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AI software compensates for faults in motors

Two Canadian companies have joined forces to commercialise an AI (artificial intelligence) technology designed to detect, and compensate for, faults in electric motors. The technology allows motors to generate near-normal torque even when there are inverter or motor phase faults. It can be applied to permanent magnet synchronous motors and to brushless DC motors (three-phase or multi-phase).

Scalable safety controls allow ‘right-sized’ designs

Rockwell Automation has announced a pair of controllers for industrial safety applications, that can be scaled to support safety levels from SIL 2 / PLd to SIL 3 / PLe. It says that this will help engineers to optimise safety system designs and potentially to cut costs, while adhering to the latest machine safety regulations.

Smart motor sensor is adapted to monitor pumps

ABB has collaborated with a Swiss pump-maker, Emile Egger, to adapt its smart motor-sensing technology to monitor pumps remotely.

Wireless predictive maintenance system is ‘world’s first’

A US company that specialises in wireless power transmission claims to have developed the world’s first wirelessly powered, predictive maintenance sensor technology. Nikola Labs’ PfM system captures vibration and temperature readings remotely to monitor the condition of equipment and to optimise maintenance in industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Low-cost remote PLC, RTU and edge control is cyber-secure

Bedrock Automation, the Californian controls developer that specialises in cyber-secure automation platforms, has announced a lower-cost controller that combines PLC, RTU, edge control, cyber-security and universal I/O functions in a compact, standalone module suitable for remote monitoring and control applications. The Bedrock OSA (Opens Secure Automation) Remote is configured using the company’s IEC 61131-3 engineering tools, and offers a wide operating temperature range (–40°C to +80°C), a hardened metal enclosure, and prices – starting at $2,900 – said to be lower than those of conventional mini-PLCs or RTUs.

Cloud-based app analyses drivetrain performance

Siemens is launching a cloud-based app that monitors industrial drives and gives insights into the performance of machinery drivetrains. The Analyze MyDrives app captures and analyses operating data – such as power consumption, torque and frequency – to determine when maintenance is needed and to help cut energy consumption.

Fin-mounting motor monitor helps to predict problems

At the recent Drives & Controls Show in the UK, the Brazilian motor-maker WEG unveiled a device that attaches to an electric motor to monitor its performance in real time via an app running on a tablet or smartphone. The Motor Scan device measures vibration and surface temperature to detect any anomalies. It can also monitor running hours, and provide data on motor operating speeds and start/stop times. WEG is planning to add the ability to monitor loads, efficiencies, rotor imbalances, misalignments and bearing condition.

Safety comms system improves diagnostics and cuts wiring

Rockwell Automation has announced a safety communication protocol that, it says, will help users to improve machine diagnostics, reduce downtime and increase productivity, as well as cutting wiring by up to 38%. The Allen-Bradley Guardmaster GuardLink system allows safety devices to share diagnostics and status information with higher-level controls, allowing users to access information from an entire safety installation.

Superconducting motor uses solid-state cooling

At the upcoming Hannover Fair, Festo will be demonstrating a superconducting claw-pole motor with solid-state cooling. Details are sketchy, but the company says that the SupraMotor’s technology is characterised by a compact design, a high holding torque and a long-life, coolant-free electrical direct-cooling system.

80MW two-pole motor targets LNG applications

GE has completed no-load testing on an 80MW two-pole induction motor designed for use in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. The 11kV motor – claimed to be one of the largest of its type – has been designed to operate at speeds from 2,500–4,000 rpm with an efficiency of up to 98.1%. GE’s previous largest induction motor was rated at 22MW.

ABB to invest €100m in r&d campus at B&R’s Austrian HQ

ABB is investing €100m to build an innovation and training campus at B&R Automation’s headquarters in Eggelsberg, Austria. The investment, which will create around 1,000 high-tech jobs, is ABB’s largest organic investment in industrial automation in its 130-year history.

Micro-PLC scales to reduce the need for different PLCs

Rockwell Automation has announced a micro-PLC that supports applications with up to 304 I/O points, 280kB of memory and 20,000 program instructions. The Allen-Bradley Micro870 PLC can be scaled to match an application, thus helping machine designers to optimise control architectures in large standalone machines or systems.

Contactors with universal coils make motor control easier

Rockwell Automation has released a family of Nema and IEC contactors to help machine-builders design smaller, more energy-efficient panels for global markets. The Allen-Bradley Bulletin 300 Nema contactors and Bulletin 100-E IEC contactors are designed for applications of 300A or higher. They replace the earlier Allen-Bradley Bulletin 100D IEC and Nema contactors which catered for applications above 100A.

Bionic spider will roll or run, while fruit bat flies overhead

A camera-guided flying fruit bat, and a spider that that can both walk and roll, are the latest additions to Festo’s menagerie of bionic creatures that will make their debuts at this year’s Hannover Fair in April. Festo has established a tradition of developing bionic versions of real animals that attract vast number of visitors to its stand at Hannover every year.

Joint effort delivers easy-to-use, vision-guided cobot

Sick has joined forces with the collaborative robot (cobot) producer, Universal Robots, to develop an entry-level, vision-guided cobot system for pick-and-place, quality inspection and measurement applications. The URCap kit combines Sick’s Inspector PIM60 2D vision sensors with Universal Robots’ UR3, UR5 or UR10 robots to deliver an adaptable vision-guided cobot that is quick and easy to program and configure, without needing special software expertise or a separate PC.

