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‘More conductive’ copper will lead to more efficient motors

US researchers have developed a process that, they say, can boost the conductivity of copper wire by about 5%, thus either improving the efficiencies of electric equipment such as motors, or reducing their weight while operating with the same efficiency.

AI-based software will help manufacturers to save energy

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a software package that uses AI (artificial intelligence) to help save energy in manufacturing plants by identifying energy losses, diagnosing factors that could be causing these losses, and quantifying the potential effects of energy-saving measures.

Schneider and Orange install France’s first industrial 5G network

Schneider Electric has installed the first indoor 5G network in the French industrial sector at a factory in Le Vaudreuil in northern France that it uses to pilot digital transformation technologies. The aim of the installation, performed in collaboration with the telecoms operator Orange, is to use 5G to achieve reliable, scalable and sustainable communications.

Nanotubes boost copper's current capacity by 14%

US scientists have created a composite material that, they say, can boost the electrical current capacity of copper wires by 14%, while improving their mechanical properties – such as strength and weight – by up to 20% compared to pure copper. The researchers, from the US government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), add that the material could be used in any component that uses copper, resulting, for example, in more efficient busbars, smaller connectors and ultra-efficient, high-power-density motors.

‘Class-leading’ heavy-lifting robot makes its debut in China

ABB has announced a new industrial robot which, it claims, offers “class-leading lifting ability and reach and path accuracy, in a faster, more compact package”. It unveiled the IRB 1300 robot at the 2020 China International Industry Fair (CIIF) in Shanghai, where it also announced several other automation developments including an inkjet technology that, it says, will paint cars 50% faster than previous techniques, and its vision for the hospital of the future, which includes a robotic pharmacy and a collaborative cell for medical laboratories.

SiC modules will cut losses by 70% over silicon IGBTs

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a second generation of silicon carbide (SiC) power modules, based on a newly developed SiC chip, that, it predicts, will lead to the development of smaller, lighter, more efficient power electronic equipment in various industrial fields, including variable-speed drives.

Autonomous high-bay forklifts are ‘the industry’s first’

US-based AutoGuide Mobile Robots claims to be offering the world's first autonomous mobile robots designed to automate racking and picking operations in high-bay warehouses. The AutoGuide Max-N High Bay counterbalanced forklifts can lift 1,100kg payloads to and from racks up to 11m high, and travel at speeds of up to 1.8m/s.

OS transforms cobots into ‘intelligent collaborators’

A Californian start-up has announced an AI-based robotics OS (operating system) that, it claims, will transform collaborative robots (cobots) into intelligent co-workers on manufacturing floors. After two years of r&d – including installations at major automotive manufacturers – Qobotix has unveiled its technology designed to make robots smarter and self-learning.

Oversampling brings greater accuracy to multi-axis servos

Beckhoff has upgraded the firmware in its AX8000 multi-axis servodrives to support oversampling, allowing multiple sampling of process data within one communication cycle, with the data being transferred via EtherCat. With an oversampling factor of up to 128, this allows higher-level controllers to transmit several setpoint positions or speeds to the drive within one cycle, which the drive then follows. In addition, measured variables can be recorded several times in the drive, and the buffered values can be made available to the controller within a single cycle.

Anti-viral coating protects equipment against Covid-19

The Brazilian industrial equipment manufacturer, WEG, has developed an anti-viral coating which, it claims, makes 99.9% of Coronavirus inactive within minutes of the virus making contact with the coated surface. The polyurethane-based coating is designed to protect industrial equipment used in high-risk environments, such as hospitals and laboratories, as well as for use on other types of machinery and on public transport systems.

Contour-based navigation needs no markers

The German sensor-maker Sick has announced a contour-based navigation technology for mobile platforms such as AGVs (automated guided vehicles), carts, forklifts and service robots, that allows them to move freely around a factory and warehouse without needing reflectors or other physical markers. The Lidar-Loc (localisation on contour) system guides the vehicles using pre-mapped contours.

AGV is the ‘first’ to use vision-based navigation

Nidec-Shimpo has announced what it claims is the first AGV (automatic guided vehicle) to use vision-based navigation. It says that its S-Cart-V AGV can be used not only in factories and warehouses, but also in changing environments such as commercial facilities or the service industry where there are people walking around and obstacles may appear or disappear suddenly.

Precision 3D robotic inspection makes QC ten times faster

ABB has developed a 3D quality inspection robot cell that can spot defects that are less than half as wide as a human hair and imperceptible to the naked eye. It says that 3DQI cell will accelerate production dramatically by providing fast, accurate testing that simplifies metrology and saves time.

EU project doubles reading range of any magnetic encoder

The German magnetic measurements specialist Bogen Electronic has announced a technology that, it says, will double the reading distance of any magnetic encoder.

5G private wireless networking will transform industry

Nokia has launched what it claims are the first commercial standalone (SA) 5G private wireless networking systems for industrial and manufacturing applications. It says the systems represent “the most comprehensive end-to-end portfolio of high-performance 4.9G/LTE and 5G private wireless networking solutions” available.