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SPS/IPC/Drives show special report

01 December, 2005

SPS/IPC/Drives Show Special Report

Germany`s vast SPS/IPC/Drives show is becoming the prime launchpad for new developments in the automation and motion engineering sector. In this special report, we look at some of the highlights from the 2005 show.

More than 34,000 visitors converged recently on Nuremberg`s exhibition centre for the annual SPS/IPC/Drives show - now probably the world`s biggest dedicated automation event. The three-day show has grown continuously since its inception 16 years ago and the organisers are now considering placing restrictions on who can exhibit to ensure that the show remains focussed on its core areas. Many new product lines were unveiled at the Nuremberg show.

Motors and drives

As well as launching its new "general machinery" AC drive, ABB also unveiled a new generation of DC drives - the DCS800 - which have built-in IEC 61131-3-compliant PLC to provide local control functions. The drives (shown below) cover current ratings from 20-20,000A DC (with up to 5,200A from one module), and operate from 230-1,200V AC or 0-1,500V DC supplies. The DC drives use the same programming software and operator panels as ABB`s AC drives and incorporate "assistants" to simplify commissioning.

Baumüller introduced a 450kW asynchronous motor with the claim that it provides a smaller and more robust alternative to standard IEC motors. The DA motor is available in air-cooled (IP23) or water-cooled (IP54) versions. Baumüller was also showing a high-efficiency integrated servo motor and planetary gearbox for applications with high torque and dynamic requirements, as well as direct drives with integrated thrust bearings.

Schneider-owned Berger Lahr was demonstrating a stepper motor amplifier that matches its existing range of three-phase motors which are said to be cheaper than five-phase steppers and to offer higher power densities and torques. The SD3 amplifier is available in 350W and 750W ratings.

Packaging machinery specialist Elau unveiled a new series of synchronous servomotors which are smaller than its previous generation, yet deliver more torque, a lower inertia, and 30% higher power densities. The SH motors have an optimised stator magnetic field said to result in whisper-quiet, low-vibration performance. They come with an FDA-approved coating, and are available in 11 lengths and three flange sizes, with two more on the way to span the range 55-205mm.

Lenze has expanded its ECS range of multi-axis servo drives to include a version preconfigured for motion applications. This new model joins two other preconfigured versions - one for speed and torque control, the other for positioning applications using up to 16 stored profiles. The ECS range spans ratings from 1.1-13.4kW, and incorporate a "safe standstill" function, allowing maintenance to be performed on a machine without having to shut down a complete system.

An Italian exhibitor, Mini Motor, was showing several new ranges including a pair of digital drives (rated at 300W and 1kW) for brushless servomotors with resolvers. There was also a range of static frequency converters designed to drive small three-phase motors up to 740W with position control either via digital inputs or RS-232/485 serial communications. Finally, there was a new potentiometer-controlled drive for three-phase asynchronous motors up to 270W.

Mitsubishi Electric was showing the latest versions of its FR-F 700 line of energy-saving frequency converters in an IP54-protected housing, allowing them to be installed close to motors without needing extra protection, thus cutting cabling and cabinet costs. The drives, with ratings from 0.75-55kW, use a technology called "optimum excitation control" which is claimed to cut energy consumption by about 10% compared to other drives, and to extend motor service lives.

Rexroth launched a family of compact single- and three-phase frequency converters said to combine easy start-up with extensive functions. The IndraDrive Fc range (above) covers ratings from 0.25-7.5kW in four sizes and can operate in either linear V/f or sensorless current vector modes. There is a choice of operator displays including a text-based version that avoids the need for documentation. A software tool is available for offline paramaterisation and simultaneous communications with up to 31 drives.

Rockwell Automation unveiled a high-power servo drive for applications up to 150kW. The Allen-Bradley Kinetix 7000 drive is based on the company`s Logix platform which integrates sequential, motion and process control. The drives can control permanent magnet (synchronous) or induction (asynchronous) motors and uses the same status codes, I/O feedback cables and safety connections as Rockwell`s Kinetix 6000 range.

