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‘Smart’ bearings warn as they wear, avoiding breakdowns

The German engineering plastics specialist igus is developing a new generation of flange bearings with built-in miniature wireless sensors that allow their state of wear to be monitored and predictive maintenance to be implemented to help prevent machine breakdowns.

E-machine simulation software reduces reliance on prototypes

Siemens Digital Industries has announced simulation software that helps developers of electric vehicles (EVs) and their supply chains to predict the performance of e-machines, including axial-flux drives. The Simcenter E-Machine Design software brings together electromagnetic and thermal simulation, helping to reduce reliance on physical prototypes, and to accelerating innovation.

Free AR app helps to avoid robot hazards without a headset

The German robot-maker Kuka has developed an AR (augmented reality) app that visualises robot cells live on a smartphone or tablet, helping to achieve fast, safe start-ups. The free KUKA.MixedReality Assistant app does not need an AR headset or other dedicated hardware.

Liquid-cooled SynRM IE5 motors combine efficiency with output

ABB has launched a liquid-cooled version of its SynRM (synchronous reluctance) motor, combining the benefits of IE5 energy efficiency with effective cooling. The motors, which were first previewed at the SPS exhibition in 2022, can save energy and cut emissions in new projects or as drop-in replacements for less efficient motors.

Generative AI takes maintenance to the next level

Senseye, the UK-based condition monitoring specialist acquired by Siemens in 2022, has added a generative AI (artificial intelligence) function to its predictive maintenance Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), making it more conversational and intuitive to use. Siemens says the development will make human-machine interactions and predictive maintenance faster and more efficient by enhancing proven machine-learning capabilities with generative AI.

Schneider, Intel and Red Hat join forces on open automation

Schneider Electric has collaborated with Intel and the open-source software developer Red Hat to release a Distributed Control Node (DCN) software framework that, they say, will help to drive open automation. The framework, an extension of Schneider’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert, will allow industrial companies to migrate from vendor-specific hardware to a software-defined, plug-and-produce model, allowing them to enhance their operations, ensure quality, reduce complexity, and optimise costs.

€145 controller uses AI to generate code within seconds

A Greek automation start-up has announced an IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) controller that can be programmed and monitored via a smartphone, and avoids the need for programming expertise. Erqos says that the €145 EQSP32 controller can be used for industrial or home automation applications, as well as for instrumentation and for remote monitoring and control.

AI tool analyses production line tasks up to 99% faster

Mitsubishi Electric has developed an AI tool that analyses manual tasks on production lines in a few minutes and visualises how the tasks could be performed more efficiently to improve productivity. The company says that tool can cut the time needed to analyse such tasks by up to 99%.

Magnetic powder could be used to 3D-print motor parts

A European project has developed an iron silicon powder which can be used to 3D-print components for electric motors. This could increase their efficiencies and reduce the consumption of materials compared to the standard practice of cutting and moulding sheet metal to create motors. The powder, produced using a laser-based bed fusion technology, could also cut motor weights “significantly”, without affecting their performance.

Per cycle energy monitoring is built into servodrives

The German drive and automation specialist Baumüller has developed a smart energy monitoring function which can be incorporated into its servodrives, allowing users to analyse energy consumption per cycle without needing external hardware, thus saving both space and costs of wiring and hardware.

Large mobile robot opens up new options for flexible assembly

German researchers are developing a large mobile robot that, they believe, could bring much more flexibility to industrial applications than conventional fixed-base robot systems. The mobile platform, built by the German firm Broetje-Automation, carries a six-axis Comau robot arm with a 150kg load capacity.

Encoder with built-in vibration analysis avoids downtime

The German encoder specialist Heidenhain has developed a rotary encoder with a built-in accelerometer that allows position measurements and vibration analysis to be performed by a single component, thus simplifying condition monitoring and maintenance planning in high-wear automated systems.

‘Breakthrough’ in calculations could double bearing lives

The Japanese bearings-maker NSK claims that it can revise the basic dynamic load rating of many of its rolling bearings to double their rolling contact fatigue life without any changes to their design or materials, following a “breakthrough” in the way bearing lives are calculated – the first significant change to these calculations in more than 60 years. The development will help end-users to improve productivity, cut the frequency with which they need to replace their bearings, and reduce waste.

Project aims to offer a second life to motor components

A consortium of German organisations, led by Schaeffler, is developing techniques that will allow electric motor components to be re-used at the end of the motor’s life, rather than being shredded and recycled, as happens at present.

Low-cost bionic hand gives cobots human-like capabilities

The German engineering plastics specialist igus has developed a humanoid hand gripper that allows its ReBeL family of low-cost collaborative robots (cobots) to take on human-like tasks. The hand, made of lubrication-free plastics, has been designed to imitate human hand movements, and costs from £2,668 ($3,367) in the UK.