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Precise non-contact sensors could open up new applications

A German startup company has developed a contactless optoelectronic sensing technology that, it claims, will lead to new levels of precision and robustness in industrial applications. Munich-based Konux says that its patented technology can be used to measure at least nine different types of variable, including position, pressure, acceleration, angle, level and force.

'Revolutionary' control system uses a pin-free backplane

A Californian company, Bedrock Automation, has announced a “revolutionary” industrial control system that, it says, frees users from the constraints of traditional automation systems. The new system is based on a patented architecture with a pin-free, electromagnetic backplane and embedded cyber-security. Bedrock says it will reduce the risk of cyber-attacks, cut lifecycle costs, and simplify engineering, commissioning and maintenance.

Industrial Internet architecture will speed IoT progress

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has released an industrial Internet “reference architecture” which provides a common language for the elements of industrial Internet systems and the relationships between them. The IIC says that this language will help developers to decide which elements they need for their systems, thus saving time.

Train trial shows a 40% energy saving for SiC inverters

A four-month trial of a train powered by a traction inverter incorporating silicon carbide (SiC) devices, has demonstrated a 40% reduction in power consumption compared to a similar train using conventional circuitry.

RS adds paid-for modules to its free 3D CAD software

RS Components has expanded its free DesignSpark Mechanical 3D design software by launching two optional paid-for modules that add the ability to export designs in standard file formats, and enhance the package’s drawing capabilities.

Non-contact torque sensors improve control precision

Schaeffler has developed a magneto-elastic torque-sensing technology that converts stresses in a shaft directly into torque signals. Because the torque is recorded where it is applied, the technique is said to allow applications to be monitored and controlled more precisely than other technologies.

Apps are used to program ‘most compact’ robotic arm

The German gripper specialist Schunk has developed a lightweight robotic arm which, it claims, is the most compact of its type. The 12kg arm, which can handle loads of up to 6kg, incorporates its own controller, avoiding the need for an external controls or PCs, and making it easy to move the arm from one location to another.

Technology turns smartphones into sensor monitors

Pepperl+Fuchs has developed a technology that turns smartphones and tablets into operating and monitoring devices for industrial sensors. The SmartBridge system consists of an adapter and an app that runs on Apple or Android devices.

Software sets up production routes in seconds

A Scottish systems integrator specialising in the food and drinks sector has developed an “intelligent” routing system that, it says, represents a dramatic advance in production speed and efficiency for the beverage and bottling industry. Scottish whisky distilleries are already using the system to transfer essential ingredients from one point to another during the blending and bottling process.

New bearing model will extend lives and cut costs

The bearings manufacturer SKF has developed a new method for modelling the operating lives of roller bearings that will help users to match bearings better to their applications, resulting in better bearing performance and lower running costs.

Sick claims to have the first full range of ‘smart’ sensors

The German sensor-maker Sick claims that it is the first sensor-maker to offer “smart" sensors across its range, including photoelectric, magnetic and proximity devices. The sensors perform complex functions locally, transferring the processing load from the PLC to the sensor, and helping to optimise the performance of high-speed production lines.

Inductive sensing challenges IR and thermocouples

A British technology developer has come up with a novel non-contact way to measure temperatures in applications ranging from steel processing to food production. The patent-pending inductive technique has a temperature sensing range of several hundred degrees and an accuracy of 1°C. Its developers, at The Technology Partnership (TTP), near Cambridge, believe that it could replace existing contact-based methods of measuring heat, such as thermocouples, and non-contact technologies, such as infrared.

Modules will allow drives-makers to support any profile

The Swedish industrial communications specialist HMS Industrial Networks has announced an extension to its Anybus CompactCom 40-series that will make it easier for drives manufacturers to comply with profile specifications such as PROFIdrive, EtherCat DS402, and transparent DS402 on other networks.

Rare-earth alloy could slash the cost of motor magnets

US researchers have created a new magnetic alloy that, they say, has similar properties to conventional rare-earth magnets but is at least 20–40% cheaper to produce. The material could replace costly high-performance permanent magnets currently used in motors and generators.

PM electric motor comes top in Swedish efficiency tests

Tests performed by the Swedish Energy Agency have shown that a 15kW IE4 permanent magnet (PM) motor was 5.9% more efficient than an “IE0” induction motor of a similar rating, while a synchronous reluctance motor was 4.4% more efficient. Curiously, an IE3 induction motor delivered a smaller improvement in efficiency (1.8%) in the tests than an IE2 induction machine (2.4%).