Rockwell was also showing a range of integrated linear actuators that combine high-force ballscrews with the company`s MP series low-inertia, high-output, brushless servo motors. The IP66/67-rated actuators eliminate the need for assemblies of couplers, adaptors, belts, and gears. They incorporate high-resolution, multi-turn absolute encoders, thus negating the need for homing routines and limit switches. There are two frame sizes delivering peak forces up to 28.6kN and speeds up to 944mm/s. The actuators come in 150mm or 300mm stroke lengths, and 5mm or 10mm screw leads.

On its substantial stand, SEW Eurodrive had several new arrivals, including a modular, multi-axis servo drive system called MoviAxis (shown below), which offers a choice of ten axis ratings from 2-100A, and four power supply module sizes. The 260mm-deep book-format drives cover ratings from 2A, 10kW to 250A, 181kW. Built-in features include safety technology to Category 3, the ability to withstand a 250% overload for at least 1s, and functions such as electronic cams and synchronous operation.

SEW was also showing a modular "next generation" frequency inverter which supports motor cables up to 100m long and has separable terminals. The Movitrac B inverter is 10mm thinner than its predecessor, the MC07, and can incorporate an optional PLC card. Initially, the range includes single-phase models from 0.55-2.3kW (soon to be expanded to 0.25-37kW) and three-phase models from 0.55-4kW (to be extended to 0.25-132kW).

SEW was also showing several new decentralised drives, including IP69K-protected versions, under the MoviFit name. The MoviFit-MC controls up to three integrated gearmotor-drives rated up to 3kW. The MoviFit-SC has an integrated motor switch for controlling motors up to 4kW in two directions, or two 2.2kW motors in one direction. Finally, the MoviFit-FC has a built-in frequency inverter rated at 0.37-1.1kW or 1.5-4kW.

The Italian drive-maker SIEI used SPS/IPC/Drives to preview its next generation of modular AC drive, the ARTDrive ADV200, which is due to reach the market later this year. The three-phase drives will provide a choice of sensorless vector, field-oriented or PM synchronous control. They will be available in 230V AC versions from 0.75-37kW, 400-480V versions from 0.75-630kW, 500-575V versions from 1-200hp, and 690V from 75-1,000kW.

Siemens` vast stand contained many new ranges including an expanded range of servomotors with planetary gearing integrated into their drive-end housings. The 1FK7-DYA motors are said to be much shorter than motors and gears connected by clutches, and to offer a better dynamic response. The motors come in four sizes with torque ratings from 32-240Nm, and a top speed of 1,200 rpm.

Siemens motors were also on the stand of the German company Wittenstein Motion Control, which has worked with Siemens to develop a range of compact AC servo actuators that combine Siemens` 1FK7 motors with coaxial gearheads. As well as producing a compact, lightweight actuator with dynamic performance, the development avoids the need for right-angled gearheads.

Wittenstein was also showing a hollow-shaft direct-drive motor for use in Class 1 clean rooms. The MHSI drive incorporates a high-resolution encoder and can be used with most servo controllers. It operates with an efficiency of up to 96% at temperatures above 200°C. The brushless three-phase motors come in flange sizes from 17-55mm.

Yaskawa`s pre-production matrix converter drive, which has been seen at several trade shows in recent years, had another outing at SPS/IPC/Drives. It is now expected to enter commercial production later this year. The company was also showing its Varispeed G5 HP range of high-power inverters for motors rated from 480-1,600kW. The range offers a choice of control methods including V/f, flux vector and open-loop vector control. In flux vector mode, it can deliver 150% starting torque at zero speed.

Motion control

Danaher Motion has added the options of EtherCat and SynqNet communications to its Servostar S300 and S600 servo amplifiers. The options come in the form of plug-and-play expansion cards that fit into the amplifiers` multi-interface slots. The amplifiers have a permanent CANopen interface. Other communications options include Profibus, Sercos, DeviceNet and Ethernet.

