New analog front-end provides the software-defined factory

16-11-2022 | NXP | Test & Measurement

NXP Semiconductors has released its new NXP analog front-end (N-AFE) family for high-precision data acquisition and condition monitoring systems for factory automation. Developed as software-configurable universal analog input devices, the new family enables the software-defined factory, making it simpler for operators to configure a smart factory and adjust settings based on shifting market demands.

As factories have become smarter over time, adapting to rapidly shifting market trends remains challenging, often needing large-scale equipment overhauls to reconfigure a factory to satisfy a new need. The addition of software-configurable components makes factory operators nimbler, allowing them to make changes quickly and easily to the factory floor to meet rapidly shifting trends.

“Software-defined factories are the next evolution of the Industry 4.0, and this software-configurable analog front-end family will help achieve that milestone,” said Jens Hinrichsen, executive vice president and general manager of Advanced Analog 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.”

Schneider Electric has worked closely with the company to include the N-AFE family in its industrial solutions. The single-chip solution lowered the hardware design complexity for the company, whose industrial customers gain 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 and Development, Digital Factory, at Schneider Electric. “NXP’s new analog front-end software configurability and high precision accelerate hardware design, improving 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 family of devices incorporates up to eight universal analog 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 highly accurate self-diagnostics to monitor factory conditions to ensure more consistent and repeatable product quality. The device also combines advanced diagnostics to lower factory downtime with predictive maintenance and anomaly detection, while its factory calibration and self-calibration features help lower test costs.

By Seb Springall