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Power pods could cut ferry running costs by $1.7m a year

ABB has launched a new mid-sized series of its Azipod ship propulsion pods aimed primarily at ferry operators. The announcement comes as a new study by the Finnish marine consultancy Deltamarin found that Azipods could save ferry operators up to $1.7m in annual fuel costs per vessel, as well as cutting their CO2 emissions by about 10,000 tonnes per year – equivalent to taking about 2,200 passenger cars off the road.

Low-power servodrives head a slew of CT launches

The Welsh drives-maker, Control Techniques, now part of the Japanese Nidec group, has announced a new generation of low-power servodrives and motors. The 200V Digitax SF drives, spanning ratings from 50–750W, will be positioned alongside CT’s flagship Digitax HD servo platform.

Compact pneumatic slides are ‘the smallest available’

Festo has developed what it claims is the world’s shortest pneumatic slide. The DGST slide has a twin-piston design and comes in diameters from 6–25mm and stroke lengths from 10–200mm. The slide houses an integrated guide and end-plate made from a single part, thus eliminating torsion and misalignment issues and providing precise movements. Impact shocks at the end-of-stroke are reduced by integral cushioning, while in-built stroke adjustment eliminates the need for additional parts.

Production transport system carries five times more load

Rockwell Automation has upgraded its MagneMover Lite production transport system, allowing it to move heavier products and support larger-scale applications. The system, which uses independent carts to move items along production lines, can now carry loads of up to 10kg ­­– five times more than before – and supports larger applications.

Metal proximity sensors boast ‘world’s longest sensing range’

Omron claims to have set a new world record for the sensing distances possible when using full metal proximity sensors. It says that its new E2EW series sensors achieve sensing ranges about twice as long as previous sensors when sensing steel objects, and six times as long when detecting aluminium components.

164 safety light curtains form ‘world’s broadest portfolio’

Omron has announced a family of 164 new safety light curtains, with the claim that they form the industry's broadest portfolio. The F3SG-SR/PG curtains provide finger (10mm beam gap), hand (20mm), leg (40mm), and body protection (80mm), and cover protective heights from 160–2,480mm. They are IO-Link compatible, and can thus be linked into IoT systems on factory floors.

Ironless linear motors boost force-to-mass ratios by up to 45%

At the 2019 Hannover Fair, Schaeffler presented a series of ironless linear motors designed to reduce the mass of the primary part without compromising drive forces. The UPLplus motors are aimed, in particular, at applications where the maximum acceleration of linear drives has previously been limited by the relatively large proportion of the rotor mass to the total moving mass.

Parameterising app talks to drives via Bluetooth

Nord Drivesystems has developed an app for diagnosing, analysing, monitoring and parameterising its drives. The Nordcomm app works with a Bluetooth stick to speed up commissioning, simplify maintenance and remedy faults faster.

Backdrivable actuator offers ‘unrivalled’ speed and stiffness

Genesis Robotics, the Canadian company which unveiled a gearless, high-torque rotary actuator at the 2017 Hannover fair, was back at this year's show, previewing a new family of low-friction, back-drivable actuators which, it says, respond much faster than traditional actuators.

Siemens' automation portal migrates to the cloud

Siemens is making its TIA Portal engineering framework accessible via the cloud, providing fast, flexible, Web-based access to pre-installed environments via any type of hardware, at any place and any time, without needing any installation. It says that this capability will reduce the effort needed to test TIA Portal innovations, allowing the framework to adapt flexibly to a user’s hardware and way of working. There is no need to install the software on local hardware.

Cloud-based apps give real-time insights into IIoT equipment

At the 2019 Hannover Fair, Schneider Electric announced seven new cloud-based apps for industry, smart buildings, data centres and energy grids, as part of its EcoStruxure platform. The Advisor apps and services provide visibility for connected products, while delivering analytics to drive efficiency. They include:

App reads error messages from industrial controls

Bosch Rexroth has released an app that provides wireless access to the error memory of machines equipped with its control systems, allowing maintenance personnel to read error messages and service information, and to order spares.

Software integrates machine learning and drive programming

Beckhoff has integrated a real-time machine learning (ML) capability into its TwinCat 3 automation software. It says that the ML technology is powerful enough to handle advanced tasks such as motion control, and predicts that it will open up new possibilities and optimisation potential in areas such as predictive maintenance, anomaly detection, collaborative robotics, automated quality control, and machine optimisation.

Bookshelf inverters can be extended using plug-in modules

The German drives manufacturer Nord has announced a range of cabinet-mounting inverters whose functions can be extended using plug-in control, safety and option modules. The bookshelf-format Nordac Pro SK 500p inverters span ratings from 0.25–5.5kW and can be mounted side-by-side inside cabinets.

Laser distance sensor ‘represents a new generation’

The German sensor-maker SensoPart claims that a new laser-based triangulation sensor represents a new generation of distance sensors. The FT 55-RLAM sensor, available with operating ranges up to 1m, can detect surfaces from black to shiny. It is equipped with an analogue output, two switching outputs, an IO-Link interface and an optional RS-485 port.