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3D TOF technology creates ‘safety bubble’ around machines

The analogue technology company Analog Devices (ADI) is developing an alternative machine safety technology that uses a 3D TOF (time-of-flight) sensing technology, rather than the more common 2D Lidar (light detection and ranging) systems used for safety light curtains. It says that the new approach will result in a wider 120-degree field-of-view and faster detection times, as well as saving space on factory floors.

VW’s 150kW, 310Nm EV drive ‘will fit in a sportsbag’

Volkswagen has revealed details of the electric motor technology it has developed to drive its new generation of all-electric vehicles, starting with the ID.3 vehicle which has recently entered production. The EVs will be powered by permanent magnet brushless machines, with the drive and gearbox operating in parallel with the axle.

High-power, low-cost motor will ‘pack a gallon into a pint’

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a project to develop and “auto-qualify” an electric motor, primarily aimed at next-generation electric vehicles, that will be half the cost and deliver eight times higher power density of currently available motors. The aim is to produce a motor with a peak power rating of 125kW that eliminates the need for rare-earth permanent magnets which can make up a significant portion of PM motor costs.

ETG accepts Beckhoff’s 10Gb/s EtherCat

The EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) has accepted Beckhoff Automation’s 1Gb/s and 10Gb/s versions of EtherCat – known as EtherCat G and G10 – as additions to its official EtherCat standard. Beckhoff announced the development of the high-speed variants at the SPS show in Germany last year and, following a “thorough review”, ETG’s Technical Committee has now decided to accept them into the standard.

'Unique' conductive seals could tackle motor corrosion

Danish developers have come up with a pair of electrically conductive sealing materials that, they say, can provide reliable electrical connections between moving parts in components such as bearings and springs.

Are hybrid mobile robots the future of flexible production?

At the recent PPMA Total Show in Birmingham, UK, Omron demonstrated its vision of the future of manufacturing in which hybrid robots consisting of a cobots (collaborative robots) mounted on mobile, wheeled platforms move autonomously between production workcells, performing tasks such as machine tending, assembly, packing and palletising, automated pick and retrieval, as well as gluing and sealing.

AI analyses workers' actions to improve productivity

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a technology that uses AI (artificial intelligence) to analyse the actions of workers on production lines and uses this information to improve their performance, thus boosting productivity.

Digital twin robot programming slashes commissioning times

ABB Robotics has announced a new generation of robot programming software which uses digital twin technology for the first time, and is claimed to cut commissioning times from days to hours, and changeover periods from hours to minutes. ABB asserts that its PickMaster Twin software will also reduce picking times by 15% and boost output and line efficiencies by 40%.

‘Soft’ magnetic materials could give lighter, faster motors

Researchers in the US are working on motor materials and designs that could reduce electric motor sizes by more than two thirds, while transforming the same amount of power.

Patented wear control avoids planetary gearbox adjustments

A German gear-maker has announced a planetary gearbox with an patented automatic wear control system that prevents the usual increase in torsional backlash caused by wear, thus avoiding the need to adjust or replace the gearboxes when their backlash exceeds tolerance limits. Hamelin-based Melior Motion claims that with this technology, its PSC gearboxes “virtually” ensure a backlash of less than 0.1 arc-min over their entire service lives.

Slam paves the way for new autonomous industrial robots

More than 15 million industrial and commercial robots that can navigate their paths autonomously will be in operation by 2030, according to a new analysis by ABI research. They will rely on a technology known as Slam – simultaneous localisation and mapping – to map their environment while positioning themselves accurately. ABI predicts that Slam will be a crucial driver for robotics over the coming decade and will enable the transition from AGVs (automated guided vehicles) to AMRs (autonomous mobile robots).

Servo-based vibration control dampens machine tool shakes

The numerical conrols specialist NUM has announced an accelerometer-based vibration control system for CNC machine tools that, it claims, will deliver “unprecedented” dynamic damping. Designed to improve machining by effectively eliminating tool head vibration, the system can help to boost productivity by maximising material removal rates (MRRs) and providing real-time feedback for predictive maintenance purposes. The system can be retrofitted to any machine tool that uses NUM’s MDLUX digital servodrives – part of its Flexium+ CNC platform.

Massive plain bearing links dredger to pipeline

The German bearings-maker Schaeffler has manufactured its largest-ever spherical plain bearing – a 600mm-tall, 4.7-tonne component with an outer diameter of 1.9m and a bore of 1.5m. The bearing was produced in three months for use on a cutter section dredger being built by a Dutch company, Royal IHC.

AR project tests interactive data glasses in factories

A group of six German companies and institutions, led by Siemens, has completed a three-year project looking at the use of augmented reality (AR) in industry. The aim of the project, called Glass@Service, was to use intelligent data glasses as personalised information systems, combining them with new types of interaction, such as eye and gesture controls, and innovative IT services. The first practical tests in real production and logistics environments have now been completed successfully.

Cloud-linked wireless nodes monitor rotating machines

Sulzer’s Finnish-based pump business has worked with Treon, a local specialist in wireless IoT hardware, to develop a wireless condition monitoring device for rotating machinery. The battery-operated Treon industrial node measures tri-axial vibrations and the surface temperatures of equipment such as pumps, motors and agitators. It is designed to operate as part of a wireless mesh network, making it easy and cost-effective to deploy on a large scale, or to retrofit to existing equipment.