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New 3D Measurement Tool from IFM
Ken Brey

New 3D Measurement Tool from IFM

I saw an amazing new 3d vision tool at the Robot and Vision Show today. It is the IFM Defector PMD 3DD. This device is a 64X48 pixel distance sensor. It operates by the time of flight principle. A pulse of light infra-red light is emitted by the device which bounces off of an object in the field of view and returns to the device through a lens. Each pixel measures the time required for the light to make the round trip. By this way, it produces a 3D image of the object in front of it. ...

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NI RF and Communications Technology Forum
Brent Hoerman

NI RF and Communications Technology Forum

On June 2, 2009, I attended National Instruments' RF and Communications Technology Forum held in Schaumberg, IL. It was a very interesting, quick moving 4 hours.  Highlights Watching a demo of using voice to text with LabVIEW quick drop to program using voice commands (Look, Mom, no hands!). For more info see this LAVA posting. Comparing the PXI platform to the iPhone and LabVIEW RF modules to the AppStore. For more info, see the presentation on "Defining an Open RF P...

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Teaching Robots to Love - Programming a Roomba
Danny Budzinski

Teaching Robots to Love - Programming a Roomba

This is the first entry in a multi-part blog about a home project programming a Roomba robot. A few weeks ago, I was coerced by my girlfriend into buying one of those silly "floor cleaning robots". Yes, I mean a Roomba. I was skeptical, but I sat down and did some research.  Little did I know that while I had been slaving away religiously vacuuming my own floors (ok, occasionally vacuuming my own floors…) since the first Roomba came out in 2002, the makers at iRobot h...

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 Customer Service Fundamentals - Part III
Frank Riordan

Customer Service Fundamentals - Part III

This is the third of five postings on our Customer Service Fundamentals. The topic is Be Nice! The previous posting can be found here and here. Be Nice. It is something that everyone is taught from an early age but that not everyone practices consistently. We view it to be a superset of the Golden Rule - of course, we want to treat others the way we want to be treated. And, we also hope that we can treat them the way they want to be treated (sometimes referred to as the Platinum Rule). ...

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Spotlight: Two 3D Scanner tools
Ken Brey

Spotlight: Two 3D Scanner tools

Purpose-built 3D scanning tools are an exciting new development in machine vision. People have been building their own 3D scanners for years with cameras and line lasers. Now, a couple of integrated and factory-calibrated units are on the market which offer a great head-start to a successful 3D scanning application. SICK | IVP Ruler E The SICK | IVP Ruler E is the integrated and calibrated version of the Sick Ranger product line. Specs: 13 varieties available 15...

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DMC featured in Fermilab newsletter from National Instruments
Darren Jones

DMC featured in Fermilab newsletter from National Instruments

Underscoring DMC's successes with National Instruments and the US Department of Energy, the Fermilab newsletter from NI featured DMC's work in electrochemical storage test systems at the Argonne National Laboratory. "Internationally recognized as a world-class center for research and development on lithium batteries, Argonne is one of North America’s most-capable facilities for the independent evaluation of emerging green technologies, such as battery and fuel cell systems....

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Kevin Johnson of ILF Visits DMC for the Week
Kristie Simon Shea

Kevin Johnson of ILF Visits DMC for the Week

During this past week, DMC had the opportunity to work with Kevin Johnson of ILF Technologies at the DMC office. ILF, located in Romeoville, IL, produces web finishing products for the printing and converting industries. The machine we are currently working on is a new Sheeter which runs on Siemens' SIMOTION platform. Kevin is intimately familiar with the functionality of the existing Sheeters and he has solid knowledge of the existing code base. In order to be most efficient and provi...

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Schneider Electric's Energy Management Seminar
Nick Shea

Schneider Electric's Energy Management Seminar

Yesterday, I attended the 2009 Energy Management Seminar presented by Schneider Electric. The seminar focused on strategies and technologies to monitor and improve energy efficiency. The keynote speaker, Peter Garforth, made a compelling case for energy productivity as a profitable business opportunity. Some highlights of his presentation were: Only 30% of energy generated is actually sold as electricity. The rest is wasted heat. We use less than 10% of the energy we pay for. "Lo...

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DMC-Sponsored Northwestern Design Competition a Success!
Jody Koplo

DMC-Sponsored Northwestern Design Competition a Success!

DMC sponsored Northwestern University's Design Competition once again this year and the turnout and competition were once again amazing. What Went Down? The competition included 12 fully autonomous robots competing head-to-head in a challenge that involved scooping up balls and tossing them into another robot's playing field to score points. Aspects of this competition required finding balls, detecting their color, and all of the logic and sensors required to maneuver a robot ar...

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Solar Panel Project Featured in Design World
Frank Riordan

Solar Panel Project Featured in Design World

A Solar Panel Assembly Project that DMC recently completed was the basis for a feature article in Design World Magazine. The article can be found here. DMC provided controls engineering and programming services for a company that makes machines that are used in photovoltaic production facilities. The system developed utilized a Siemens 317T Controller which provided both discrete control as well multi-axis coordinated servo motion control. The customer benefits of the solution DMC devel...

