Drives and Controls Magazine
Automation giants back OPC UA TSN to unify comms

More than ten leading automation suppliers have joined forces to back OPC UA over Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) as a unifying communication system for use between industrial controllers and to the cloud. The companies – which include ABB, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, Cisco, General Electric, Kuka, National Instruments (NI), Parker Hannifin, Schneider Electric, SEW-Eurodrive and TTTech – intend to support OPC UA TSN in their future products.

I/O board will allow Raspberry Pi to control motors

The Californian industrial automation manufacturer Opto 22 has developed a digital I/O board for the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer that will allow the Pi to monitor, control, and automate devices that were previously beyond the capabilities of its built-in 3.3V DC GPIO sensing and control connector. The new Digital I/O Carrier Board can be used to sense or switch up to 16 electrical loads up to 3A, 2.5–280V AC/DC, allowing it to monitor and control electrical loads such as motors, pumps, and sensors.

X-Y gantry has an axis that rotates through 20 degrees

The US motion engineer Intellidrives has developed a large-area X-Y gantry in which one of the axes can be rotated through more than 20 degrees. This novel approach to kinematics allows large relative motions of independent (X1 and X2) parallel axes to control orthogonality in the X-Y plane, or to introduce large theta rotation of the Y-axis about the X1 and X2 axes, as well as rotating the Y-axis around a virtual programmable point.

£1.2m project aims to turn waste heat into electricity

A UK consortium has embarked on a three-year research programme to explore the potential for converting low-temperature waste heat into useful electrical power. The project, led by steam engineering specialist Spirax Sarco, has received a £1.24m grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

3D smart glasses help to cut maintenance workloads

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a technology that allows maintenance technicians wearing 3D augmented reality (AR) glasses to confirm the order of an inspection and then enter the results by voice. It says that the technology will cut workloads and help to avoid entry errors because information can be entered reliably, even in noisy environments.

Mobile robots use AI to deliver materials, avoiding obstacles

Omron Adept Technologies has developed a free-roaming mobile robot with on-board artificial intelligence (AI) that allows it to transport materials weighing up to 130kg to a target location, calculating the optimal route and avoiding humans and obstacles en route. The Mobile Robot LD Platform is aimed at industrial applications such as transporting car parts, electronics, foods and pharmaceuticals. It is also suitable for use in warehouses and research facilities.

Low-cost HV SiC switches could enhance drives

Researchers in the US have created a high-voltage, high-frequency silicon carbide (SiC) power switch that could cost about half as much as conventional HV SiC power switches. They say that their device could help to cuts the costs and boost the performance of applications such as medium-voltage drives, solid-state transformers, HV transmission systems and circuit-breakers.

VSD control algorithms protect gas compressors

ABB has released what it claims is the first variable-speed drive (VSD) control software that uses Model Predictive Control to regulate torque.

$3.8m project aims for better motors using high-Si steels

A consortium of American researchers has won a $3.8m grant from the US Department of Energy to develop better materials for electric motors, especially for use in transport applications. The project – which includes researchers from Iowa State University, the DOE’s Ames Laboratory, the University of Delaware, and the United Technologies Research Center – is part of a $59.2m federal programme comprising 35 research projects aimed at cutting the costs and improving the efficiencies of electric, alternative-fuel and conventional vehicles.

$10.4m project will use graphene to boost motor performance

A Canadian company called NanoXplore, which specialises in the production and application of graphene and derived materials, has joined forces with Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to support the commercialisation of lighter, more reliable and higher-efficiency components for electric motors using graphene-enhanced engineering plastics instead of metals. The value of the project – which is targeting transport applications, in particular – is $10.4m.

‘Cyber-secure’ OS for industrial controls is built from scratch

The Russian cyber-security specialist, Kaspersky Lab, is reported to have developed a dedicated operating system for industrial control systems, which will be more resistant to hacking attempts than general-purpose operating systems. It has taken four years for the company to develop the new OS – called KasperskyOS – “from the ground up”.

Testbed will link existing sensors to the cloud

Four members of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) – SAP, ifm electronic, TE Connectivity and the OPC Foundation – have been given the go-ahead for a research testbed that will link sensors in existing installations to the cloud.

Pair will develop tiny Ethernet connectors for Industry 4.0

The German connector manufacturer Harting Electronics has teamed up with Japan’s Hirose Electric, to develop, standardise and market a miniaturised connection technology for 10Gbit industrial Ethernet.

Marine propulsion system is ‘world’s most efficient’

ABB has announced a new version of its Azipod electric propulsion system for ships, which, it claims, will further increase vessel fuel efficiencies by up to 20% compared to modern shaft line propulsion systems – or 5–10% more than the previous generation. The efficiency gain of the new Azipod XL version is achieved using a "unique" nozzle system that accelerates the water flow into the propeller to increase thrust, and by redesigning the thruster for reduced water resistance.

Video shows controller surviving high-energy blasts

The Californian controls manufacturer Bedrock Automation has released a video showing its Bedrock industrial control system surviving sustained multi-million volt strikes on top of a large Tesla coil. Bedrock claims to have produced the world's most powerful and cyber-secure automation platform.