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Fastek International Ltd. Delivers Configurable Automated Test System (CATS) to University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas selects Fastek International’s Configurable Automated Test System (CATS), which will provide automated and manual data acquisition, test analysis and post-processing for high voltage electrical power grid and protection devices from companies around the world whose devices are tested at NCREPT.

"The flexibility provided by the Fastek CATS system is allowing NCREPT engineers to focus on testing and data evaluation rather than test equipment. This instrumentation is key to our ability to evaluate our smart grid prototypes."

The University of Arkansas National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (NCREPT) has taken delivery of a CATS-2000 electrical test system manufactured by Fastek International Ltd. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The CATS family of test equipment is a new product line for Fastek, which produced the devices on a custom basis in response to requests for proposals in the past.

CATS, which stands for Configurable Automated Test System, will provide automated and manual data acquisition, test analysis and post-processing for high voltage electrical power grid and protection devices from companies around the world whose devices are tested at NCREPT.

NCREPT selected CATS-2000 due to its modular hardware/software architecture that easily allows the addition of new test capabilities as test requirements evolve.

Dr. Alan Mantooth, Executive Director of NCREPT at the University of Arkansas, notes: “Fastek’s CATS system proved an ideal solution to NCREPT’s ever changing test configuration needs. The flexibility provided by the Fastek CATS system is allowing NCREPT engineers to focus on testing and data evaluation rather than test equipment. This instrumentation is key to our ability to evaluate our smart grid prototypes.”

Companies that manufacture electronic or electrical equipment are candidates for one of the four CATS models available from Fastek International. Customers for the product include avionics manufacturers such as Rockwell Collins and Goodrich, industrial companies like John Deere and Kohler and research institutions like the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

The CATS products use the CATS Operating System, which runs on Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 7 platforms. They use National Instruments’ PXI, cRIO and CDAQ as the hardware platforms.

Models include the CATS-1000, CATS-1500, CATS-2000 and the CATS-2500. Model selection is based on the necessary requirements and computing speed requirements. CATS features a family of user selectable software modules that match the user selected hardware configuration within a plug-and-play hardware design. The CATS units also offer an Internet interface and the option of storing test data on remote servers. Post data processing and analysis tools also are available.

“Previous test equipment products we’ve created have demonstrated that the same test equipment can be used over the entire life cycle of the product, saving our customers money in capital equipment and test software development,” added Arvind Dandekar, President of Fastek. “It also has shortened the customer’s time to market. The success of our custom projects convinced Fastek management that a family of CATS products would be welcomed in the electrical testing marketplace.”

About NCREPT
University of Arkansas – NCREPT, established in 2005, is a research center established at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, for the purpose of investigating solid-state solutions for high voltage applications such as the electric power grid including both protection devices as well as energy storage applications. The center is involved in five areas of research that impact the realization of power electronics solutions:

  • Power electronic design and modeling
  • Control algorithms for power electronics
  • Power electronics packaging
  • Power electronics test
  • Mixed-signal integrated circuit design for the drive and control of power electronic interfaces


State approves economic development funds for Newton, Des Moines, others

The Iowa Economic Development Board approved an application from Newton today for state funding to help Marsh Incorporated with a $5-million expansion. The D.E.D. approved $450,000 in direct financial assistance in return for the promise that the insurance broker would create at least 150 new jobs.

The executive director of the Newton Development Corporation, Frank Liebl, says the D.E.D. approval is another step to making the project will happen. Liebl says Marsh still has to give the project the final go, but he says they have indicated they are convinced they want to expand in central Iowa. He says it would be a good thing for Newton and create a lot of jobs over a three-year period.

Newton’s economic development director, Bryan Friedman, is optimistic Marsh will proceed with its expansion plans. He says the dealings between the state and Marsh have been very good and he says the company is looking for long term options for expansion, and they are “very optimistic about the prospects for this project.”

The city of Newton would have to provide up to $90,000 worth of tax abatements or tax increment financing rebates over five years for the project. Marsh currently has about 50 employees at its facility in the Newton industrial park.

The D.E.D. also approved these other awards today:

The board awarded $5-million in direct financial assistance to DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol for a proposed cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Nevada. The award would support the creation of 65 jobs and the retention of two jobs. Initially, the facility is expected to produce 25 to 50 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol each year.

The board awarded one million dollars in direct financial assistance to food and feed ingredient manufacturer Kemin Industries for an expansion of its Des Moines operations. The company plans a 29-point-six million dollar capital investment that includes a new worldwide headquarters office, six manufacturing buildings, research and development buildings, and greenhouses. A total of 98 jobs are expected to be created, 58 of which are supported by state incentives.

The board awarded $500,000 in direct financial assistance to Genencor to expand its Cedar Rapids operations. The company plans a $37.9- million capital investment that includes two building additions, adding and updating machinery, equipment and infrastructure to increase production capacity for new product demand. The project is expected to create 13 new jobs and support 25 current positions. The board also approved enterprise zone tax incentives for the project.

The board approved a $250,000 royalty agreement for software developer Fastek International of Cedar Rapids for its Electrical Power Management System. The $100,000 capital investment will support the creation of 11 new jobs. The company has identified a business opportunity in the U.S. military and security forces’ need for an “on-board universal power source” on government vehicles. Those power sources are used to power aircraft, helicopters and data and command centers in the field.

The board approved $150,000 in direct financial assistance to General Environmental Companies to open a facility in Oskaloosa that processes cracked eggshells. The award will support the creation of 11 new jobs. Plans call for the company to lease a building and obtain a single-pass cyclone turbine technology system to process the eggshells for use in cosmetic creams and vitamin products.

Fifty-thousand dollars in direct financial assistance was approved for Maharishi Ayurveda Products International to relocate its Colorado warehouse, distribution and management operations to Fairfield. A total of 19 jobs will be created or retained, nine of which will be supported by this award.

PathoVacs, Incorporated, a startup technology firm located in Ames, was approved for $75,000 of support from the Iowa Demonstration Fund. PathoVacs is based on a vaccine development technology that reduces the cost of the first major component of vaccine development.


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