An Industrial Jaunt

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



COVID is starting to become an afterthought and not a moment too soon.

I say starting because it’s still very much a tangible concern – I haven’t flown for several years now, and I still get a bit antsy around large crowds. Force of habit, I suppose.

But the numbers look good – in my home state of New Jersey, the 7-day average stands at 670-849 confirmed cases, waaaaay down from the recent high of 31,000 in January.

We’re making progress, and with any luck, we’ll bite and crawl to some sense of normalcy soon.

And speaking of normal, our nation’s industrial apparatus is back to business as usual (for the most part), and aside from one particular aspect, which I’ll get to in a bit, it’s weathered the coronavirus surprisingly well.

April’s issue deals with Industrial Applications, and I’d like to highlight three particular articles.

First off, Texas Instruments covers a multilayered subject and one of the hardest-hit industries during COVID.

In “Automotive and industrial functional safety E/E system design – what does it mean for semiconductor ICs?,” TI’s Martin Staebler, Toshio Yamanaka, and Arun T. Vemuri note how as industrial and automotive electrical and electronic (E/E) systems become more autonomous and complex, the need for these systems to perform the intended functionality safely i.e., without causing hazards, is becoming important – hence the idea of “functional safety.”

“Semiconductor ICs play a key role in the design of functionally safe industrial and automotive E/E systems,” write the trio, and “it is possible for a particular semiconductor component to be used in either automotive or industrial systems functional safety subfunction design.”

Over at XP Power, Gary Bocock focuses on a very different topic with “Low level Imaging Needs Low Noise, High Stability Electronics.”

Gary muses how capturing images in low-light conditions presents a major issue, and that specialized detectors using avalanche photodiodes (APDs), microchannel plates (MCPs) and photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) are used for demanding professional applications like radiation detection, spectroscopy, laser rangefinders, night vision, blood analyzers, positron emission tomography, long-range fiber-optic telecommunication, and more.

Finally, Lee Bourns, with Bourns, delves into some of the hidden issues with industrial applications that an optimal environment may partially obscure.

“Behind the scenes, industrial applications frequently connect to large motors, high-power heaters, a complex lighting infrastructure and a host of other heavy electrical loads that, when switched, can cause the equivalent of mini-lightning surges on power and communication lines,” he says.

And as Lee points out, many of today’s industrial sensors and communication / control ports may not be designed to protect sensitive core electronic circuits.

Best Regards,

Jason Lomberg

North American Editor, PSD