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Box will link industrial users and OEMs to the cloud

At the SPS IPC Drives automation show in Germany next month, Siemens will be unveiling a gateway that transmits machine and industrial system data easily and securely to the cloud. The Connector Box (which is based on a Simatic industrial PC) will be able to extract and transmit data from control and drive systems from Siemens and from third-party vendors. These functions will also be integrated into Siemens’ portfolio of industrial communications products.

Transport system allows individual mass production

Festo is developing a modular palletising system that will transport workpieces independently and simultaneously to different assembly stations, allowing different processes to be carried out on each item, and resulting in individually customised products. The system, called Motion Cube, has won the Automation and Robotics category of the 2015 Handling Awards announced at the Motek show in Germany this week.

Researchers recover rare-earths from old EV motors

American researchers have developed a method for extracting rare-earth materials from the drives and motors of discarded electric and hybrid vehicles. Their aim is to help develop a sustainable domestic supply of rare earth-elements in the US, and to reduce the nation’s dependence on China for materials that are vital to the production of high-efficiency motors, wind turbines and other technologies.

‘Re-invented’ fan motor cuts energy use by up to 80%

A US company claims to have developed a new class of high-efficiency motor that that can cut energy consumption by up to 80%, while improving power quality. Missouri-based QM Power says that its Q-Sync smart synchronous motor – aimed initially at refrigeration fan applications – will also improve reliability and allow energy-saving retrofits at a similar cost to conventional motors. QM is planning to expand the technology into other applications.

Free online tool helps to choose motor bearings

The bearing manufacturer Schaeffler has released an online tool that helps users to choose the best rolling bearings for motors and generators, based on mechanical and electromagnetic field loads. The free Bearinx-online Easy EMachine tool can perform calculations for motors and generators in any orientation, and allows users to compare various bearing support options.

US awards $22m to support next-generation motors

The US Energy Department is awarding $22m in funding to five projects aimed at merging wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technologies, such as silicon carbide (SiC), with advanced large-scale electric motors, to boost efficiency in high-energy-consuming industries, products and processes. The projects, funded through the Department’s Next Generation Electric Machines programme, aim to cut energy waste by up to 30% and to reduce the size of megawatt-scale motors and drive systems by up to 50%.

Cyber-appliance is ‘first to protect serial systems’

A US cyber-security specialist, Ultra Electronics (3eTI), has announced a cyber-security appliance that detects and warns of attacks on serial–based automation networks. It claims that SCADAWatch is the first product that can detect a network intrusion or anomaly while preserving operational performance.

Process users will have access to the benefits of Profinet

Profibus & Profinet International (PI) says it is optimising Profinet to suit the special needs of process automation users.

Optimising robot moves can cut energy use by 40%

Swedish researchers say that they can cut the energy consumed by industrial robots by up to 40% by using an algorithm that optimises the movements of robot arms. The algorithm reduces the arms’ acceleration and deceleration, as well as the time they are at a standstill because they continue to consume energy when not moving.

EtherCat slave chip is ‘first’ with latency-free peripherals

The German motion control specialist Trinamic has announced what it claims is the world’s first EtherCat slave controller to integrate real-time, latency-free I/O peripherals. The TMC8460 chip is the first in a family of EtherCat-compliant interface products that Trinamic is developing, based on its membership of the EtherCat Technology Group (ETG).

Kickstarter funding backs ‘first’ Arduino-based PLCs

An Austrian company has developed a range of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) based on the open-source Arduino platform and backed by $65,829 of crowd-sourced funding, raised via a Kickstarter appeal.

Cloud service is the ‘first designed for industrial data’

GE is entering the cloud services market with “the world's first and only cloud solution designed specifically for industrial data and analytics”. Its Predix Cloud service will capture and analyse machine data within a secure, industrial-strength cloud environment.

Magnetic drive cuts compressor energy use by 10%

SKF has developed an oil- and contact-free magnetic drive system for centrifugal compressors used in chillers that, it claims, can deliver energy savings of at least 10% compared to conventional compressors.

VSD control halves the energy used by vacuum pumps

Atlas Copco has developed a range of VSD-controlled vacuum pumps that, it claims, will deliver average energy savings of 50% compared to conventional fixed-speed oil-sealed and dry vane vacuum pumps, as well as achieving “best-in-class” noise levels and oil retention. The company says that the development represents “a quantum leap in rough vacuum” which could result in payback periods of a few months in some applications.

Prospects for USB 3 in machine vision look limited

Machine vision cameras with an Ethernet interface accounted for half of global camera revenues in 2014, according to a new report from IHS. The research, carried out during the first half of 2015, found that the interfaces with the next-largest camera revenues were Camera Link and Camera Link HS combined, which together accounted for 18.9% of sales, and USB 2 and USB 3 combined (on 15.7%).