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Start-up brings real-time AI to machines on the shopfloor

A German start-up that Festo bought last year claims to be implementing AI (artificial intelligence) directly on machines on factory floors and interpreting data there in real time. Resolto Informatik says it already has applications at work in manufacturing environments.

Li-Fi and TSN deliver real-time comms via light beams

German researchers have combined data transmission via light waves (Li-Fi) with TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) to allow wireless transmission of real-time and deterministic data.

Real-time condition monitoring needs no extra sensors

At the recent SPS show in Germany, Lenze demonstrated two different approaches to providing condition monitoring of a two-axis machine without needing any extra sensors. One was model-based, comparing values measured on the machine with those from mathematical descriptions of the machine. If certain tolerances are exceeded, this is interpreted as a fault.

Indiegogo campaign promises ‘world’s first open controller’

An Italian engineer has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help develop what he describes as “the world’s first open hardware and multi-platform controller”, which could also be used for edge computing and as an IIoT gateway. Giacomo Falcone is hoping to raise €120,000 to develop his Yaba (Yet Another Backplane Architecture) technology, which he sees as filling the gap between low-cost, but hard-to-assemble, boards, and costly dedicated industrial controllers.

Regen drives are key to 'cheaper than coal' energy storage system

Powerful motors and regenerative drives are at the heart of a novel gravity-based energy storage technology being developed by a Swiss company called Energy Vault. When there is a surplus of energy, the system will use cranes to lift and stack 35-tonne concrete composite blocks to form towers up to 120m high. When energy is costly or in short supply, the system will lower the blocks to the ground to generate electricity through regeneration.

3D TOF technology creates ‘safety bubble’ around machines

The analogue technology company Analog Devices (ADI) is developing an alternative machine safety technology that uses a 3D TOF (time-of-flight) sensing technology, rather than the more common 2D Lidar (light detection and ranging) systems used for safety light curtains. It says that the new approach will result in a wider 120-degree field-of-view and faster detection times, as well as saving space on factory floors.

VW’s 150kW, 310Nm EV drive ‘will fit in a sportsbag’

Volkswagen has revealed details of the electric motor technology it has developed to drive its new generation of all-electric vehicles, starting with the ID.3 vehicle which has recently entered production. The EVs will be powered by permanent magnet brushless machines, with the drive and gearbox operating in parallel with the axle.

High-power, low-cost motor will ‘pack a gallon into a pint’

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a project to develop and “auto-qualify” an electric motor, primarily aimed at next-generation electric vehicles, that will be half the cost and deliver eight times higher power density of currently available motors. The aim is to produce a motor with a peak power rating of 125kW that eliminates the need for rare-earth permanent magnets which can make up a significant portion of PM motor costs.

ETG accepts Beckhoff’s 10Gb/s EtherCat

The EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) has accepted Beckhoff Automation’s 1Gb/s and 10Gb/s versions of EtherCat – known as EtherCat G and G10 – as additions to its official EtherCat standard. Beckhoff announced the development of the high-speed variants at the SPS show in Germany last year and, following a “thorough review”, ETG’s Technical Committee has now decided to accept them into the standard.

'Unique' conductive seals could tackle motor corrosion

Danish developers have come up with a pair of electrically conductive sealing materials that, they say, can provide reliable electrical connections between moving parts in components such as bearings and springs.

Are hybrid mobile robots the future of flexible production?

At the recent PPMA Total Show in Birmingham, UK, Omron demonstrated its vision of the future of manufacturing in which hybrid robots consisting of a cobots (collaborative robots) mounted on mobile, wheeled platforms move autonomously between production workcells, performing tasks such as machine tending, assembly, packing and palletising, automated pick and retrieval, as well as gluing and sealing.

AI analyses workers' actions to improve productivity

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a technology that uses AI (artificial intelligence) to analyse the actions of workers on production lines and uses this information to improve their performance, thus boosting productivity.

Digital twin robot programming slashes commissioning times

ABB Robotics has announced a new generation of robot programming software which uses digital twin technology for the first time, and is claimed to cut commissioning times from days to hours, and changeover periods from hours to minutes. ABB asserts that its PickMaster Twin software will also reduce picking times by 15% and boost output and line efficiencies by 40%.

‘Soft’ magnetic materials could give lighter, faster motors

Researchers in the US are working on motor materials and designs that could reduce electric motor sizes by more than two thirds, while transforming the same amount of power.

Patented wear control avoids planetary gearbox adjustments

A German gear-maker has announced a planetary gearbox with an patented automatic wear control system that prevents the usual increase in torsional backlash caused by wear, thus avoiding the need to adjust or replace the gearboxes when their backlash exceeds tolerance limits. Hamelin-based Melior Motion claims that with this technology, its PSC gearboxes “virtually” ensure a backlash of less than 0.1 arc-min over their entire service lives.