This is the story of an engineering breakthrough - a solution for our increasingly digital world - coming at just the right moment in time. The shift to digital monitoring and control has become so vital to manufacturing and processing that a new term had to be coined: Industry 4.0* Analog Devices’ designers, guided by years of close relationships with some of the world’s largest manufacturing and processing companies, recognized their need came down to a single word: Trust.
Let’s look the word up:
1. firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Like most people, you probably don’t think about the simple act of plugging the power cord of your electronic device into a wall socket. You trust that you won’t get an electric shock. You also trust the device being plugged in – no matter how sensitive – will not suffer any damage from an electrical spike, either. The component having the job of protecting us and our devices is called an isolator. Traditional isolators are basically a couple of coils of wire – called inductors – placed near each other. Power from the first coil, or inductor, is induced onto the second coil and passed to the device. (Okay, that’s enough physics for today. )
Traditional isolators are okay for protecting most home devices from spikes and noise, but they simply are not up to the task in modern factories and processing plants – electrically noisy places with dozens to hundreds of devices which must be monitored and controlled to keep things running at peak efficiency and capacity. Industry 4.0 incorporates standards for this digitally controlled factory. (If you’re curious, as I was, why it is numbered 4.0, see the footnote below.*) Attempts at protecting data as it passed around the factory floor - using just coils or light - had too many problems, including being too slow and, worst of all, being prone to losing data. Neither quality inspired trust.
Analog Devices’ patented Digital Isolator technology, developed early this century, solved all the problems of earlier coil- and light-based isolation solutions. Integrated into tiny, space-saving packages these low-power digital isolators, called iCoupler, really do pack a “protective” punch. With over 3.3 BILLION channels in use right now around the world - and no failures in its isolation barrier in the over 20 years of their existence - what better measure of trust in safety critical applications.
But the designers of iCoupler technology didn’t – couldn’t – stop there because down on the factory floor the need for isolation wasn’t just limited to data. All those digital monitoring and control devices also require reliable isolated power supplies. Much like the confidence you need when plugging in your home electronic devices, it is critical for power to manufacturing and process devices to be similarly free of glitches, spikes, and noise which can also interrupt – or worse, corrupt – data flow.
Recently ADI introduced three new iCoupler products which do for power and data together what iCouplers have already done for data – provide Trust. With ADI’s new ADuM6420A, ADuM6421A, and ADuM6422A designers developing monitoring and control equipment for high-noise environments could also pass power along with crystal clear data without having to worry over noise corrupting their system. Each device is feature-packed and has enough isolated power (with a bit to spare depending on temp & data rate) to power the isolated data circuitry within the chip. All in the same package, saving precious space to… well, add more channels. These small devices are fast and quiet, radiating almost no electrical emissions so they don’t add to the cacophony of factory-induced noise. Each one provides a distinct directionality for any application.
No other isolation provider can lay claim to having the trust of so many designers. No other isolation solution meets the safety standards of iCoupler. And no competing line provides such unparalleled data integrity. Analog Devices. Trusted, Safety, Integrity. For both data and power.
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* The First Industrial Revolution (late 1700s to early 1800s) was the evolution of manufacturing from labor performed by people to the use of steam and water-power. The Second Industrial Revolution (early 20th century) was the introduction of steel and use of electricity in factories. The Third Industrial Revolution (late 1950s) saw the beginning of electronic and computer technology into the manufacturing process. Industry 4.0 is our shorthand for the ability to access, monitor, and control devices digitally over the Internet.