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Novel linear actuators challenge hydraulic drives

Schaeffler has come up with a new form of linear spindle actuator that can support heavy loads at spindle pitches of less than 5mm. Called the planetary screw drive – or PWG – the new device has large enough power densities and load-carrying capacities to replace hydraulic drives in some applications.

Automation firms can now use FDI spec to develop products

The FieldComm Group – the standards-based organisation formed in January by the merger of the Fieldbus Foundation with the Hart Communication Foundation – has announced the availability of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification, together with tools that will allow automation suppliers to develop products and host systems compatible with FDI.

14-gram device collects data from rotating shafts

A Californian company that specialises in data-recorders and sensors for crash-testing, has come up with a tiny device that can collect data from rotating components – such as drive shafts, rotors and reciprocating rods – without needing sliprings or telemetry.

Global project uses Internet to pinpoint and manage tools

Three companies, located on different continents, are collaborating on a project that is using the industrial Internet to track the presence of items on factory floors. The companies – Bosch in Germany, Cisco in the US, and Tech Mahindra in India – are all members of the Industrial Internet Consortium, and the project, called Track & Trace, is an IIC testbed.

Future automation devices will assign their own addresses

A technology that allows automation devices to assign unique addresses to themselves automatically, without needing a central address server, will make its debut at the Hannover Fair in April. The technology, called Effortless Communication, is being developed by Siemens, which says that it will simplify the setting up, testing, and upgrading of machine and plant networks. It will also make it easier to replace devices and integrate series-production machines, as well as simplifying the deployment of remote maintenance services and enhancing their security.

Group plans ‘industrial data space’ for global users

A group of German organisations, backed by their Government, have announced plans to create a data space that will be available to industries around the world. Access to, and use of, this “Industrial Data Space” will be safeguarded by a set of standards. The aim is to develop a secure, decentralised system that can cope with increasing digitalisation and the rapid shifts in industrial manufacturing and business processes that come with it.

Algorithms target linear motor track systems

The Israeli motion control specialist ACS has developed a series of algorithms specifically to control closed-track transportation systems driven by linear motors. It says that such systems offer better performance than track systems based on moving magnets, at a fraction of the cost.

Synchronous reluctance EV motor avoids rare earths

A UK consortium has developed an 85kW synchronous reluctance motor designed primarily for electric vehicle traction applications. The motor, which avoids the use of expensive rare-earth elements, is said to deliver uncompromised performance at a low cost.

System senses expansion inside machine tool spindles

The German sensor manufacturer Micro-Epsilon has developed a displacement measurement system for that is small enough to fit inside the spindle of high-speed milling and grinding machines to measure thermal and centrifugal force extension of the spindle. These measurements can be output to a CNC system as correctional values, allowing the machine to compensate for any spindle positioning errors.

Novel barcode technology boosts 2D read rates

Cognex has developed a technology for reading 2D matrix and DPM (direct part mark) barcodes even when they do not have visible perimeters. The texture-based PowerGrid location algorithm takes “a unique, inside-out approach” to reading codes, and is claimed to increase read rates “dramatically” in applications where a part’s geometry, poor lighting or print-registration errors make it difficult to capture an image of the entire code.

Drive module ‘overcomes problems’ for commercial EVs

German researchers have developed an electric axle module for commercial vehicles that integrates a high-speed motor, gearbox and power electronics, and is claimed to be smaller, lighter and more cost-effective than most alternative technologies.

EV motor bearing has built-in incremental encoder

SKF has developed a bearing with a built-in encoder designed to provide smooth, accurate motor control for the next generation of electric and hybrid motor vehicles, including starter-alternators for stop-and-start duties.

Toyota starts road trials of EVs with silicon carbide devices

Toyota is starting to road-test two electric vehicles in Japan that are using silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors in their motor controls and voltage converters. It says that SiC devices could lead to significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains.

Motor 'delivers rare-earth performance without rare-earths'

The US motor manufacturer UQM Technologies has been granted a US patent for an electric and hybrid electric vehicle motor design that uses non-rare earth magnets and is claimed to deliver a similar performance to motors that use rare-earth magnets. The patent covers a “unique” rotor design and magnet geometry that enables the use of non-rare earth magnets and avoids the demagnetisation issues that would occur with these magnets if used in conventional motors. It also covers a motor manufacturing method.

New track shapes open up production line options

By adding new track shapes to its linear-motor-based XTS (eXtended Transport System), Beckhoff says it has opened up many new potential applications for transporting items on production lines. For example, the new sections, with radii of 22.5 degrees, can be used in combination with the existing straight and curved modules, to create tracks in the form of circles, squares with rounded corners, or S shapes.