Transition to Electronic Automation Draws Attention

Oct. 30, 2013
Freescale Semiconductor announces plans to expand its analog portfolio with an eye toward the industrial automation market.

Having followed the industrial automation market for more than a decade, one of the most surprising things I have seen in that time is how well the industry bounced back from the economic plunge of 2008-2009. While nearly all other industries remained stagnant or grew very little in the years following the start of the “Great Recession”, the industrial automation market rebounded very quickly. In fact, some players in that industry were back to their 2007 levels of revenues—or higher—by late 2009 or early 2010.

Granted, this ability of the industrial automation sector to rebound so quickly was due to China’s continuing manufacturing surge while the West faltered and then by the Western manufacturing renaissance of the past two years. Underlying both of these factors was a transition from the use of mechanical technologies to electronic automation. The newer factories in China were focused on buying these new, highly efficient and cost-effective electronic automation technologies just as the Western brownfield plants were looking to these same technologies to modernize their decades-old facilities.

This move in technology adoption continues to impact the market, as can been seen in Freescale’s recent decision to expand its analog portfolio for the industrial market.

Freescale’s expanded industrial analog portfolio targets applications including factory automation systems, industrial networking power management equipment, portable medical products, smart home and building control, as well as energy storage systems.

Freescale’s analog offerings for these markets include:
• System basis chips which feature integrated functional safety, power management efficiency and connectivity;
• Battery management sensors with signal measurement and ultra-low-power capabilities for mission-critical applications;
• Power drivers with high thermal efficiency for high-current drive applications in brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as solenoid drive profiles in dynamic load environments; and
• Power switches for dense, high-current I/O switching applications requiring space efficiency, diagnostics and comprehensive fault management capabilities.

Underscoring its analog products suitability for the industrial market, Freescale cites its products’ functional safety characteristics, as well as their longevity. Freescale’s SafeAssure functional safety program is reportedly designed to help system manufacturers achieve system compliance with functional safety standards for automotive and industrial markets including ISO 26262 and IEC 61508.

As for longevity, the company claims that 95 percent of its analog products for industrial use are included in Freescale’s product longevity program, which “provides assurance of supply for a minimum of 10 or 15 years from the time of launch.”

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