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RS Components UK Ltd

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Interactive online micro-courses 25/03/2019

RS Components has partnered with sensors and connectivity expert, TE Connectivity, to launch the TE Learning Centre on DesignSpark, the global platform and community for design engineers. The courses will enable designers and engineers to obtain a fast overview of many advanced products, technologies and solutions.

Available at www.rs-online.com/designspark/te-learning-centre, the TE Learning Centre provides easy access to a host of interactive online micro-courses. Designed to accelerate engineers’ knowledge and understanding, the bite-sized sessions last between five and ten minutes long and provide information on a range of different technologies and applications, as well as offering several product-specific tutorials. In addition, available within each course are extra resources that enable engineers to go much deeper into a subject if they wish to do so.

The library of micro-courses already available in the TE Learning Centre includes tutorials on: pressure sensors; USB Type-C receptacles; micro-motor connectors; heat-shrink tubing; wire markers; straight and right-angle connectors; and circular hybrid connectors, among many others. The library will be augmented with new courses being added on a regular basis.

Commenting on the launch, Mike Bray, vice-president of DesignSpark, said: “We aim to give our audience access to the best new learning and training resources that will help them progress their designs. We’re delighted that TE Connectivity shares that vision and has chosen to work with us on the release of the TE Learning Centre on DesignSpark.”

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Fast deep-learning IoT development 15/04/2019

RS Components is shipping the recently launched Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 (Intel NCS 2) – a highly affordable small and fanless computer-vision and deep-neural-network (DNN) accelerator.

As well as for use by data scientists and academics, the device is ideal for a wide selection of developers and engineers looking at integrating computer-vision and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into their Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Available in the convenient USB form factor, the stick delivers high versatility for users, enabling deep-learning prototyping on a laptop or device with a USB interface.

Like its predecessor product – the Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick, which was launched in 2017 – the Intel NCS 2 is based on the Intel Movidius Vision Processing Unit (VPU). However, it deploys the latest version: the Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU, which has a dedicated hardware accelerator for DNN inference.

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Industrial frequency converters 22/02/2019

RS Components has introduced an innovative frequency converter from Rexroth that delivers potential energy savings of up to 80% across industrial and automation applications. The EFC 5610 intelligent variable-frequency drive is reported to enable manufacturers and other industrial businesses to tackle rising energy costs and increased demand for environmentally friendly production.

The EFC 5610 is a high-torque solution for special requirements and has a power range up to 160kW. Offering efficient vector control and providing an optimum torque curve with high starting torque, the product meets application demands for: logistics and material transport; conveyors; roller tables; processing systems including mixers, agitators and centrifuges; building material machinery; plastic production and processing machines; and machine tools.

The drive comes with a range of intelligent features, which include expansion options via I/O and fieldbus modules, a control panel with parameter copy function, an integrated Modbus interface for networking and an STO (Safe Torque Off) option to meet Cat. 4/PL e, SIL3 levels for application where safety is paramount.

Offering a high degree of flexibility with tailored functionality for various application and custom solutions, the converter features a compact and highly integrated design incorporating a range of components. This means less wiring effort is required, thus new installations and retrofits are straightforward. In addition, firmware and parameters can be updated easily via USB or Ethernet with free system commissioning software, such as the manufacturer’s ConverterWorks software. This tool runs on Windows-based PCs and enables the commission and remote control of the converters, making it easy to specify speeds and adjust parameters, along with start and stop control.

RS is now shipping all variants up to 7.5kW of the Rexroth EFC 5610 directly from stock in the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions.

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DesignSpark engineering community surpasses 750,000 members 19/02/2019

RS Components has announced that its DesignSpark online engineering community has grown to more than 750,000 members. DesignSpark was launched in 2010 to provide design engineers and students around the globe with free tools, resources and content to help them to remove barriers, save time and turn ideas into reality.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to every single member of the DesignSpark community,” said Mike Bray, vice president of DesignSpark. “There is a great feeling of togetherness within the community and it is great to see how engineers are able to support each other to achieve amazing things with the help of our tools and resources.

