PLCs and HMIs are mostly known for their robust use in different types of industries. But can industrial automation equipment be used to win an Olympic gold medal? How are products by RENU Electronics used to train athletes to compete in top competitions in the world?
The aim of any endurance athlete is not to wear out during a competitive run or a swim for which he/she is contesting. Not only does he/she aim to complete the course but also finish as near the top as possible. The athletes undergo rigorous amounts of training to improve their breathing potential to increase their stamina and overall endurance. For this, they follow the strict discipline to make sure that their performance is always at their optimum level.
A new outlook at training: “Altitude Training”
The 1968 Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City. Mexico City, which lies at more than 7000ft above sea level, experiences less air-density as compared to other places in the world. Endurance events showed record low times posted by all the athletes. The timings, when compared to those achieved by the same athletes at locations that were below 5000ft, were longer. This was a surprising observation as all the athletes had been following their exercise routines strictly and no stone was left unturned during their run-up to the main event. During the investigations, however, it was noticed that the bodies of endurance runners had not acclimatized to the low air-density experienced in the city due to which all the runners under-performed at these events. This study generated the development of unique training methods which involved training at higher altitudes that aimed at eliminating the under-performance in future events. A new form of training method called “Altitude Training” was conceptualized.
In Altitude training, the athletes train at altitudes higher than 5000ft. Since the density of air is low at this point, the volume of breathable oxygen present in the air is less. Hence, the athlete’s body starts adapting in this environment with increased EPO (erythropoietin) levels, increased red blood cells and higher VO2max. Returning to lower altitudes with these increased red blood cells allows their bodies to carry more oxygen to their muscles. This, in turn, improves their performance during the actual event.
The athletes undergoing this kind of training, travel to higher altitude locations where they experience low oxygen levels. They train at these higher altitudes for a certain time and come back to lower levels for the main race event.
What is an environment chamber?
Travelling to higher altitudes to train is a demanding task in itself. This involves moving up to locations which are higher in altitude and living there for a certain period. Moreover, such locations can be few and far away which may not be able to access to many athletes due to geographical constraints. Also, the EPO levels drop back to normal levels in some days when the athletes return to lower altitudes. So travel has to be timed perfectly before the event.
Owing to this people came up with special “Environmental Chambers” which are placed at locations accessible to athletes. An environmental chamber is a very large-sized fully enclosed unit which can house several athletes at the same time. The atmosphere in such a chamber can be controlled. Different variations in the atmosphere can be achieved by controlling the air pressure, temperature and other factors thereby simulating the experience of higher altitudes. The advantage of these simulation chambers is that the athletes do not need to travel to higher locations and can train at nearby environmental chambers.
A leading company, well known for providing training equipment and solutions to trainers; manufactures and installs the environmental chambers at various locations for their customers. They provide environmentally controlled chambers and environment controlled rooms where the athletes stay. Products from RENU Electronics like the FL100, FP5121TN and FP3043TN form the crux of the control system which is responsible for simulating the environment in the chambers.
The FL100 is a PLC designed and manufactured by RENU Electronics. It is a DIN Rail mounted PLC that has a USB Device and a USB Host port. It also has 2 serial ports along with an RJ45 port that can be used to communicate over the Ethernet line using Modbus TCP/IP.
The FL100 can be programmed using Ladder Logic, Functional Block Diagram, Structured Text, Instruction List or State Flow Control programming language. It also has an inbuilt webserver. Real-world inputs and outputs can be programmed into this PLC using various stackable expansion I/O modules. A combination of Digital I/O modules along with Analog I/O modules can be assembled to enhance the functionality of the FL100.
The FL100 controls the environment settings inside the chamber depending on various temperature, humidity and altitude settings selected by the athlete using the HMI.
The FP5121TN is a 12.1” Color Touch screen HMI that supports floating point calculations, has built-in RTC and bar graph options. The HMI can be configured by using the FlexiSoft® software provided by RENU Electronics.
On the hardware side, it comes with a USB Device and a USB Host port along with an RJ45 port for communication over Ethernet.
The integrators can also store recipes onto this HMI for easier recovery of saved settings.
The FP5121TN communicates with FL100 to give the user an overview of how the environmental chamber is functioning, along with alarms that the operators need to take care of.
This HMI can also be used to visualize the performance of the entire system.
The FP3043TN is a compact 4.3” HMI that is used to control basic functions like setting the temperature or oxygen level of the room where in-depth control is not required. The FP3043TN communicates over the Ethernet with the FL100 PLC and helps the user sets the environment accordingly.
The FP3043TN is an HMI with 2 serial communication ports and an RJ45 port for communication through Ethernet. An SD card also is plugged into the HMI for storing necessary parameters. This HMI can be mounted in both vertical and horizontal display orientation.
Both the HMIs described here have their front panels IP66 rated with multi-language support.
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Article Courtesy of Renu Electronics