Interview Tools that Accelerate Productivity,Innovation and Discovery
President, CEO and Co-founder, National Instruments (NI), Dr James Truchard, talks about the recent advancements in solutions presented by his company that will help engineers achieve the impossible, and how dreams are coming true for those willing to chase them.
PROCESS: How do you spot need gaps in the industry and bring about solutions that cater to them?
DR JAMES TRUCHARD: We are committed to expanding the vision of graphical system design by enhancing the underlying components of the platform. Today heterogeneous computing on a SoC is the latest technology for building systems and we wanted to bring the capabilities to our customer and hence the upgrade. Current challenges in the embedded and industrial markets include the pressure to simplify system complexity, a need to integrate current commercial technology, and the push to innovate quickly with shorter design cycles.
Our mission is to equip engineers and scientists with tools that increase productivity so they can deliver innovative solutions. Based on the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture, the new NI cRIO-9068 softwaredesigned controller directly addresses key challenges that are faced by embedded design and industrial control engineers. The power of this architecture is shown when LabVIEW system design software is used in combination with a processor, FPGA, and reconfigurable I/O. This will help meet any demanding embedded control and monitoring task without wasting development time and cost
An Outlook on the Oil and Gas Sector
PROCESS: What are your latest upstream, mid stream and downstream solutions for the oil & gas sector?
TRUCHARD: Today, the worldwide oil and gas market is looking at technology to meet the needs for energy security, environmental and operational protection, improved installed system efficiency, distribution system reliability and control, economic growth, and clean energy technologies.
For upstream solutions, the NI PACs deliver small footprints, extended temperature and vibration operation ranges. Furthermore, it allows the necessary flexibility to meet a variety of application needs including a mudgas separator, cement analyzer, and a coil tube drilling control.
For midstream solutions, NI distributed data acquisition systems, supervisory control, and automation software platforms deliver a higher-level monitoring system. For downstream solutions, NI combines the technology to integrate legacy instrumentation, the widest array of processes and the complexity of oil and gas reining into one seamless platform across applications including distributed SCADA systems, sub-sea ROV control, and pipeline monitoring.
PROCESS: How did the concept of Planet NI come about? How has this program enabled engineers in India?
TRUCHARD: The mission of Planet NI is to empower engineers in emerging countries to achieve sustainable prosperity by providing increased access to NI technology. The program focuses on nurturing local innovation through partnerships and supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs, and organizations building solutions that can contribute locally to the prosperity and sustainable development of emerging nations.
As an example, in India, every day, dairy processors are challenged with transporting milk between millions of individual farmers in villages and central processing facilities in distant cities. They rely on twice-a-day collections of warm milk, which results in high transportation costs and frequent spoilage. Planet NI program helped Promethean power systems come up with an innovative milk chilling system, which reduces milk spoilage in rural India. Through the program, we saw the opportunity to help with a project that has a significant social and environmental impact.
Technical Education – Hands on Experience Needed?
PROCESS: Does the company have alliances within the education system to make the academic institutions aware of the current scenario in the market?
TRUCHARD: A common problem in engineering education is that students can see engineering marvels, such as SpaceX launching rockets to space and CERN creating the world’s largest particle accelerator, but most never get exposed to how they work or have the opportunity to build one of their own. At NI, we give educators the tools that make it possible for students to do engineering. Using industry-standard technology in a portable form factor, students can explore a variety of engineering concepts that scale to real-world projects. In India, NI works with institutes like IIT-Madras, IIT-Rajasthan and prominent tier 1 engineering colleges to implement this.