Drives and Controls Magazine
12,000 sensors on existing machines can connect to the cloud

Microsoft has teamed up with a German start-up, CloudRail, to integrate almost any sensor on existing or new machines with its IoT Plug & Play services such as IoT Central. CloudRail estimates that there are about 12,000 industrial sensors from suppliers such as ifm, Sick and Pepperl+Fuchs that could be connected in this way.

3D printing of motor windings eliminates traditional drawbacks

Two US companies have developed a new way of producing copper windings for motors using 3D printing that, they say, eliminates many of the limitations of traditional techniques for manufacturing windings. Pennsylvania-based ExOne, which specialises in 3D metal and sand printers using a binder jetting technology, is collaborating with a Tennessee-based start-up called Maxxwell Motors to develop “unique” copper windings for Maxxwell’s axial-flux motors, which avoid the need for magnets and rare-earth materials.

Efficiency of 105MW two-pole motor will exceed 98%

Siemens Large Drives Applications (LDA) is building a “world-leading” 105MW two-pole motor-generator with an efficiency of more than 98% for use in a Chinese energy storage project.

AI will pool machine user data to improve maintenance

Bosch Research has teamed up with the UK AI (artificial intelligence) specialist to test a technology that will gather data from multiple machine users to build up a bigger picture of potential failures. The aim is to overcome the problem of relying on data from a single machine user where problems do not occur often.

600kW fuel cell aircraft powertrain pulls 15-ton platform

Engineers working for the British-American fuel-cell-powered aircraft developer ZeroAvia have used a 600kW propellor powertrain to pull a 15-ton mobile testing platform at the company’s Californian facility in Hollister. The test was part of the development programme that should see a 19-seater fuel cell aircraft powered by two of the 600kW powertrains taking off from ZeroAvia’s UK site in Kemble later this year.

EnDat 3 interface is designed for digital manufacturing

The German sensor-maker Heidenhain has released the third generation of its EnDat serial communications interface, specifically designed to meet the needs of digital manufacturing. EnDat 3 is said to offer faster data transmission, improved reliability and improved diagnostics, combined with additional sensor data (from encoders or other external devices).

Programming robots inside Siemens controls will cut costs

The Italian robot-maker Comau has released a protocol that allows users of Siemens control systems to program Comau robots without leaving their Siemens ecosystem, thus saving time and cutting costs. The Next Generation Programming Platform (NGPP) works with Siemens’ Simatic robot library to eliminate the need for dedicated robot programming.

Robot dog carries acoustic imager to inspect plants safely

The mobile robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics has joined forces with Fluke Process Instruments to add acoustic imaging capabilities to its four-legged Spot robot, allowing it to move around industrial facilities to detect changes in mechanical sound signatures in equipment, or to visualise air and gas leaks, in real time, before they become costly problems.

‘Unique’ vibration analysis sensor integrates software

Fluke Reliability has announced a “unique” vibration sensing system that combines hardware and software to analyse a machine’s condition and take appropriate action to avoid downtime, rather than simply screening for problems. The Fluke 3563 vibration analysis system combines a high-frequency piezoelectric sensor, two MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, and software, allowing maintenance teams to monitor and analyse vibration readings continuously from critical assets in a plant.

Wireless technology is ‘first’ to transmit Ethernet latency-free

Phoenix Contact has developed technology for contactless transmission of data and power which, it claims, is the first that can transmit protocol-independent and latency-free Ethernet wirelessly at speeds of up to 100 Mbps across an air gap of up to 10mm. The NearFi technology can also transmit 50W constantly across the gap.

Collaboration brings immersive encounters to drives users

Siemens has joined forces with the German visual computing specialist Threedy to develop a technology that combines IIoT and 3D data to help drives users to understand their systems better and resolve faults more efficiently.

‘Last-mile’ technology stretches Ethernet range to 1.7km

The semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices (ADI) has developed a technology that stretches the distance over which industrial Ethernet can operate to as much as 1.7km. ADI says the development will allow previously unavailable data to be accessed across networks, and used to assess data such as asset health, raw material usage, and process parameters, enabling cleaner manufacturing.

Delta robot behaves like a cobot and needs no guards

A Swiss company has developed a high-speed delta pick-and-place robot which behaves like a cobot (collaborative robot), allowing it to operate safely alongside humans without needing protective barriers or performance compromises. Wyzo – a subsidiary of the packaging specialist Demaurex, which was a pioneer of delta robot technology – claims that the development represents a new category of robot which it is calling a “sidebot” (a combination of sidekick and robot).

Gear-free actuators cut lubricants and costs, and save space

A Canadian firm has developed a series of direct-drive actuators that eliminate the need for gears and belts, thus simplifying drivetrains, reducing the need for maintenance and minimising the risk of lubricant leaks, while improving performance and cutting costs. Genesis Robotics & Motion Technologies’ LiveDrive LDD 1800 actuators are aimed at applications in robots and other machinery, particularly in the food, packaging, pharmaceuticals, and electronics industries where possible contamination by lubricants has to be avoided.

Braking simulator shrinks robot cells by up to 25%

ABB has added a virtual robot braking distance function to its RobotStudio offline programming and simulation software, that calculates and simulates real-world stopping distances, avoiding the need to add safety margins to cell designs, and allowing space savings of up to 25%.