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Smaller, lighter drive is 'more cost-efficient than a servomotor'

The German drives specialist, Stöber has developed a compact, efficient electric drive that is much lighter and smaller than an asynchronous drive, yet has the same output as a more expensive servodrive. It describes the LeanMotor as a robust, cost-effective AC motor replacement for users seeking higher performance at a lower cost.

Cloud-based motor monitoring will help to avoid shutdowns

At next week’s SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Siemens will be demonstrating a system for monitoring low-voltage motors by sending sensor data from them to the cloud where it is analysed and used to plan preventive maintenance.

AI software will allow anyone to teach robots complex tasks

A Californian start-up company has raised $7m in seed funding to develop AI (artificial intelligence) software that will make it easy for anyone to teach robots new, complex skills. Embodied Intelligence – a spin-out from University of California Berkeley – has been set up by a team with 30 combined years of experience in artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics.

AI module sits in a controller, looking for application problems

Rockwell Automation has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) module that fits inside an industrial controller, “learns” the application that the controller is managing, and builds a model of it. It then monitors the operation continuously, looking for anomalies. If it spots a problem, it can trigger an alarm on an HMI screen or dashboard. Future versions will go beyond diagnostics to guide users on how to remedy the problem, or adjust system parameters automatically to fix the problem without human intervention.

Servo-inverter merges drive- and controller-based automation

The German automation and drives manufacturer Lenze is launching an industrial controller which, it claims, removes the boundaries between controller-based and drive-based automation. It says that users of its new i950 servo-inverter will no longer need to choose between a centralised automation topology, a decentralised one, or a combination of the two. And from the software engineering point-of-view, it will not matter whether a servo-inverter is integrated into a machine’s topology as a simple actuator, as a parameterisable axis, or as a freely programmable axis.

Mechatronics concept will ‘revolutionise’ industrial automation

Yaskawa Electric has made a rather cryptic announcement in Japan about a new “solution concept” aimed at achieving “a revolution in industrial automation”. It adds that it is about to offer solutions that will merge software with hardware, and will create new value for customers.

Start-up raises $12m for tech that turns robots into cobots

A US start-up that is developing technologies to convert traditional industrial robots into safe “collaborative” systems, has attracted $12m of funding from backers including GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Next47, a venture capital firm created by Siemens.

1 in 4 wireless IIoT connections will use LPWA by 2025

Low-power, wide-area (LPWA) communications technologies will account for about a quarter of wireless IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) connections by 2025, according to a new forecast from the IoT analyst, ON Power. It predicts that the number of LPWA devices being used for industrial wireless sensing, tracking and control applications will climb from around 35 million in 2016, to close to half a billion by 2025.

Alternative to inverter filters cuts losses, weight and size

A pair of US researchers have developed an alternative to passive filters for inverters which, they say, will cut losses, as well as saving costs, space and weight.

Is your lubricant running low? Just add water

The German lubrication specialist, Klüber Lubrication, has developed a water-based lubricant which, it predicts, could revolutionise the future of specialty lubricants. Its Hydro Lubricant technology could transform the maintenance of industrial gearboxes to simply topping them up with water. The fluids, in which water forms a homogeneous solution with water-soluble oils, could also eliminate contamination problems, and make plants safer and cleaner.

Automated lubrication could extend guide lives

Schaeffler has demonstrated a system which determines when linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assemblies need lubrication, and relubricates them automatically, thus extending their lives and minimising the risk of failure.

Prox sensors with 'world's longest range’ could save millions

Omron has announced a new generation of proximity sensors which, it claims, have the world’s longest sensing distances. The E2E-Next sensors have almost twice the sensing distance of the company’s previous models. According to Omron, this will result in substantial savings for users because the new sensors are less likely to collide with objects, thus avoiding costly plant shutdowns to replace them.

3D printing could produce lighter, more powerful motors

German researchers are using a multi-material 3D printing technology to create parts for electric motors which, they predict, will lead to lighter motors with increased power densities and greater overload capabilities.

SiC device with record efficiency will boost power electronics

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power device which, it claims, has the world's highest power efficiency for a device of its type (a 1.2kV power device with a short-circuit time longer than 8μs). The new device, designed to be used in power modules, does not need a high-speed protection circuit to interrupt the supply when an excess current is detected. Mitsubishi says it will improve the reliability and efficiency of power electronics equipment in applications ranging from industrial machinery and railways to domestic appliances.

IIC testbed will apply machine learning to maintenance

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has launched a testbed project aimed at accelerating machine learning for predictive maintenance in high-volume manufacturing. The Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed is being led by the Industrial IoT/Industry 4.0 specialist, Plethora IIoT, and the programmable semiconductor manufacturer, Xilinx. Other companies supplying equipment for the testbed include Bosch Software Innovations, Microsoft and National Instruments.