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In Brief

01 June, 2006

In Brief

SERCOS has released the specification for its controller-to-controller synchronisation and communication profile, designed to interconnect motion controls using the new SERCOS III Ethernet-based interface. The profile defines mechanisms for interconnecting distributed control functions and for synchronising distributed motion controls in modular machines and systems.

• Tier Electronics and Texas Instruments have developed a three-phase asynchronous motor controller for domestic appliances that, they say, is quieter, faster, cheaper, smaller and more efficient than traditional single-phase systems. The controller, incorporating a TI DSP, uses adaptive field-oriented control to provide precise speed and torque regulation based on a machine`s load. Efficiency is said to be boosted by up to 30% and component counts halved, thus cutting costs and improving reliability.

• Honeywell Sensing and Control has joined forces with the wireless sensor networking specialist Crossbow Technology to offer a range of wireless sensors. Honeywell will incorporate Crossbow`s technology into its XBW sensors.

Manufacturers of sensors, actuators and automation systems have set up a working group to develop a specification for a fieldbus-independent communication interface for intelligent sensors and actuators in production automation. Working under the umbrella of Profibus International, the "IO Link" group will focus initially on implementations for Profibus, Interbus and Profinet. IO Link will allow users to change device parameters through a PLC and to swap devices during operation.

Swiss-based Harting Mitronics won the €100,000 Hermes Technology Award at this year`s Hannover Fair for its development of a UHF RFID transponder with a 5m range. The HARfid LT 86 (HT) transponder uses a 3D antenna technology that will work with metal or liquid objects in tough industrial environments. There were 81 entrants for the award.

• Fairchild Semiconductor has developed 50A and 75A smart power modules to simplify the design of 5-7.5kW inverters. The Motion-SPM devices, in 60mm x 31mm packages, need half of the board space of discrete components and allow designers to upgrade applications from 1KW to 7.5kW, simply by using a different device.

The US National Science Foundation is providing a $15m grant to help establish a $21m Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. A further $3m is coming from Parker Hannifin and other industry sources, and $3m from seven universities involved in the project. The centre will perform research to help spawn new applications and improve existing fluid power technologies. A 10% improvement in the efficiency of fluid power systems would save the US $7bn a year in energy costs.

• British Standards has published a new edition of BS 3790, which covers belt drives. BS 3790:2006 specifies the dimensional properties of endless wedge and vee-belts including, for the first time, banded wedge and vee-belts (which are joined across their top surfaces). The new version also adopts the datum system of measurement and specifies data used for anti-static tests. There are now links to the ATEX Directive.

• International Rectifier has launched a range of IGBTs (insulated gate bipolar transistors) that, it says, can cut power dissipation in drives applications up to 2.5kW by as much as 60%. The trench IGBTs, part of IR`s iMotion platform, can deliver up to 60% higher rms currents in the same package as previous devices, allowing heatsinks to be up to 50% smaller.

• Avago Technologies claims to have developed the smallest reflective incremental optical encoders. The surface-mounting AEDR-8400 encoders are 3mm long, 3.28mm wide and 1.26mm high. They have a low power consumption and a resolution of 254 lines/inch. They are aimed at consumer, office, industrial and automotive applications.

• Semikron has developed a flat converter/inverter power assembly, said to simplify system design for OEMs. The drawer-mounted Semistack assembly, which covers ratings from 50-120kW, incorporates low-profile IGBTs and bridge rectifiers as well as a novel DC capacitor arrangement.

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