The annual National Instruments UK & Ireland Graphical System Design Achievement Awards celebrated engineering applications that have demonstrated groundbreaking solutions to some of the world’s most demanding engineering challenges, including a desktop Tokamak and an assistive control system for attendant-propelled wheelchairs.
Held at The Royal Academy of Engineering in the presence of Jeff Kodosky, National Instruments Co-founder and “Father of LabVIEW”, NI’s awards celebrated innovation and engineering excellence in the UK and Ireland.
This year’s Application of the Year Award was won by the winner of the Advanced Control Systems category, author Pawel Majecki, from Industrial Systems and Control (ISC) for his case study entitled Controlling 70-Ton Gripper Arms for Offshore Wind Turbine Construction Using LabVIEW and CompactRIO.
The construction of offshore wind farms requires steel monopiles measuring 75m long, 7m in diameter and weighing up to 700 tons to be driven into the seabed, forming the foundations of wind turbine towers. Powerful waves and sea currents make it very difficult to keep monopiles vertical in deep water, and inaccurate monopole installation is proving costly to the offshore industry. Majecki describes how ISC used NI CompactRIO and NI LabVIEW to develop an intuitive, reliable way to deploy, position and stow giant gripper arms in the sea to improve the accuracy of monopole installation. Because the system is software defined, ISC were able to rapidly iterate their control designs, moving from a blank sheet of paper to a fully deployed and tested system in just a few months. The 70-ton hydraulic, robotic, gripper arms that accurately install the monopiles are partially controlled by a joystick and touch panel interface, on a chest pack, worn by an operator. In addition to improved installation, the system’s advanced fault detection prevents operator injury and vessel or monopile damage.
The following winning applications were also recognised for their engineering expertise using graphical system design:
- Energy: Using CompactRIO and LabVIEW to Monitor and Control a Compact Spherical Tokamak for Plasma Research by Tokamak Solutions
- Life Science: Testing and Validating Powered Attendant-Propelled Wheelchairs by University College London
- RF & Communications: Wireless Testbed Solution for Testing of Novel Future Generation Communications Systems by Heriot-Watt University
- Test & Measurement: High Throughput Testing of a Revolutionary Electronically Steerable Antennae by Phasor Solutions
- Transport: Aston Martin Race Engine Vibration Analysis by Computer Controlled Solutions
- Special Recognition: Graphical System Design in the Classroom: Leeds University
- Student Design: Artemis
- Autonomous Robotic Technology Enabling Minimally Invasive Surgery by The University of Manchester and The University of Leeds
To learn more about the 2013 NI UK & Ireland Graphical System Design Achievement Awards or to submit an entry to next year’s contest, visit uk.ni.com/gsdawards.