Title
MPEB - Multi Purpose Electronic building Block for industrial automation
FPGA is the core for a very flexible Multi Purpose Electronic building Block
Technologies used

FPGA – Field Programmable Gate Array

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    333 Industrial Process Control Equipment
Abstract
MICROSYSTEMS is a small company with 10 employees, founded in 1985, whose turnover is about 900 KECU, that develops, manufactures and markets systems for data acquisition, equipment to control production and statistic processes, robotics and remote units for acoustic acquisition and monitoring. These products are utilised in industrial automation sectors mainly to allow the automation and optimisation of complex productive industrial processes.
They are based on electronic programmable units with microcontroller architecture, offering a high number of input and output gates, either analogue and digital, adaptable to whatever type of signals. The input signals are coming from external sensors and the output signals are commands for external actuators. All these functions are performed following a program that an operational terminal is able to set and execute. The program can reside permanently in the terminal or can be introduced by the operator through a keyboard or be sent to the terminal from a PC through a serial line.
The electronics developed for these applications is in large part unique, due to the changes in the hardware that are necessary to adapt it to the requirements of each new customer application. Hence main drawbacks for these Company’s products are in lack of flexibility as well as limited memory and I/Os expansion capability.
The Company delivers its systems to Italian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Systems Integrators.
The objective of this Application Experiment was the development of a compact multifunction low power module - named Multi Purpose Electronic building Block (MPEB) - to be utilised on a terminal unit for production data entry in Quality Control, Production Control and Statistical Process Control. This electronic board is currently implemented with a micro-controller and discrete components.
With the new solution, based on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and micro-controller, the I/O ports, counters and serial links are managed via FPGA while the functions can be modified by changing the firmware and re-configuring the whole board.
These improvements with new electronics generated an overall improvement for the final product, the terminal unit. The winning features of MICROSYSTEMS’ new industrial terminal reside, above all, in the ability to modify its operational configuration and in the possibility to easily interface the terminal to whatever customer’s I/O signal.
The new adopted technology enables an improving of the Company’s competitiveness thanks to the reduction of manufacturing costs of 165 ECU per piece if compared with the old solution based on standard parts. Considerable reduction of time to market when new solutions are required by the customers is achieved as well, thanks to the flexibility achieved with FPGA.
The expected sales improvement and cost saving assure high economic benefits.
The skills, developed by Company designers during the Application Experiment, have been already used in new projects where the flexibility and power of the FPGA have been effectively put into place.
The project, started on 01/11/96 and finished on 30/8/97, took 6 months of effective time.
The investment in the AE development was 38 KECU. The ROI is 300% over 4 years (typical product lifetime) and a payback period of 2 years is calculated.
The company learned to keep up with advanced technology to be competitive and moreover how to manage it.
Company

MICROSYSTEMS S.r.l.
Via Oldofredi, 41
20124 MILANO
ITALY


Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

FPGA technology provided MICROSYSTEMS S.r.l. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

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