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Programming robots inside Siemens controls will cut costs

The Italian robot-maker Comau has released a protocol that allows users of Siemens control systems to program Comau robots without leaving their Siemens ecosystem, thus saving time and cutting costs. The Next Generation Programming Platform (NGPP) works with Siemens’ Simatic robot library to eliminate the need for dedicated robot programming.

Robot dog carries acoustic imager to inspect plants safely

The mobile robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics has joined forces with Fluke Process Instruments to add acoustic imaging capabilities to its four-legged Spot robot, allowing it to move around industrial facilities to detect changes in mechanical sound signatures in equipment, or to visualise air and gas leaks, in real time, before they become costly problems.

‘Unique’ vibration analysis sensor integrates software

Fluke Reliability has announced a “unique” vibration sensing system that combines hardware and software to analyse a machine’s condition and take appropriate action to avoid downtime, rather than simply screening for problems. The Fluke 3563 vibration analysis system combines a high-frequency piezoelectric sensor, two MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, and software, allowing maintenance teams to monitor and analyse vibration readings continuously from critical assets in a plant.

Wireless technology is ‘first’ to transmit Ethernet latency-free

Phoenix Contact has developed technology for contactless transmission of data and power which, it claims, is the first that can transmit protocol-independent and latency-free Ethernet wirelessly at speeds of up to 100 Mbps across an air gap of up to 10mm. The NearFi technology can also transmit 50W constantly across the gap.

Collaboration brings immersive encounters to drives users

Siemens has joined forces with the German visual computing specialist Threedy to develop a technology that combines IIoT and 3D data to help drives users to understand their systems better and resolve faults more efficiently.

‘Last-mile’ technology stretches Ethernet range to 1.7km

The semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices (ADI) has developed a technology that stretches the distance over which industrial Ethernet can operate to as much as 1.7km. ADI says the development will allow previously unavailable data to be accessed across networks, and used to assess data such as asset health, raw material usage, and process parameters, enabling cleaner manufacturing.

Delta robot behaves like a cobot and needs no guards

A Swiss company has developed a high-speed delta pick-and-place robot which behaves like a cobot (collaborative robot), allowing it to operate safely alongside humans without needing protective barriers or performance compromises. Wyzo – a subsidiary of the packaging specialist Demaurex, which was a pioneer of delta robot technology – claims that the development represents a new category of robot which it is calling a “sidebot” (a combination of sidekick and robot).

Gear-free actuators cut lubricants and costs, and save space

A Canadian firm has developed a series of direct-drive actuators that eliminate the need for gears and belts, thus simplifying drivetrains, reducing the need for maintenance and minimising the risk of lubricant leaks, while improving performance and cutting costs. Genesis Robotics & Motion Technologies’ LiveDrive LDD 1800 actuators are aimed at applications in robots and other machinery, particularly in the food, packaging, pharmaceuticals, and electronics industries where possible contamination by lubricants has to be avoided.

Braking simulator shrinks robot cells by up to 25%

ABB has added a virtual robot braking distance function to its RobotStudio offline programming and simulation software, that calculates and simulates real-world stopping distances, avoiding the need to add safety margins to cell designs, and allowing space savings of up to 25%.

Ballscrews reduce glitches during circular interpolation

NSK claims to have an answer to the problem of machine tool quadrant glitches that occur during circular interpolation routines. It has developed a “world-first” technology that stabilises friction when a ballscrew reverses its direction of motion, significantly reducing the occurrence of these glitches.

Circular interpolation is performed on machine tools such as CNC machining centres and milling machines, as well as EDM (electro-discharge machining) machines. Defined as motion along a circular arc, it requires precise coordination of two machine axes.

Cobot welding cell targets manufacturers with short runs

A Dutch machine-builder has developed a welding cell based on a cobot (collaborative robot) that makes it easier for manufacturers to automate the welding of small batches, to introduce new products, and to allow people and machines to work together safely.

‘Breakthrough’ motor combines strengths of different technologies

The German automotive powertrain supplier Mahle is developing a magnet-free motor that, it claims, will operate with an efficiency of more than 95% at almost all operating points. The motor uses an inductive – and thus contact-, wear- and maintenance-free – technology to transmit power between the motor’s stationary and rotating parts.

Ethernet/IP can now connect to simple devices like switches

The industrial communications standards organisation ODVA has extended its EtherNet/IP specification, allowing the network to connect with “resource-constrained” in-cabinet devices such as pushbuttons and contactors. Previously, cost, size, and power restrictions have limited the use of EtherNet/IP at the edge, where many nodes are still hardwired.

‘Control tower’ tracks people and vehicles on factory floors

The Israeli-Japanese automation joint venture MusashiAI has announced a spin-out company which claims to be offering the world’s first “control tower” for monitoring and managing the activity of robots, materials and people on factory floors. The flexible, modular system uses computer vision and AI (artificial intelligence) to control and monitor movements of goods, forklifts and fleets of AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) using spatial mapping. It avoids the need to install expensive tracking hardware on robots or machines, making it possible even for small companies to automate their indoor operations.

Thumbnail-sized linear actuator weighs just 3 grammes

PiezoMotor, the Swedish specialist in piezoelectric-based micromotors, has announced a tiny actuator for applications in production automation, medical engineering and laboratories. The Link linear drive, which weighs just 3 grammes and is barely larger than a thumbnail, needs no gears and is ideal for applications with restricted installation space.