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Customer Service Fundamentals - Part II
Frank Riordan

Customer Service Fundamentals - Part II

LISTEN! I previously wrote about our first Customer Service Fundamental - Always Remember the Importance of the Customer. Today I am going to write about our 2nd customer service fundamental - Listen. Until about a year ago I had never explicitly had any formal training or education on listening. Sure it was discussed and there was always the saying "you have one mouth and two ears" but, even if you're explicitly trying to not monopolize the conversation, you could be using a...

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DMC Attains Two New LabVIEW Certifications!
Darren Jones

DMC Attains Two New LabVIEW Certifications!

Congratulations to Eric Nielsen and Jesse Batsche on passing the certification exam to be LabVIEW Certified Associate Developers! They had the opportunity to take this exam at the National Instruments Developer Education Days event here in Chicagoland. Thanks to Jon Hildyard, Kalin Taskov, and Chris Weaver for leading the event and proctoring the exam. Eric and Jesse will be continuing this certification path this year along with other Engineers at DMC, as we will be pursuing both Certi...

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DMC Customer Service Fundamentals - Part I
Frank Riordan

DMC Customer Service Fundamentals - Part I

DMC has always had an implicit customer driven culture - a do whatever-it-takes attitude to deliver to our customers. There are countless examples of over and above effort - working through the night, marathon weeks (or sometimes months) to get a project delivered, hopping on a plane with moment's notice, etc.. As I've written previously, about a year ago, we started a drive to take our company's customer service level from really good to world class. This we discovered is an ongo...

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CSIA Annual Conference
Frank Riordan

CSIA Annual Conference

Last week I went to the CSIA Annual Conference in Naples, FL. CSIA, as I've blogged about before, is the Control System Integrators Association, the largest organization in North America for control system integrators. The venue for the event was beautiful - The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. Some of the major takeaways from the event include: Some great networking with many of DMC's partners, including Siemens, Yaskawa, Wonderware, ABB, and National Instruments. These face...

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Ultimate Question - Aim of Customer Service Excellence
Frank Riordan

Ultimate Question - Aim of Customer Service Excellence

DMC has been in business since 1996 and, until about a year ago, we never explicitly and regularly discussed customer service excellence. Of course, we discussed satisfying the customer and our Core Values, which were first documented several years ago and certainly underscore a customer driven culture. But, last year we took a more proactive approach. Some of the outcomes of our efforts can be seen in the About You Working With Us page of our web site. Another initiative we have taken is to ...

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PC-Based Controls vs Dedicated Controllers
David Simmons

PC-Based Controls vs Dedicated Controllers

Mike Bacidore over at ControlDesign.com has written an insightful article discussing the recent shift of many of their readers from using traditional PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) to using more powerful PACs (Programmable Automation Controllers). I believe this points to an overall industry trend towards customers wanting robust and reliable systems which are more intelligent, and able to transfer data easily from device to device. Mike also notes how a smaller number of his readers p...

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DMC Launches New Website
Matt Puskala

DMC Launches New Website

We've launched our new and improved website. We implemented our website in-house, so we have full control, allowing us to edit and add new content going forward. We decided to go with a CMS to make this easier. ASP.NET based Dot Net Nuke (DNN) was an obvious choice for us. Implementing the new website required efforts in many disciplines: graphic design and image editing, ASP.NET, CSS, html, marketing and writing. Needless to say, we've picked up a few new tricks along the way. Over t...

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DMC Exceeds CSIA Certification Benchmark
Brent Hoerman

DMC Exceeds CSIA Certification Benchmark

CSIA Certification - By maintaining Certification from the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), DMC demonstrates the best practices and knowledge in automation and integration in relevant industrial projects. DMC's audit score exceeded the benchmark for top CSIA integrators, reflecting our ability to provide successful, well-managed solutions through years of relevant industrial experience. For more info on CSIA visit: www.controlsys.org

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DMC Engineers Attend National Instruments Developer Day
Jesse Batsche

DMC Engineers Attend National Instruments Developer Day

On April 21, Eric Nielsen, Darren Jones, and I attended National Instruments LabVIEW Developer Day, an all day event which included intermediate and advanced LabVIEW training sessions, discussions of best practices for developing applications, and networking with other LabVIEW developers. In the morning I attended the LabVIEW Design Patterns seminar, which gave an overview of several “tried and true” programming structures that can be easily implemented in LabVIEW. State Machines,...

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DMC Braves the Elements for Shamrock Shuffle
Frank Riordan

DMC Braves the Elements for Shamrock Shuffle

On March 29th, in what might be described as an epic day for a "springtime" run in Chicago, Team DMC once again braved the elements for the 2009 Shamrock Shuffle, an 8K run in the city of Chicago with a course that weaves its way through downtown Chicago, starting and finishing in Grant Park. Although there was a ton of excitement over who would be the top finisher (it was Emmanuel Korir of Lansing, MI who finished with a time of 24:18) there were two other contests that were much m...

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