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Automated print inspection system avoids nuisance stops

A UK coding and print inspection specialist AutoCoding Systems has collaborated with the sensor-maker Sick to develop what they claim is the first fully-automatic smart vision inspection system for printed coding and markings on food, pharmaceutical and other consumer goods packaging.

Collab combines vibration analysis and torque monitoring

Schaeffler and Bonfiglioli are collaborating on a technology that combines vibration analysis and torque monitoring. At the recent Hannover Fair, they demonstrated the TorqueTracking technology being applied to geared motors used as yaw drives for wind turbines. They are developing a pilot project that will use the combined technology to monitor overloading of these yaw drives, thus increasing maintenance intervals and allowing a change from fixed-interval to load-based maintenance.

Project will develop electric propulsion for UK airship

The UK is leading a £1m project to develop electric propulsion technologies for aircraft, using a helium airship as the initial platform. The E-HAV1 project aims to develop a 500kW electric propulsor for the Airlander 10 airship which is being developed by Bedford-based Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV). The intention is to replace the craft’s existing fuel-burning forward engines as the first step towards an all-electric version of the craft.

IIoT technology 'closes the factory-cloud gap'

HMS Networks has announced a technology that, it says, will close the gap between the factory floor and the cloud, allowing manufacturers to implement the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in an easy and secure way. The new “end-to-end” concept, combines Anybus Edge gateways that connect to industrial hardware, with HMS’ Hub, which provides secure data connections and integration wth IoT software, as well as a customisable Hub portal with data management and visualisation functions.

Smart sensor checks the condition of pillow block bearings

ABB has adapted its smart sensor technology, previously used to monitor the condition of electric motors, to help users of pillow block bearings to minimise downtime.

AI module plugs into controls to spot production problems

Rockwell Automation has announced an add-on module for its ControlLogix controllers that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect production anomalies and alert workers so they can investigate or intervene. The FactoryTalk Analytics LogixAI module fits into a controller chassis and streams control data over the backplane to build predictive models. It can monitor production operations continuously, detecting any anomalies.

$4.5m funding will help to market ‘revolutionary’ motor

A US start-up has raised $4.5m to help market a “revolutionary” electric motor that uses multiple rotors in “ways never before devised” and can adapt to conditions while in motion. Compared to the best permanent magnet motors, Linear Labs claims that its Hunstable Electric Turbine (HET) motor delivers twice the torque density, three times the power density, and twice the output for a given motor size.

Non-contact vibration sensors will open up new uses

An Israeli company has developed a non-contact, laser-based sensing technology that measures the vibrations emitted by industrial machinery to predict and prevent mechanical failures before they occur. VocalZoom says that because its sensors can monitor machine health without touching the equipment, they will have a much wider range of applications than traditional predictive maintenance systems, as well as avoiding the deployment and downtime costs associated with fixed sensors.

Soft robotic gripper can lift items 100 times its weight

Researchers in the US have developed a robotic gripper that’s soft and strong. The cone-shaped structure, called Magic Ball, collapses in on objects and can pick up items that are 100 times its weight. The gripper can grasp objects ranging from soup cans and wine glasses, to single florets of broccoli.

Automated loading of parcels into trucks tackles ‘the last mile’

Trials have begun of a system that can load parcels automatically into delivery trucks, thus reducing the amount of manual work needed, and saving time. The system, called PackMyRide, has been developed by the supply chain specialist, Dematic, and is being tested in a pilot project at distribution centre operated by the delivery company DPD in Nagold, Germany.

Mitsubishi reveals ‘first’ 102 products to support CC-Link TSN

Mitsubishi Electric has announced the release of 102 factory automation products that will be the first to support the next-generation CC-Link IE TSN industrial network that was announced at the end of 2018. The products – which include PLCs, servo amplifiers, robots, HMIs, inverters and CNCs – will start to reach the market in May 2019. They will include 65 new-generation servodrives and seven motion controllers.

Pneumatic ‘hand’ and ‘arm’ can collaborate safely with humans

Festo has unveiled its latest nature-inspired technologies: a pneumatically-operated “hand” and “arm” which can interact safely with people. Both will make their public debut at next month’s Hannover Fair.

Module links existing motors to the cloud for analysis

Siemens has announced plans for a technology that will transmit data from existing electric motors directly to the cloud for analysis, without needing any structural modifications. At next month’s Hannover Fair, the company will demonstrate a module that will allow plant operators to view the operational status of their drive systems and to plan servicing schedules, improve efficiency, as well as extending service lives. Typical applications will include pumps, fans and compressors.

RFID helps robots to track objects and could replace vision

Researchers at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the US have developed a system that uses RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags to help robots home in on moving objects with “unprecedented” speed and accuracy. Using the system, called TurboTrack, robots can locate tagged objects within 7.5ms on average, and with an error of less than 1cm.

AI slashes the automation set-up times by up to 66%

Mitsubishi Electric and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have developed an artificial-intelligence (AI) technology that, they say, can cut the time needed to set up factory automation (FA) equipment by up to two thirds. The technology, which combines AIST’s AI expertise with Mitsubishi FA technologies, will be implemented in Mitsubishi's Maisart (Mitsubishi AI creates the State-of-the-Art in technology) products.