Drives and Controls Magazine
Vision-based luggage ID system is ‘15% better than lasers’

The machine vision specialist Cognex has announced a vision-based system for identifying airport baggage which, it claims, is the first of its type and overcomes the limitations of laser-based baggage identification systems. It says that its ABH-ID (airport baggage handling identification) system achieves much higher read rates than laser-based systems, cutting the costs of delivering lost or late-checked luggage by hand.

Browser-based system turns block I/Os into PLCs

Turck has announced a technology that allows users to add logic functions to I/O devices without needing a PLC, thus driving down the cost per I/O point and increasing control flexibility. The Argee “field logic controller” (FLC) system is programmed via a Web browser, eliminating the need for third-party software or licensing that is common with PLCs.

Software links mechanical, electrical and PLC activities

At the recent Hannover Fair, Eplan and Cideon – both members of the German Friedhelm Loh Group – announced a software platform that, they say, will simplify collaboration between mechanical and controls engineers and PLC programmers. The Syngineer software interfaces mechanical and electrical computer-aided design (MCAD and ECAD) and PLC programming software via a mechatronic structure.

‘Smart’ cables can predict when they are about to fail

Two German companies – the sensor manufacturer Leuze Electronic and the connection specialist Murrelektronik – have joined forces with the French cable-maker Nexans to develop a cable that can sense when it is close to failure, thus alerting users and allowing them to replace the cable before it fails.

Energy recovery system ‘can pay for itself in a year’

The German automation developer Lenze has unveiled a system for recovering braking energy, which separates the supply and recovery paths, allowing them to be designed and dimensioned individually for an application. The Smart Energy Recovery r700 modules have a claimed conversion efficiency of 98% and Lenze says that, depending on the amount of energy recovered, they can pay for themselves in around a year.

Precision hydraulic-pneumatic drive ‘can thread a needle’

US engineers have developed a new type of hydrostatic transmission system that combines hydraulic and pneumatic technologies and can be used, for example, to drive robot arms safely and precisely, giving them the delicacy to pick up an egg without breaking it. The transmission system has almost no friction or play, resulting in high enough precision for tasks such as threading a sewing needle.

‘Plug-and-play’ IO-Link system speeds machine set-ups

The German industrial connectivity specialist Murrelektronik claims to be the first manufacturer to implement a “plug-and-play” technology for IO-Link devices that, it says, will make it much easier and faster to set up machines and systems. The “IODD on Board” technology stores information about IO-Link-supporting devices, such as sensors and actuators, inside distributed fieldbus modules so that as soon as an IO-Link device is connected to the module, data about it can be accessed directly by PLC software tools.

‘World’s fastest’ elevator will hit speeds of 73.8km/h

Mitsubishi Electric claims to have developed the world’s fastest elevator. It has designed and built a system that will travel from the basement to the 119th floor of China’s tallest building, the 632m-tall Shanghai Tower, in just 53 seconds.

B&R enters the fray for linear motor transport systems

Austria’s B&R Automation is the latest company to offer a linear-motor-driven production transport system as a fast, flexible alternative to conventional conveyors. It has joined forces with Canada’s ATS Automation to offer a system called SuperTrak, which it demonstrated at the recent Hannover Fair.

CC-Link and OPC agree to collaborate on an interface

At the recent Hannover Fair, the OPC Foundation and the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) signed a memorandum of understanding under which they will cooperate to develop an interface specification with harmonised access. The interface will connect CC-Link networks and devices to the cloud, and allow users of CC-Link networks to exchange data with other systems.

Interface will simplify links between controls and the cloud

ODVA is to develop standards for gateway and interface technologies to move data between CIP-enabled industrial control systems (ICSs) containing EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet devices, and the cloud. The aim is to produce a specification for a “common industrial cloud interface”, based on open and interoperable standards supported by multiple vendors, that will allow cloud computing to support device management, process analytics, notifications, remote access, virtualisation, visualisation and – in the future – control. 

Remote monitoring of VSDs will help to plan maintenance

At the Hannover Fair, ABB has announced a remote condition-monitoring service for variable-speed drives that will use the Internet of Things to provide real-time information about drive events, and help to predict their maintenance needs, operational risks and possible system faults. The service will provide expert reports on a drive’s condition and e-mail warnings of potential faults or restricted availability. It could, for example, spot overheating which could interrupt production and eventually damage a drive. It will also prevent some semiconductor faults.

US Air Force sets new maglev record of more than 1,000km/h

The US Air Force has set a new world speed record for magnetically-levitated (maglev) transport by accelerating a rocket-propelled sled to a speed of 1,019km per hour (633 mph) at its Holloman base in New Mexico.

Smart sensors will cut downtime of any LV motor by up to 70%

At next week’s Hannover Messe, ABB will unveil a smart condition-monitoring sensor that can be attached to low-voltage motors from any manufacturer. ABB claims that the sensors – which link wirelessly to cloud-based servers – will cut motor downtime by up to 70% as well as extending motor lifetimes by up to 30% and cutting their energy consumption by up to 10%. ABB developed the device jointly with the Swiss chip developer, EM Microelectronic, which is part of the Swatch group and started out in the 1970s as a developer of low-power chips for watches.

Rockwell, Fanuc and Cisco use AI to optimise production

Fanuc, Rockwell Automation and Cisco are collaborating with a Japanese artificial intelligence (AI) start-up called Preferred Networks (PFN) to develop a technology that will link CNC (computer numerical control) machines, peripheral devices and sensors to robots, to deliver analytics designed to optimise manufacturing processes.