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March News in Brief

01 March, 2012

♦  PI (Physik Instrumente), the precision motion control system manufacturer, has produced a piezo physics app for portable devices including Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and Android phones and tablets. The (mostly) non-commercial Piezo University app offers illustrated glossaries, tutorials on piezo physics and mechanical design, and links to industry resources. The content is served live so it`s always up-to-date and requires minimal storage. The free app is available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

♦  CiA (CAN in Automation) has developed a CANopen service robot controller profile (CiA 460) and a specification describing the integration of CANopen networks into an RTC (robot technology component) environment (CiA 318). RTC is a general framework for distributed robot control system, specified by the non-profit OMG group. These specifications have been developed to make use of low-price CANopen products such as sensors and servo controllers.

♦  B&R and Eplan have developed an interface between B&R’s Automation Studio and Eplan’s Electric P8 software. The interface allows users to transfer hardware configurations and I/O mapping tables from Automation Studio to P8, avoiding unnecessary input repetitions and redundant workflow. Similarly, B&R hardware in a P8 project can be integrated into the hardware tree of an Automation Studio project at the push of a button. A comparison tool shows which components the two projects have in common and where changes have been made. The electrical plan and automation project are synchronised using “round-trip engineering” to ensure that the two projects are always aligned and up-to-date.

♦  SKF has launched a linear actuator for solar power plants that increases the accuracy and efficiency with which they track the sun, as well as cutting maintenance costs. The actuators combine a screw with a gearbox, motor, bearings, lubricant, seals, limit switches, Hall sensors and a circuit board, all protected in an IP65 sealed housing. High static-to-dynamic load ratios allow power generation during high winds, with good positioning accuracy and limited backlash.

♦  The British transport minister Norman Baker has opened the UK’s first test track for low-carbon vehicles. The Zero Carbon Futures Performance Track and Low Emission Vehicle Development Centre in Washington, Tyne & Wear, will provide a location for automotive manufacturers, system developers and academics to test new transport technologies. The 37ha site at the Nissan Sunderland plant has been signed over to Gateshead College on a 20-year lease.

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