As well as launching its tiny Whistle servo drive and announcing its range of integrated motor-drives, Elmo Motion Control was also demonstrating a compact turret gripper with an integrated Harmonica digital servo drive. The gripper, made by AES Motomation, is designed to mount directly onto the vertical axis of a robot or handling machine for assembly and handling tasks. The Harmonica drive, which can deliver 1kW continuously (or peaks of 2kW), is the size of a mobile phone and has been integrated into the gripper without increasing its size.

Omron used SPS/IPC/Drives to launch a new 16-axis motion control platform called Trajexia, powered by a 32-bit DSP (digital signal processor). At the heart of the system is a multitasking motion co-ordinator designed for demanding tasks such as interpolation, electronic camming and gearing, and registration control, using simple commands. The family will include rotary, linear and direct-drive servos as well as inverters. The system is linked via Omron`s Mechatrolink technology, which is said to cut wiring and save space, as well as providing transparency down to the motor level. All 16 axes can be controlled within a cycle time of 1ms.

Pilz was demonstrating items from the motion control range that it acquired recently from Mayr It was also showing some early results of its relationship with Danfoss to integrate safety functions into Danfoss` AutomationDrive range.


On the ABB stand, visitors could see a remote I/O system called ControlIT S500 which allows users to choose which fieldbus they want to implement, simply by picking the appropriate FieldBusPlug (FBP) module. The FBP system incorporates protocol converters for most bus systems within the body of a connector. The S500 base station includes 16 digital I/O and can be linked to seven expansion modules, supporting up to 240 I/O. Analogue and digital modules can be mixed freely.

Beckhoff has embedded a Windows CE-based PC into is Bus Coupler system to create a rail-mounting PLC and motion controller. The CX9000 Embedded PC (above) requires no external storage media - it boots from internal flash memory. It is available in two versions, one for direct connection to Beckhoff`s Bus Terminals, the other supporting the EtherCat networking technology.

B&R has developed a 37.5mm-wide CPU which, it admits, many people would mistake for a fieldbus connector rather than a high-performance controller. The X20 CPU matches the company`s earlier X20 I/O system which packs 12 channels into a 12.5mm-wide format. The CPU and I/O can be mounted next to each other on a rail, along with interface modules for networks such as Profibus DP, CANopen and Devicenet. The CPU itself incorporates 100Mb/s Ethernet, CAN and RS-232 interfaces.

Elau was demonstrating an IEC 61131-based controller that can control up to ten robots at the same time as a dynamic packaging machine. This avoids the time-consuming process of synchronising proprietary robot controllers with the rest of the machine. Elau reckons that the integrated controller can cut the engineering effort by about 25%, as well as improving the performance of the complete system. A "transformation module" is responsible for the real-time conversion of robot trajectories into actual positions for the robot`s individual axes.

Festo launched a slew of new modules aimed at creating networks, making connections, and detecting sources of error for its CPX terminal, which acts as a bridge between the worlds of pneumatics and electronics. The new arrivals include an Ethernet/IP node which integrates the CPX into the Ethernet/IP environment, connection blocks using eight different technologies and offering IP20, 65 or 67 protection, and high-performance I/O modules.

GE Fanuc Automation introduced a control system said to offer powerful performance at an affordable price. The VersaMax Micro 64 supports four independent 65kHz pulse train/PWM outputs for motion applications, and four independent 100kHz counters or one type-B counter for precision positioning. It is compatible with existing VersaMax Micro expansion modules which include 25 discrete and six analogue I/O devices.

Horner APG was showing its NX Innovation all-in-one control system which combines a controller, operator interface, I/O and networking into a compact package with embedded Ethernet, CompactFlash memory, and a Web server. The controller, aimed at applications with up to 4,096 digital I/O and 1,024 analogue local or remote I/O, is part of Horner`s OCS (Operator Control Station) family and is programmed using a free IEC 61131-3-compliant software package. Horner was also showing its QX touchscreen with built-in Web server, FTP server, CompactFlash and Ethernet facilities.

