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Industrial Strength Design

Richard Zarr

When you think of engineering for industrial applications, my first thought goes to environmental conditions of applications such as steel mills. There are motor controllers working right next to (or attached to) giant electric furnaces and smelters, huge overhead cranes and massive electric fields. Its just another day at the office, huh? You may think its fairly straight forward to design for this environment until you realize that your electronics have passive cooling no fan. Fans fail and if the circuit is part of a system that needs to be shut down to service, the financial impact to the company could be enormous. So, here are some simple rules to get you in the ball park. First, heat is not your friend even in Minnesota in the middle of winter. Consider how semiconductors are fabricated. There are processes (not unlike metallurgy) to anneal crystal defects or diffuse impurities all are accomplished by the application of heat. So as a component heats up, this process continues. There are other creeping problems aided by elevated temperatures and large current which can cause metal interconnects within components to migrate and short. Designers of industrial control systems often de-rate operating junction temperatures based on their models mostly from years of experience. These systems stay in operation for over 20 years working every day without failure until replaced or retired. So designers must take into consideration how to keep the temperature of the die well below the maximum operating point. To do this a thermal model is used. It can be extremely complicated using computers to calculate the temperature rise and heat flow. Or it can be simple to see if the circuit has a chance of working at all. To calculate the temperature rise of the die, the thermal flow can be modeled pretty much the same way we model current flow. The thermal impedance or resistance to heat flow is given in data sheets relative to Point A and Point B. For instance JC(pronounced theta sub J C) is the junction (die) to cas e thermal impedance. It is given in degrees centigrade per watt (C/W). It means that for every watt of power dissipated by the device, the junction temperature will rise so many degrees above the case temperature. So if the JC is 3C/W and the device dissipates 10 watts, then the junction temperature will be 30 degrees C higher than the case temperature. There is also a junction to ambient version called JA which is the thermal impedance to the ambient air surrounding the part (assuming no heat sink). Any device dissipating more than 100mW will probably need a method to carry the heat away. The worst case problem with this scenario is having large thermal impedances with high power dissipation. This happens often in small linear regulators such as the LM340 in a SOT-223. Even with unlimited copper, the best JA will be no lower than 50C/W which is a limitation of the package. So if the ambient air in the box is 85C, the

input voltage is 12V, the output voltage is 5V (7V drop) with a load current of 100mA (700mW power dissipation), then the temperature of the die will be 120C. You can see that package selection is EXTREMELY important. Take the same part and put it in a DPAK (32C/W) and the die temperature (same conditions) drops to a bit over 107C. So next time youre designing for industrial strength, take out the hand calculator for your sanity check to make sure your devices wont end up in thermal shutdown or worse! Next time Ill cover some more on industrial strength design ideas for keeping your circuits alive in harsh environments Till next time! In part 1 of this blog series I talked about harsh environments which include mines, mills, chemical plants, et. al. Designing for those environments means taking into consideration extremes which normal products (e.g. consumer goods) would never experience. We covered (briefly) some thermal issues found in these environments, but beyond high temperatures, corrosives and dirt there are dangers lurking that even humans cannot sense. Im talking about Electromagnetic Interference or EMI susceptibility. Most engineers think about EMI damage caused by electrical overstress. A good example of that is lightning damage - but equipment doesnt need to be hit directly to take it out of commission. The lighting that does the actual damage may occur many miles above the equipment and may not even be seen! In large networks where wire is strung out over miles, there can be damage caused by electrical overstress due to a phenomenon called Cross Striking (see the figure). This occurs when two electrically charged clouds drift near one another. An electrical potential appears between these two enormous capacitors and grows stronger as they get closer. On the ground, an opposite charge appears on the cabling caused by the static charge in the cloud above. It appears very slowly so no apparent problem is seen yet.

