Beyond the Box: A Software-Defined Approach to RF Testing

The traditional engineering response to testing a new wireless standard often involves selecting a box instrument with the closest specifications. For automated test systems with multiple test requirements, this approach usually results in a different box for each measurement requirement in the system. When the test requirements are uniform and non-changing, this method may be sufficient, but it becomes cumbersome, slow, and ultimately more expensive for testing today’s complex radio frequency (RF) devices, which often use multiple wireless standards. A software-defined approach is ideal for automating RF verification, validation, and production tests, while traditional RF box instruments continue to play an important role on the design bench.

Posted in: Articles, RF & Microwave Electronics, Software, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement, Computer software and hardware, Wireless communication systems, Automation, Test procedures

The Opportunity of Economic Uncertainty

By Susan OrrSenior DirectorStrategic MarketingThomasNetNew York, NY

There’s no question that the economic slowdown has taken an enormous toll on the industrial and manufacturing sectors. But despite the downturn, the glass, in my view, remains half full for industrial businesses, including the many firms that we talk with every day. Companies are telling us they’ve been able to keep sales level with last year’s — or even increase them — by diversifying into new markets, and attracting more overseas clients. They’re making better use of the Internet to extend their reach, and it’s working.

How can your company, too, stay “recession-resistant” during the downturn, and position itself for new growth? As a first step, take stock of your unique selling proposition (USP), and how that translates into a unique value proposition (UVP) that will appeal to new buyers. Then, make sure that your Web site reflects these differentiators. Research shows that 50 percent of industrial buyers choose suppliers based on what they see on their sites.

What Sets You Apart? To identify your USP, ask yourself:

What are our core competencies as they relate to meeting customers’ needs? What do we offer that is integral to our customers’ ability to do business? How can we deliver added value and turn our customers’ ideas into reality? In answering questions like these, you will identify new ways that you can differentiate your company’s products or services. And along with differentiation comes discovery of your UVP. Think about repositioning your core competencies as UVPs in terms of solving problems for your customers. These may include: Delivering cost efficiencies. Delivering products faster. Offering customized products for unique applications. Enhancing customer service benefits.

Taking Your UVP to the Web When you understand your company’s UVP, you are in a position to more effectively communicate it over the Web.

Industrial Specialties Manufacturing of Englewood, CO — which supplies miniature pneumatic, vacuum, and fluid circuitry components to OEMs and distributors all over the world — has successfully followed this strategy. The company offers 150,000 individual products for a broad range of markets — from medical, laboratory and research to automotive. Its UVPs include an exceptional focus on the customer, as evidenced by its ability to fill large and small orders, including those with highly customized requirements, on time and with tremendous accuracy. By enhancing its site with a comprehensive online catalog, complete with parametric search, item comparison, and RFQ capabilities, ISM increased sales 15 percent from March 2008 to March 2009, and improved penetration in key markets.

Use VSET to Maximize Site Impact In addition to reinforcing their UVP, Industrial Specialties Manufacturing used a ThomasNet strategy called VSET to improve the effectiveness of its site. VSET involves four “steps”:

Verify – Ensure that your site makes it easy for prospects to immediately determine that you have what they are searching for. Research demonstrates that companies only have 5 to 8 seconds to do this before prospects hit the “back” button. Search – Give buyers the flexibility to look for your products in multiple ways. Evaluate – Provide enough detailed information for prospects to make buying decisions, such as side-by-side comparison capabilities and downloadable CAD drawings. Take Action – Offer multiple ways for buyers to request additional information or make a purchase, from a phone number on every page to shopping cart technology.

UVP + VSET = Momentum As history has demonstrated, companies who take leadership positions and create high profiles in their respective markets during times of economic uncertainty are the ones who ultimately move up in a downturn. Let your UVP help build your momentum over the Web.

For more information, contact Susan Orr at SOrr@ThomasNet.com or visit http://info.hotims.com/22922-122.

