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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.

IoT gateway uses OPC UA Publisher to link devices to the cloud

The industrial communications and automation supplier Moxa has joined forces with Microsoft and the OPC Foundation to develop an industrial IoT gateway with a built-in OPC UA Publisher module. By combining Windows 10 IoT and OPC UA Publisher, the MC-1121 gateway is said to offer a secure, reliable way of getting data from field devices to the cloud for analytics and monitoring.

Consortium is designing tomorrow’s industrial network

A consortium of German companies and organisations including Bosch Rexroth, Festo and Siemens, is developing the foundation for the industrial Internet of the future, based on the latest networking and 5G wireless communications technologies. The three-year Find (Future Industrial Network Architecture) project has a budget of almost €7m, 61% of this coming from the German government.

Hybrid trucks take power from overhead lines in German trial

A 10km stretch of autobahn near Frankfurt in Germany is being converted to provide power to hybrid-electric trucks from overhead lines. The technology, called eHighway, is said to be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines, halving energy consumption and reducing air pollution.

Synchronised actuators can lift loads faster

Thomson Industries has developed a way of synchronising up to four heavy-duty electromechanical linear actuators to allow large or awkward loads to be moved repeatedly and evenly. It has built the capability into its Electrak HD actuators, resulting in what, it claims, will be more stable and potentially quicker lifts, the avoidance of additional guides, and improved handling of uneven loads.

EU project could result in machinery that repairs itself

Engineers and researchers from six European countries have been taking part in a collaborative project aimed at developing maintenance technologies capable of predicting when production machinery is going to fail. This will allow plant managers to rectify faults before the breakdowns occur. In some cases, the system will even be able to correct defects automatically.