Hardware At Home

Working with hardware during a lockdown!

Getting hands-on can be tricky…

A lot of our clients’ projects involve hardware, and when our work involves physical access, this is generally involves us going to wherever the hardware may be. But when access is essential, and a global pandemic strikes, things can get problematic.

Back in 2020, between the announcement of the national lockdown and its commencement, two projects in particular were loaded into vans and driven across the country to one of our home offices. With the resulting crush of esoteric equipment, blinking lights and control screens, the office in question pretty much resembled a Bond villian’s layer for a few months!


iComat has pioneered the revolutionary Rapid Tow Shearing (RTS) technology, the first ever defect-free fibre-steering process for composites. React AI, working with our partners at STL Technology, designed and implemented the initial control systems, which involves sophisticated orchestration of the equipment based on numerous real-time data feeds via a range of Beckhoff interfaces to a range of hardware components. The solution included extensive data capture over MQTT, and data storage and download coupled with bespoke analytics.

The user interface for the system was primarily implemented with the Beckhoff HMI framework, while the data-logging and download UI used software components which now form part of our SmartAdmin for Django package.


The High Performance Discontinuous Fibre (HiPerDiF) fibre alignment technology was invented at the Bristol Composite Institute from the University of Bristol, and the hardware was transported over from its usual location at the National Composites Centre. React AI, working with our partners at STL Technology, designed and implemented the PLC-based control systems, again including data capture, storage and download for ongoing analytics, including aspects of SmartAdmin for Django.

Footnote: After the two projects shipped back to their regular homes, the office felt rather bare. But the opportunity was taken in 2022 to liven it up again by suspending a couple of DogBots from the ceiling!  There’s a picture, along with plenty of others, at DogBot