Posted in: Articles

Introduction to Linear Actuators

Students trained in classic mechanical engineering are taught to construct a system using conventional mechanical components to convert rotary into linear motion. Converting rotary to linear motion can be accomplished by several mechanical means using a rotary motor, rack and pinion, belt and pulley, and other mechanical linkages, which require many components to couple and align. Although these methods can be effective, they each carry certain limitations.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Design processes, Sensors and actuators, Systems engineering

Fluid Handling Products Gain in Performance, Efficiency

Today’s pumps, valves, and flow meters are being designed with greater accuracy and flexibility to handle a wide range of fluids, chemicals, and other materials. Demands for more reliable operation and lower energy usage dictate these parts be made of materials lighter than previously available, yet robust enough for high pressure, high duty cycle applications.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Lightweight materials, Pumps, Valves, Test equipment and instrumentation

Allen Parker, Systems Engineer, Advanced Structures and Measurement Group, Dryden Flight Research Center

Allen Parker is a systems engineer with expertise in the areas of fiber optics and data acquisition. He is currently part of the team that is developing and flight testing an innovative new fiber optic wing shape sensor system installed on the Ikhana unmanned aircraft system.

Posted in: Who's Who

Assembly Machines Produce Optics for NASA’s NuSTAR Telescope

Cylindrical optics module assembly machines ABTech Swanzey, NH 603-358-6431 www.abtechmfg.com

ABTech has completed the first of two cylindrical optics module assembly machines for Columbia University’s Nevis Astrophysics Laboratory. The multi-axis air bearing machine platforms are optimized for the construction of high-energy xray telescopes. The optics modules will be used to produce the telescope optics for NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) program. ABTech will provide installation and on-sight operational training to Columbia University scientists at the Nevis Laboratory and ongoing technical support during the production of the optics modules.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Optics, Automation, Optics, Assembling, Automation, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Production

CCD Imaging Sensors Aid Hubble in Exploring the Universe

Charge coupled device (CCD) imaging sensors e2v Chelmsford, UK 44 (0)1245 493493 www.e2v.com

e2v CCD imaging sensors were launched recently on the Space Shuttle Atlantis as part of a mission to upgrade and repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The imaging sensors equip the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new instrument installed on Hubble to take largescale, extremely clear and detailed pictures of the universe over a very wide range of colors. The mission equipped the telescope to explore the universe in greater detail by replacing equipment and installing new instruments.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Sensors, Charge coupled devices, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators

HAWE Hydraulic Valves Improve Maintenance for Conveyor Application Systems

HAWE Hydraulics, Charlotte, NC, offers proportional valves and controls typically used by companies manufacturing machine tools, lifting platforms, mobile cranes, construction machinery, forestry, material handling, shipbuilding, wind and solar power, offshore technology, and waste recyclers. All of HAWE’s pressurized components are made of steel, and are known for their compact design, resistance to high pressure, and reliability and durability.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Automation, Supplier assessment, Valves, Hydraulic fittings, Reliability, Commercial vehicles, Off-highway vehicles and equipment

Spiralock Fasteners Safeguard Reliability for Medical Lasers and Implants

Failure is not an option when it comes to medical equipment. From critical or sensitive devices like lasers, MRI scanners, knee joints, and implantable pacemakers to instruments as straightforward as stethoscopes, when life is at stake, medical equipment must be reliable.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Lasers, Medical equipment and supplies, Prostheses and implants, Fasteners, Reliability

NASA Develops Rehydration Beverage

To help keep astronauts at peak performance during missions, NASA researched, qualified, and patented a highly effective electrolyte concentrate formula that maintains and restores optimal body hydration levels quickly and conveniently. Developed as a remedy for dehydration, it helps prevent the loss of body fluids during heavy exercise, heat exposure, and illness. It also can be used to treat and prevent dehydration caused by altitude sickness and jetlag.

Posted in: UpFront

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