME sensors, acceleration sensors, torque sensors, rotating sensors, etc.
What is IO-Link?
IO-Link is an open communication system and has been in use for quite some time. It integrates sensors and actuators and shifts to another level. It has been tried, tested, and operated in machinery process control over several years.
It has turned into one of the most eminent two-way interfaces accessible today, surpassing data to the machine-level control system via a standard three-wire cable which doesn’t require any extra time or cost to connect.
How IO-Link Connects Intelligent Sensors?
An IO-Link framework comprises of IO-Link gadgets, including sensors and actuators and an expert gadget. Since IO-Link is a highlight point engineering, just a single gadget can be associated with each port on the expert. Each port of an IO-Link expert can deal with parallel exchanging signs and simple qualities.
Every IO-Link gadget has an IO gadget portrayal (IODD) that determines the information structure, information substance, and essential usefulness—giving a uniform depiction and access for programming and regulators. The client can without much of a stretch read and cycle this data, and every gadget can be unambiguously recognized by means of the IODD just as through an inside gadget ID.
Importance of IO-Link in Industrial Automation Setup
In a few years, IO-Link has attracted many industries by providing advantages such as:
- Simplified Wiring: IO-Link can be easily connected by 3 core cables with cost-effectiveness. It eliminates unwanted wiring by reducing the variety of interfaces for sensors which saves inventory costs.
- Remote Monitoring: The data is transmitted over various networks, backplane buses by IO-Link master due to which the data can be easily accessible in immediate times and for long-term analysis. This provides more information regarding the devices and enables the remote monitoring feature of devices.
- Reduced Cost and Increased Efficiency: With the innovation of IO-Link the productivity has increased, the cost has been reduced, and the machine availability has increased. These changes have heavily worked towards reducing machine downtime.
To increase productivity by optimum measures, one needs to be aware of the machine parts running in factories to keep up the pace and get maximum output. Conventional sensors lack the ability to communicate parameter data to the controller. Smart Sensors show the continuous flow of processes to fit in the environment and system.
By combining Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) into a single, unified architecture, the connected enterprise is transforming industrial automation. This unified architecture allows us to gather and analyze data, changing it into usable information, thanks to integrated control and the Internet of Things (IoT). Manufacturers can use integrated architecture to construct intelligent equipment that gives them access to such data and allows them to react quickly to changing market demands. Smart sensors and I/O, based on IO-Link technology, constitute the backbone of integrated control and information, allowing you to see field data in real time through your Integrated Architecture control system.
by utthunga | Dec 27, 2021 | Blogs
Wired sensors connected to control systems via industrial communication protocols like HART or even a simple 4–20 mA loop take up the required energy supplied over the cabling. It is estimated that wiring takes up majority of the total sensor installation cost.
On the other hand, wireless sensors used for industrial control and automation offer the possibility to reduce overall installation cost as well as reduce the effort required to install the sensor. However, sustainability is an inherent problem when it comes to use of wireless sensors. This is because of the need of a battery on each wireless sensor node and battery replacement can be a costly and time-consuming affair. Many industrial OEMs and end users are willing to explore the benefits of wireless sensors but are concerned with the battery-related cost and maintenance they have to incur when there are thousands of the sensors deployed across their plants.
To counter this problem, energy harvested from ambient energy sources such as air, RF, mechanical, heat and vibration, has been proposed as a sustainable solution for supplying energy to wireless sensor devices.
Sensors used in the plants have to record crucial measurements and perform other key functions, but energy is not always in full supply. While the active power consumption of the sensors is comparatively less, sending a message about something as simple as on-chip temperature measurement requires a lot of energy. For large scale activities even a battery with an industrial grade LiSOCl2 primary cell will not be optimal. Mesh networking, another key factor that increases the transmissions between the devices, increases the active power consumption of a device proportionally to any additional transmission.
This is where ambient energy like light, vibration, heat, encompassing mechanic or kinetic energy can be converted for generating power. This conversion of energy that is usually not in the conventional form to power a sensor is referred to as energy harvesting or energy scavenging. Energy harvesting can help to effectively deliver power to a sensor network without relying on power cables. There are many energy harvesting sensor technologies in industrial automation.
