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Custom gearboxes will ‘revolutionise’ transmission market

The German gearbox-maker Flender has announced a new generation of single-stage helical gearboxes which, it predicts, will revolutionise the market. The company – previously owned by Siemens, which sold it to the investment firm Carlyle in 2020 – says that the new Flender One gearbox sets new benchmarks for efficiency, operating costs, ease of ordering and maintenance, with every box having onboard monitoring and analysis to help avoid failures.

Smart on-battery electronics eliminates the need for inverters

A German start-up has come up with a technology that does away with the need for converters in battery-powered systems. The “AC battery” system, developed by Munich-based Bavertis, uses electronics to reconfigure battery cells several thousand times per second, and allows the battery to generate AC directly.

UK-developed 400kW motor is ‘most power-dense’ of its type

The UK powertrain developer, Equipmake, has unveiled an ultra-lightweight electric motor which, it claims, is the most power-dense of its type in the world. The HPM-400 motor has been designed for high-performance space, aerospace and marine applications.

Platform unites robots and sensors, boosting development

An Israeli developer of robot software has announced a new capability that integrates autonomous robots with sensors, cameras and automation systems, thus cutting robot development times by up to 60%. Cogniteam says, for example, that the development will allow cameras and other sensors to track autonomous robots as they collect laboratory samples, picking a path that gives them uninterrupted access.

Chainless drive gives a novel spin to e-cargo bikes

Schaeffler has partnered with the German drive specialist Heinzmann to develop a chainless electric drive system for cargo and utility bikes that achieves efficient power transmission from the pedal to the wheel. By doing away with chains, belts, gear rings, sprockets and other mechanical drive components, the Free Drive system is much less prone to mechanical wear, reducing the need for maintenance.

Trio develop a 5G alternative to control cables for hoists

Schneider Electric, Capgemini and Qualcomm have collaborated to develop a “first-of-its-kind” 5G-based system to replace wired connections – including control cables and video links – in industrial crane and hoisting systems. 5G’s low latency allows the system to replace fibre and copper cables for remote-control operations, simplifying networks, reducing wiring and providing reliable long-term connections.

‘Revolutionary’ software lets anyone program robots

A French developer has announced “revolutionary” software that allows non-experts to program and simulate almost any type of industrial robot, without needing to do any coding. Fuzzy Logic says that its Fuzzy Studio software will allow industrial users to create virtual cells and to robotise their production at an affordable price with low risk, even in situations that were once considered impossible – such as for small batches or complex parts.

‘First force-controlled parallel robot’ senses forces down to 0.1N

A Chinese robot developer has announced what it describes as “the world’s first force-controlled parallel robot”. Shanghai-based Flexiv says that its Moonlight robot will be ideal for applications that require precision motion and force control, such as fastening screws, polishing and handling precision loads.

Move away from control cabinets gathers pace

One automation trend that has been gaining traction in recent years is the move towards control systems that use rugged, decentralised, modular components instead of traditional centralised control cabinets. At the recent SPS exhibition in Germany, there were several companies were showing the latest examples of this trend in practice.

Three partners develop deep learning for vision systems

ABB-owned B&R Automation is enhancing its smart cameras with powerful deep learning functions. It has formed a three-way collaboration with the German machine vision software specialist MVTec and the Israeli AI chip developer Hailo to turn its cameras into powerful edge devices.

Can the ChatGPT AI bot be used to program PLCs?

A PLC expert has tested the PLC programming knowledge and capabilities of ChatGPT – the online chatbot that has attracted a huge amount of publicity since it was launched last November. Jakob Sagatowski, a PLC software engineer based in Germany, has posed a series of questions to the chatbot and recorded the results in a YouTube video.

World’s smallest servodrives get even smaller

Just months after claiming to have set a new world record for the smallest servodrive, the Spanish developer Ingenia has produced an even smaller device – a 250W drive that measures 33 x 17.6 x 6mm, and weighs just a mere 6 grammes. The new Denali drives are aimed at applications such as robots, industrial grippers and lab automation systems.

OS links IT to OT and frees users from proprietary limits

The German connectivity and automation supplier Weidmüller has developed an automation operating system that links the worlds of OT (operational technology) and IT and will allow automation engineers to assemble customised Web-based systems. Called u-OS, the system is based on open standards such as Linux, container technology and OPC UA, and can integrate custom apps, apps from third-party developers, as well as apps developed by Weidmüller itself.

3D cameras will no longer be dazzled by bright light

Two German companies, Jabil and Osram, have collaborated a Lithuanian OEM manufacturer Artilux to develop a 3D camera technology that can operate in both indoor and bright outdoor environments, with a sensing range of up to 20m.

Robot tool has precision painting application taped

A pair of robotics companies based in the US and Austria have joined forces to develop an end-of-arm tool that allows robots to apply masking tape for painting applications, especially in the aerospace industry.