7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Part 1)

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Do you sometimes feel lousy, sluggish and lethargic? Recently, I was telling myself, “Hey, I need to do something to better improve my mind-set and be more productive”.

One fine afternoon as I was walking past our in-house library shelf, a prominent book caught my eye, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. I picked it up and, deciding to step out of my comfort zone, started reading.

There are 3 parts to this book, and in this series of blog articles, we will be covering part 1. It speaks of the private victory that needs to be inculcated as a personal habit. Private victory means to have self-mastery in our personal life and to become independent with 3 pointers, the first of which is shown below.

  1. Be Proactive

Imagine 2 sales people, one of middle age who is only ever complaining about how tough it is to do sales today and how customers are ever demanding and always comparing prices. Moreover with the high cost of living, the stress level is overwhelming. His habit: always reactive.
The other, a young chap who understands and seeks to improve the situation by finding ways to gain more commission from his sales, in order to generate passive income to better provide for his family. His actions: always proactive.

Being the first guy is the easy way out, it requires less effort and all that is needed is to be negative and compliant. On the other hand, being the young chap requires the spending of countless hours to understand the customers, to propose solutions to upsell to them and research on the best options that can allow him to make passive income to the best of his abilities.

Responsibility – ‘response ability’ is the ability to choose your response. With this ability, the freedom to choose based on self-awareness, imagination, independent will and conscience, our proactive response will be determined.

Recently, taking over a key customer from the previous sales person, there were many gaps and unknowns such as:

  • No customer part number tag to manufacturer part number
  • No project names of existing orders
  • No project names of upcoming models
  • Uncertain about the allocation of the awarded parts.
  • No annual usage
  • No account plan

Two options were available, to sit there and complain about the missing information and put the blame on everyone else who is and was involved for not doing a good job, or to take the initiative to go to the customer and fill up the gaps and missing information.
Coming up with a proactive plan in mind to understand the customer, giving customers the assurance and security that we are interested in their business and to provide the best support that they can get, is the game plan.
It is not an easy path, but the rewards will be reaped after we sow the seeds.

Finally, I will leave you with some food for thought.

Stay tuned for the other 2 habits in my future blogs.

CLOUD IoT GATEWAY – The Smart Gateway for IoT Solutions

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The CLOUD IoT Gateway is designed to allow users to integrate their existing systems into the cloud. Machines and physical infrastructures can now be connected to the digital world. This will allow users to implement applications such as big data, condition monitoring and comprehensive data analysis. With protocols such as Modbus/TCP supported, the IoT gateway enables an easy process of connection.  No additional engineering software is required as the parameter configuration can be easily carried out at the gateway using web-based management.

Key benefits to users

  • Direct connection to the cloud for data analysis
  • No learning of new software – configuration is done via web-based management
  • Existing devices with Modbus/TCP can be connected to cloud
  • Robust hardware for usage in industrial environment
  • Secured transmission using TLS encryption (Transport Layer Security)

Interested to see how this works? Feel free to request a demonstration from us by filling up the form below!

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Marking Materials for Solar Photovoltaic Application

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With the implementation of large scale solar projects in Malaysia, there are more and more inquiries on special marking materials for cable marking, equipment marking, and plant marking that can withstand long hours of sunlight and harsh environments.

If you ever come across such a request from the project consultants or clients, Phoenix Contact marking materials are what you are looking for. We have various product offers that are UV-resistant and weather resistant, ranging from stainless steel to aluminium to high-quality thermoplastic polyether urethane.

Here are two examples of solar cable markers with different types of printing methods.

1) Stainless Steel and Aluminium markers:

Phoenix Contact LS-WMTB product range is available in stainless steel (V4A) or aluminium. It provides simple and fast installation with cable binders. This marker is suitable for the most demanding industrial requirements because it not only fulfils the harsh requirement in the solar industry, but it can also be applied in areas that require high resistance against salt water, chloride, and solvents.

With the use of modern laser technology, it creates highly resistant and permanent markings on these markers.

Examples of stainless steel cable markers

2) Polyether Urethane (PUR) markers:

An example of a polyether urethane cable label

An example of a polyether urethane cable label

Phoenix Contact WMTB HF range of product is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. It is made of high-quality thermoplastic polyether urethane, halogen-free and flame-retardant material, with high tensile strength that is able to adapt to the bending of the cable conductors.

WMTB HF comes with an exciting selection of colours, from the commonly-used white, to yellow, red, blue, and green. Unlike the stainless steel marker, WMTB HF is printed using thermal transfer technology.

