Crowd-pleasing control hardware in action at NIDay 2012

If you didn’t make it to National Instruments Graphical System Design Conference on 20th November in London, then you missed out on a great event packed with presentations, interactive sessions taught by NI experts, hands-on workshops, and exhibitions of the latest advancements in design, control and test. In the Academic Zone, Adept and Quanser welcomed many new and familiar faces to their stand and had great fun engaging and impressing visitors by inviting them to take control of the 2 DOF Helicopter experiment. Quanser experts also ran several well-attended hour-long hands-on technical sessions that demonstrated how to design and implement control algorithms using LabVIEW.

Adept’s own Quanser Product Manager, Lilly Northrop, was also excited to hear about some interesting projects and new 21st Century system design technologies from NI outlined during the keynote addresses from President, CEO and Cofounder of NI, Dr. James Truchard and guest speaker Dr. Robert Mullins, Co-Founder and Trustee of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

See what you missed at the recent NI Day and download free presentations from NIDays2012.

The Great Adept Bake Off for Children in Need

For the past few weeks, Adept Scientific has been holding various activities and competitions to raise funds for Children in Need 2012 (you can read about our Halloween efforts here).


Last Thursday, we held the Great Adept Bake Off, which invited aspiring culinarians to submit their wares to our in-house judges for anonymous taste testing.




There were many great entries, but the prize (a copy of the Great British Bake Off Showstoppers recipe book) was awarded jointly to Spiced Pumpkin Slice and Baking in Need:




Baking from all entries was then sold off for charity, and in addition to the penny tower, Adept Scientific raised a grand total of £446.12 for Children in Need.


Did you do any fundraising activities for Children in Need this year? What was your grand total?

Adept Scientific Tricks and Treats for Children in Need

This month, Adept Scientific is focusing its social activities on fundraising for Children in Need. We’ve already held a Halloween-themed day that included apple bobbing, costume and pumpkin carving competitions, with all proceeds going to the BBC charity.


apple bobbing

Winning costumes (adult and child)

winning pumpkin

Adept logo spider!

Mort, the marketing pumpkin

Paul Bragg

Towards the end of next week, we’ll be ramping up our fundraising efforts with the Great Adept Bake-Off – an opportunity for colleagues to show off their flair for flans, passion for puff pastry, capacity for canapés (you get the picture) – the outcome of which will be gastronomically adjudicated by our very own version of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood in a blind taste-test. All subsequent funds raised for entrance fee and bake sale will go to Children in Need. Subscribe to our blog and be the first to see the results!


Is your organisation running an interesting event for charity this month? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Count on SPC to deliver competitive advantage on World Quality Day 2012

NWA Quality Analyst® is the SPC software at the heart of many successful quality management, Six Sigma, or Continuous Process Improvement programs. Faced with mounting pressure to reduce costs, achieve higher quality levels, and meet more stringent customer and regulatory requirements, more and more manufacturers are turning to NWA Quality Analyst to deliver the complete analytics capabilities that turn manufacturing data into valuable, actionable information capable of developing competitive advantage – the theme for this year’s World Quality Week.

Each day, companies use NWA software to reduce operating costs, increase productivity and profits by:

• Increasing process efficiency and improving product quality;
• Understanding and improving process operations;
• Improving enterprise-wide communication and decision-making;
• Demonstrating compliance with customer and regulatory quality requirements.

Read how Crown Cork and Seal Co. Inc used NWA Quality Analyst and Quality Monitor to stay ahead in the competitive container manufacturing industry. These tools helped them monitor and maintain product consistency and quality, as well as reduce costs. Read case study.

Learn more about Northwest Analytics range of SPC software solutions

Management should lead the way in more efficient food manufacture

There was plenty of food for thought for delegates who attended the Improving Efficiency in Food Manufacturing event, which took place in Chipping Campden on Thursday 18th October. There was a great deal of discussion and exchange of ideas for implementing lean principles, as well as an emphasis on the importance of complete and total commitment to process improvement and monitoring.

A key point was the role management should play in the whole process improvement strategy. A profound knowledge of the product, the processes and what makes the company tick is imperative for enlightened and successful leadership – that means you don’t make a statement or make a move without the data to back it up. Management must take the time to assess the current situation and find out where the inefficiencies are before formulating plans for improvement. Following on from this theme, The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) gave a lively presentation which was reminiscent of the lectures led by the late, great quality guru, W. Edwards Deming.

Visual Development of Embedded Systems at TI Technology Day

On the 4th September, Adept took part in a Texas Instruments (TI) Technology Day to introduce design engineers to model-based development of embedded control systems for TI microcontrollers using VisSim – a tool endorsed by TI for Digital Motor Control applications.

Our maths and simulation software applications specialist, Surak Perera, delivered a workshop that demonstrated field-oriented-control with VisSim, using an algorithm that is automatically generated from the system schematic for fast execution. (See diagram below)

VisSim allows a higher level of abstraction than traditional C programming, giving design engineers a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the maze that C-code can seem like at times. Judging by the positive response from engineers on the day, VisSim/ECD has hit the spot with regards to enabling analogue engineers to easily migrate to embedded controls.

Control engineers can use system level modelling in VisSim to test out algorithms with virtual or hardware-in-loop plants/controllers and optimise performance before generating the code to the embedded processor. This can drastically shorten the development cycle. What’s more VisSim code-generation is now of such a high quality that it is within 4% of expert hand coded C+ assembler.