Feasibility of Energy Harvesting in Industrial Automation
“Harvesting” energy from sunlight via solar cells or photovoltaic systems has long been part of industrial offerings. Examples include totalizers used by oil and gas field and flow meters used by water industry. Vibration energy on the other hand is harvested when electrical motors interact with the process, which in turn leads to energy harvesting. For example, if the speed of the motor of a pump is fixed, then vibration harvesters can be adjusted and fitted accordingly to harvest the vibration energy. This stored energy enables the motors run at the configured constant speed.
Harvesting energy from the temperature difference of process and the ambient air using thermo-electric generators (TEGs) is another popular technique. The TEGs convert the temperature difference between a cold side and a hot side to electrical energy. Micro TEGs and regular TEGs that are readily available in the market can easily power small sensor boards. Adaption of TEGs for industrial requirements still remains a major challenge as they will not be generating energy at certain points such as when the systems cool down.
How to Use Energy Harvesting in Industrial Automation?
Wireless sensor networks require low power compared to their wired equivalents, but while transmitting data or for any other peak hour activities, power via energy harvesting can be of additional help. Energy-harvesting technologies remove the hurdles associated with battery-backed sensor nodes. Each sensor node on the wireless network has an energy-harvesting unit, energy storage unit, and sensors. The energy-harvesting systems also store the energy which is generated, and this can be later be used when the energy source is passive. This way industries can save more on cost when the sensors are powered through energy harnessing/harvesting from machinery and other systems. There has been a wide set deployment of energy harvester devices in factories and plant networks for the following reasons:
- Readily available energy sources such as thermal, solar, flow, vibration, and even radio frequency (RF)
- Capture and store ambient energy
- Replace/augment battery power
- Advanced piezoelectric-based devices moving from microwatts to double-digit milliwatts
- Improve operational and energy efficiency
Energy harvesting is offering promising solutions for industrial automation use cases. To reduce power needs, Utthunga’s wireless systems designers are working toward lowering the power requirements of wireless systems. This will make energy harvesting even more sustainable. With Utthunga’s services you can implement a self-sufficient wireless sensor network.
For more details visit of our sensors offering page.
by utthunga | Dec 9, 2021 | Blogs, Industry 4.0
The rise of Industry 4.0, the new digital industrial technology
Today the manufacturing scene in India mainly comprises of small and mid-end capital good industries, textile, pharmaceuticals, leather, and auto manufacturing. Over the past few decades, these industries have moved toward industry 3.0 to improve the efficiency of their manufacturing process with the help of automation and robotics.
Following suit with American and European companies, Indian manufacturers are now leapfrogging into Industry 4.0 with the aim to automate decision making across enterprises through efficient data analytics that can help improve quality and reduce human errors.
The major building blocks of Industry 4.0 that help to eliminate the drawbacks of Industry 2.0’s low-cost labour and ineffective management include: cloud computing, cybersecurity, Augmented Reality, Big Data analytics, Industrial Internet of Things, Additive Manufacturing and more.
Let’s take a brief look at the nine Industry 4.0 digitalization trends and technologies that can tremendously improve the profitability margin of your organization by bringing together isolated cells into an integrated, optimized and automated workflow.
Top 9 technologies that drive Industry 4.0
1. Autonomous Robots: Flexible and co-operative, these are the key qualities used to describe autonomous robots. Taking advantage of advanced robots has proven to be highly effective in improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of the manufacturing process. Successors to assembly lines and mechanical arms, today’s autonomous robots are being leveraged by industries around the world for their ability to work together with humans and machines through learning and interaction.
2. Simulation: Simulation technology helps to create virtual clones of real-world machines, products, and humans. The main advantage of simulators in the product development, material development and production processes is that it allows you to first test and optimize the machine settings for a product in the virtual world before deployment. This way simulation can help to reduce failures in any of the production processes, ensure quality and also dial down the setup times for the actual machining process. 3D Simulation is majorly used in plant operations where it is highly important to make the best use of real-time data to create the next best product. With continuous and rapid testing of the 3D model, high-quality physical products can be created and deployed in the market on time.