Other than the marking materials, Phoenix Contact also offers UV-resistant cable ties that work with the markers, as well as high quality printers with laser and thermal transfer technology. Please feel free to contact the Phoenix Contact sales team if you wish to know more about these products.

OPC_UA SERVER for PC WORX-based Controllers

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Dynamic market changes make it necessary to solve automation tasks in line with Industry 4.0. The objective is always to produce more efficiently and intelligently. Uniform protocols, rules, and standards for communication are required to intelligently link machines and system components.

In the past, it was a very challenging task for any engineer to setup, access or share OPC classic remotely in a network but that has changed now, with Phoenix Contact’s OPC_UA Server.

The PC WORX UA SERVER from Phoenix Contact enables you to access all variables of PC WORX programmable controllers via the OPC_UA (Unified Architecture) standardized communication protocol.

Fig 1: System architecture with OPC_UA

Fig 1: System architecture with OPC_UA

Why you should switch to OPC_UA

The OPC Unified Architecture Standard, OPC_UA, is being adopted more widely across the market as the new market standard and provides the basis for open and standardized communication in the digital future.

OPC_UA Server capability:

  • Handle up to 200 controllers in a visualization or production control system
  • Variables are mapped via the standardized PLCopen profile
  • The OPC_UA server uses the binary protocol for communication, resulting in high data transmission speeds
  • A security concept based on certificates protects against unauthorized access
  • Status & Quality of connection for each individual items
Fig 2: OPC_UA VS OPC Classic

Fig 2: OPC_UA VS OPC Classic

In the end, the key feature that makes OPC_UA server the backbone for any IIOT system that uses PLCopen profile would be the fact that it allows customers to build extremely fast web/cloud base visualization even without a need to pay additional costs for licensing.

Fig 3 & Fig 4: Web/Cloud Visualization of data from monitoring a mini solar cell via OPC_UA

Process Infrastructure – Ethernet HART Multiplexer

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Process infrastructure is one of the most critical parts of a refinery plant or offshore platform. The topology of modern process infrastructure includes FOUNDATION Fieldbus, Profibus PA, WirelessHart and HART Multiplexer etc.

HART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer) is the most broadly supported protocol in the world for process industry as there are 40 Million HART devices being installed worldwide. But according to records, only 10% of these HART devices are connect to HART compatible control systems. End user should expand the use of HART devices in order to perform specialized operations like:

  • Asset Management
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Data Logging
  • Partial-stroke Testing

Benefits of HART

Problems of Conventional Serial HART Multiplexers:

  • Slow scanning time due to large quantities of I/Os in the network
  • Limitation of RS485’s transmission speed
  • Work based on “Master and Slave” principle

Above are some of the challenges faced when using a conventional RS485 Hart Multiplexer and they will become worse if there are more than 1000 devices. Ethernet Multiplexer can solve this problem as featured below.

Fig 1: Ethernet Hart Multiplexer

Fig 1: Ethernet Hart Multiplexer

Ethernet Multiplexer Features and Benefits:

  • Works with existing standard IP infrastructure
  • Supports higher communication speed up to 1GB/s
  • Easy integration into Ethernet based Host system without additional conversion
  • Provides faster start up and device configuration
  • Flexibility in network design like redundant Ethernet
Fig 2: Hart IP Network Overview

Fig 2: Hart IP Network Overview

If you need any technical advice on your current project, feel free to contact us or drop us a feedback below. I believe we can be your trusted partner to provide suitable solution to fit your application!

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PLC Logic – The Better Smart Relay

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There are numerous smart relays in the market but PLC Logic is perhaps the only one that can have both control and monitoring capabilities while linked to an Apple iPad. This is done by using Bluetooth dongle, which turns the PLC Logic into a modern wireless control system.  The range of Bluetooth devices is 100 meters with unobstructed line of sight and this translates to a lot of cost savings for applications that require control and monitoring remotely without the need to spend money for installation of communication devices and cable installation. The best thing is that the app is free from the Appstore. An additional plus point is that the interface looks really cool and clean, similar to what you can expect from an Apple Interface.

The PLC Logic also has versatile communication options to any higher level control system. It can support protocols such as PROFIBUS RS-232 RS-485 Modbus/TCP DeviceNet™ CANopen® PROFINET EtherNet/IP™ with just a change of gateway. With so many protocol options, there is no need to worry if the PLC Logic can support any higher level controller in the market.

