At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Lenze demonstrated a new approach to recovering braking energy and feeding it back into the mains, that is designed to be efficient, compact and easy to apply. The technology, based on fast-switching silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, can achieve rapid paybacks and can be used in applications where regenerative braking has previously been considered too costly.
The German elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp has announced a technology that will use linear motors instead of traditional ropes to move passenger cabins both horizontally and vertically. The technology, called Multi, will allow several self-propelled cabins to share the same shaft, thus boosting transport capacities by up to 50%, while slashing elevator footprints by up half.
At the SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, the automation manufacturer Beckhoff has unveiled a 24-core industrial server which it describes as the world's most powerful PLC. The IPC can perform 20 PLC tasks in parallel with 100µs cycle times and perform its fastest cycles in 25µs.
Eaton claims to have developed a new form of energy-saving motor controller that bridges the gap between fixed-speed starters and variable-speed drives (VSDs). It says that its “variable-speed starter” (VSS) combines the simplicity of a starter with ability to vary the speed of a motor.
The world's largest truck, a 360-tonne vehicle powered by four 1.2MW electric motors, has entered service at a mine in Siberia. The 20m-long truck, built by the Belarussian manufacturer BelAZ, has a top speed of 64 km/h when empty. It can carry around 450 tonnes of cargo – equivalent to seven fully-loaded Airbus A320-200 planes or 350 VW Golf cars, and 25% more than any other truck at the time it was designed.
The Philae craft that landed on the 67P / Churyumo Gerasimenko comet recently was carrying tiny motors supplied by two Swiss manufacturers.
The US robot developer Rethink Robotics has announced a “groundbreaking” technology that will allow its Baxter collaborative robot to adapt to changing, real-world environments. The Robot Positioning System – part of the latest upgrade to Rethink’s Intera software – helps users to re-deploy robots after common plant-floor disturbances such as tables being bumped or fixtures being moved.
The German motion control specialist, Trinamic, has developed a technology which, it claims, will cut stepper motor noise levels “significantly”. The patent-pending technology, called stealthChop, is expected to be particularly useful for stepper motors that are used close to human operators, or where many steppers are operating together.
Siemens has developed an integrated motor and inverter for electric vehicles which, it says, will save space and weight, and cut costs. The key to the development is the use of a single water-based cooling system for both components, ensuring that the inverter's power electronics don't get too hot despite being next to the motor, and avoiding the need to reduce the drive’s output or service life.
Researchers at Siemens have developed a powerful small actuator that combines piezoelectrics with hydraulics to produce a 9cm-long device that can apply a force of more than 150N and movements of up to 2cm. They say that the piezohydraulic actuator could be used to operate valves and flaps, to drive aircraft ailerons, and in robotic, medical and cleanroom applications.
The Japanese automation manufacturer Omron has developed a ping-pong-playing robot which is capable of performing extended rallies with human opponents. It was demonstrated at a recent advanced technologies exhibition in Japan where it won a Grand Prix award for innovation.
Researchers in Finland have built an electric motor that uses a carbon nanotube yarn instead of conventional copper windings. They believe that the development could lead to lightweight motors with much lower losses than traditional designs, which could revolutionise the motor industry.
The US actuator and motion control manufacturer Bimba Manufacturing, has announced a “breakthrough” technology that delivers real-time performance data on pneumatic cylinders, and can predict when a cylinder will fail. Bimba says that it will allow users to users to be proactive about maintaining and optimising their pneumatic systems.
ACS Motion Control has announced an advanced third-order look-ahead trajectory generation algorithm designed to optimise the efficiency of multi-axis motion control systems. The company says that, compared to second-order systems, the new algorithm will maximise system throughputs by increasing acceleration, smoothness and velocity, while minimising motion-induced vibrations and disturbances.
Researchers in the US are developing an elastic fabric embedded with sensors that moves and contracts and could lead to a new class of “soft” robots with sensory skins. The fabric is a cotton material made from a flexible polymer and threadlike strands of a shape-memory alloy that return to a coiled shape when heated, causing the fabric to move.