Water-based gearbox lubricant is ‘the world's first’

Last year, the German lubricant specialist Klüber Lubrication announced that it had developed a water-based lubricant that, it predicted, could revolutionise the future of lubrication, and solve challenges with regard to performance, energy efficiency and environmental compatibility of lubricants. Initially, the Hydro Lubricant technology was available only in the form of a specialised lubricant for conveyor belts.

Wireless monitor checks bearings are getting their grease

A Swedish company that specialises in lubrication technologies has developed a wireless system that monitors that bearings are being fed with the right amount of lubricant at the right time. Assalub says that its WLubeMon system will prevent expensive bearing failures by alerting users if the lubrication is inadequate.

35-tonne truck rolls into the Drives & Controls show

With two weeks to go before the 2018 Drives & Controls Show opens its doors at the Birmingham NEC, there has been a last-minute flurry of exhibitors snapping up the last remaining stands in Drives & Controls and the new Smart Industry Expo.

System saves space when making cable connections

igus has developed a plug-in system for connecting electrical cables, fibre-optic cables and pneumatics, where large numbers of cables need to be connected in a small space. The system, called module connect, allows several plug housings to be assembled together to form a module that contains individual plug-in and separation points.

Built-in sensors automate lubrication of linear axes

Schaeffler has developed a system that automates the lubrication of linear recirculating ball bearing and guideway assemblies using built-in lubrication and vibration sensors, thus eliminating the need for manual lubrication. The system, called DuraSense, provides individual linear axes with the precise level of lubrication they need, based on their loads and other factors. Up to six carriages can be monitored on one axis.

Siemens invests £27m in UK 3D printing facility

Siemens is investing up to £27m in a 3D printing factory in Worcester, UK, to create a global centre of excellence for additive manufacturing. The facility, due to open September, will generate about 55 high-quality jobs and allow Siemens to increase its fleet of high-tech 3D printing machines from 15 to 50 over the next five years.

Pocket-sized PC collects data at the edge

Advantech B+B SmartWorx has developed a pocket-sized PC for collecting data at the edges of industrial networks. The UNO computer acts as a smart gateway and supports the Ignition platform developed by Inductive Automation, which is designed to connect data and deploy applications, such as Scada, IIoT and HMIs, throughout an industrial enterprise, without any limits.

Michelin buys Fenner for £1.3bn to boost its high-tech activities

The French tyres to maps giant, Michelin, is buying Fenner, the UK-headquartered conveyor belt and reinforced polymer products manufacturer, in a deal that values Fenner at £1.3bn. Michelin sees the acquisition as being “in perfect strategic alignment” with its ambition to enhance its expertise in high-technology materials.

Seven years on, Baldor Electric becomes ABB

Seven years after ABB bought the motor and power transmission manufacturer Baldor Electric for $4.2bn, it has announced that it is integrating the Baldor name into the ABB brand. The move is part of ABB’s Next Level strategy, which includes harmonising different ABB-owned brands under the global ABB master brand. Baldor Electric will now be known as ABB.

Altra adds Portescap and Kollmorgen in $3bn deal

The electromechanical power transmission and motion control products manufacturer Altra Industrial Motion is buying four businesses from Fortive's Automation and Specialty (A&S) platform – including its Kollmorgen, Thomson and Portescap brands – in a $3bn deal that will double Altra's revenue to around $1.8bn and increase its EBITDA to around $350m, before synergies estimated to be worth more than $50m. The combined company – which Altra says will be a “global leader in the power transmission and motion control industry” – is expected to generate cumulative five-year free cashflows worth more than $1bn.

Banks to run Siemens' Integrated Drive Systems in the UK

Siemens UK & Ireland has appointed Phil Banks to be head of strategy for its Integrated Drive Systems (IDS) business. As part of his new role, he will be responsible for developing and implementing a business strategy to drive further growth for IDS.

TSN-supporting controllers offer sub-µs synchronisation

National Instruments (NI) has announced a range of industrial controllers that incorporate TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) and NI-DAQmx, and offer deterministic communication and synchronised measurements across standard Ethernet networks. The controllers, part of the CompactRio  family, will allow users to synchronise distributed systems across networks, eliminating the need for costly synchronisation cables. NI says that they will boost performance, help to improve productivity, and make installations more flexible.

Danfoss Drives appoints Baird as UK and Ireland manager

Danfoss Drives has appointed Alan Baird as its new country manager for the UK and Ireland, following John Martin’s move to the position of head of sales. Baird will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s activities in the region, including sales, marketing, drive solutions, technical and aftermarket support.

UK motor-maker has won more than £50m of orders in 2018

A Northumberland manufacturer of axial-flux electric motors has won more than £50m of new business for its motors since the start of this year, with export orders to Germany, Poland, Spain, the US and Asia already in the pipeline for 2018. The company, Avid Technology, is currently focussing on the EV (electric vehicle) market and claims that its motors have one of the highest power and torque densities of any EV drive motor, making them suitable for high-performance drivetrains. The motors are also attracting interest from the robotics and aerospace sectors.

Cloud-based platform will enhance VSD performance

At the Hannover Fair in April, Siemens plans to unveil a digital platform for using and evaluating VSD (variable-speed drive) data, based on its MindSphere cloud-based open IoT operating system. Called Sidrive IQ, it will give users of networked drive systems direct access to functions designed to support production and maintenance tasks. Siemens says it will improve the productivity, reliability and serviceability of drive systems over their entire lifecycles.

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