NXP analogue front-end enables the software-defined factory
NXP Semiconductors is aiming the NXP analogue front-end (N-AFE) family at high-precision data acquisition and condition monitoring systems for factory automation. Designed as software-configurable universal analogue input devices, the N-AFE family helps enable the software-defined factory, making it easier for operators to configure a smart factory and adjust settings based on shifting market needs.
Even as factories have become smarter over time, adapting to rapidly shifting market trends has remained a challenge, often requiring large-scale equipment overhauls to reconfigure a factory to meet a new need. The addition of software-configurable components allows factory operators to be more nimble, enabling them to more quickly and easily make changes to the factory floor to address rapidly shifting trends, said NXP.
Software-defined factories are the next evolution of the Industry 4.0, and this software-configurable analogue front-end family will help achieve that milestone, said Jens Hinrichsen, executive vice-president and general manager of advanced analogue at NXP. By combining configurability with enhanced accuracy and precision for improved product quality, as well as advanced diagnostics to identify issues before they occur to reduce downtime, this device enables a new era of the smart factory, he claimed.
Schneider Electric has worked closely with NXP to incorporate the N-AFE family into its industrial solutions. The single-chip N-AFE solution helps to reduce the complexity of hardware design for the company, whose industrial customers benefit from the software configurability delivered by the N-AFE.
“The impact of a software-defined factory, both in terms of productivity and overall costs saved, is immeasurable,” said Ralf Neubert, vice-president, research & development, digital factory, at Schneider Electric. “NXP’s new analogue front-end software configurability and high precision accelerate hardware design improve time to market. The N-AFE family enables flexibility in our designs to allow our customers to quickly respond to market trends, but more importantly, it also helps to reduce unplanned downtime, enabling a more productive factory overall.”
The N-AFE family of devices integrates up to eight universal analogue inputs at a lower system cost for data acquisition systems in factory and process automation. It combines signal chain protection, precision amplification and high-speed data conversion, filters and self-diagnostics to monitor factory conditions, helping to ensure a more consistent and repeatable quality of product. The device also integrates additional advanced diagnostics to reduce factory downtime with predictive maintenance and anomaly detection, while its factory calibration and self-calibration features help reduce test costs, it said.
The addition of the N-AFE analogue front-end family of devices brings new analogue capabilities to NXP’s portfolio targeting industrial applications. Combined with NXP’s MCU and power management portfolios, including devices such as the i.MX RT1180 high-performance crossover MCU and PF5020 and PCA9460 power management ICs (PMICs), the N-AFE devices expand the industrial system solution offering.