Drives and Controls Magazine
AI app identifies machines and suggests parts

Plastics specialist igus has developed an app that uses AI to identify machinery and to suggest lubrication-free components that could be used in it. The user simply takes a photo of an application and its surroundings on a mobile device, and the igusGo app identifies the equipment and searches through 10,000s of options to suggest which of igus’ products could have applications in the machine. It also suggests where there is potential to improve the machine’s technology and save money.

Tech creates bridge from motor switches to digital world

At the recent SPS show in Germany, ABB demonstrated a technology that offers a simple way to digitise AF contactors and motor starters and provide information about their loads. The Novolink system can be integrated easily with existing wiring and contactors, which can continue to be used. The system can be retrofitted at any time.

AI camera chip allows overlays in live video streams

The German machine vision specialist IDS has collaborated with Ambarella, a developer of consumer visual AI products, to produce a new class of intelligent industrial camera that acts as an edge device and generates AI overlays in live video streams.

Siemens develops AI manufacturing tool with Microsoft

Microsoft and Siemens have jointly developed an AI-powered assistant – called Siemens Industrial Copilot – aimed at improving human-machine collaboration in manufacturing. They are also integrating Siemens’ Teamcenter PLM (product lifecycle management) software with Microsoft Teams to simplify virtual collaboration between design engineers and others, thus helping to pave the way to the industrial metaverse.

Novel high-efficiency motor ‘will shake up the industry’

The Brazilian motor-maker WEG has invented a hybrid motor technology that, it says, combines the best technical characteristics of permanent magnet (PM) and synchronous reluctance (SynRM) motors, and will provide higher efficiencies at all speeds than induction motors. WEG predicts that the W23 Sync+ technology, which will be available in IE5 and IE6 efficiencies, “will shake up the industry”.

Robots insert mining explosives for the first time

ABB has completed testing of the first automated robotic charging technology for underground mines, in partnership with the Swedish mine operators Boliden and LKAB. The aim is to make mines safer by automating one of few manual processes left in mining – charging blasting holes with explosives.

Motor sensor is low-cost rival to magnetic and optical encoders

The Japanese semiconductor specialist Renesas has developed an inductive motor position sensing technology to rival the costly magnetic and optical encoders commonly used in motor control applications. The company claims that its high-speed inductive position sensor (IPS) technology is accurate, robust, reliable and cost-effective.

UK-developed elevator drive ‘will change the industry’

The Welsh drives-maker, Invertek has developed a product that, it believes, will redefine elevator motor controls. It describes its new Optidrive Elevator Core variable-speed drive – unveiled at the recent Interlift 2023 trade show in Germany – as “a breakthrough in elevator motor control technology, providing unprecedented size, functionality, and power”.

Private industrial 5G network gives automation flexibility

Siemens has launched a private 5G wireless infrastructure that will allow industrial companies to build their own 5G networks to support automation applications. 5G offers many potential advantages to industrial users including the flexibility to change factory layouts without having to move data cables, low latencies, fast data speeds and high data security.

IE5 motors for hazardous areas are a ‘world first’

ABB has launched what it claims is the world’s first IE5-efficiency motor designed for use explosive environments. It says that the hazardous areas version of its IE5 SynRM (synchronous reluctance motor) will cut energy losses by up to 40% compared to the IE3 motors that are commonly used in hazardous area applications.

Compact, magnet-free motor uses inductive transmission

The German automotive technology supplier ZF has developed an electric motor which needs no magnets but is claimed to deliver a similar performance to permanent-magnet synchronous machines. Unlike other magnet-free concepts, such as separately excited synchronous motors (SESMs), ZF’s I2SM (In-Rotor Inductive-Excited Synchronous Motor) transmits the energy to produce its magnetic field via an inductive exciter in the rotor shaft. It says this makes the motor “uniquely compact with maximum power and torque density”.

UK dual-arm robot is sensitive enough to handle a crisp

UK researchers have developed a dual-arm robot system that is so sensitive that it can safely handle fragile items such as individual potato crisps. The AI-guided bi-touch system, devised by scientists at the University of Bristol, is claimed to display a tactile sensitivity approaching that of humans. The researchers believe it could revolutionise delicate applications such as picking and handling fruit, and could help to create a sense of touch in artificial limbs.

Stepping on a graphene mat could power sensors

Scottish researchers have produced a pressure-sensitive mat containing a graphene-based material that generates power when humans walk on it. They suggest that the low-cost, energy-efficient technology could be used to power sensors, to monitor building occupancy, or to reduce energy use by, for example, controlling temperatures as people or enter or leave a room.

PCB-stator pump motor is much lighter and more efficient

A US company that has developed a technology that uses PCBs (printed circuit boards) to create electric motor stators, has joined forces with a pump-maker to apply the technology to a “next generation” 3hp (2.2kW) pump motor that, they claim, is much more efficient, lighter and shorter than existing motors.

3D-printed motor delivers more torque than expected

Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK, working with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, have developed an electric motor using 3D printing technology that they believe could lead to more powerful motors that use less material.