“Since day one, the aim of RS has been to give something back to the electronics industry through DesignSpark by providing free professional tools and resources for engineers around the world. We are proud to see the sustained rapid growth of DesignSpark and are committed to further enhancing our platform for the growing user base.”

During the nine years since it launched, RS has continued to improve the functionality and range of resources available through the DesignSpark ecosystem. This has resulted in a large increase in new members, with more than 35% of DesignSpark’s current membership having joined over the past two years.

Registering on DesignSpark is completely free of charge, with all members gaining instant access to:

•    DesignSpark PCB, a professional-grade schematic-capture and PCB design software package
•    DesignSpark Mechanical, an advanced 3D CAD tool based on direct modelling techniques
•    DesignSpark Electrical, a fully specified electrical CAD package for the design of control panel, machinery and electrical systems
•    PCB Part Library, a huge library of schematic symbols and PCB footprints, which are compatible for all leading PCB software packages including Altium, Zuken, Mentor Graphics, Cadence, Target, Pulsonix, Eagle and DesignSpark PCB
•    3D Model Library, thousands of 3D models available to use in CAD designs
•    DesignSpark Toolbox App, the must-have Android and iOS app for engineers, including 27 calculations tools, comparison tables, news, projects and much more
•    Zerynth Studio, the middleware for IoT, which enables the most popular 32-bit microcontrollers to be programmed in Python or C/Python and connect to the top cloud platforms
•    Obsolescence Manager, a tool enabling engineers and purchasing professionals to monitor and review the lifecycle status of products within a bill of materials and select alternatives

In addition to free tools and resources, DesignSpark provides a platform for members to share their projects and opinions, and connect with other engineers and students.

To celebrate this milestone of 750,000 members, DesignSpark ran a competition during January to win an engineering bundle worth more than £750, made up of products available from RS. The winner was DesignSpark member Nick Brown.

To find out more, or to join DesignSpark, visit: www.designspark.com.

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Delivering fast deep-learning IoT development 12/02/2019

RS Components is shipping the recently launched Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 (Intel NCS 2) – a highly affordable small and fanless computer-vision and deep-neural-network (DNN) accelerator.

As well as for use by data scientists and academics, the device is ideal for a wide selection of developers and engineers looking at integrating computer-vision and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into their Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Available in the convenient USB form factor, the stick delivers high versatility for users, enabling deep-learning prototyping on a laptop or device with a USB interface.

Like its predecessor product – the Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick, which was launched in 2017 – the Intel NCS 2 is based on the Intel Movidius Vision Processing Unit (VPU). However, it deploys the latest version: the Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU, which has a dedicated hardware accelerator for DNN inference.

The Intel NCS 2 also becomes a highly versatile prototyping and development tool when combined with the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit, which offers support for deep learning, computer vision and hardware acceleration to enable applications that have human-like vision capabilities.

The combination of the Intel NCS 2 and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit enables a fast development-to-deployment cycle: from prototyping trained DNNs on the compute stick to the easy porting of DNNs to an Intel Movidius VPU-based embedded device or system with minimal code changes required, if any. The Intel NCS 2 also provides support for the popular open-source Caffe and TensorFlow DNN software libraries.

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Electrocomponents acquires Monition 08/02/2019

Electrocomponents, known though its trading brands RS Components, Allied Electronics & Automation and IESA, has completed the acquisition of Monition, a UK-based pioneer in the design, development and application of leading reliability and condition-monitoring systems.

Monition will initially operate as an extension of the Technical Services operation, within the RS Northern European sub-region of EMEA. This acquisition will greatly enhance the existing range of value-added solutions RS offers its customers. Monition provides managed services in areas such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to improve their customers’ reliability, operability and maintainability.

Monition, originally founded by Ian Jennings, has more than 30 years of operational knowledge and expertise in the reliability and condition-monitoring sector. It has well-established relationships within the maintenance functions in a range of blue chip clients, particularly within the food and beverage sector.