Why not watch a related video showing Pete Darnell, Visual Solutions’ CEO, explain live at TI Design West how VisSim/Embedded Controls Developer (ECD) provides full support to program motor controls entirely graphically with no C-code whatsoever and quickly debug and change parameters on the fly? Click here to view the video online.

Keeping it real at Control 2012

Quanser is committed to providing practical, hands-on control learning tools, so when we set up the Adept/Quanser stand at this year’s UKACC International Conference on Control, we didn’t just want to offer the standard literature and brochures. We made sure our display stood out and gave visitors real-life working experiments to get their hands on, including Quanser’s Rotary Inverted Pendulum and Active Suspension system for teaching and research.

You can see the Inverted Pendulum in action at the event by viewing our short video here:

The 3-day conference brought together key contacts involved in teaching or researching engineering control. It offered a unique forum for sharing findings, comparing notes and networking with peers about new ways to enrich learning or advance research projects.

According to delegates, not surprisingly, the biggest issue among the academic and research community is lack of funding. They said, it’s easy to see the teaching merits of hands-on equipment, but blatant benefits won’t magic up extra money! Even if different departments join forces (and funds) with a view to creating multi-disciplinary control labs, not all equipment is flexible enough to work across curriculums, for students and researchers alike.

This is where Quanser’s building block approach comes into its own. Quanser’s family of modular Rotary Servo experiments allows professors to build their lab in stages, buying new equipment as and when funding is available. With over 30 labs to choose from, teachers can mix and match components to gain a multi-tasking facility capable of demonstrating control concepts from the most fundamental to the most advanced. What’s more Quanser hardware is future-proof, which means inevitable software upgrades won’t result in redundancy and replacement of your equipment. The inclusion of read-made curriculums with every experiment caused keen interest among time-pressed teachers looking for guidance and support to accelerate and simplify course planning.

It was great to see that Quanser’s offering fits perfectly with the needs and challenges control teachers and researchers face today.

2012 Olympic Torch Comes to Letchworth, home of Adept Scientific

As a long established Letchworth-based business, Adept Scientific was quite pleased to discover that the Olympic torch was scheduled to pay a visit to our humble town over the weekend.

Anna French, Marketing Director at Adept, captured this moment during which inspirational torchbearer Tony Tillbrooke held the flame aloft to the delight of onlookers in the heart of Letchworth Garden City this past Sunday:

Tony Tillbrooke

Have you taken part in any pre-Olympic festivities? We’d love to hear your stories.


EndNote customer close-up ahead of X6 & ipad app launch

Last week, Adept’s bibliographic software expert, Stephanie Marshall, travelled around the country with Tilla Edmunds, Product Manager at Thomson Reuters, to hold a series of ultra successful software user meetings. These unique EndNote VIP events (which happen no where else in the world) provide key UK customers in education with a chance to talk to Thomson face-to-face and exchange knowledge. We wanted to bring our roadshow within easy reach of attendees, so we held our meetings at key cities across the country, including Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol and London. We were pleased to see both new and familiar faces.

Participants got a sneak preview of brand-new EndNote X6 ahead of its official public launch later this summer. They were keen to see the inclusion of a new Sync button to quickly, easily and automatically synchronise desktop and web-based libraries, as well as new record read/unread status indicators and the ability to rate favourite or frequently-used references.

Attendees also got a first look at the keenly awaited EndNote ipad app due out in the autumn to coincide with the planned EndNote X6 Mac release. This new tool will complement EndNote on the desktop by putting on-the-go PDF viewing, annotating and emailing capabilities at the disposal of ipad users. The app also enables users to add, edit, group, copy and email citations, as well as sync them with their EndNote Web account.

Adept and Thomson gained plenty of software feedback, as well as new insight into the needs of our bibliographic software customers in education and research, and the issues they face with maximising the use of EndNote/EndNote Web on campus. A rewarding and enlightening roadshow for all involved.

Start young & make science fun!

Recently at Adept, I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about the challenges of promoting and enhancing STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering & Maths) learning. This weekend, I did my bit to show fourteen 6-year olds that science really is fun and very relevant to everyday life. But I’m not talking lab coats and lectures, rather a Sublime Science party to celebrate my son’s 6th birthday!

Our Sublime Science presenter, ‘Biohazard Ben’, arrived at our home armed with all kinds of equipment and concoctions to engage and excite kids. And for the next few hours my son’s friends were kept busy making slime, sherbet, smoke bubbles, soda rockets and more. They learnt how vibrations make sound, how Bernoulli’s Principle can be used to inflate a long silk tube fast, how rockets work thanks to Newton’s three laws, and took part in a tornado relay race! Without really realising it, every child had the chance to put science and physics theories into practice, and have a great time doing it!

During the party, I couldn’t help but think about my dad who was a secondary school science teacher for 30-odd years. Even back then, trying to teach and inspire children with varying abilities was a challenge to say the least. I’ve seen him bulk buy Airfix model aircraft to build with his class in a bid to impart theories about aerodynamics! It just goes to show the challenge of teaching STEM subjects isn’t exactly a new problem.

My son now tells me he wants to be a scientist or geologist. And while he’s got plenty of time yet to decide on his career, I’m pleased his science party might have inspired him or one of his classmates to take up a lab coat or hard hat in the future.

Creating tornados