Once the electric field strength between the two clouds exceeds the break-down voltage of the air between them, a bolt of lightning forms and rapidly dissipates the charge. This rapid discharge has now left an extremely large charge on the wires below with nothing holding it. This charge also rapidly dissipates causing extremely high voltage spikes on the cable which typically will destroy anything unprotected on either end. I know this Ive seen it first -hand. Nothing but ashes and a hole where my transceivers used to be! It just makes you go hummmm wow! To protect against this type of invisible damage, gas discharge tubes, spark gaps and ESD diodes need to be placed on either end of the cables to provide a path for the current to travel as the charge dissipates. This will keep the voltages seen by drivers, receivers or amplifiers within absolute maximums and prevent damage. Another type of EMI susceptibility doesnt damage the circuits, but actually causes them to fall out of specification. This problem often manifests itself in industrial environments where strong RF fields are used (e.g. microwave heaters in processing plants). It can also be caused by deliberate transmissions such as radio towers. This phenomenon can be seen by placing a cell phone next to most speaker phones while a call is active. A humming or clicking is often heard in the speaker phone due to interference with the transmitter in the cell phone. This is caused by the RF energy impinging on parasitic (or intentional) diode structures within amplifiers and injecting currents into the circuit. The rectified signals can show up as offsets in the output of precision amplifiers as well. This is the critical problem in industrial systems which make very precise measurements in processes that require extremely accurate temperatures or pressures. To combat this, semiconductor designers add additional circuitry to harden the device against these external fields. An example of this is the LMP2021 or LMP2022 (dual) which is EMI hardened for precision measurements. For more detail on this topic check out application note SNOA497b A Specification for EMI Hardened Operational Amplifiers. This white paper discussed a new parameter called the EMIRR or ElectroMagnetic Interference Rejection Ratio which is used to quantify the susceptibility of op-amps to EMI.

I hope this post sheds some light on some of the unseen perils that can damage or derail your precision circuits. For more information on industrial components, see TI's industrial offering page. Ill cover some more ideas on helping build industrial strength designs in my next post I welcome your comments or ideas as well. Till next time

In my prior two post (Part I and Part II) on designing industrial strength systems I discussed thermal management issues and various methods for hardening designs against EMI and ESD. In the last installment I discussed system failures due to lightning effects and other electromagnetic susceptibility issues. These failures can be subtle and only slightly damage a device affecting its long term reliability or they can be catastrophic leaving nothing but charred lead-frames where the components previously resided. However, there is another potential problem hidden within many industrialized systems that can lead to lost revenue and disappointed customers it is obsole scence. Many engineers never consider component longevity when selecting devices for a design. In our world of consumer products, new models replace their predecessors in less time than it takes to make a human being (9 months). However, industrial systems may stay in production (unchanged) for 10 to 20 years due to regulation and certification. For instance, fire alarm systems must pass an extensive set of qualifications before they can be certified to be installed into a structure. This is to insure the proper operation in severe conditions where life safety is involved. Any change to the system such as a redesign to replace an obsolete component requires recertification to some degree. This can be an extremely costly and time consuming event one that is avoided at all cost. However, if a critical component is no longer available, the system will need to be redesigned. Texas Instruments has understood this problem for many years and has an extremely deep portfolio of devices with very long life-spans. There are components still available that are tens of years old, but still in production and probably will be for many more. TIs obsolescence policy is one of the best in our industry and provides engineers with the peace of mind that a component will not disappear in 6 months. To really make sure your design can remain unchanged for the foreseeable future, TI also provides a program called Enhanced Products or EP. This program not only has enhanced obsolescence management which provides a much longer supply term for devices, it provides another level of screening to ensure the highest industrial standards plus, the EP up-screening doesnt void a devices warrantee something to consider when using third-party screening houses. So I hope you have enjoyed my little series on Industrial Strength Design. For more information see our industrial th th applicationpage on TIs website. Also, be sure to tune into the Ask the Expert between June 17 and the 28 to submit your communications and data transmission questions to yours truly. I welcome your comments and hope to hear from you! Till next time