Drives and Controls Magazine
Home
Menu
Google Glass gives a new angle on plant monitoring

At the recent SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Germany, the Italian software developer Progea was demonstrating a prototype version of a virtual reality application that uses Google Glass to view the parameters of an automation system in real time, via WiFi or a mobile broadband connection.

Flexible-finger gripper gets the thumbs-up

Festo has developed a hand-like flexible gripping system that uses opposable “thumbs” to adapt to a variety of objects. The MultiChoiceGripper, aimed at robotic and assembly tasks, combines two developments: adaptive fingers using Festo’s Fin Ray technology; and a mechanical linkage that changes the position of the fingers from “opposing” to “surrounding”.

Siemens drops its IPC OS for a commercial product

After using an in-house-developed operating system in its industrial PCs for many years, Siemens has moved to the VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS), developed by Intel subsidiary, Wind River.

New-generation matrix converter aims for much wider use

Yaskawa has unveiled a new generation of its high-efficiency matrix converter drive technology with integrated energy regeneration, harmonic suppression and a high power factor. The company is hoping that the new version will be used much more widely than earlier models, especially in applications involving large amounts of braking energy.

System recovers servodrive energy to cut peak demand

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a capacitor-based system that stores regenerative energy from servomotor installations and allows it to be re-used later. The company demonstrated a pre-production version of its Energy Assist Unit (EAU) at the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany.

SiC-based regen system could pay for itself in two years

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Lenze demonstrated a new approach to recovering braking energy and feeding it back into the mains, that is designed to be efficient, compact and easy to apply. The technology, based on fast-switching silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, can achieve rapid paybacks and can be used in applications where regenerative braking has previously been considered too costly.

Linear motors replace ropes in future elevator system

The German elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp has announced a technology that will use linear motors instead of traditional ropes to move passenger cabins both horizontally and vertically. The technology, called Multi, will allow several self-propelled cabins to share the same shaft, thus boosting transport capacities by up to 50%, while slashing elevator footprints by up half.

24-core industrial PC is ‘world’s most powerful PLC’

At the SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, the automation manufacturer Beckhoff has unveiled a 24-core industrial server which it describes as the world's most powerful PLC. The IPC can perform 20 PLC tasks in parallel with 100µs cycle times and perform its fastest cycles in 25µs.

Device bridges the gap between motor starters and VSDs

Eaton claims to have developed a new form of energy-saving motor controller that bridges the gap between fixed-speed starters and variable-speed drives (VSDs). It says that its “variable-speed starter” (VSS) combines the simplicity of a starter with ability to vary the speed of a motor.

Four 1.2MW motors power world’s biggest truck

The world's largest truck, a 360-tonne vehicle powered by four 1.2MW electric motors, has entered service at a mine in Siberia. The 20m-long truck, built by the Belarussian manufacturer BelAZ, has a top speed of 64 km/h when empty. It can carry around 450 tonnes of cargo – equivalent to seven fully-loaded Airbus A320-200 planes or 350 VW Golf cars, and 25% more than any other truck at the time it was designed.

Mini-motors touch down on comet’s surface

The Philae craft that landed on the 67P / Churyumo Gerasimenko comet recently was carrying tiny motors supplied by two Swiss manufacturers.

Two-armed robot adapts to changes on the factory floor

The US robot developer Rethink Robotics has announced a “groundbreaking” technology that will allow its Baxter collaborative robot to adapt to changing, real-world environments. The Robot Positioning System –­ part of the latest upgrade to Rethink’s Intera software ­– helps users to re-deploy robots after common plant-floor disturbances such as tables being bumped or fixtures being moved.

Technology tackles stepper motor hum

The German motion control specialist, Trinamic, has developed a technology which, it claims, will cut stepper motor noise levels “significantly”. The patent-pending technology, called stealthChop, is expected to be particularly useful for stepper motors that are used close to human operators, or where many steppers are operating together.

Integrated EV motor-inverter frees 7 litres of space

Siemens has developed an integrated motor and inverter for electric vehicles which, it says, will save space and weight, and cut costs. The key to the development is the use of a single water-based cooling system for both components, ensuring that the inverter's power electronics don't get too hot despite being next to the motor, and avoiding the need to reduce the drive’s output or service life.

Tiny piezo-hydraulic actuator delivers 150N

Researchers at Siemens have developed a powerful small actuator that combines piezoelectrics with hydraulics to produce a 9cm-long device that can apply a force of more than 150N and movements of up to 2cm. They say that the piezo­hydraulic actuator could be used to operate valves and flaps, to drive aircraft ailerons, and in robotic, medical and cleanroom applications.