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Sick opens up its Hiperface DSL servodrive technology

The German sensor-maker Sick is opening up its single-cable Hiperface DSL (Digital-Servo-Link) motor feedback technology for use by any servodrive or motor manufacturer.  Since its launch in 2011, the technology has been adopted by more than 40 manufacturers, including ABB, Baumüller, Beckhoff, B&R, Kollmorgen, Lafert, LTI, Moog, NUM, Parker, Sigmatek, Stöber, and WEG.

Push-in busbar clamp challenges traditional connections

Rittal has invented a new method for connecting wires and cables to copper busbars which, it claims, is the fastest way of making such connections easily and securely. It adds that the technology will reduce the possibility of defects such as incorrect compression and clamp loosening, while its maintenance-free design should be more reliable and will cut maintenance costs.

IoT platform allows manufacturers to create their own apps

A US company has developed an IoT-enabled software platform that allows engineers to create shop-floor apps that connect workers, machines and IT systems.

AI machine control algorithm slashes set-up times

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a deep-reinforcement algorithm for artificial-intelligence (AI) based control of machinery that, it says, needs just one-fiftieth of the number of trials needed to set up conventional AI-based controls. The new algorithm will allow smart equipment such as industrial robots and vehicles to use sensors and cameras to learn rapidly about their environments to allow finely-tuned AI-based control.

Hygienic IP69K transport system opens up applications

At the Hannover Fair, Beckhoff unveiled a stainless-steel version of its XTS (eXtended Transport System) which, it predicts, will open up many new applications, especially in the food and pharmaceutical sector, and for processing and filling liquids. On its stand, Beckhoff was demonstrating how the IP69K-protected Hygienic Design version of XTS can even operate under a continuous water spray.

Cyber-attack detection protects real-time controls

Mitsubishi Electric says it has developed a technology for detecting cyber-attacks against critical control systems which can identify network traffic that deviates from normal commands. The technology detects cyber-attacks disguised as commands for critical infrastructure – such as electricity, gas, water and petrochemical installations – without affecting real-time control capabilities. The Japanese company says that this will help to ensure that the operation of such infrastructure remains stable.

Gear-free actuators could revolutionise robot designs

A Canadian company has developed a gearless, high-torque rotary actuator which, it claims, out-performs traditional gear-based actuators in many ways, while potentially being much cheaper. Genesis Robotics has invested C$28m (US$20.4m / £15.8m) in developing its LiveDrive technology, which it is aiming principally at robotics applications – it believes that the backlash-free technology could revolutionise the design of robotic arms, and halve their costs. The company adds that the lightweight, direct-drive actuators could have many other applications, ranging from prosthetics to vehicles.

IO-Link spawns a safety version

The IO-Link Community has announced a safety version of its technology, which is fieldbus and system-independent. The new IO-Link Safety achieves this by converting the many safety protocols on the market to IO-Link Safety in a master.

Schematics are generated ‘at the push of a button’

Eplan used the recent Hannover Fair to launch a software package that, it says, will generate electrical and fluid schematic diagrams automatically at the push of a button, without needing expert knowledge, programming abilities, or extensive training. The “unique” package, called Eplan Cogineer, does not require users to change their design methods, which “will simply become much faster”.

‘First’ autonomous container ship will be electrically powered

Two Norwegian companies have announced plans to build the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, which will be able to navigate without needing any crew.

Retrofit gathers and analyses data from existing plants

B&R Automation used the Hannover Fair to launch a retrofit system that collects and analyses data from existing production sites. The technology, called Orange Box, allows machine operators to gather data from previously isolated machines and lines and use the data in smart factory applications. B&R says it is as easy to use as a smartphone.

Ballscrews, belts and bearings become ‘smart’

A noticeable trend at the recent Hannover Fair was the emergence of “intelligent” versions of previously “dumb” mechanical devices. Several exhibitors announced “smart” versions of traditional mechanical components, designed to connect to the Internet of Things and to Industry 4.0 applications.

Seal-shaped bearing sensor adapts to the application

The German bearings-maker Schaeffler – which has been offering sensor-equipped bearings and guidance systems for several years ­– stated at the recent Hannover Fair that its aim is to transform conventional mechanical products and to integrate them into the digital world. Its latest development is a 7mm-thick ring-shaped device that can contain a choice of sensing elements to suit an application, and occupies a similar space to the rotary shaft seal of a bearing. The housing is attached to a bearing’s outer ring, and the sensor ring to the inner ring.

Blue-LED encoders ‘double signal quality’ at up to 12,000 rpm

By using specially-developed blue-light LEDs, Pepperl+Fuchs claims to have produced a range of incremental rotary encoders with the highest signal quality available. The ENI58IL encoders also offer higher resolutions, improved signal amplitudes, and the ability to operate with absolute accuracy at speeds of up to 12,000 rpm.

Omron develops ‘first’ machine controller with real-time AI

At the Hannover Fair in Germany, the Japanese automation supplier Omron has announced what it claims is the first machine controller to be equipped with a machine-learning artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm. The AI-powered controller is the first in a series of AI and IoT (Internet of Things) automation technologies that the company plans to launch in a bid to tackle manufacturing issues such as the shortage of skilled engineers and rising labour costs. Omron has set itself a goal of making all of its FA equipment AI-/IoT-capable by 2020, and believes that AI could help to replace the skills of experienced workers who are reaching the ends of their working lives.