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Automated lubrication could extend guide lives

Schaeffler has demonstrated a system which determines when linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assemblies need lubrication, and relubricates them automatically, thus extending their lives and minimising the risk of failure.

Prox sensors with 'world's longest range’ could save millions

Omron has announced a new generation of proximity sensors which, it claims, have the world’s longest sensing distances. The E2E-Next sensors have almost twice the sensing distance of the company’s previous models. According to Omron, this will result in substantial savings for users because the new sensors are less likely to collide with objects, thus avoiding costly plant shutdowns to replace them.

3D printing could produce lighter, more powerful motors

German researchers are using a multi-material 3D printing technology to create parts for electric motors which, they predict, will lead to lighter motors with increased power densities and greater overload capabilities.

SiC device with record efficiency will boost power electronics

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power device which, it claims, has the world's highest power efficiency for a device of its type (a 1.2kV power device with a short-circuit time longer than 8μs). The new device, designed to be used in power modules, does not need a high-speed protection circuit to interrupt the supply when an excess current is detected. Mitsubishi says it will improve the reliability and efficiency of power electronics equipment in applications ranging from industrial machinery and railways to domestic appliances.

IIC testbed will apply machine learning to maintenance

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has launched a testbed project aimed at accelerating machine learning for predictive maintenance in high-volume manufacturing. The Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed is being led by the Industrial IoT/Industry 4.0 specialist, Plethora IIoT, and the programmable semiconductor manufacturer, Xilinx. Other companies supplying equipment for the testbed include Bosch Software Innovations, Microsoft and National Instruments.

IoT gateway uses OPC UA Publisher to link devices to the cloud

The industrial communications and automation supplier Moxa has joined forces with Microsoft and the OPC Foundation to develop an industrial IoT gateway with a built-in OPC UA Publisher module. By combining Windows 10 IoT and OPC UA Publisher, the MC-1121 gateway is said to offer a secure, reliable way of getting data from field devices to the cloud for analytics and monitoring.

Consortium is designing tomorrow’s industrial network

A consortium of German companies and organisations including Bosch Rexroth, Festo and Siemens, is developing the foundation for the industrial Internet of the future, based on the latest networking and 5G wireless communications technologies. The three-year Find (Future Industrial Network Architecture) project has a budget of almost €7m, 61% of this coming from the German government.

Hybrid trucks take power from overhead lines in German trial

A 10km stretch of autobahn near Frankfurt in Germany is being converted to provide power to hybrid-electric trucks from overhead lines. The technology, called eHighway, is said to be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines, halving energy consumption and reducing air pollution.

Synchronised actuators can lift loads faster

Thomson Industries has developed a way of synchronising up to four heavy-duty electromechanical linear actuators to allow large or awkward loads to be moved repeatedly and evenly. It has built the capability into its Electrak HD actuators, resulting in what, it claims, will be more stable and potentially quicker lifts, the avoidance of additional guides, and improved handling of uneven loads.

EU project could result in machinery that repairs itself

Engineers and researchers from six European countries have been taking part in a collaborative project aimed at developing maintenance technologies capable of predicting when production machinery is going to fail. This will allow plant managers to rectify faults before the breakdowns occur. In some cases, the system will even be able to correct defects automatically.

Standard will integrate IO-Link with OPC UA

The IO-Link community has set up a technical working group to specify the integration of IO-Link into OPC UA. The Industry 4.0 platform sees OPC UA as a suitable architecture model for implementing IT at the field level. The IO-Link community has therefore decided to develop a standard for a data and function model that will represent future IO-Link devices and masters accurately in OPC UA. The working group will follow the general recommendations for developing OPC UA companion standards.

Sercos master is made available as free, open-source software

A software-based Sercos industrial Ethernet master that can be implemented on industrial automation controllers instead of needing dedicated hardware, is now available as free, open-source software. The Sercos SoftMaster package is said to offer more than 95% of the capabilities of a Sercos HardMaster hardware version.

Database covers more than 80% of all IO-Link devices

A recently-launched database containing technical descriptions of IO-Link devices is claimed to cover more than 80% of all known IO-Link devices. The IODDfinder service, launched by the IO-Link community earlier this year, is being supported by more than 30 manufacturers of IO-Link devices who, between them, have stored about 1,900 IODDs (IO-Link Device Descriptions), which can be used to parameterise more than 3,900 different IO-Link devices.

Technique cuts linear stage thermal errors by up to 90%

Aeorotech has come up with a software-driven technique that, it claims, can eliminate up to 90% of the thermal errors that can affect the accuracy of precision linear positioning stages. It can be applied to both linear motor and ballscrew-driven linear stages, and operates regardless of the range of temperature change.

Bluetooth adds a mesh networking capability

The Bluetooth wireless communication system now supports mesh networking, allowing “many-to-many” device communications. The new version, announced by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), is optimised for creating large-scale networks of devices such as sensors, where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to communicate with each other reliably and securely.