“The acquisition of Monition supports our strategy of building a range of differentiated value-added solutions such as connected factory and IIoT solutions for our customers,” said Pete Malpas, managing director of RS Northern Europe. “Whilst we already have an extensive range of customer solutions including calibration, eProcurement and inventory management solutions, we believe that the Monition portfolio will enable us to provide our customer base with the intelligent solutions they need to maintain their operations more effectively and as such will bring us closer to becoming first choice for our customers. We are thrilled to welcome Monition to RS and the Electrocomponents Group.”

Monition will retain its trading name and, as part of RS, will benefit from the financial strength, scale and international spread of the broader Electrocomponents Group as the business scales.

Mike Burrows, managing director of Monition, commented: “We are extremely excited to become part of RS and the broader Electrocomponents Group. We share a common vision to deliver high-quality, innovative maintenance solutions to our customers. Being part of a larger Group will bring Monition benefits of scale and additional resources, which will help us accelerate the design and development of cutting-edge maintenance engineering solutions to address Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing needs.”

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RS joins 5% Club 15/01/2019

RS Components has announced its membership of ‘The 5% Club’; an important initiative in which employer members aspire to achieve 5% of their workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positions.

Such positions include apprenticeships, sponsored students and graduates on formalised training schemes, with the target of 5% being reached within five years of joining the club. Membership of the club both complements and further strengthens the extensive efforts of RS in delivering new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based work and educational opportunities for young people.

Created in 2013 in response to high youth unemployment and a lack of skills in the workplace, ‘The 5% Club’ is supported by the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy and is a dynamic movement of employer members based in the UK. The initiative comprises a broad range of organisations and companies that operate across many different market and industry sectors, including the Ministry of Defence, Network Rail, Rolls-Royce and a wide selection of SMEs across the UK.

Since officially joining ‘The 5% Club’ in the second half of 2018, RS has already set up 18 new apprenticeships, all of whom are completing or working towards a STEM-based degree or qualification in their respective field. These include: two studying metrology – the science of measurement – which is being delivered by The National Physical Laboratory in London; four following degree apprenticeships in data analytics with Arch Apprentices; six studying degrees in various areas of IT including software development, via Ada, the London-based National College for Digital Skills; and six who are completing an engineering qualification, enabling them to be fully trained as multi-skilled maintenance engineers.

In addition to these new apprenticeships, and operating with the help of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, RS has further bolstered its own apprenticeship scheme to provide access to training for existing employees, at any age or grade up to a master’s degree. Actions include a redesigned coaching programme in partnership with WhiteHat and Mind Gym for front line managers as part of the Team Leader and Supervisor Apprenticeship Standard, and an externally delivered master’s degree in accountancy.

“Joining ‘The 5% Club’ is a further reinforcement of our long-term strategy to support STEM-based learning and help inspire and bring through the next generation of engineers, maintenance and IT professionals, and skilled workers in general,” said Mike England, President EMEA at RS. “We are already putting plans in place and challenging ourselves to meet the target of having 5% of UK employees in ‘earn and learn’ positions by the end of 2019, which would be well within two years of joining this initiative.”

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Ultra-low-power microcontroller 22/02/2019

RS Components has announced that it is shipping a new Renesas Synergy ultra-low-power microcontroller that simplifies designs for a wide range of industrial applications including instrumentation, multisensory systems, headless medical monitors, and single-phase electrical meters.

The R7FS1JA783A01CFM Synergy MCU is based on a 48MHz Arm Cortex-M23 processor core with 256KB code flash and 32KB SRAM memory. The MCU features enhanced programmable analogue and security functions for high-accuracy sensor signal acquisition and conditioning.

Integrating a 16-bit ADC, 24-bit sigma-delta ADC, 12-bit DAC, op amps, and high-speed and low-power comparators, the MCU’s built-in analogue functionality can be configured to deliver basic functions or more complex analogue blocks. This capability enables developers to reduce BOM costs and PCB size by eliminating the use of discrete components.

