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Cobot welding cell targets manufacturers with short runs

A Dutch machine-builder has developed a welding cell based on a cobot (collaborative robot) that makes it easier for manufacturers to automate the welding of small batches, to introduce new products, and to allow people and machines to work together safely.

‘Breakthrough’ motor combines strengths of different technologies

The German automotive powertrain supplier Mahle is developing a magnet-free motor that, it claims, will operate with an efficiency of more than 95% at almost all operating points. The motor uses an inductive – and thus contact-, wear- and maintenance-free – technology to transmit power between the motor’s stationary and rotating parts.

Ethernet/IP can now connect to simple devices like switches

The industrial communications standards organisation ODVA has extended its EtherNet/IP specification, allowing the network to connect with “resource-constrained” in-cabinet devices such as pushbuttons and contactors. Previously, cost, size, and power restrictions have limited the use of EtherNet/IP at the edge, where many nodes are still hardwired.

‘Control tower’ tracks people and vehicles on factory floors

The Israeli-Japanese automation joint venture MusashiAI has announced a spin-out company which claims to be offering the world’s first “control tower” for monitoring and managing the activity of robots, materials and people on factory floors. The flexible, modular system uses computer vision and AI (artificial intelligence) to control and monitor movements of goods, forklifts and fleets of AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) using spatial mapping. It avoids the need to install expensive tracking hardware on robots or machines, making it possible even for small companies to automate their indoor operations.

Thumbnail-sized linear actuator weighs just 3 grammes

PiezoMotor, the Swedish specialist in piezoelectric-based micromotors, has announced a tiny actuator for applications in production automation, medical engineering and laboratories. The Link linear drive, which weighs just 3 grammes and is barely larger than a thumbnail, needs no gears and is ideal for applications with restricted installation space.

‘Revolutionary’ cobot palletiser halves costs, opening SME market

Omron has collaborated with a UK robotics systems integrator Reeco Automation to develop a cobot-based palletiser that, they claim, costs up to 50% less than a conventional robot palletiser and has a 60% smaller footprint. They believe that the development will make end-of-line robotic automation economically attractive to producers of all sizes for the first time.

First ‘cyber-immune’ gateway protects IIoT data from attacks

The Russian cyber-security specialist Kaspersky has announced the first “cyber-immune” protection technology for industrial automation systems, designed to connect field devices such as sensors securely to industrial IoT (IIoT) services. The Kaspersky IoT Secure Gateway 100 system avoids the need for extra protection for gateways and connected equipment, such as anti-virus software, device controls or data diodes.

New-era robot OS is ’as easy to use as a smartphone’

The German robot-maker Kuka has announced a new operating system for its machines that, it says, will be as easy to use as a mobile phone and will mark the start of “a new era in robotics”. The iiQKA.OS system, which was previewed at the 2021 virtual Hannover Fair, will be the basis for an entire ecosystem, providing access to programs, apps, services and equipment that are easy to install, operate and use, and will allow newcomers to implement automation without specialised training, while improving and simplifying the process for experts.

Levitating transport system can operate power-free for 2h

At the virtual Hannover Fair, Festo has unveiled a superconductor-based levitating transport system that can be separated from its electrical cooling system and operate autonomously for up to two hours. This will allow contact-free handling and movement of objects and is aimed, in particular, at applications requiring high levels of cleanliness, such as laboratory automation, biotechnology or semiconductor production.

Software is ‘first’ to simulate and optimise drive installations

Siemens has announced a software tool which, it claims, for the first time, allows drive installations and their behaviour in machines and plants to be simulated, adapted and optimised. Called Sinamics DriveSim Basic, the tool is said bridge the gap between logical and mechanical simulation.

Universal robot software platform will slash costs

A French start-up aiming to make industrial robots simple enough for anyone to use, has announced a software platform that, it claims, will cut the cost of robot programming by a factor of ten. Fuzzy Logic Robotics (FLR) says that its Fuzzy Studio software will allow any factory to automate using robots quickly, simply and cost-effectively, even for complex applications involving tasks such as welding, gluing, grinding, painting and dispensing.

Mobile box-carrying robots will increase warehouse efficiency

Boston Dynamics, the US company behind YouTube-starring robots such as Spot the robot dog, has entered the warehouse automation market with a wheeled box-handling robot that can pick up, transport and stack boxes autonomously. It can handle It can up to 800 boxes each weighing up to 23kg (50lb) in an hour.

High-speed solid-rotor motors eliminate gearboxes

Yaskawa is introducing a range of high-speed, solid-rotor motors paired with variable-speed drives, which it says will offer “unrivalled” cost and size advantages in power ratings from 300kW–1.5MW and at speeds from 6,000–15,000 rpm.

Vision-guided robot sorts waste to boost recycling efficiency

A London-based start-up called Recycleye has teamed up with the UK's Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) to develop a vision-guided robotic picker that can sort through streams of waste automatically. They say that their retrofittable technology will help recycling centres to boost their sorting capacity and cut the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Superconducting coils transmit more than 5kW contact-free

German researchers have developed a contact-free power transmission technology based on superconductors that can transmit more than 5kW of power with low losses. Potential applications include autonomous industrial robots, electric vehicles and medical equipment. The system could be used to recharge the batteries of such equipment during short idle times.