3. Horizontal and Vertical System Integration: With horizontal and vertical system integration, a company can enable cohesiveness and cross-functionality among its various departments and functions.
- Horizontal integration: Enables networking and exchange of product and production data between multiple stakeholders, individual machines, or production units.
- Vertical integration: Provides control over the supply chain system through integration.
4. Industrial Internet of Things: IIoT deals with connectivity for machines, smart factories, and for streamlining operations. IIoT connects critical machines and precise sensors including location-aware technologies in high-take industries and generates a massive volume of data. The communication-based eco-system for the industrial sector (manufacturing, supply chain monitoring, and management systems) brings users, analytics and smart machines together to simplify the collection, analysis, exchange, and monitoring of actionable data.
5. Cybersecurity: As Industry 4.0 technologies require increased connectivity, it is highly crucial to protect critical industrial systems and manufacturing lines from cyber-attacks. Businesses make use of cybersecurity to protect their networks, systems, and data from cybersecurity threats.
6. Cloud: With Industry 3.0 propelling production, there will be an increase in data sharing across different verticals and sites within the company. With Cloud, you can store and access data and programs over the internet. By deploying machine data and functionality through cloud technologies that are part of Industry 4.0, you can now make on-time data-driven decisions by coordinating with internal as well as external stakeholders.
7. Additive Manufacturing: Popularly known as 3-D printing, additive manufacturing is used by companies to create prototypes of individual product components. This technology is being widely used by industries to create customized products that offer various production and cost advantages.
8. Augmented Reality: With augmented-reality glasses, eye-pieces, mobile-devices and other products you can provide users with real-time data that can facilitate decision making and improve their work output. AR technology enables access to the right information at the right time and empowers each user to work and make decisions individually.
9. Big Data Analytics: This is perhaps one of the most important building blocks of Industry 4.0. Big Data Analytics enables the collection and also the comprehensive evaluation of data from different sources. With data analysis, you can quickly and easily identify patterns, correlations, and trends that can significantly reduce product failures and also optimize the creation of better quality products. With Big Data Analytics, you can discover and examine large and varied sets of data procured from production equipment and systems and also enterprise- and customer-management systems to support real-time and informed decision-making that will be critical for your business.
How can Utthunga transform your business with Industry 4.0?
Are you looking to fast-track and improve the efficiency of your manufacturing process with Industry 4.0 technologies? At Utthunga, we help you transition into a smart-factory by streamlining and unifying several and disparate manufacturing processes. With our automation portfolio, we can help you to:
- Digitalize industry hardware to make field devices smart.
- Connect field devices and other industrial assets with our IIoT platform called Javelin that can generate rich visualization and analytics.
- Set protocols for getting data for different assets (OPC, FDP).
- Follow the industry standards to build business applications.
These services can help to:
- Reduce the time taken to collect and analyze data derived from business systems.
- Reduce errors that happen due to manual handling of data.
- Receive accurate and timely-data on machine performance.
- Diagnose problems quickly and rectify issues during planned the down-time for maintenance.
- Provides greater visibility of plant and floor equipment.
- Make informed decisions regarding asset utilization.
- Conduct environment-based and condition-based monitoring to measure performance.
Our Industry 4.0 solutions also simplify interactions between suppliers, producers, and customers as well as human and machines. To know more about how we can help your business benefit from Industry 4.0 technologies, visit https://utthunga.com. Just drop a mail at [email protected] or call us at +91 80-68151900 to know more in detail about the services we offer.
by utthunga | Dec 9, 2021 | Blogs, Embedded
In an industrial setting, flammable vapours, gas, airborne dust and fibres are potential explosive materials that under excess heat or electric sparks can cause catastrophic fires and explosions leading to loss of life and property.
When the combination of oxygen, flammable materials and ignition energy are available, fires and explosions occur. The best way to prevent industrial fires is to identify the hazardous areas and minimize the sources of ignitions.
