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‘Smart’ breaker could cut power consumption by 15%

ABB has developed “the first low-voltage circuit breaker with integrated energy management functions”. It claims that the Emax 2 breaker can reduce power consumption by up to 15% if used instead of traditional breakers. It is designed to be used where large amounts of energy are being controlled and protected in a LV environment, such as in industrial and commercial buildings, and data centres.

Free-ranging material-mover is 15% cheaper to deploy than AGVs

The US robotics specialist Adept Technology has developed a self-navigating “autonomous indoor vehicle” (AIV), designed to move materials from point to point in challenging environments such as confined passages and populated areas.

Real-time Profinet runs on a standard Ethernet controller

Phoenix Contact’s automation software subsidiary, KW-Software, has developed a way of running Profinet IRT (isochronous real-time) on a standard Intel Ethernet controller. Until now, custom chips have been needed to provide sufficient precision.

Magnetic bearing motor can cut blower bills by 40%

SKF has developed a high-speed motor running on magnetic bearings that, it claims, can cut the energy consumed by aeration blowers in wastewater plants by up to 40%. The potential savings are substantial because aeration blowers can account for up to 80% of a wastewater plant’s total energy consumption.

Compressor giant develops its own motors to halve energy consumption

The world’s biggest compressor manufacturer, Atlas Copco, has entered the electric motor design and manufacturing business by developing an oil-cooled permanent magnet motor for a new generation of variable-speed drive compressors that, it says, will halve energy use compared to idling compressors.

Integrated motor can be operated wirelessly from a smartphone

At the recent Hannover Fair, Lenze unveiled an integrated motor and controller that can be programmed and operated wirelessly from a smartphone. The Smart Motor will run at speeds from 500–2,600 rpm while maintaining constant torque, thus reducing the number of drive variants that users will need to stock by around 70%, according to Lenze.

Cost-cutting linear motors use ‘printed’ coils

Schaeffler’s direct-drive division, INA Drives & Mechatronics (Idam), has developed a technique for producing ironless linear motors in which the motor’s coils are “printed” layer by layer. The pioneering technique will allow the motors to be manufactured in volume at lower costs than before.

Magnetic controller limits pallet speeds without wear

The Swiss logistics equipment specialist Interroll has announced a magnetically-based speed controller for pallets that, it says, “takes safe pallet-handling operations to a new level”. The company has spent three years developing the wear-free technology that works without uising friction pads

Contact-free technology carries power, signals and data

TE Connectivity has developed a technology that transmits power, signals and data in almost any environment without needing physical connectors or contacts. The Ariso system integrates wireless power and radio frequency (RF) technologies and is said to combine the reliability of contact-based connections with the flexibility of contact-free connections.

Mobile apps ‘free users from control rooms’

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the first in a series of apps for mobile devices designed to deliver “real-time operational intelligence” (RtOI), and allowing users to transform data into “actionable knowledge”. The app, called Proficy Mobile, provides real-time access to operational data via Apple iOS or Android devices, and an interface with GE’s GEO-intelligence technology which provides intelligent information based on the user’s location, role and asset location.

Mechatronic dragonfly takes to the air

The latest member of Festo’s mechatronic menagerie – a “dragonfly” that can hover, fly backwards, glide and take off from a standstill – will make its debut at next month’s Hannover Fair. The company has a tradition of unveiling a new mechatronic creature at the exhibition every year. Previous developments have included swimming penguins and jellyfish, as well as flying gulls and other birds.

Levitating platform positions to an accuracy of 10nm

A group of German organisations has built a novel system that can position a platform to accuracies of a few nanometres, based on the principle of magnetic levitation. The prototype platform, which levitates on a magnetic field generated by six coils, can be positioned to an accuracy of 10nm in three dimensions. By comparison, a human hair is about 100,000nm in diameter, a virus is 30-50nm wide, and a human fingernail grows 1nm every second.

'Third era' for drives could cut motor energy use by 40%

An American technology firm claims to have developed software that can be added to almost any AC drive to cut the energy consumed by the motor up to 40%, as well as improving the motor's performance. AC Kinetics (ACK), based in New York State, contends that its technology represents a “third era” for variable speed drives, following V/f controls in 1960s and vector controls in the 1980s.

Free tool automates machine safety designs

Rockwell Automation has released a free tool to help machine-builders and manufacturers to save time when designing machine safety systems. The Safety Automation Builder (SAB) guides them through the safety-system design process by providing layout options, analysing safety performance levels (PL) based on ISO 13849-1, and selecting appropriate Allen-Bradley safety products.

Bluetooth module that gathers factory data is ‘first’

A US manufacturer has developed what it claims is the first handheld Bluetooth transmitter designed to gather production data and send it to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, tablets and computers. The iBlue device, developed by Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (Itamco), can replace tools such as temperature readers, micrometers and hardness testers.