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PI announces plans to merge Profibus PA with Profinet

Profibus and Profinet International (PI) has announced plans to merge its Profibus PA and Profinet technologies to allow plant operators to continue using installed technologies while giving them access to the latest technologies, including Industry 4.0.

Control system extends the lives of grinding rollers

ABB has developed a torque and speed control system for high-pressure grinding rollers (HPGRs) used in mineral-crushing applications that, it says, will improve their lives and performance.

Software Sercos master avoids the need for custom chips

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Sercos International (SI) demonstrated a software-based Sercos III master that avoids the need to use a hardware master based on FPGA or ASIC chips. Instead, the Sercos III hardware functions are emulated in host-based driver software running on a standard Ethernet controller.

Technology eliminates the need for muting sensors

Leuze electronic has developed a technology which, it says, avoids the need for the muting sensors that are usually required to detect the approach of goods to a light curtain. It says that its Smart Process-controlled Gating (SPG) system will make muting cheaper, simpler and safer.

Servomotors act as sensors for more precise control

Bosch Rexroth has developed a range of synchronous servomotors which provide data on their temperature and saturation to the company's IndraDrive controllers, allowing them to improve torque precision and making operating tolerance ranges much tighter than previously possible. Rexroth says that, for the first time, the servomotor can act as a reliable sensor, as well as a data source.

Scanner brings safety to unprotected robots

On its stand at the recent SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Germany, Mitsubishi Electric was demonstrating a robot safety system that it is developing with a German integrator, MH Elektro-Steuerungstechnick, that will allow humans and robots to work together safely during batch production processes.

Energy harvesting cuts DC motor lengths by more than half

By using an energy-harvesting technology, the German drives manufacturer Wittenstein has been able to develop two series of brushless DC motors with miniature multi-turn encoders that do not need a battery or a gearhead. It says that the motors are less than half the length of comparable machines and 20% smaller in diameter. Eliminating the gearhead and battery from the 32mm and 40mm diameter motors also extends their operating lives.

Linear axis is ‘as easy to set up as making a cup of coffee’

The German clamping and gripping specialist, Schunk, has developed a compact linear axis with a 24V linear motor drive which, it claims, is as easy to commission as making a cup of coffee and will revolutionse automated assembly.

Customisable drives can be configured from a smartphone

The German automation manufacturer Lenze has announced a family of customisable frequency inverters that users can configure from their smartphones. Lenze says that the functions and power of the i500 inverters can be tailored to almost any application or environment. The drives comply with the IE2 VSD efficiency class (as defined in the new EN 50598-2 standard), and cover the power range 0.25–45kW.

Light curtains detect direction of travel without sensors

The Austrian automation specialist B&R has joined forces with the Italian sensor-maker Datalogic to develop a safety light curtain that can sense the direction in which an object is travelling, and determine its height and length, without needing the position sensors that have traditionally been used for muting and blanking applications.

Standards-based HMI system represents ‘a paradigm shift’

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, the automation manufacturer Beckhoff unveiled a new approach to HMIs (human-machine interfaces) which it is hailing as a “paradigm shift” in HMI technologies. Instead of using proprietary systems for engineering and communications, the new Web-based TwinCat HMI system uses IT standards such as Microsoft Visual Studio for the engineering, HTML5 for the design, and Websockets and HTTPS for secure communications.

8.5mm-tall robot crawls through airgaps in motors

ABB has developed a remotely controlled device that crawls in the air-gap between the stator and rotor of large motors or generators to inspect their status, thus cutting downtime, inspection costs and the need to remove the rotor. The 8.5mm-high InSight inspection crawler is fitted with five cameras that provide high-resolution coverage of the whole length of the stator core. The results are recorded for later assessment.

EtherCat+power cable heralds ‘no-cabinet automation’

The German automation company Beckhoff, which developed the EtherCat communications system, has announced a new version that uses a single four-core cable to carry both the industrial Ethernet communications protocol and currents of up to 3A at present - and, later, up to 64A. The new EtherCat P system, unveiled at the SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, includes specially developed connectors, and compatible versions of devices such as remote I/O modules. Beckhoff says that the new system will cut component and installation costs and save space, potentially resulting in smaller machine footprints.

€8,000 Scara arm will help to ‘democratise’ robots

A French start-up company has developed a Scara robot that it is selling for prices starting at around €8,000 ($8,500), rather than the €20,000 typical of horizontal-arm robots of this type. MIP Robotics says that, at this price, payback periods can be as short as six months.

Drive-on-a-chip is first to support digital and analogue sensors

Texas Instruments (TI) claims to have developed the first drive control system-on-a-chip (SoC) that supports both analogue and digital position sensors. It says that its TMS320F28379D and TMS320F28379S microcontrollers (MCUs) will eliminate the challenges of interfacing with position sensors in industrial AC inverter and servodrive applications.