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Multi-axis controllers offer ‘world-beating’ output speeds

Omron has announced a programmable multi-axis controller that, it claims, delivers “world-beating” output speeds of 16.6µs per axis (or 50µs for five axes). The CK3M controller is designed to achieve nanoscale motion control to meet the future manufacturing needs of the semiconductor and automotive industries.

Free online tool helps to prepare for Industry 4.0

Festo has developed an free online tool that helps companies to assess their readiness for adopting Industry 4.0. Called Industry 4.0 Quick Check, it enables them to identify their current “maturity level” and what their next development and training priorities should be.

Group plans ‘first mass-market Wi-Fi IIoT technology’

Four companies – Microsoft, Advantech, Behr Technologies (BTI) and Hitachi Solutions America – have joined forces to develop what, they claim, will be “the first mass-market, end-to-end wireless gateway solution to ensure connectivity with sensors for production-level industrial and commercial applications”.

Rolls-Royce plans electric planes that will take off vertically

Rolls-Royce has unveiled plans for an electric plane that would take off and land vertically, at the at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK. The hybrid Evtol (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft will have tilting wings and will be able to carry four or five passengers at speeds of up to 250mph (400km/h) for about 500 miles (800km). Rolls-Royce says it could take to the skies in the early 2020s.

Robot grippers are inspired by geckos’ feet

A gripper technology inspired by the feet of geckos was one of the technologies demonstrated by the newly-formed robot peripherals company OnRobot when it made its public debut at the recent Automatic exhibition in Germany.

Lightweight plastic parts will lead to low-cost robots

Igus, the German engineering plastics specialist, is expanding increasingly into robotics and had two new developments on show at the recent Hannover Fair and Automatica shows in Germany.

Next generation of industrial robots heralds ‘a new era’

ABB is launching a new generation of industrial robots designed to provide users with more flexibility and a better return on investment. The new machines, due to be released over the next two to three years, will replace most of ABB’s existing portfolio, and will double the size of the company’s range.

Edge system closes gap between local processing and cloud

Siemens was one of several companies at the recent Hannover Fair to unveil edge computing technologies. It says that its Industrial Edge system closes the gap between local data-processing and cloud-based services. By pre-processing large amounts of data locally, only relevant data is transferred to cloud or IT applications, saving memory and transfer costs.

Surge protection in I/O connectors saves space and costs

Voltage transients in control circuits can have a devastating impact on plant operation. Even relatively small peaks can cause catastrophic damage to some electronic components.

‘Revolutionary’ plastic gearbox ‘will out-perform metal boxes’

Genesis Robotics claims to have developed the world’s first plastic gearbox that can outperform metal gearboxes. The backlash-free box – which it calls the Reflex torque amplifier – has four times more engaged teeth than a conventional planetary gearbox, allowing it to achieve a similar torque-to-weight ratio. And because its parts can be injection-moulded, it should be easier and cheaper to manufacture.

Now, a bionic cuttlefish takes to the water

Just two months after it unveiled bionic spiders and fruit bats at the Hannover Fair, Festo has come up with another one of its mechatronic creatures – this time, a 370mm-long cuttlefish that was swimming through a transparent pipe filled with water at the Achema process industry show in Germany.

Even machine beds are now becoming ‘smart’

At the recent Hannover Fair, Bosch Rexroth demonstrated a machine bed fitted with sensors designed to help optimise the performance of the machinery built on top of the bed. The “smart” machine bed – developed in conjunction with the machine-bed manufacturer, Rampf Machine Systems, and the sensor-makers Balluff and Sick – sends temperature, pressure and vibration data to the machine controller which can compensate for changes in these variables in real time.

Soft-switching boosts drive efficiencies and cuts size and costs

A Californian company has developed a technology which, it claims, effectively eliminates transistor switching losses in hard-switched architectures for almost any power converter topology. Pre-Switch says that its soft-switching technology will dramatically reduce the cost, size and weight of converters used in motor drive, renewable energy, electric vehicle, traction and server applications, while increasing efficiency and reliability. The reduction in switching losses is claimed to be 70–90% for any type of solid-state switch and any converter topology.

Hands-free wearable technology guides plant workers

Honeywell has announced a wearable, hands-free technology that, it says, will allow industrial workers to perform tasks more safely, reliably and efficiently. It uses a head-mounted visual display that responds to voice commands, and shows live data, documents, videos, work procedures, as well as health and safety information.

Integrating conveyors with smart transport is ‘a game-changer’

Just months after B&R Automation unveiled its AcoposTrak flexible production line transport technology at the SPS IPC Drives show, it has unveiled an enhancement that allows the technology to be integrated with conventional conveyors. The development, announced at the Hannover Fair, allows products to be carried almost entirely by low-cost conveyor belts – except for sections where they need to be handled and processed individually, where the AcoposTrak takes over.