A Scottish systems integrator specialising in the food and drinks sector has developed an “intelligent” routing system that, it says, represents a dramatic advance in production speed and efficiency for the beverage and bottling industry. Scottish whisky distilleries are already using the system to transfer essential ingredients from one point to another during the blending and bottling process.
The bearings manufacturer SKF has developed a new method for modelling the operating lives of roller bearings that will help users to match bearings better to their applications, resulting in better bearing performance and lower running costs.
The German sensor-maker Sick claims that it is the first sensor-maker to offer “smart" sensors across its range, including photoelectric, magnetic and proximity devices. The sensors perform complex functions locally, transferring the processing load from the PLC to the sensor, and helping to optimise the performance of high-speed production lines.
A British technology developer has come up with a novel non-contact way to measure temperatures in applications ranging from steel processing to food production. The patent-pending inductive technique has a temperature sensing range of several hundred degrees and an accuracy of 1°C. Its developers, at The Technology Partnership (TTP), near Cambridge, believe that it could replace existing contact-based methods of measuring heat, such as thermocouples, and non-contact technologies, such as infrared.
The Swedish industrial communications specialist HMS Industrial Networks has announced an extension to its Anybus CompactCom 40-series that will make it easier for drives manufacturers to comply with profile specifications such as PROFIdrive, EtherCat DS402, and transparent DS402 on other networks.
US researchers have created a new magnetic alloy that, they say, has similar properties to conventional rare-earth magnets but is at least 20–40% cheaper to produce. The material could replace costly high-performance permanent magnets currently used in motors and generators.
Tests performed by the Swedish Energy Agency have shown that a 15kW IE4 permanent magnet (PM) motor was 5.9% more efficient than an “IE0” induction motor of a similar rating, while a synchronous reluctance motor was 4.4% more efficient. Curiously, an IE3 induction motor delivered a smaller improvement in efficiency (1.8%) in the tests than an IE2 induction machine (2.4%).
Fanuc claims that it is the first robot manufacturer to produce a heavy-duty robot designed to work safely alongside humans. Its CR-35iA robot can perform tasks involving payloads of up to 35kg without needing the protective guards and fences that have previously been needed for robots with similar lifting capacities.
Weidmüller has developed a contact-free energy transmission system designed specifically for industrial applications. The FreeCon Contactless system uses inductive resonance coupling to transmit up to 240W of power (10A at 24V DC) across an air gap of up to 5mm, with a transmission efficiency of up to 90%.
SKF has developed a machine analysis package that combines a Bluetooth-enabled sensor with a powerful mobile app to allow non-experts to gather vibration and temperature data from machines. The Enlight system, which made its debut at the Hannover Fair, can perform on-the-spot assessments or can send the data to SKF experts for analysis.
The German enclosures giant Rittal has developed a new way of cooling enclosures that it describes a “quantum leap”. Initial results from a pilot installation at Audi are showing energy savings of 75% compared to Rittal’s previous TopTherm Blue e cooling systems. The new Blue e+ system is also claimed to deliver benefits in terms of flexibility, safety and ease of use.
At the Hannover Fair, ABB has unveiled a variant of its SynRM (synchronous reluctance) motor technology aimed at fixed-speed applications. Since the SynRM technology was introduced in 2011, it has been applied to variable-speed duties such as pumps, fans, compressors and extruders. But most of the world’s motors still operate at fixed speeds, so ABB argues that the new DOLSynRM motor will allow more users to benefit from the technology.
At next week’s Hannover Fair, Festo will be demonstrating its latest ideas for using superconductor technology in industrial applications. In three different demonstrations, it will show how superconductors can be used: to store and move objects on suspended rollers (in effect, acting as superconducting bearings); to transport workpieces using a rotating helical conveyor shaft; and to achieve contact-free transfer of objects from one automation module to another.
Siemens and Festo have jointly developed a system that uses carriages driven independently by linear motors to transport items around production machinery. The flexible multi-carrier system (MCS) allows machine-builders and manufacturers to adapt their production lines and machines quickly to suit different product sizes and types.
ABB claims that it will be the first automation supplier to offer a device management tool that supports the new FDI (Field Device Integration) specification, announced recently by the FieldComm Group. The first version of ABB’s “Field Information Manager” (FIM) software, which will make its debut at the 2015 Hannover Fair, is claimed to slash device management times from up to 90 minutes, to as little as three minutes.