Drives and Controls Magazine
‘Revolutionary’ gearhead wins €100,000 technology award

UPDATED: The German motion specialist Wittenstein has won a €100,000 technology award for a new generation of compact, zero-backlash gearheads with independently movable teeth that, it claims, will outperform any previous gearhead technology in terms of torque density, torsional stiffness and energy efficiency. When the Galaxie gearhead is combined with a new high-speed motor and Industry 4.0 connections, it will pave the way to “an entirely new class of drive system”, says the company.

Bionic ants and butterflies head for Hannover

At next month’s Hannover Fair in Germany, Festo will unveil the two latest additions to its menagerie of bionic creatures: piezo-powered ants that collaborate with each other to perform tasks; and lightweight butterflies that use an infrared tracking system to fly around freely without colliding with each other.

Six-axis table-top robot gives a ‘third hand’ to workers

The Danish robot-maker Universal Robots has announced a compact, six-axis, table-top robot that weighs just 11kg, but has a payload of 3kg, 360-degree rotation on all wrist joints, and infinite rotation on the end joint. The company claims that these characteristics make the UR3 robot, the most flexible, lightweight, table-top robot available that can work safely alongside humans.

Record-breaking motor is ‘five times more powerful’

Researchers at Siemens have developed an electric motor that weighs just 50 kilograms, yet delivers a continuous output of about 260kW – about five times more than conventional drive systems of a similar weight.

Baxter robot gets a precision, one-armed brother

Rethink Robotics, the US developer of the human-friendly, twin-armed robot called Baxter, has announced a new device: a single-arm, high-performance robot aimed at precision tasks, such as machine tending and circuit board testing, that have traditionally been difficult to automate using conventional industrial robots.

Novel water-cooling system shrinks motors by up to 30%

AKH, the German motor manufacturer bought by WEG last year, has patented a water-cooling system for high-speed motors which, it claims, will result in motors that are 20–30% smaller and lighter than conventional water-cooled machines.

Novel linear actuators challenge hydraulic drives

Schaeffler has come up with a new form of linear spindle actuator that can support heavy loads at spindle pitches of less than 5mm. Called the planetary screw drive – or PWG – the new device has large enough power densities and load-carrying capacities to replace hydraulic drives in some applications.

Automation firms can now use FDI spec to develop products

The FieldComm Group – the standards-based organisation formed in January by the merger of the Fieldbus Foundation with the Hart Communication Foundation – has announced the availability of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification, together with tools that will allow automation suppliers to develop products and host systems compatible with FDI.

14-gram device collects data from rotating shafts

A Californian company that specialises in data-recorders and sensors for crash-testing, has come up with a tiny device that can collect data from rotating components – such as drive shafts, rotors and reciprocating rods – without needing sliprings or telemetry.

Global project uses Internet to pinpoint and manage tools

Three companies, located on different continents, are collaborating on a project that is using the industrial Internet to track the presence of items on factory floors. The companies – Bosch in Germany, Cisco in the US, and Tech Mahindra in India – are all members of the Industrial Internet Consortium, and the project, called Track & Trace, is an IIC testbed.

Future automation devices will assign their own addresses

A technology that allows automation devices to assign unique addresses to themselves automatically, without needing a central address server, will make its debut at the Hannover Fair in April. The technology, called Effortless Communication, is being developed by Siemens, which says that it will simplify the setting up, testing, and upgrading of machine and plant networks. It will also make it easier to replace devices and integrate series-production machines, as well as simplifying the deployment of remote maintenance services and enhancing their security.

Group plans ‘industrial data space’ for global users

A group of German organisations, backed by their Government, have announced plans to create a data space that will be available to industries around the world. Access to, and use of, this “Industrial Data Space” will be safeguarded by a set of standards. The aim is to develop a secure, decentralised system that can cope with increasing digitalisation and the rapid shifts in industrial manufacturing and business processes that come with it.

Algorithms target linear motor track systems

The Israeli motion control specialist ACS has developed a series of algorithms specifically to control closed-track transportation systems driven by linear motors. It says that such systems offer better performance than track systems based on moving magnets, at a fraction of the cost.

Synchronous reluctance EV motor avoids rare earths

A UK consortium has developed an 85kW synchronous reluctance motor designed primarily for electric vehicle traction applications. The motor, which avoids the use of expensive rare-earth elements, is said to deliver uncompromised performance at a low cost.

System senses expansion inside machine tool spindles

The German sensor manufacturer Micro-Epsilon has developed a displacement measurement system for that is small enough to fit inside the spindle of high-speed milling and grinding machines to measure thermal and centrifugal force extension of the spindle. These measurements can be output to a CNC system as correctional values, allowing the machine to compensate for any spindle positioning errors.