Kontron Industrial Control unveiled a range of 70mm-deep, rack-mounting industrial PCs that it says can fit into any control cabinet. The enclosed, fanless ThinkIO-P PCs (above) offer a choice of Intel processors and run Windows XP Embedded or Linux operating systems. They are designed to be used with Wago`s 750/753 I/O modules which are recognised automatically when they are plugged in. User interfaces can be mounted up to 30m away from the PC.

The PLCopen organisation released for comments, Part 5 of its Motion Control specification, which focuses on homing.

STMicroelectronics introduced what it claims is the world`s first family of ARM-based industrial microcontrollers. The 32-bit STR730F controllers, which operate from 5V supplies, have been designed to perform complex industrial applications. They incorporate three independent CAN controllers, 16-channel/10-bit analogue-to-digital converters, and up to 16 PWM outputs capable of supporting several single- or three-phase drives.

VIPA, the German company which specialises in Siemens-compatible controllers which out-perform the original products, was showing a new version of its Speed7 CPU with an integrated high-speed Ethernet interface. The company was also displaying an extended range of Windows CE-based touchscreen HMIs, including a 12-inch XVGA TFT model.

Electrical and safety

Bernstein claims to have developed the first freely programmable PLC to integrate safe and non-safe applications and to meet Category 4 requirements. The Safe LogiControl, developed in collaboration with KW-Software, is based on open standards including IEC 61131-3 programming. The 120mm-high PLC can be expanded using up to 16 modules, each of which contains 16 I/O points. The system supports most of the main fieldbus systems, and is designed to have a reaction time of less than 10ms, even when fully expanded.

HIMA launched several extensions to its HiMatrix family of safety-related controllers and to its safeethernet technology, which it claims is the fastest safety networking system. The new arrivals included three remote I/O modules as well as new communications options via Ethernet/IP. The HiMtarix controllers, which integrate safe and non-safe data on a conventional Ethernet network, can transmit safety data at 100Mb/s and can execute a 1k program in about 0.02ms.

The Swedish safety specialist Jokab was showing extensions to its Pluto safety PLCs, including an AS-i module that combines the functions of a traditional AS-i master with an AS-i safety monitor that supports up to 31 safety nodes and control outputs. Also new were three gateways that link a Pluto PLC to other bus systems - Profibus DP, DeviceNet and CANopen. They will be joined soon by an Ethernet gateway. Also on show was 90mm-wide safety PLC with a total of 46 I/O.

Lenze has expanded its LCU distributed motor controls to include a new motor starter and a frequency inverter, as part of its growing L-force automation family. The starters, for motors rated at 1.5kW or 3kW, come in IP54 aluminium housings, allowing them to be mounted next to a motor. They are available for two-motor or reversing operation, and incorporate safe protection against restarts (to IEC 81508) as well as Profisafe communications. The LCU inverters, for motors from 0.75-3kW (soon 11kW), can operate in open- or closed-loop modes (when used with encoders or resolvers).

Pilz was demonstrating a time-saving software tool called Pascal which verifies the functional safety of protection devices, calculating failure limit values as required by IEC 62061 and prEN ISO 13849-1. The company has also added analogue I/O modules to its PSSuniversal decentralised control platform. Also on show were Ethernet expansion modules that provide communications via Profinet/IO, EtherNet/IP or Modbus/TCP for the PNOZmulti multifunctional safety system.


The encoder specialist BEI was showing items from its broad portfolio, including encoders with mechanical overspeed switches, compact high-resolution absolute encoders, instrinsically safe ATEX encoders, heavy-duty rotary encoders, and absolute encoders supporting CANopen and DeviceNet.

Another encoder-maker, Kübler, was demonstrating several recent product lines, including a range of compact 58mm fieldbus (Profibus DP, CANopen or DeviceNet) encoders with hollow shafts up to 15mm in diameter. Also on show were an encoder designed to fit under the fan cowls of geared motors, and another model designed to overcome the problem of encoder bearings that become overloaded when used with tightly stretched belts. To solve this, Kübler has developed a bearing block that it separate from the sensor and can handle loads up to 600N (shown below).