Do you remember the August 4th, 2020 Beirut warehouse explosion in Lebanon that killed nearly 204 with more than 6,500 injuries. An accidental fire in the warehouse where a stash of over 2,000 tonnes of chemical substance was stored without proper safety measures led to the explosion. While the exact cause is still under investigation, this is an example why every chemical, process, manufacturing, energy or power industry should invest in intrinsically safe products to prevent accidental electrical fires.
Design of Intrinsic Safe Products
Many factors come into play when designing an intrinsically safe product. Before that, getting an understanding of an intrinsic safe product, the hazardous areas and its classifications, is necessary.
During normal usage of electrical equipments, internal sparks are created in electrical components like switches, connectors etc. They also create heat as well, both of which are ignition sources for a fire or explosion under certain circumstances.
Intrinsic Safety (IS) is a protection technique adopted by various electrical OEMs to ensure that their products operate in hazardous and potentially explosive areas. Intrinsic safety is achieved by ensuring that the energy available for ignition of explosive substances is well below the energy required to initiate an explosion. An IS certified device or product is designed so that it is incapable of generating sufficient heat or spark energy to trigger an explosion.
Hazardous area classification for explosive gas & dust:
Implementation of the European Union-wide ATEX directive covers explosions from flammable gas/vapours and combustible dust/fibres. Two ways to ensure correct selection and installation of devices/equipments in that environment is to identify the hazardous zones taking into account the area where flammable materials are available and temperature.
Hazardous areas are classified into zones based on the duration and frequency of the occurrence of an explosive gas atmosphere.
- Zone 0: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods
- Zone 1: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation
- Zone 2: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation and, if it occurs, will only exist for a short time
The maximum surface temperature information should also be present on the equipment. This is important, as hot surfaces can be a source of ignition. For equipment used in gas atmospheres, this will be in the form of a ‘T’ rating. There are six categories:
Top Five Thumb Rules of Intrinsic Safe Product Design
Hazardous zones and temperature are the primary considerations for designing an intrinsic safe product. It is best to follow intrinsic safe guidelines from an agency like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), ATEX, and others. We have compiled a list of top five thumb rules that a design engineer must follow.
- Evaluate by Zone:
Identifying and evaluating the different zones in which the apparatus will be used will help in designing the electric circuitry within those equipment.
- Limit Power Sources:
There is considerable demand to design powerful electronic circuits to meet the communication and other digital requirement. It is important to maintain a balance between power consumption and the intrinsic safety needs.
Identifying the power consumption of each entity/cable parameters and designing the circuit as per that is vital. It may involve splitting the total available power into multiple circuits. This allows the electronics manufacturer provide the maximum amount of power required to drive those portions of the circuit that need the power without compromising safety.
- Electrical Ratings for Semiconductors
As a rule, the datasheets provided by the manufacturers specifies an absolute maximum power dissipation rating for the semiconductor components. These ratings will not however reflect the actual real-world settings where the components are installed in the applications. Hence the electrical rating of components should be 1.5 times of maximum fault power condition when designing.
- Thermal Rise Characteristics of Power-Dissipating Components
In a semiconductor device, the power dissipated causes a temperature rise. To design an intrinsically safe product, the maximum temperature of the component when dissipating power at a specified ambient temperature should be 1.5 times of maximum fault power condition.
- Energy-Storing Components
By ensuring that only low current and voltage components are used in the hazardous areas of the equipments, we can restrict the possibility of ignition by either electrical or thermal energies. Some of the energy storing components like inductors and capacitors need to be selected carefully by considering the ignition risks involved. Encapsulation and correct placement of these components in the circuitry may protect circuits against spark ignition.
The likelihood of fires and explosions in a hazardous operating condition is high. However, operating with an intrinsically safe equipment design will definitely reduce your chances of an explosion within a device. Having the devices meet the appropriate regulatory standards like ATEX, IECEx and NEC will increase the overall safety of the final product, which increases the level of protection of life and property in hazardous operating environments.
Feel free to contact our design engineers for high-quality hazardous area certified products!