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Visitor experience showcases cutting edge technology 17/10/2018

When RS Components unveiled the new visitor experience and innovation hub at it’s corby headquarters earlier this year, it wasn’t simply a case of giving the huge reception area a redesign, it was, says RS Managing Director, Mike England, an opportunity to create a vision of what the company wanted to look like for the future.

“What we’ve been doing here in Corby is gradually working our way through the whole business to change the culture, the work environment, really the whole work flow; and one of the areas we are really passionate about is our visitor experience,” explains England. “We’ve got the RS Truck out on the road going round to schools and customers showcasing all the technologies, and we thought wouldn’t it be great to bring that look and feel into Corby.”

The space has been designed to showcase not just products and innovation, but the value-added services and the propositions the company can offer its customers, as well as conveying its forward thinking attitude. “We are bringing to life that we are here to take our customers on a journey to the future,” says England.
The space has a flexible modular layout that has been designed for continuous change. The company has trained a number of staff members to be ‘innovation avatars’.

“When we have visitors they will be available on call to come down and talk about the technologies products and really help bring it to life,” says England.
The items on display can be tailored to whoever is visiting at any particular time and there will always be a number of new tchnologies that are of gernaerl interest, such as a focus on virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing.  There are areas that focus on different parts of the design and manufacturing and are intended to provoke further conversation.

“It’s been amazing how people have embraced it across the organisation, says England. “And what it’s doing is putting innovation at the forefront of everything we do here.

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RS launches first PLCnext industrial controller 03/10/2018

RS Components has introduced the first programmable logic controller (PLC) to be based upon Phoenix Contact’s PLCnext Technology open control platform.

Aimed at distributed modular control applications in industrial automation and machine building research, the new PLCnext Control system combines the robustness and security of a classic PLC with the openness and flexibility of IIoT (industrial internet of things) smart devices.

The first Phoenix Contact PLCnext Control device available from RS, designated the AXC F 2152, features a high-performance dual-core 800 MHz ARM Cortex processor with 512 MByte of memory. Housed in a rugged, compact 127 x 45 x 75 mm enclosure, it also includes an OPC UA server, fieldbus manager, diagnostic loggers, trace controllers, and automatic access to Phoenix Contact’s direct cloud connection, known as Proficloud.

Young engineers today tend to be proficient in high-level development environments, but often lack the PLC programming expertise of previous generations. The PLCnext platform is an enhancement to classical IEC 61131 compliant PLC programming that allows developers to program using a choice of high-level languages. Open-source software and apps can be incorporated flexibly within the system. The real-time performance and data consistency associated with proprietary, device-specific PLC coding are maintained while the limitations are avoided.

Multiple developers can work independently using their preferred development tools, their contributions being captured seamlessly into a single project. The result is that  applications can be developed significantly faster than previously.

PLCnext Control is based on an embedded Linux architecture, expanded to include real-time capability in its core. Linux is stable, supports secure communications and, because it runs on many different hardware platforms, allows scaling and use of future processor architectures.

The PLCnext Engineer engineering software platform uses automation modules and object-oriented programming to provide a single optimised user interface for all engineering tasks, saving time and cost on both training and project work. Consistent operation worldwide is assured by IEC 61131-3 compliance, while functional safety programming is certified in accordance with IEC 61508.

The AXC F 2152 PLCnext Control device from Phoenix Contact is shipping now from RS in the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions.

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PROFILE

RS Components and Allied Electronics are the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers. With operations in 32 countries, we offer more than 500,000 products through the internet, catalogues and at trade counters to over one million customers, shipping around 44,000 parcels a day. Our products, sourced from 2,500 leading suppliers, include electronic components, electrical, automation and control, and test and measurement equipment, and engineering tools and consumables.

Electrocomponents is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the last financial year ended 31 March 2015 had revenues of £1.27bn.

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