Among several new sensors on Leuze electronic`s stand was a laser distance measurement system that can gauge distances to an accuracy of ±3mm over a range of 200m. The AMS 200 system is said to be easy to set up and use.

Pepperl+Fuchs was celebrating its 30th anniversary with the launch of a clutch of products including: an absolute encoder with an Ethernet Powerlink interface; a family of incremental rotary encoders claimed to be a third cheaper than their predecessors; and a new generation of miniature light scanners said to provide reliable detection without spurious switching, even in difficult conditions.


Most of one hall at SPS/IPC/Drives is devoted to industrial networking and communications, with exhibits both by individual companies and by groups of organisations promoting specific technologies. For example, the Ethernet PowerLink Standardisation Group (EPSG) - whose members include ABB, Baldor, B&R, Kuka and Lenze - staged a multi-vendor demonstration of a machine complying with the OMAC architecture for packaging machines. EPSG claims that EPL is is the only real-time Ethernet protocol to deliver microsecond precision. The Group was also demonstrating EPLsafety which it describes as "the only open, network-independent protocol for security-critical applications" that complies with the IEC 61508 SIL 3 standard.

The FDT Joint Interest Group has reformed at the FDT Group, with the same goals of pushing FDT (field device tool) as a global standard, marketing FDT technology and promoting FDT product certification. The Group now has 39 supplier and end-user members, including ABB, Moeller, Omron, Phoenix Contact, Rockwell and Siemens. Recent recruits include Schneider Electric and Vacon. Work on producing an IEC standard is under way and is expected to be completed by October 2007. The first FDT components to receive certification were announced last October and "many more" are said to be in the pipeline.

The German company, Friedrich Lütze was demonstrating what it describes as the first USB hub with galvanic isolation. Lütze says that its Diohub-USB (above) will allow low-cost devices with USB ports to be used in industrial environments. It will isolate all of the electrical components in a control cabinet from external voltages. The hubs support up to six USB ports - or more if they are cascaded.

HMS Industrial Networks has extended its range to include an intelligent protocol converter that links automation devices fitted with serial interfaces to Profinet networks. The DIN-rail-mounting Anybus Communicator supports RS-232, -485 and -422 signals at speeds up to 57kbit/s. HMS also announced that it is developing a range of EtherCat-compatible products, including embedded EtherCat interfaces.

Phoenix Contact was promoting its "industrial-strength" Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) modules which use Ethernet to carry not only data but also power to connected devices (in accordance with IEEE 802.3af). Phoenix was also demonstrating what it describes as the world`s first RJ-45 connector that can be assembled without tools. The IP67 eight-pin Variosub RJ-45 Quickcon uses insulation displacement technology to make its connections and is said to fulfil the requirements of Cat 5 and 5e.

Eleven companies including Parker Hannifin, Honeywell and Rockwell were on the Sercos stand, demonstrating some of the first products to use the new Ethernet-based Sercos III interface. For example, Bosch Rexroth had a live demonstration of the first implementation of the Sercos III Controller-to-Controller Synchronisation and Communication (C2C) profile, which allows distributed motion controls to communicate via Sercos.


At SPS/IPC/Drives, Danaher Motion launched a package that runs the three main functions of a control system - the collection and monitoring of data, sequential control, and motion control - on a single PC. The Servoshaft package is said to cut programming times and to make it easier to optimise machine performance. It includes a soft-PLC that meets IEC 61131-3 and supports the SFC, FBD, LD, ST and IL programming languages. The motion control section can synchronise more than 200 axes. An OPC server included in the package is used for communication both internally and externally via Profibus or CANopen.

GE Fanuc Automation introduced version 5.5 of its Proficy Machine Edition which can be used to program, configure, and troubleshoot all of its controllers. The new version adds IEC 61131-3 Function Block Diagram (FBD) programming and symbolic I/O variable configuration support to GE Fanuc`s PACSystems family of programmable automation controllers. The package also includes a monitor mode that provides a "look but do not touch" interface for running applications, and an optional, simpler user interface.

The 2006 SPS/IPC/Drives Show will take place in Nuremberg from 28-30 November

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