One of the advantages PLC Logic has over the many smart relays in the market is that the relays are pluggable and replaceable. This solves the problem of the need to change the whole smart relay module in the event of a faulty relay. This translates to lower replacement cost. More importantly, downtime is greatly reduced and one just needs to change a relay instead of reprogramming the smart relay if the unfortunate relay gets faulty.

Another game changer in the smart relay market is that the analogue cards, both input and output, can be inserted as part of the main PLC Logic module without the need to attach a separate analogue module. This translates into cost savings as well as space savings. The analogue card supports both mA and V in full ranges. Besides that, there is also an analogue input card that supports PT100 or PT1000 sensor.

Last but not least, the PLC Logic comes with an option of full Push In connection technology. This can be found on the PLC Logic controller itself as well as all the corresponding relays that can be supported. The advantage of Push In is evident in applications that are prone to vibrations – you are well assured that none of the wires from the PLC Logic will be loosened.

Weight Loss

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Recently, the people that I know have been asking what actually happened to me. For some who have known me long enough, my weight previously almost hit the 100kg mark and now I am 79kg. What caused the tremendous loss of weight? Some ask if it is because of stress, if it is because of health issues. Some even ask if it is because I’m having a new girlfriend. Well, the actual answer is simple, I just want to look & feel good.

Slimming down is actually simple. There are actually 2 ways of slimming down, the conventional way and the simple way.

The simple way is what we have heard of in recent years, where you need to purchase certain slimming products and consume it. There are some products which claim that you can slim down without even doing workouts. This method usually will cost you a bomb and the results are sometimes uncertain.

The conventional way is rather what we have heard since the old days. This way is basically to exercise, practice diet control, etc. The conventional way is being known as the “hard way”, but this costs less and will take a lot of hard work.

Well, personally I choose the conventional way. The reason is very simple – I don’t want to spend much money on losing weight. I would rather spend the money elsewhere.

The first thing you need to do is to control your diet. You need to know what is the recommended daily calorie intake for a man/woman. Then, you need to know the estimated amount of calories of the food you consume. Bear in mind that most food manufacturers do state the calories/100g. If it is not stated or the food you consume is from your local hawker stall, you can actually search online as someone might have done research before. From there, you can do your own calculation on how much you consume every day. This method will usually allow you to just maintain your weight or maybe lose some of it.

Next up is the most important factor in losing weight. We must be clear on how much intake we have and ensure that these calories can be burned. Most of us who are working in the corporate world will have very limited movements daily. Hence, the amount of calories burnt is less than the calories consumed. Exercise is the way to burn calories & fats fast. Apart from burning calories, regular exercise makes you feel more energetic and young. Personally, I do only 2 sessions of exercise per week, 2 hours of basketball & futsal each. During the session, I personally set a target of the amount of calories to be burnt. If this target is not met, I will immediately find an alternative way to burn calories, for example, by jogging.

Finally, I think discipline is what makes it happen. We know that we need to control our diet and exercise but how many of us are able to do it consistently? We must remember we don’t get fat in one day and same goes for losing weight. All of us know what has to be done to lose weight but we are just not disciplined enough to do it consistently.

Teams and Team Dynamics

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Have you ever wondered why do teams exist?

Let us begin with the definition of the word “Team” as a noun.

“A number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest; a number of persons associated in some joint action.” (Dictionary.com)

Teams are present almost everywhere in this world that we are living in. We can see teams being formed in the work place, sports, games, social organizations, government etc.

No team is similar, as every team consists of members with different attributes and personalities. The difference lies in how the members of the team contribute to meet the goals and objectives set, in the most efficient manner. As there is no exact clone to every individual, members of the team have to understand one another’s strengths and weaknesses. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our peers, we will be able to make use of their individual skills strategically to work towards the objective. A good team would consist of members with different skillsets, say for example in a soccer team. If the whole team of 11 players is made up of strikers, no one will be on the field to defend the goal post, and neither there will be anyone to create chances for the strikers. This gives us an understanding on the importance of selecting the right people to join the team before anything else, to ensure that every member has a relevant skill that will help in one way or another in reaching for the team goal. Teams need a healthy mix of individuals to get things done, and know who is best suited for the tasks and how to best accomplish them.

With a group of individuals working towards a goal, is there be a need for someone to guide, nurture, and devise strategies for the members? The answer is a definite yes. This is where the role of a leader comes into place. The basic role of the leader will be to communicate and plan work for the members of the team, even before any actions are taken by the rest of the members. The leader will also have to motivate and guide the members, so that the members are passionate towards the work that they are doing, and also to stay on the correct track towards the team goal. There isn’t a single team without a leader, as there will be no co-ordination nor strategies implemented by the team, which will lead to problems, conflict, inefficiency, and in the worst case, not achieving the team’s target.

