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Mechanical relay is ‘reborn’ as a tiny MEMS device

GE claims that the mechanical relay has been reborn at its Global Research Center where researchers are using MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology to create tiny switches that could have a major impact on the future design of a wide range of industrial and consumer applications.

Simulated ‘island’ shows where and how to use drive systems

Siemens Industry has developed a Web-based tool that uses an online simulation of an island to show how and where drives can be used in the oil and gas, mining, cement, power generation, metals and marine industries.

Phone-driven machine smashes Rubik’s Cube record

A machine built from Lego Mindstorms components and controlled by a Samsung smartphone has set a new world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube. The Cubestormer 3, which took its British co-inventors David Gilday and Mike Dobson 18 months to build in their spare time, solved the Cube in 3.253 seconds, beating the previous record of 5.27s set two years ago by the same team.

Module sends Ethernet comms on two-wire cables

Siemens has developed a device that allows two-wire cables, such as Profibus cables, to be used to carry Ethernet communications over distances of up to 1km without needing extra hardware, such as modems. The MM992-2VD media module can be used to convert existing cable infrastructures in machinery and plants quickly and economically to Ethernet networks.

Phone-driven robot aims to break Rubik’s Cube record

A robot controlled by a mobile phone will attempt to break the world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube at science fair in the UK on March 15. The dedicated cube-solving robot, called CubeStormer 3, will attempt to break the current record of 5.27 seconds, which was set two years ago by its predecessor, CubeStormer II.

IE5 permanent magnet motor will make Hannover debut

At next month’s Hannover Fair, the Brazilian motor manufacturer WEG is launching an “IE5” permanent-magnet (PM) motor with a rated efficiency of 96.6% and “significantly” lower losses than IE4 motors. This is one of several new ranges that WEG is premiering at the event, including IE4 explosion-proof motors.

Robot ping-pong match video draws viewers – and critics

A video of a highly-publicised table-tennis “match” between a human and an industrial robot has attracted more than a million YouTube viewings in its first two days online.

Synchronous motor pitch control shuts down turbines safely

Moog has developed a closed-loop pitch-speed control system for wind turbine blades that is based on synchronous motors and is claimed to deliver up to three times more torque from standstill than systems based on induction or synchronous motors, thus ensuring that the blades move a safely to a feathered position.

Fibre optic sensors check condition of rotating machines

The Danish sound and vibration measurement specialist Brüel & Kjær has developed a fibre-optic acceleration sensor that can be used for high-frequency measurement of small vibrations, making it suitable for condition monitoring of rotating machines such as motors, pumps, turbines and vehicles.

Technology finds and repairs EtherCat network faults

The Israeli motion specialist ACS Motion Control has developed a network failure detection and recovery technology that, it claims, will dramatically increase the uptime of machines that rely on the EtherCat network.

Ping-pong match will pit human against 'world's fastest' robot

One of the world’s top table-tennis players is going to play a match against an industrial robot in China during March. Timo Boll, who has been ranked in the world’s top seven table-tennis players, will take on a specially programmed Agilus robot built by the German robot-maker, Kuka, and claimed to be the world’s fastest robot.

EV motor-drive with SiC inverter is ‘smallest of its kind’

Mitsubishi Electric in Japan has developed a prototype 60kW electric vehicle (EV) motor-drive system with a built-in silicon-carbide (SiC) inverter. The system – claimed to be the smallest of its kind ­– will allow automotive manufacturers to develop EVs with more passenger space and higher energy efficiencies.

Calculator simplifies housed bearing replacements

ABB in the UK has produced a handheld device designed to simplify the identification of housed pillow block and flanged bearings. The rotating disc-shaped calculator, designed to fit in a toolbox, helps users to select the most appropriate replacement bearings.

‘Droop’ function improves winch control efficiency

Engineers working for Danfoss in Denmark have developed a function that allows a single frequency converter to control winches that are designed to be driven by two or more motors. They have also applied the development to marine steering and propulsion systems, and to container cranes.

Servo actuator eliminates the need for encoders

A Californian motion control specialist has developed a servo actuator that integrates a position feedback sensor into a high pole-count AC motor. QuickSilver Controls says that its Mosolver actuator will eliminate the need for costly encoder and resolvers, as well as eliminating most of the sensing electronics and the power needed to operate them.