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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.

Inverters offer a choice of three duty ratings

Omron has announced a new series of high-performance frequency inverters for induction and permanent magnet motors, that include an auto-tuning function said to maximise PM motor performance, leading to energy savings. In addition to the normal-duty (ND: 150% overload for 1 minute, or 200% for 3 seconds) and low-duty (LD: 120% for 1 minute, 150% for 3s) capabilities of the previous RX series, the new RX2 inverters add a very-low duty (VLD: 110% for 1 minute, 120% for 3s) rating, widening their range of applications.

AC microdrives promise up to 6% more energy saving

Yaskawa has introduced a series of AC microdrives which, it claims, can achieve energy savings that are up to 6% higher than other drives. The GA500 drives span ratings from 0.2–30kW, and can be used to control permanent magnet and synchronous reluctance motors, as well as induction machines, without needing comprehensive tuning.

Control and load management combo slashes OEM costs

At the recent Hannover Fair, Schneider Electric announced a cloud-linked controller and digital load management combination which, it claims, will give OEM machine-builders an “unprecedented” ability to integrate IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) rapidly into new and existing machines. When used together, the Modicon M262 logic and motion controller and the TeSys multifunctional load management system are said to slash commissioning and servicing times by about half.

3D laser sensor handles reflective and diffuse surfaces

The Canadian 3D scanning specialist LMI Technologies has developed a laser line profile sensor which, it claims, is unique in its ability to scan both reflective (specular) and diffuse surfaces simultaneously. For example, the Gocator 2512 sensor can generate a precise 3D scan of a mobile phone’s cover glass in a surrounding metal or plastic frame, inspecting critical parameters such as flushness, gap and offset.

Industrial Ethernet network and cable tester is ‘the first’

Ideal Networks has launched what it claims is the first purpose-built, handheld network tester for commissioning, maintaining and troubleshooting Profinet and standard Ethernet IP networks, using either copper of fibre optics. The rugged NaviTek IE troubleshooter simplifies testing of both cabling and networks that use the Profinet protocol. Ideal says that, previously, a laptop with specialist software has been needed to identify and test network nodes and for configuration.

Tiny plug-in servodrive is ‘the world’s smallest’

The Spanish motion control specialist Ingenia claims to have produced the world’s smallest plug-in servodrive module. Its Earth drive has a footprint of 29 x 19mm and is aimed at applications such as robotics end-effectors, cutting tools, drills and medical devices.

Liquid-cooled, 690V and crane drives debut at Hannover

At the Hannover Fair in April, Mitsubishi Electric will be showing extensions to its portfolio of frequency converters, including 690V models in ratings up to 630kW, a liquid-cooled series for use in harsh operating conditions, and high-performance drives dedicated to crane and winding applications.

Servodrives target protective extra-low-voltage applications

Siemens is launching a new servodrive system for extra-low-voltage (ELV) safety applications, which comprises a PDC (Profidrive Control) servo converter used in conjunction with compatible motors and connecting cables. The Simatic Micro-Drive is designed for use with DC and EC (electronically commutated) motors from 24–48V and is suitable for applications such as precision positioning, AGVs (automatic guided vehicle systems), and shuttles used in storage and warehousing systems.

48V conveyor drives could halve power supply needs

The Swiss conveyor drive specialist Interoll has announced a modular, plug-and-play conveyor platform that offers a choice of 24V or 48V DC operation, and includes motors rated up to 50W for driving heavy loads. At the heart of the DC Platform are the new EC5000 RollerDrives which power the zones of zero-pressure-accumulation conveyors individually.

Flexible safety network boosts cobot and AGV productivity

The German sensor-maker Sick has developed an intelligent safety network for collaborative robots (cobots) and AGVs (automated guided vehicles) which, it says, will deliver flexibility and productivity. The Safe EFI-pro system combines safe sensor and control technologies with open Ethernet networking, supporting application-specific safety concepts for AGVs and cobots that also improve their performance.

Motion function cuts machine set-up times by up to 90%

Bosch Rexroth claims that a new drive-based motion control function can cut machine programming and commissioning times by up to 90%, compared to traditional PLCs. With the Sequential Motion Control (SMC) function, users can program single- and multi-axis applications in Rexroth’s IndraDrive drives without needing an external control system.

Controller-PC allows operators to see machine data

Rockwell Automation has announced an industrial controller that combines its Logix control engine with the Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Enterprise operating system, allowing users to view machine information at its source and make more informed operating decisions. The Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5480 controller can support applications with up to 150 axes of motion, making it ideal for large packaging and converting, printing and web applications that would benefit from a simplified architecture and smaller footprint. It also provides fast scan times and motion-loop updates to help improve machine throughput.