As a rule of thumb, a team’s setup is of utmost importance, and every member has to work effectively and dynamically in order to win. At Phoenix Contact, we collectively select the action steps our teams take, to unlock our full potential. Team goals have been identified before any member starts doing the work. Conflicts are avoided by development of plans and constant communication within the teams. Our team dynamics enhance productivity and accomplish goals, where everyone in the team talks and listens. Last but not least, we have reliable team leaders to lead the members and head towards our goals.

Let us all strive to work hard, and play hard, as both an individual and as well as a team. In the case of Phoenix Contact, to win as a team would be to win our customers’ trust.

CBM – Protecting Your Application

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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in manufacturing. The fundamental driving philosophy behind IIoT is to build smart machines. The emphasis is placed on the topic of big data, sensor information and communications.

With data captured across all processes, it has enabled companies to analyse and anticipate on inefficiencies and issues immediately, thus saving time and money.

Typically in a switching system, its core function is to control and switch various kinds of devices and machines.

What’s common to all of them is that the demands placed on the components are very high. When a machine is running 24/7, the chances of the machine breaking down is very likely. Hence, extra attention is needed to ensure availability of the machine operations. In any case of the machines breaking down, the operation must be restarted in the fastest possible time.

Phoenix Contact’s CBM electronic multichannel DC device circuit breakers offer extended protection against over load and short-circuit currents on the connected applications.

Thanks to the integrated nominal current wizard, setting the right nominal current for your loads is hassle-free!

The selected settings are locked electronically to prevent any risk of unintentional adjustment.

The integrated early preventative warning system ensures fewer failures.

In the event that 80% of the set nominal current of a channel is reached, a warning is indicated via the associated on board LED. Furthermore, the separate signal output can be used for remote signalling.

Thanks to the active current limitation, the upstream power supply can be used optimally. This enables the use of smaller switched-mode power supply units and prevents undesirable voltage dips.

So what are you waiting for?

Ensure that your operations are running continuously and without fault.

Sleep with ease tonight, every night.

Switch to our CBM Electronic Device Circuit Breaker!

Miniature Connectors

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Small yet high-powered connectors

Application specific and miniaturized connectors have come on rapidly. Fueling this rapid change is a combination of advances in technology. The control cabinets are getting smaller. This in turn reduces the available space for the devices and their boards. In addition, the functional density of devices is steadily increasing. Thus, PCB connectors must also be based on the new size specifications.

What we can offer

Phoenix Contact has launched two new 2.54 mm printed circuit board connectors: the FMC 0.5 and DFMC 0.5 connectors. It is designed to meet the miniature & quick connection requirement, boasting a compact plastic housing and push-in spring connection. The direct connection is possible for solid and flexible conductors with or without wire end ferrules. The wiring can be easily released without the aid of a screwdriver and the connectors can hold conductors with cross sections from 0.14 to 0.5 mm².

Figure 1. Low height profile – the FMC 0.5 connector family offers a push-in spring connection with spring opener.

This connector makes it ideal for designers who face the challenge of keeping up with the trend towards miniaturization.

The FMC 0.5 connector is a single-row connector with a height of only 5.4 mm whereas the DFMC 0.5 connector is a double-row connector with a low height of only 10.5 mm. Plugs in the same grid with push-in spring connection and spring openers that were previously available on the market were twice as high. Both connectors follow the trend of miniaturization – and the associated trend towards a high contact density in a small space.

It is designed for automated soldering processes (SMD and THR soldering processes). The two product families’ pin headers are made of LCP (liquid crystal polymer) plastic to withstand the high temperatures in the convection oven.

The applications for the two new connectors are extremely versatile. Possible target groups include measurement and control technology, automation technology and energy technology. Conceivable applications include controllers and inverters. The focus of the application areas is on industrial applications where signals are transmitted to the PCB.

Conclusion – the answer to new market requirements

The new FMC 0.5 and DFMC 0.5 plug connectors and the associated pin headers from Phoenix Contact meet the market requirements in the field of printed circuit board connection technology. Device manufacturers now get powerful connectors that require little space on the circuit board and in the device. For the end customer, the connectors also provide a quick, easy and convenient connection option. Processing in highly automated SMD processes is not a problem, and a gold-plated contact system provides additional security for the transmission of signals in industrial environments.

If you would like a sample board, or would like to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me via the form below!

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