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3D software is ‘first’ to simulate robotic cells accurately

Omron claims to have developed the first 3D simulation software that can reproduce accurately the movements of all of the robots and peripheral devices that make up an automation cell and verify their operation with the same accuracy as the actual machine. The Sysmac Studio 3D simulation software allows mechanical designers responsible for drawing up equipment specifications, and  electrical engineers responsible for control programming, to work concurrently at an early stage of a machine design project. This, says Omron, will help to avoid errors when the machine is started up, leading to faster start-ups and improved productivity.

Food-certified soft gripper can handle eggs and fruit

The Danish robotic end-effectors specialist OnRobot has developed a food-grade soft gripper capable of picking up delicate and irregularly-shaped objects in food, beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications, as well as in general manufacturing and packaging operations. The electrically-powered Soft Gripper can handle items such as eggs, fruit, bottles or oddly-shaped containers.

Virtual acceptance tests overcome virus travel restrictions

A German packaging machine-builder has been able to perform acceptance tests remotely on a new cosmetics filling machine that it has built for a US customer, with more than 30 members of the customer's staff following every step of the virtual FAT (factory acceptance test) online via 11 cameras.

Four 1MW motors will propel drag racer to 612km/h

An Australian company has developed a compact 1MW motor that, it claims, sets new benchmarks for efficiency and power-to-weight ratios. Perth-based HyperPower Technologies developed the 430mm-diameter, 180mm-long motor originally for use in an electrically-powered drag-racing car being developed by a sister company, Top EV Racing, but it believes that the machine could have applications in many other areas including mining, aerospace, light rail and Hyperloop transportation systems.

‘Smart’ plain bearing can eliminate planned maintenance

The German engineering plastics specialist igus has developed an “intelligent” plain bearing that monitors and warns of wear, allowing users to plan their maintenance, repairs and parts replacement activities accordingly. The smart iglidur bearing is intended for use in difficult-to-access bearing points and for applications where no regular maintenance is planned.

Autonomous bin-picking cobot puts parts into machines

The Danish collaborative robot (cobot) specialist Universal Robots (UR) has announced a kit that, it says, will simplify the integration of autonomous bin-picking of parts and accurate placement in machines using its cobots. The ActiNav autonomous bin-picking kit synchronises vision processing, collision-free motion planning, and autonomous real-time robot control, eliminating the complexity and risk usually associated with bin-picking applications.

Engineers in China develop disinfection robot in a week

Engineers in China working for Siemens and the refrigeration and appliance manufacturer, Aucma, have developed an idea for an intelligent disinfection robot into a prototype in just one week. The electrically-powered robot, which can overcome obstacles and navigate slopes, can disinfect an area of up to 36,000m2 in an hour.

Wireless monitor warns when wipes clog pumps

A Californian IoT specialist, myDevices, has teamed up with a French electronics developer, éolane, to offer a wireless predictive maintenance system that could help water companies to monitor pumping stations that are increasingly being clogged by the large numbers of people who are flushing disinfectant wipes, paper towels and napkins down their toilets during Coronavirus lockdowns.

Record-setting power converter boosts densities eight-fold

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a new technology that integrates power semiconductor devices, passive devices, sensors and other components in the same substrate, and has used the technology build a 100kW (continuous) bidirectional DC-DC converter with a power density of 136kW per litre – making it the world’s most power-dense converter, with a density eight times higher than conventional converters. The company predicts that the technology will result in much smaller power electronics equipment.

Self-build PLC-based counter helps control social distancing

The German PLC-maker Barth Elektronik has joined forces with RS Components to develop a simple self-build project to help implement social distancing.

Revamped micro gearheads boost efficiencies by 30%

By redesigning the internal layout of its micro planetary gearheads, maxon motor says it has been able to boost their efficiencies by around 30%, as well as increasing their torque outputs, improving their feedback, and extending their service lives by up to 11 times compared to some rivals.

Linking drives to the edge could lead to new business models

At the now-postponed Hannover Fair, Siemens is planning to unveil a concept study that will demonstrate a Sinamics drive system integrated with its Industrial Edge platform. In future, it says, it will be possible to perform high-frequency data exchange in drives using edge devices and to perform complex analyses of drivetrains. The result will be more intelligent drive systems that could lead to new business models.

Cooling technique could boost motor lives and efficiencies

Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the UK have embarked on a two-year project aimed at developing a novel liquid cooling technology for electrical machines that could cut end-winding temperatures by more than 30°C compared to forced-air-cooled machines with rotor-mounted fans. The technique could boost machine efficiencies and prolong their lives.

Davos 5G demo synchronises robots 1.5km apart

At the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ABB, Ericsson, and the Swiss telecoms company Swisscom, demonstrated real-time 5G communications being used to control robots over a long distance. In the demo, an ABB YuMi collaborative robot (cobot) carved a message in a sandbox that was replicated simultaneously by a second YuMi located 1.5 km away.

‘Sensorised’ skin helps soft robots to tell where they are

Researchers at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the US have built a soft robotic arm that understands where it is in 3D space using only motion and position data from its own “sensorised” skin.